The NFU was formed in 1969 through the merger of the Saskatchewan Farmers Union, the Ontario Farmers Union, the Farmers Union of B.C. and the Manitoba Farmers Union. Prior to 1969, these provincial unions worked autonomously in their respective provinces.
Provincial Unions were at a disadvantage in working with the federal government. For this reason, they created a coordinating body, the National Farmers Union Council, consisting of representatives of the executives of each provincial union.
Over time, the officials and members of the provincial unions realized that the major policy decisions which affected farmers were being made at the federal level. At a joint meeting of the executives of the provincial unions in Winnipegin March, 1968, the executive members passed a motion to strike a committee to develop a constitution for a direct membership national farm organization.
The founding convention of the National Farmers Union was held in Winnipeg in July, 1969. In the following months the provincial unions were phased out and their assets and liabilities transferred to the NFU. Following the 1969 founding convention in Winnipeg, the NFU is the only farm organization in Canada with its own federal charter. The NFU was recognized by an Act of Parliament in 1970.