Farm Bureau News

Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Farm Bureau’s marquee grassroots lobbying event, Lansing Legislative Seminar, is slated for Feb. 25, 2020 and promises an exciting day for members passionate about advocating for agriculture and Farm Bureau policy and learning about state legislative and regulatory issues.

Members interested in participating are encouraged to contact their county Farm Bureau before the Feb. 7 registration deadline.

While the main program begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Lansing Center, members looking to arrive early to the capital city have options for starting their day.

State Capitol Building Tours 

If you’ve never been inside Michigan’s historic capitol building — or it’s just been a while — a visit won’t disappoint! Lansing Legislative Seminar attendees can take a free guided tour of the landmark.

Tours depart the Lansing Center at 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.; pre-registration is not required. It’s a quarter-mile walk to the capitol, so dress for the weather.

AgriPac Fundraiser 

MFB’s political action committee, AgriPac, welcomes members to show their support for the organization’s efforts to elect farm-friendly candidates by attending a fundraiser at 10:15 a.m. Special guest and political speaker Patrick Haggerty promises to entertain attendees while imparting his insight into the 2020 election and his expertise on grassroots advocacy. A $50 minimum contribution is required; personal checks should be made payable to AgriPac and business checks should be made payable to FarmPac. Credit card payments will be accepted on-site. Pre-registration is encouraged and available here. 

Luncheon Program 

Lansing Legislative’s hallmark lunch program will begin promptly at 11:30 a.m. in the Lansing Center ballrooms, starting with opening remarks from MFB President Carl Bednarski.

The organization has invited the state’s four most influential legislative leaders for a panel discussion: House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

One ambitious county Farm Bureau will also be recognized with MFB’s annual Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award. The recipient will receive a $500 grant and recognition plaque for outstanding efforts to inform and influence elected officials.

Issue Sessions and Networking Break 

That afternoon, members will choose breakout sessions to attend before and after a networking break (featuring MSU Dairy Store ice cream!)

Topics will include legislative or regulatory issues impacting farms and agribusinesses, including environmental policy and water use, state budget items pertinent to the farm sector, a 2020 election preview, grassroots advocacy and more.

Legislative Reception 

Starting around 4:30 p.m. state representatives, senators and dozens of other government and regulatory leaders will begin arriving for the legislative reception, where members will visit with elected officials and discuss current agricultural issues and Farm Bureau policy priorities.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s marquee grassroots lobbying event, Lansing Legislative Seminar, is slated for Feb. 25, 2020 and promises an exciting day for members passionate about advocating for agriculture and Farm Bureau policy and learning about state le
Michigan Farm Bureau

The Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies is partnering with Talons Out Honor Flight to give Farm Bureau members who are veterans of World War II or the Korean War an opportunity to visit their respective war memorial in Washington D.C. and return to a welcome-home celebration May 9, 2020.  

The Family of Companies’ $25,000 pledge will allow for 24 veterans and 24 guardians to attend — two veteran-guardian pairs per district.

“This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our members who’ve served their country overseas in some of the most horrible conflicts of the 20th century,” said MFB President Carl Bednarski. “The Honor Flight is about commemorating them and their service, and our priority is on honoring the most senior of our member-veterans.

“As younger men and women, they were fortunate to survive wars halfway across the globe — then returned home to work the land and help build the greatest agricultural industry the world has ever known.”

All participating veterans must be accompanied by an able-bodied guardian, responsible for physically assisting veterans prior to and during the flights to and from D.C., and during visits to memorials and Arlington National Cemetery — an active, 18-hour day. (See preliminary agenda here.)

Guardians may not be spouses or significant others and must be between 18 to 70 years of age. To make the most of this rare opportunity, county Farm Bureaus are encouraged to find guardians who are also veterans themselves.

If a district has more than two nominees, they will be selected based on the order applications were received. County Farm Bureaus can sponsor additional veterans and guardians at a cost of $500 per person (totaling $1,000 per vet-guardian pair).

Separate application forms for veterans and guardians are under development and will soon be made available to county Farm Bureau offices.

Farm Bureau members who served in WWII or Korea are encouraged to apply directly to their county Farm Bureau. The county Farm Bureau must submit completed applications to [email protected] by 4:30 p.m. Jan. 31.

For more information, contact Nicole Guilford (517-679-5665) or Jeremy C. Nagel (517-323-6585).

The Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies is partnering with Talons Out Honor Flight to give Farm Bureau members who are veterans of World War II or the Korean War an opportunity to visit their respective war memorial in Washington D.C. and return
Michigan Farm Bureau

Do you know where the latest version of your membership card is?

Most of our members say they don’t carry the card or have an expired one in their wallet. As you can imagine, the membership packet and ID card are expensive items to produce. Each year, Michigan Farm Bureau mails more than 200,000 packets to members when they join or renew their membership.

In an effort to minimize some of those costs and provide timely member information, Michigan Farm Bureau will begin emailing the membership ID card to members with valid email addresses in 2020. The email will contain the same information and resources that are sent in the mailed packets but can be more easily accessed just by pulling up the email.

The email campaign will officially launch in early 2020.

So, next time you renew your membership, be sure to look to your email inbox. Your membership card will be right there waiting for you!

For more information, email our membership services department or call 517-323-6552.


