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Farm News Media

The case was found through routine surveillance testing required by the state’s current Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is Michigan’s 81st cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB since 1998. | Photo by The Guardian

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reporting another case of confirmed bovine tuberculosis in a Cheboygan County beef herd, located in Michigan’s Accredited Free Zone (AFZ).

The case was found through routine surveillance testing, as required by the state’s current Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture. This is Michigan’s 81st cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB since 1998.

“As with all new findings of this disease in a cattle herd, additional testing will be done in the herd, and an epidemiologic investigation has been started to rule out the possibility of additional cases stemming from the affected herd,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM.

A key part of the investigation, says Wineland, will be whole genome sequencing, a comprehensive analysis of DNA from the TB bacteria found within this sample.

“This analysis will help to determine the source of the infection,” Wineland said, adding that it may take three months for the genome sequencing to be completed.

Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. It is known to be present in the free-ranging white-tailed deer population in specific areas of northeastern lower Michigan, and the disease can be transmitted between deer and cattle.

As a result, there are currently two TB zones within the state: a four-county area in northern lower Michigan called the Modified Accredited Zone; the remainder of the state is referred to as the Accredited Free Zone.

Although Cheboygan County is a part of the AFZ, it is also categorized as a buffer county, which is a county adjacent to the four counties of the MAZ (Alpena, Alcona, Montmorency, and Oscoda counties). As required by the Memorandum of Understanding, MDARD has been testing herds in buffer counties over the past year. This herd was identified as part of that surveillance program.

This is the first recorded case of a bovine TB-positive cattle herd in Cheboygan County; however, the disease was detected in two free-ranging white-tailed deer from the county in 2010.

While state and federal agencies are taking significant steps to manage the disease, the continued hunting of deer in this area is an important tool in maintaining healthy deer and cattle populations.

More information about bovine TB can be found at Michigan.gov/bovineTB.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reporting another case of confirmed bovine tuberculosis in a Cheboygan County beef herd, located in Michigan’s Accredited Free Zone (AFZ).

County News

Farm News Media

The case was found through routine surveillance testing required by the state’s current Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is Michigan’s 81st cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB since 1998. | Photo by The Guardian

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reporting another case of confirmed bovine tuberculosis in a Cheboygan County beef herd, located in Michigan’s Accredited Free Zone (AFZ).

The case was found through routine surveillance testing, as required by the state’s current Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture. This is Michigan’s 81st cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB since 1998.

“As with all new findings of this disease in a cattle herd, additional testing will be done in the herd, and an epidemiologic investigation has been started to rule out the possibility of additional cases stemming from the affected herd,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM.

A key part of the investigation, says Wineland, will be whole genome sequencing, a comprehensive analysis of DNA from the TB bacteria found within this sample.

“This analysis will help to determine the source of the infection,” Wineland said, adding that it may take three months for the genome sequencing to be completed.

Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. It is known to be present in the free-ranging white-tailed deer population in specific areas of northeastern lower Michigan, and the disease can be transmitted between deer and cattle.

As a result, there are currently two TB zones within the state: a four-county area in northern lower Michigan called the Modified Accredited Zone; the remainder of the state is referred to as the Accredited Free Zone.

Although Cheboygan County is a part of the AFZ, it is also categorized as a buffer county, which is a county adjacent to the four counties of the MAZ (Alpena, Alcona, Montmorency, and Oscoda counties). As required by the Memorandum of Understanding, MDARD has been testing herds in buffer counties over the past year. This herd was identified as part of that surveillance program.

This is the first recorded case of a bovine TB-positive cattle herd in Cheboygan County; however, the disease was detected in two free-ranging white-tailed deer from the county in 2010.

While state and federal agencies are taking significant steps to manage the disease, the continued hunting of deer in this area is an important tool in maintaining healthy deer and cattle populations.

More information about bovine TB can be found at Michigan.gov/bovineTB.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reporting another case of confirmed bovine tuberculosis in a Cheboygan County beef herd, located in Michigan’s Accredited Free Zone (AFZ).
Michigan Farm Bureau

In a Dec. 3 message to county Farm Bureau leaders, MFB President Carl Bednarski broke the bad — but not surprising — news that the organization’s winter 2021 Core Programs were canceled to safeguard the health and well-being of members and staff alike. Using feedback collected by the MFB State Board of Directors over the past month, the following alternative structure has been approved for 2021.

