In 1787 as President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, Franklin proclaimed, “The great business of our commonwealth is agriculture.”
Long before the American revolution, Benjamin Franklin saw the need for an agricultural society in Philadelphia that would foster research on better farming practices, similar to those followed by the scientific agricultural movement popular in Great Britain. An inventor, a scientist, a man of many talents, in 1743 Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society, a scholarly organization that would promote practical knowledge in the sciences and humanities. This institution had a special committee on methods of restoring fertility to worn-out soils. When Franklin went to England in 1757 as an agent for the Pennsylvania colony, he witnessed an agricultural revolution brought about by crop rotation and better breeding. He saw the benefit of agricultural societies there that encouraged experimentation and the exchange of ideas. These same kinds of societies were prevalent in France when he went there in 1776 as commissioner and then ambassador. Although not a charter member of the Society, his inspiration and influence led to its formation.