 
Michigan Farm Bureau
More than 400 delegates concluded deliberations Dec. 5 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, establishing policy direction for priority state and national issues.

MFB District 7 Director Michael DeRuiter, an Oceana County fruit grower and member to the state policy development committee, said the delegate sessions were textbook examples of the organization’s grassroots policy development process.

"Policy development is the center point of this organization, so setting policy is vitally important — it’s the lifeblood of our organization," DeRuiter said. “This is where the delegates get to say their piece and set the course for Michigan Farm Bureau."

Debate on bovine tuberculosis (TB) and wildlife management both saw robust debate.

"The resolution proposed by the state PD committee took a pretty aggressive approach to enforce the baiting and feeding ban,” DeRuiter said. “After considerable discussion, delegates decided to add language that supports baiting to encourage reducing the deer population, while retaining support for the feeding ban."

Delegates also approved policy asking the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to consider a new memorandum of understanding with USDA on the issue in the TB Zone that allows for baiting, which encourages aggressive deer herd reduction.

Additional language requiring the eradication of white-tailed deer in any 10-mile radius, high-risk zone established after TB-positive deer or cattle are found, along with strengthening fines and penalties for illegal wildlife feeding, similar to those for poaching, was also approved.

Delegates approved international trade policy affecting Michigan specialty crop growers, calling for changes to the process of seeking relief in cases anti-dumping and countervailing duties challenges, while also calling for additional border and custom inspectors.

National policy recommendations will be forwarded for consideration at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in January. 

“We’re going to advocate for Michigan specialty crops and try to include that language, which will make it easier for specialty crops that were adversely affected by trade to get quicker relief,” DeRuiter said.

Industrial hemp, authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill, also saw considerable discussion.

“Growers are in the learning curve with this commodity, and we're all trying to figure out how to make sure growers can be profitable growing industrial hemp while complying with the regulatory aspects,” DeRuiter said.

Delegates approved state policy supporting an adjustment to the existing 0.3% THC threshold to 1.0%, to provide more harvesting flexibility. The policy now also supports alternative uses and/or disposal methods for the destruction of an industrial hemp crop that exceeds regulatory THC levels.

Delegates also approved a national recommendation calling for USDA to develop a crop insurance policy specifically for industrial hemp production.

According to DeRuiter, while there was a healthy debate on many issues, with differing views, the end result is policy that best meets the needs of production agriculture.

“It's very encouraging when you can have tough conversations with each other, but there's always a mutual respect,” DeRuiter said. “At the end of the day, our members iron out their differences so that we can move forward as one to advocate on behalf of Michigan Farm Bureau members to get the best ultimate outcomes found for all these issues.”

More than 400 delegates concluded deliberations Dec. 5 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, establishing policy direction for priority state and national issues.
Michigan Farm Bureau


Involvement opportunities abound within the comfy confines of your own county Farm Bureau, and this is a good time of year to weigh your options among the organization’s traditional program areas. Counties are encouraged to have their standard committee appointments for 2020 finalized by late January in these program areas:

  • County Nominating
  • Candidate Evaluation
  • Membership Committee
  • Policy Development
  • Promotion & Education
  • Policy Implementation Team
  • Young Farmer Committee

With 2020 being an election year (have you heard?), it’s particularly important that county Farm Bureaus appoint strong candidate evaluation committees for vetting local office-seekers and better informing MFB’s AgriPac Committee for state- and national-level endorsements.

In Barry County, Rick Lawrence has been involved in candidate evaluation for 15 years. 

“I get a more personal connection with candidates, and a better idea as to what their level of involvement with agriculture is,” Lawrence said. “That connection with a winning candidate benefits all of agriculture by being able to better communicate at their level.”

Leroy Schafer has been a candidate evaluation fixture in Clinton County for the past four election cycles. He sees the program as “a great opportunity to get to know them better and have a say in who Farm Bureau endorses to help elect pro-ag candidates.

“It gives me inside information I can use to help inform others about candidates and their positions. Also it’s just a great opportunity to meet them on a personal level,” Schafer said. “When the candidates know you personally, you become the one they call when they seek knowledge on how to vote on agricultural issues.”

Savvy leaders will note Local History Teams are missing from the program menu, as their centennial-year mandate and supporting grant program have come to a close with the end of 2019. Even so, county Farm Bureaus interested in maintaining their Local History Teams are welcome to do so; history happens every day and many county Farm Bureaus are planning their own individual centennial celebrations in the years to come.

County Farm Bureaus are strongly encouraged to welcome newcomers onto standing committees. New perspectives, directions and opinions will only strengthen your local organization — benefits that seep up through the grassroots to the regional, state and national levels. Aiming to turn over at least a quarter of committee members annually, and carefully surveying your membership roster — especially new members — is a smart approach for finding prospective new volunteers.

Via Farm Gate and direct communications, members and county Farm Bureau leaders will receive more notices and reminders over the coming weeks. Contact your county Farm Bureau office or MFB regional representative for more information about involvement opportunities.

With committee appointment season upon us, it’s a great time to look for new avenues of involvement in your county Farm Bureau!

 

As the dividing line between the organization’s first and second centuries, Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids, offers attendees a unique opportunity to take part in an historic event.

