Farm Bureau Tops First List of Trade, Professional Associations

Click here for page 1 of the state's largest trade and professional associations.
Click here for page 2 of the state's largest trade and professional associations.
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This week Arkansas Business introduces its first list of the state's largest trade and professional associations, ranked by membership.
More than 70 organizations were identified and surveyed, and others responded to a request for information distributed to e-newsletter subscribers. Twenty failed to respond to repeated requests for information. They are not included in the list, though some likely are large enough to be among the top 50.
By far the largest trade association in the state is the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, which has more than 330,000 members — and an advantage that other associations may consider grossly unfair when it comes to recruiting members. AFBF requires anyone who wants to buy property and casualty insurance from Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Arkansas Inc. to pay the federation's $35 annual membership fee.
That incentive made AFBF's revenue the largest of any of the associations on the list: $9.7 million in 2005.
Next is the Arkansas Education Association, whose membership is estimated at 17,000 on the list. The AEA, an affiliate of the National Education Association, does not release membership figures, spokeswoman Tish Talbot said, but she gave no reason. More than 30,000 teachers in the state are eligible for membership.
No. 3 is the Arkansas State Employ-ees Association, which reported having approximately 15,000 members.
Exactly how many trade and professional associations are operating in Arkansas is unknown. The American Society of Association Executives — sometimes referred to as "the association of associations" — found 86,054 nonprofit trade and professional organizations nationwide in 2004. (Those associations, organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the federal tax code, are dwarfed by the number of philanthropic and charitable nonprofits, which tops 1 million.)
Most of the associations surveyed by Arkansas Business failed to answer the question of "budgeted annual revenue." Fortunately, a fairly recent IRS Form 990 was available for almost all of them from the Web-based service (Making the Form 990 available to the public is the price nonprofit associations pay for not having to pay federal income taxes.)
Total annual revenue for the 50 largest associations included on the Arkansas Business list approaches $42 million, but the total for all nonprofits in the state is easily in excess of $50 million. The Poultry Federation, which failed to respond to the membership survey and was omitted from the rankings, had an annual budget of almost $1.5 million for the year that ended June 30, 2005, and spent even more, $1.76 million. (The Poultry Federation is between directors since Morril Harriman resigned to join Gov.-elect Mike Beebe's staff.)
The fourth-largest organization on the list, the Arkansas Cattlemen's Associa-tion, also declined to respond to the request for a member count. Director Tubby Smith said he liked to keep the organization out of the newspapers.
However, his association's Web site,, maintains detailed information about membership in each county of the state.
Ten of the organizations on the list are at least 100 years old, starting with the 140-year-old Pulaski County Medical Society.