Baltisaksa põllumeesteseltside võrgustiku kujunemisest
Development of a Network of
Baltic German Agricultural Societies
The first agricultural society in the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire was the Livonian Public Welfare and Economic Society (LS) established in 1792 in Riga (approved by the Empress in 1794 and started operating in 1796). Having been transferred from Riga to Tartu in 1813, the society operated here until 1939. In accordance with diversifying economic activities as well as the agrotechnical innovation of agriculture that started in the 1820s, the LS endeavoured to extend the scope of its field of activities. On the one hand, it purported
to coordinate the activities of the analogous societies in the
three Baltic provinces, or, indeed, to be their umbrella organisation.
On the other hand, it was attempted to create branch societies with an unlimited membership, and, thereafter, sub-institutions for performing specific tasks. Thus, a merino sheep purchase boom facilitated the establishment of the Livonian Sheep Breeders’ Association in 1825, which cooperated with a similar association in Estonia.
In the late 1830s the first pan-governorate agricultural societies were established also in the neighbouring provinces. On 31st October 1839 the Emperor approved the articles of association of three agricultural societies (Courland, Kuldīga, and Estonia). Since the administration hindered the establishment of pan-governorate affiliate societies until
the last decades of the 19th century, the Courland Economic Society and Estonian Agricultural Society (Estländische Landwirtschaftliche Gesellschaft) subsequently needed to perform the functions of an umbrella organisation in their provinces, similarly to the Society in Livonia. Differently from the LS which included only a limited number
of members, the societies in Courland and all the three provinces were open, i.e., accepted an unlimited number of members. They accepted people interested in the subject from all classes and admitted them by voting during general assemblies.
Upon the initiative of LS several agricultural societies were created in Livonia in the early 1840s; they were established as branches or affiliates of the Society. The Livonian Society of Agriculture and Promotion of Trade (LSAPT, Livländischer Verein zur Beförderung der Landwirtschaft und des Gewerbfleisses), the articles of association of
which were approved in 1844, was the most important affiliate of LS and its direct extension. The most extensive undertakings of LSAPT were the organisation of annual exhibitions in Tartu as of 1876, and the publication of the weekly newspaper Baltische Wochenschrift für Landwirtschaft, Gewerbefleiss und Handel (1863–1915) intended for the readership of the three Baltic governorates in cooperation with the Society. The Agricultural Societies of Pärnu–Viljandi and Kuressaare were approved only as late as 1845. Since the sphere of activity of LSAPT first and foremost enveloped the vicinity of Tartu and Northern Livonia in terms of its location and membership, the estate owners in the Latvian section of Livonia established their own society in early 1848. At first it bore the name of the Agricultural Society of Võnnu–Volmari–Valka; as of 1866, however, it was changed to the Southern
Livonian Public Welfare and Agricultural Society and the hub of its activities transferred to Riga. The last of the LS County affiliates to be established in 1877 was the Agricultural Society of Võru.
In the last quarter of the 19th century and the early 20th century a number of LS’s affiliates were established as pan-governorate specialty societies (some also as societies functioning in all the Baltic governorates): Baltic Foresters’ Society (Verein baltischer Forstwirte) in 1867; Baltic Cattle Breeders’ Society (Verband Baltischer Rindviehzüchter) in 1885—this was divided into the Baltic Angler Breeders’ Society (Verband baltischer Anglerviehzüchter) in 1904/2
and the Livonian Dutch Friesian Cattle Breeders’ Society (Verband livländischer Holländer-Friesenviehzüchter) in 1904; Livonian Society for the Promotion of Horse Breeding (Verein zur Förderung der livländischen Pferdezucht) 1897; Livonian Society for the Promotion of Women’s Works (Livländischer Verein zur Förderung der Frauenarbeit) in 1897; Livonian Seed Producers’ Society in 1900; Livonian Gardening Society in 1901; Baltic Swamp Land Improvement Society (Baltischer Moorverein) in 1908; Baltic Association of Cold-Blooded Horse Breeders (Baltischer Verein von Züchter kaltblütiger Pferde) in 1912. Agricultural Societies were also established in parishes; in the Latvian section of Livonia: Ruhja in 1877; Salatsi in 1884; Pociemsi in 1888; Smiltene–Palsmane–Aumeisteri–Gaujiena in 1884; Vendzava in 1897 and Limbaži-Suntaži-Allaži in1904; in the Estonian section, the Agricultural Societies of Vändra in 1895, Kodavere in 1896, Räpina in 1898; and Laiuse in 1900; while Kanepi–Antsla Agricultural Society was established in 1891. The membership of the former consisted nearly exclusively of Baltic German estate
owners and scientists in the specialised field concerned; while the latter, LS’s affiliates in the parishes were so-called mixed societies, which also included Estonian or Latvian farmers besides the estate owners and officials, who occupied the dominant positions. Most of the Estonian and Latvian farmers’ societies were independent from the start, while the leadership of the aforementioned mixed societies transferred to small farmers at the beginning of the 20th century.
As at 1915 the status of Society affiliates had been granted to 26 societies on the basis of the articles of association; six of those housed their headquarters in the facilities of the Society in Tartu, Lossi 1-3. Compared to the active and close-knit network of societies in Livonia the establishment of societies was slower in the governorate of Estonia; there were also considerably fewer societies—both those of Baltic German great landowners as well as of Estonian small farmers.
In the first thirty years of the 19th century the large scale farmers were united only by the Estonian Agricultural Society. The most fundamental changes in reorganising the Estonian agriculture took place in the 1860s and 1870s, while the county affiliates of Estonian Agricultural Society in Virumaa (1869) and Läänemaa (1872) were also founded then. The specialty societies that functioned with a fluctuating degree of activity were a hunting society (Estländische Wildschutzverein) and gardening society.
After the establishment of the Courland Economic Society (CES) and the Kuldiga AS (1839), the following 4 ASs were founded considerably later—in Tukums in 1867, Dobele in 1871, Jaunjelgava in 1877, Talsi 1878. Since a sufficient number of members there were already members of the CES, the representatives of the aforementioned local societies declared CES the central society and themselves as branch societies. The most close-knit, varied and active network of Baltic German agricultural societies developed owing to
the LS specifically in Livonia.