Some routine features of the three-day conference will uphold and reinforce the comfort of routine — the annual changing of Farm Bureau’s seasons, out with the previous year and in with the new.

Other components will encourage members to take stock of what their now century-old organization has accomplished, just as it challenges them to meet the lofty expectations of a new age.

For the 14th consecutive year the event will take place at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids.

All attendees should start at the beginning; registration will be open daily in the DeVos Secchia Lobby:

  • 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • 9 a.m.–noon Thursday, Dec. 5

Delegate Session

The heartbeat of annual meeting is delegate session, taking place each day in DeVos Ballroom A:

  • 1:30 p.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • 9:15 a.m.–11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • 1:45 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5

District Functions

This year’s annual offers two opportunities for attendees to meet with their districts, some of which are new starting at this very event; MFB’s new redistricting plan means many members’ districts have changed.

District kickoff meetings (10–11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3) are the first official function of the annual meeting. District breakfasts begin the meeting’s final day (7:30–8:45 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5).

Both sets of district meetings take place in various rooms in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel; attendees should see their weeklong schedule booklet for details and maps.

Attendees should review the new arrangement and note whether their district as of Dec. 3 is different than they’re accustomed to. Redistricting will also affect several elections taking place during the meeting.

Meals & Receptions

All meal functions take place in DeVos ballrooms B-C-D; receptions are in the Grand Gallery pre-function area.

  • President’s Luncheon — 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • Reception — 5:30–6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • Awards Banquet — 6:30–8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • Promotion & Education Breakfast — 7:30–9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • Centennial Lunch — noon–1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • Reception — 5:15–6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • Centennial Gala — 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4

Discussion Meets

Tuesday is the day for Youth and Collegiate Discussion Meets, with preliminary rounds (9:15–11:15 a.m.) and the finals (1:45–2:30 p.m.) taking place in the DeVos Grand Gallery rooms. Winners will be announced at that evening’s awards banquet.

The same rooms on Wednesday will host the preliminary and semifinal rounds of the Young FarmerDiscussion Meet:

  • 8:30–9:30 a.m. — registration
  • 10–11:45 a.m. — rounds 1 & 2
  • 1:30–2:15 p.m. — semifinal round
  • 3:30–4:15 p.m. — final round (delegate stage, DeVos A)

The “sweet 16” semifinalists will be announced during the Centennial Luncheon (noon–1:30 p.m.); the finalists will be announced at 2:45 p.m. The winner will be announced during the pre-gala reception, approximately 5:30 p.m.

Ag Art Gallery

Members bringing their entries into the inaugural Agricultural Art Gallery should drop off their items at registration in the DeVos Secchia Lobby 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The live auction of the Art Gallery’s biggest vote-getters will take place during the Centennial Gala, starting at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Awards & Recognition

MFB’s 2019 Presidential Volunteer of the Year will be announced during the President’s Luncheon, Tuesday, Dec. 3.

At Tuesday evening’s Awards Banquet, special guest AFBF President Zippy Duvall will help Michigan recognize its winners of Key Club honors, Young Farmer Leadership Awards and county Harvest for All.

MFB’s 2019 Educator of the Year will be recognized during the Promotion & Education Breakfast, Wednesday morning.

Other Fun Stuff

MFB’s 2019 Young Farmer Excellence winner, Lapeer County’s Joe Ankley, will preview his presentation for interested attendees 5:30–6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 in the DeVos Grand Gallery D. Ankley will represent Michigan on the national stage at AFBF’s 2020 Annual Meeting and Convention, Jan. 17-22 in Austin, Texas.

After the Awards Banquet Tuesday night, fans of Spartan hoops can enjoy each other’s company at a basketball game watch party in the Ambassador Ballroom (Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). Izzo’s ballers will take on the Duke Blue Devils starting at 9:30 p.m.

Delegates bringing their youngsters should know there will be a field trip to the Grand Rapids’ Children’s Museum 9–11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. The excursion will gather and depart from the DeVos Grand Gallery pre-function area.

 
The Military Street bridge crosses the Black River in downtown Port Huron

A key highlight of Farm Bureau’s wintertime “meeting season,” the Voice of Agriculture Conference next February is taking shape with a fresh new lineup of tours, workshops and activities to nourish legions of farm-friendly advocates interested in preaching the gospel according to ag.

Registration for MFB’s 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference will be open Dec. 9-20. Farm Bureau members with a passion for consumer-facing outreach are encouraged to leave Feb. 5-6 open for two days at Port Huron’s Blue Water Convention Center, in the shadow of the famous Blue Water Bridge linking Michigan with Sarnia, Ontario.

Day one will be dominated by afternoon tours of ag-related facilities in and around Port Huron and St. Clair County; look for tour details in an upcoming issue of Farm Gate.

The heavy lifting comes Thursday, Feb. 6, with breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon, punctuated by general programs during breakfast and lunch.

