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At the time, farmers in Virginia were unable to buy seed guaranteed to grow in the Commonwealth. Despite scientific findings of the correlation between the quality of seeds and the quality of crops they produced, commercial seed handlers continued to sell poor-quality seed. In 1923, about 150 farmers met in Richmond, Virginia, to take steps to remedy the situation. These 150 farmers, calling their cooperative Virginia Seed Service (VSS), found that pooling their resources enabled them to procure seeds better suited to Virginia's growing conditions. In the early 1930s, VSS looked beyond Virginia and changed its name to Southern States Cooperative. Southern States and ten other regional co-ops formed a national seed-breeding research organization, FFR. It remains the largest such operation anywhere in the world. Today, as one of the nation's largest farmer cooperatives, Southern States recognizes its past and looks forward to an exciting future.

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