Attendees in three hourlong breakout sessions (two in the morning and one in the afternoon) have these workshops to choose from:

  • Building Bonds with Local Schools —An expert panel discusses how to build strong relationships with local schools through FARM Science Lab visits, Project RED, Ag in the Classroom, reading ag-accurate books to students and other outreach activities for children.
  • Agritourism: A Practical Guide — A panel of farmers who’ve added value to their business by embracing agritourism and welcoming customers onto their farm will discuss some of the challenges they faced, including local government, zoning, building codes and public safety.
  • Ag Education at County Fairs — Fairs are great venues for engaging consumers about agriculture. Learn about fair-based educational activities from across the country and activities that draw in consumers.
  • Our Changing Communications Landscape — Good communication within Farm Bureau is more important than ever, but the who’s and how’s of it have been shuffled. Catch up on recent changes and get reacquainted with your role in a grassroots communication system that relies on your involvement!
  • Farm and Food Care Ontario — With the rich soils of southern Canada right across the St. Clair River, learn more about Ontario agriculture from this coalition of ag organizations representing the province’s diverse farm sector — and how they make connections between farm and non-farm audiences. 
  • Hello, My Name Is... — Polish your public-facing persona and put your — and agriculture’s — best foot forward at your next speaking engagement, career fair booth, farm tour or worker recruitment event.
  • Playing the Game — In the up-and-down world of volunteer engagement within your county Farm Bureau, learn how to build on positive momentum and bounce back from setbacks.
  • ‘Reptile’ Litigation — Personal injury lawyers have begun attacking agriculture emotionally and psychologically. This session explores recent real-world cases bearing this out and offers guidance for countering such tactics.
  • Train the Trainer: Youth Program Leadership — This presentation will open three AgriSafe topics and provide training tools for working with youth ages 14-21. Provided materials cover zoonotic diseases; personal protective equipment recommendations; and hazard mapping.
  • Mental Health Resilience in Ag Communities — Some 60-80% of visits to primary care providers in America are related to stress. Learn to better identify stressors prevalent among agricultural producers; describe signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression; and discuss the impacts of natural disasters on rural communities.
  • The Five Magic Words — Learn how to get more mileage out of “thank you,” “please” and “no thanks.” Practical strategies in using these five simple words can help safeguard your sanity while transforming your county Farm Bureau, community and business.
  • Building Partnerships with 4-H — 4-H goes beyond the county fair, and today’s 4-H members are tomorrow’s Farm Bureau leaders. But how can you better engage with and support local and statewide 4-H activities? Learn how to improve this partnership and grow your future membership.

A pair of half-hour mini-breakouts begin the afternoon:

  • Treat of Agriculture — Look behind the curtain at Washtenaw County’s award-winning trick-or-treat-style event that engages rural and urban kids alike with fun learning about agriculture.
  • Advocacy Without Leaving the Farm — You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker or policy wonk to influence elected officials and regulatory leaders. Regardless of your personality, you can be a voice for agriculture through various media, often from the comfort of your own home.
  • Building Trust in Michigan Ag — Most consumers trust Michigan farmers, but for those who don’t, the Michigan Ag Council exists to answer consumer concerns and raise awareness of modern food production. Learn about their Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT campaign and building trust in Michigan agriculture.
  • P&E County Chair Update — Chairs, co-chairs and project leaders of any experience level in this session will gain updated resources, tips and tricks for leading educational outreach efforts in your communities. Share ideas with other leaders and brainstorm helpful new resources.
  • Collegiate FB Orientation  — Remember that eager anticipation from freshman-year orientation? It’s like that, only getting acquainted with Farm Bureau’s new Collegiate membership! Learn the fundamentals of Collegiate membership and what’s in it for your county Farm Bureau.

Register to attend the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference by contacting your county Farm Bureau office Dec. 9 through Dec. 20. For more information, visit the conference website or contact Amelia Miller at 517-679-5688.


Upbound on the St. Clair River, the American Spirit passes under the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario.
The new year brings a fresh venue for MFB’s Voice of Agriculture Conference, and with it a fresh new landscape of conference tours. Attendees can choose from two different excursions on Feb. 5, day one of the two-day conference hosted by the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron.

Lambs, Libations and Landscaping

One tour agenda includes sites in western St. Clair and northern Macomb counties, beginning with Lauwers Sheep Farm, where more than 600 ewes live indoors. Shepherd Cameron Lauwers will explain how he staggers his lambing schedule to provide a consistent supply of animals year-round.

Just down the road, attendees will “spring forward” at Theisen’s Greenhouse. This third-generation wholesale operation raises annuals, bedding plants and potted plants year-round for retailers across metro Detroit. The early-February time frame will showcase the earliest bloomers bound for spring flower sales.

This tour wraps up with a holistic look at the agritourism program at Blake’s Orchard. From school tours and family u-pick to hard cider processing and tasting, participants will hear how this farm provides non-farm families with a fun and informative experience. Following a tour of the orchard and cider brewery, dinner and cider tastings will take place in Blake’s event barn.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

One of Michigan’s biggest trading partners is right across the river: Canada. Exports to our neighboring Canucks totaled $902 million in 2018 alone, and they’re a strong import partner to boot.

This tour starts with a look at how agricultural imports from Canada are safely transported into the United States at the Port of Port Huron. U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff will explain their role ensuring biosecurity through inspections at the Blue Water Bridge and those crossing the international border by train, boat or plane.

After a short presentation, attendees will tour the inspection facilities on the Blue Water Bridge deck, then head to the USDA livestock inspection facility a short drive away.

Next participants will visit Michigan’s first lighthouse at Fort Gratiot, where Lake Huron empties into the St. Clair River. Port Huron Museum docents will lead a guided tour and share the facility’s history. Weather permitting, participants may climb the 82-foot tower.

From there this group will split in two, each half headed to separate dinner locations in opposite directions. One bus heads north to the Cadillac House, an historic inn and tavern just a block from Lake Huron in Lexington. The other bus heads south to Marine City Fish Company on the St. Clair River, specializing in locally caught fish in addition to some terrestrial options.

NOTE: Participants on this tour are subject to a background check by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to enter their facilities; names, addresses and birth dates (from MFB’s membership database) will be provided to the agency in advance. Registering for this tour equates to consent to the background check. No substitutions or latecomers will be allowed after the Jan. 6 cancellation deadline.

Details, details…
Both tours will depart from the Blue Water Convention Center promptly at 1 p.m.

Participants staying at the Holiday Inn Express may park their vehicles at the hotel and take MFB’s shuttle to the convention center prior to departure. Shuttles will transport participants back to the hotel following the tour or evening social at the convention center.

No children under 18 are permitted to participate in the tours and all participants must ride the buses.

The full conference agenda and tour information is available online.

Contact your county Farm Bureau to register, Dec. 9-20.

 
Michigan Farm Bureau

Selected from the 90 nominations received from county Farm Bureaus across the state, 18 promising young Farm Bureau members have been selected to take part in the 2020-21 ProFILE program:

  • Kathleen Blust — Oakland County
  • Emily Boeve — Ottawa County
  • Casey Bozung — Van Buren County
  • Sara Bronkema — Ottawa County
  • Marianne Buza — Huron County
  • Jacob Carruthers — Manistee County
  • Alisha Gibson — Kalamazoo County
  • Brandon Hotchkin — Jackson County
  • Charles Loveland — Jackson County
  • Matt Marston — Livingston County
  • Michael Mathis — Oakland County
  • Nathan McGuire — Antrim County
  • Dirk Okkema — Mecosta County
  • Terry Page — Ionia County
  • Michael Sell — Wayne County
  • Brenda Sisung — Clinton County
  • Amanda Sollman — Saginaw County
  • Cody Tyrell — Huron County

ProFile’s 15-month agenda of leadership and professional development activities, including expert speakers, involvement opportunities and visits to ag-industry sites in Michigan and nearby states. It gets under way in January 2020 with orientation at the MFB home office in Lansing and a visit to Carhartt’s headquarters in Dearborn.

Meetings in February and March will include participation in MFB’s Washington Legislative Seminar. The busy summertime offers an optional picnic outing before the schedule ramps back up again in September and a flurry of activity the following winter.

In January 2021 participants will embark on a five-day multistate bus trip, then take part in MFB’s Lansing Legislative Seminar the following month before the program concludes with a graduation ceremony in March 2021.

Established in 1990, ProFILE is an intensive leadership development course for the best and brightest young Farm Bureau members ages 25-35. Prospective participants are first nominated by their county Farm Bureaus then selected by an MFB staff panel based on the strength of their applications.

A redistricting of Michigan Farm Bureau districts will mean some real-world changes for members across the northern Lower Peninsula. Proposed by MFB’s recent state study committee and approved by delegates at the 2018 annual meeting, the redistricting plan creates a new, 12th district and with it a designated representative on the state board of directors.

Why It’s Changing

MFB’s 11 districts have remained mostly static since they were first defined in 1944. The only change happened in 1967, when Macomb County moved from District 3 to District 6.

County Farm Bureau consolidation and the dissolution of two (Montmorency and Kalkaska) resulted in the state’s previous 11 districts each being comprised of four to nine county Farm Bureaus. To equalize the responsibility of district directors and improve county Farm Bureau representation on the state board, the study committee recommended creating a 12th district and eliminating an at-large director from the state board to avoid increasing the size of the body.

Adding the 12th district aligns those districts with the organization’s 12 re­gions, each serviced by a roaming staffer, the vital and familiar “regional rep.” Redistricting will finally see those staffers sync up with a designated district director, the area’s representative on the MFB Board of Directors, elected by members from that district.

This promises to alleviate the confusion of the previous 11-district, 12-region scheme, which had four district directors working with multiple regional representatives.

To maintain the size of the MFB Board of Directors, one of the three at-large positions will be replaced by a district-specific position.

How It’s Changing

The new plan rearranges the districts as follows (see map):

  • Districts 1, 2, 4 and 5 remain unchanged.
  • Macomb County returns to District 3 from District 6, reversing its 1967 move.
  • Mason County moves from District 7 to District 9.
  • The former District 10 splits, becoming a new District 10 and 11:
  • Arenac, Clare and Gladwin counties move from District 8 into the new District 10, along with Huron Shores, Iosco and Ogemaw.
  • The new District 11 consists of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego and Presque Isle.
  • District 11 (the entire Upper Peninsula) is renamed District 12.

The redistricting takes effect Dec. 3, at the beginning of MFB’s 2019 Annual Meeting, where the organization will function as 12 districts. Stay tuned for the implications redistricting will have on this year’s board of directors’ election.

 

A redistricting of Michigan Farm Bureau districts will mean some real-world changes for members across the northern Lower Peninsula.

Entries are ramping up for the inaugural Agricultural Art Gallery, a new fundraising effort of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture debuting at MFB’s 100th Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids. The first-of-its-kind competition is looking to spotlight the creative talents of Farm Bureau members statewide, with showcasing their work on a big stage and auctioning off the best of them to help fund the Foundation.

Among the entrants is Sanilac County farmer and agronomist Darcy Lipskey, who will be sharing one of her trademark ceramic creations and is excited to showcase her work on a bigger stage than she’s accustomed to.

“For me the Ag Art Gallery is kind of a unique opportunity to engage — instead of just attend — the annual meeting,” said Lipskey, whose family raises row crops and beef cattle near Minden City. “I love that it’s a different kind of chance to contribute my voice and be part of something larger than myself. State annual is always fun, but this adds to the experience. I get to feel even more part of the event and the organization itself.”

Even as a young 4-H participant, Lipskey has made time to foster her creative side.

“It’s actually a great stress reliever,” she said, alluding to some of the everyday tensions familiar to anyone with a foot in the farm sector.

Christmas is an ongoing theme of her work, rooted in a ceramic holiday tree she remembers from childhood.

“It's a tradition now and, completing the circle, it’s a pleasure to make them now myself as gifts, adding special little details to each one — no two of them are the same.”

Lipskey’s ceramics fall into the 3-D arts category alongside other forms of sculpture. Other categories include photography; fabric and fiber art; drawing and painting; metal art; and woodworking.

“We came up with the Ag Art Gallery concept not just to raise funds, but also to spotlight the creative sides of many of our members,” said Kate Thiel, who took over managing the Foundation last year. “We know our members’ creativity isn’t limited to designing and fabricating custom harvesters. It’s a side of them we don’t always see, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to encourage and recognize these facets that don’t always get the attention they deserve.”

All entries are considered donations to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture and will be displayed in the DeVos Place’s Grand Gallery on Tuesday and Wednesday of the annual meeting (Dec. 3-4). There attendees will vote on their favorite items, with the most popular entry from each category — plus an overall, best-of-show winner — being auctioned off during the Centennial Gala Wednesday evening, Dec. 4.

The voting window begins with the President’s Luncheon on Tuesday and concludes with the Centennial Luncheon on Wednesday. Those pieces to be auctioned off will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The remaining entries will be available for purchase at their estimated value following the auction.

The deadline to enter your creation is Oct. 31, although the finished product needn’t materialize until its exhibition Dec. 3.

A 501c3 organization formed by Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture strives to positively contribute to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming.

For more information, contact Kate Thiel, 517-679-5741

 
Entries are ramping up for the inaugural Agricultural Art Gallery, a new fundraising effort of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture debuting at MFB’s 100th Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids. The first-of-its-kind competition is looking to s

By Jeremy C. Nagel

Newcomers to Michigan Farm Bureau’s state-level policy development committee came together for the first time Sept. 24 for a packed day of orientation and crash course on the issues they’re charged with sifting and sorting next month.

MFB Vice President Andy Hagenow welcomed these new members to the body he chairs:

  • Cliff Lipscomb — Kalamazoo County (Dist. 1)
  • Steve Williams — Livingston County (Dist. 3)
  • Jeanne Igl — Ingham County (Dist. 5)
  • Johanna Hopkins — Mecosta County (Dist. 7)
  • Jill Benson — Wexford County (Dist. 9)
  • Dean Shepeck — Menominee County (Dist. 11)
  • Nathan Clark — Midland County (Young Farmer)
  • David Dreves — Northwest Michigan (Young Farmer)
  • Michael DeRuiter — Oceana County (MFB Board of Directors)

“It’s a good idea to ask questions and speak up if you don’t understand something,” Hagenow advised those new to the group that ultimately will choose what recommendations are considered by delegates at this year’s state annual meeting. “You are not alone or on an island; you’ll always have backup from other committee members.”

The bulk of the committee’s work will take place at its next meeting, Oct. 8-9. That’s when they’ll sift through hundreds of policy recommendations sourced from the organization’s grassroots and sent up the chain of command from all 65 county Farm Bureaus.

By way of introduction, Hagenow encouraged the new committee members to share why they agreed to serve in their new capacity. The ensuing comments were picture postcards of high-level member involvement:

“I’m here to echo the concerns of other farmers and improve the bottom line of the dairy industry,” Shepeck contributed, alluding to the dominant commodity sector back home in Menominee County.

“I’ve been a Farm Bureau member for 40 years and just felt it was my turn to give back to the organization,” Hopkins said.

“I’ve served in a lot of capacities throughout the organization, but this is one place I haven’t been,” Clarke said. “This is the foundation of a great organization and I’m glad to be part of that.”

“I feel Farm Bureau’s voice this is the best voice farmers have,” Lipscomb said, speaking to the importance of “getting policy to the government so they know how we’re thinking.”

Rounding out MFB’s 2019 PD committee are:

  • Ned Bever, Hillsdale County (Dist. 2)
  • Renee McCauley, Kent County (Dist. 4)
  • Rob Haag, Huron County (Dist. 6)
  • Mark Daniels, Gratiot County (Dist. 8)
  • Greg Whittaker, Cheboygan County (Dist. 10)
  • John Bowsky, Sanilac County (Young Farmer)
  • Kellie Fox, Oceana County (Promotion & Education)
  • Craig Denny, Ionia County (At Large)
  • Tim Hood, Van Buren County (At Large)
  • Jeff Sandborn, Ionia County (MFB Board of Directors)
Newcomers to Michigan Farm Bureau’s state-level policy development committee came together for the first time Sept. 24 for a packed day of orientation and crash course on the issues they’re charged with sifting and sorting next month.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s pending redistricting plan means change is coming to the organization’s board of directors. The new 12-district arrangement takes effect at the beginning of 2019 Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.

Directors in odd-numbered districts are up for re-election this year, and there will be no change to the election proce

ss in districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, where these leaders are up for reelection:

  • Brigette Leach, Dist. 1
  • Mike Fusilier, Dist. 3
  • Stephanie Schaefer, Dist. 5
  • Mike DeRuiter, Dist. 7
  • Ben LaCross, Dist. 9

Up North, however, it gets more complicated:

  • A new director will be elected to represent the new District 10 (see map) for an initial 1-year term.
  • Current District 10 Director Pat McGuire will no longer be in District 10, but will be eligible to be reelected to the board in the new District 11.
  • The director for the new District 11 (see map) will be elected to a two-year term.
  • Current District 11 Director Dave Bahrman’s term is complete, but he will be eligible to be reelected to the board in the new Upper Peninsula District 12. That election will appoint a director there to a 1-year term.

The terms of all three at-large directors expire this year: Andy HagenowDoug Darling and Larry Walton. With the addition of a 12th district-specific director, only two at-large positions will be open for election (both to two-year terms).

The organization will function as 12 districts throughout the entire annual meeting, beginning with district kickoff meetings Tuesday morning.

  • For the new District 10, the county president caucus chair will run the district kickoff and breakfast meetings since there is no incumbent director in that district.
  • In the new District 11, Director McGuire and/or the county president caucus chair will run the meetings.
  • In the new District 12, Director Bahrman and/or the county president caucus chair will run the meetings.

County Farm Bureau presidents’ caucuses are strongly encouraged to convene and nominate prospective directors at the annual meeting.

Individuals included on the slate of candidates must meet the Michigan Farm Bureau qualifications for district director and should be willing to serve if nominated. MFB regional representatives are responsible for planning the district meetings or a conference call in their respective regions.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s pending redistricting plan means change is coming to the organization’s board of directors. The new 12-district arrangement takes effect at the beginning of 2019 Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.

Karker Scholarships – Oct. 1

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Marge Karker Scholarship offers three $1,000 scholarships to students enrolled in an agricultural program at Michigan State University.

Applicants must be a dependent of a Farm Bureau member or have his/her own Farm Bureau membership in good standing.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 1; the application form and additional details are available online.

For more information, contact Amelia Miller at 517-679-5688.

White-Reinhardt Grants – Oct. 15

Oct. 15 is the next application deadline for White-Reinhardt Mini-Grants, available to help support county Farm Bureaus’ Promotion & Education projects.

Awards of up to $1,000 are available for new or existing classroom education programs in grades K-12. The fall application cycle is for programs planned to take place February through July 2020.

Click here to apply.  

White-Reinhardt Scholarships – Oct. 15

American Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture offers National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference scholarships for current, full-time educators or active volunteers who have demonstrated involvement in agricultural literacy programming.

The 2020 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference takes place June 23-26 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The application deadline is Oct. 15; apply here.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Marge Karker Scholarship offers three $1,000 scholarships to students enrolled in an agricultural program at Michigan State University.

The Michigan FFA Alumni & Friends welcomes registrations for their National FFA Convention Experience Trip  during the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 30-31 in Indianapolis. 

County board members, committee chairs and members are encouraged to consider either attending the event or sponsoring a local administrator. Participants will experience the largest event the National FFA Organization has to offer, while learning more about how FFA can impact the lives of students.

The schedule includes exploring the National FFA Career Show & Shopping Mall, having dinner with the Michigan FFA State Officer team and staff, attending the opening session of the convention, enjoying time with their local FFA chapter during breakfast or lunch, and watching the second general convention session. Full convention information can be found here.

Registrations must be submitted to Amanda Sollman by Sept. 15. For those seeking additional information, feel free to reach out to Katie Eisenberger, MFB’s high school & collegiate programs specialist.

The Michigan FFA Alumni & Friends welcomes registrations for their National FFA Convention Experience Trip during the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 30-31 in Indianapolis.

To celebrate 100 years of Michigan Farm Bureau and highlight our members’ many creative talents, the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture will host an Agricultural Art Gallery event at MFB’s 2019 Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.

Members from across the state will have the opportunity to share their work in the areas of woodworking, metal work, photography, drawing and painting, fabric and fiber arts, ceramics, pottery and sculpture. Participants may enter one work per category.

All entries will be considered donations to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture. The top item in each category will be auctioned off during a live auction event during the annual meeting. Those items not selected will be available for sale at their estimated value.

Winning entries in each category will be selected by popular vote. Entries incorporating a centennial theme will earn their makers a commemorative ribbon!

The entry deadline is Oct. 31; submit yours online at bit.ly/AgArtEntry

For more information, contact Kate Thiel, 517-679-5741.

LANSING, MI – The FARM Science Lab (Food, Agriculture, & Resources in Motion) II was open for visitors today as the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture celebrated its debut during the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Centennial Celebration.

The FARM Science Labs are 40-foot mobile classrooms, equipped with the latest teaching technologies and tooled with STEM-based lessons that meet Next Generation Science Standards and National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes to increase agricultural awareness. The Labs were developed by Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom.

Staffed with regional educators, the FARM Science Labs helps reinforce grade-level standards with hands-on science experiments while increasing students’ knowledge of how agriculture impacts their daily lives.

The FARM Science Lab offers schools the convenience of bringing a field trip-style experience to their front door. Students receive an out-of-classroom, hands-on experience without the hassle of transportation arrangements or field-trip permission slips.

“The FARM Science Labs are fully funded by generous donors giving to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, something not everyone knows” said Kate Thiel, development manager for the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.

“Our first mobile FARM Science Lab has been on the road for two school years. During its tenure it’s seen 31,157 students and 1,212 educators,” Michelle Blodgett, Ag in the Classroom and FARM Science Lab manager said. “We’re excited to have two labs on the road for the coming school year. To date the labs are over 80% booked too. Imagine how the impact will grow with a second lab,” she added.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have so many people supporting our initiatives. Many sponsors of the FARM Science Lab program were able to join us Friday, we’re appreciative of their time and support. And we’re so happy with the impact we’re all able to make with the FARM Science Lab,” Thiel said.

To find out how to donate to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, visit: http://www.mifoundationforagriculture.org

To find out more about the FARM Science Labs, visit: http://www.miagclassroom.org/lab/index.cfm
 

 

County Farm Bureaus are encouraged to nominate members for appointment to MFB Advisory Committees by Aug. 16; current members’ terms of service expire at the end of the year. The appointment window was moved to earlier in the year so as to avoid conflicts with county annual meeting planning.

Advisory committees are a critical part Farm Bureau’s infrastructure, representing specific commodity and marketing interests as well as issue-specific concerns like labor, direct marketing and natural resource issues. They provide vital input to the MFB Board of Directors and policy development process.

The Rules of Organization and Operation of MFB Advisory Committees explain the purpose, makeup and membership of the 13 committees. Counties receive an automatic appointment to any committee in which they lead production, as noted below:

  • AQUACULTURE & COMMERCIAL FISHING — 8 members; all counties eligible; no automatic counties designated; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • DAIRY — 16 members; automatic appointments: Huron, Clinton, Sanilac, Allegan, Ionia, Missaukee, Gratiot, Barry; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335 
  • DIRECT MARKETING — 12 members; automatic appointments: Berrien, Lapeer, Macomb, Ottawa, Kent, Van Buren, Allegan; contact Audrey Sebolt, 517-391-5055
  • DRY BEAN & SUGAR BEET — 12 members; automatic appointments: Huron, Sanilac, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Gratiot; contact Theresa Sisung, 517-323-6729
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT — 16 members; all members at-large; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • EQUINE — 12 members; automatic appointments: Washtenaw, Allegan, Oakland, Livingston, Jackson, St. Joseph; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • FEED GRAINS, OILSEEDS & WHEAT — 16 members; automatic appointments: Sanilac, Lenawee, Saginaw, Huron, Tuscola, Gratiot, Hillsdale, St. Joseph; contact Theresa Sisung, 517-323-6729
  • FORESTRY — 10 members; automatic appointments: Copper Country, Mac-Luce-Schoolcraft, Hiawathaland, Iron Range, Chippewa; contact Craig Knudson, 231-357-3864
  • FRUIT & VEGETABLE —14 members; automatic appointments: Van Buren, Ottawa, Berrien, Montcalm, Kent, Monroe, St. Joseph; contact Audrey Sebolt, 517-391-5055
  • LABOR — 8-12 members; all members at-large; contact John Kran, 517-679-5336
  • LIVESTOCK & POULTRY — 16 members; automatic appointments: Allegan, Ottawa, Huron, Ionia, Cass, Gratiot, Branch, Mecosta; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • NATURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES — 13 members; one member from each MFB district and two at-large; contact Laura Campbell, 517-679-5332
  • NURSERY & GREENHOUSE — 12 members; automatic appointments: Ottawa, Kalamazoo, Kent, Allegan, Monroe, Wayne; contact Audrey Sebolt, 517-391-5055

Counties receiving automatic appointments must submit two nominations for each committee. Other counties may submit up to two nominations for each committee.

All nominees must be regular Farm Bureau members, commercial producers of the commodity, representative of the industry and willing to serve by attending the meetings.

Committees meet once or twice annually. Those who have served on past advisory committees are eligible for reappointment. Appointments are for a two-year period, 2020-21, beginning January 1, 2020.

Click here for the nomination form to be completed and returned to MFB by Aug. 16.

Mail nominations to the MFB Center for Commodity, Farm & Industry Relations, P.O. Box 30960, Lansing, MI 48909; or email to Andrena Reid or fax to 517-323-0230. To submit nominations online, work with your County Administrative Manager to complete the application here.

For more information, contact your MFB Regional Representative or staffer listed for each committee.