In lieu of traditional Core Programs (Growing Together, Lansing Legislative Seminar and President’s Capital Summit) those dollars will be used to fund in-person or virtual district-level programming, structured at each district’s discretion and meeting at least one of these objectives:

  • Improve the effectiveness of county Farm Bureau boards, provide concentrated leadership development to county leaders and build organizational discipline.

  • Provide resources, training and leadership development for county Membership, Promotion and Education and Young Farmer chairs. 

  • Enhance member relationship building with state and federal officials while building their issue knowledge and advocacy skills. 

  • Build collaborative relationships amongst counties and districts through idea sharing, networking and best practice brainstorming. 

  • Host a hands-on Young Farmer leadership development activity in the form of district Discussion Meets, emphasizing need for and support of the MFB membership pipeline.

    With the help of home office staff, the meeting(s) will be hosted and coordinated by key leaders of the district including district directors, county Farm Bureau presidents, state P&E and Young Farmer committee members and MFB Regional Managers.

    All events or programming must be conducted before Nov. 1, 2021. Each district will have a budget of $12,500 to use toward their district event(s) to cover location, meals, speakers, programing, etc. Core Program staff will set up a system to ensure the events meet the meeting criteria and will streamline the survey and reporting process to ensure we have good feedback to gauge member satisfaction to this alternate format.

    In addition to these district meetings/programming, MFB will hold a series of virtual sessions/training, meeting the above objectives, that members can participate in at no charge. More information will be forthcoming regarding topics and dates.

    MFB program areas that traditionally deliver Core Programs will work with corresponding state committees (if applicable) to provide county-customizable resources and templates to execute local virtual and in-person programming during the continued uncertainty of 2021. 

    MFB staff contact: Justin Hein, 517-679-4781

In a Dec. 3 message to county Farm Bureau leaders, MFB President Carl Bednarski broke the news that the organization’s winter 2021 Core Programs were canceled to safeguard the health and well-being of members and staff alike.
Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski, in delivering his annual address to the organization's membership virtually, focused on several wins for agriculture, the challenge of COVID-19, the work of the MFB Family of Companies to provide for those in need during the pandemic, and finally, the election. (Photo by Michigan Farm News)

LANSING MI, Nov. 4, 2020 — Despite several major challenges in 2020, headlined by fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski, a Tuscola County farmer, urged Farm Bureau members to recognize the economic turnaround in major commodity markets, setting the stage for a better 2021.

Delivering his annual address virtually on Nov. 4, during the opening session of the organization's virtual 101st state annual meeting — themed “Building for the Future,” Bednarski commended members for their ingenuity and creativity as county Farm Bureau leaders and as farmers.

“Our lives changed; the world changed,” Bednarski said regarding COVID-19. “There was panic, and people were scared. But agriculture knew we needed to continue what we do best — produce food.”

Bednarski focused on several wins for agriculture amid the challenges of COVID-19, noting the organization’s focus and success in reversing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order issued in early April, effectively shutting down greenhouses, nurseries, and landscapers. 

“The timing could not have been worse,” Bednarski said. “With product ready to be shipped to consumers, why didn’t (Gov. Whitmer) at least give growers the option to show they could abide by the rules?”  

Bednarski said more than 56,000 responses were generated from an MFB-issued Action Alert to members, adding the response was 33 times bigger than any previous alerts issued by the organization. 

“We were able to call out the flaws in the EO and make accommodations for producers to sell their products and get back to work in the fields,” Bednarski said. “I was extremely proud of our members for how they handled this issue. It showed the strength and unity in agriculture and the role Farm Bureau played.” 

Bednarski said the organization was called upon to assist members and their employees in their legal challenge to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services mandated testing requirement of farmworkers, citing civil rights and discrimination concerns.

“Even though farmers and farmworkers knew they faced an uphill battle, and ultimately lost their case, they knew this organization stood behind them in their efforts,” Bednarski said. “It’s another great example of how your organization is constantly working for you and for Michigan agriculture.”

MFB also assisted members in June to take legal action challenging the new National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit issued by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy that, according to Bednarski, “largely ignores livestock industry recommendations and the most basic agronomic standards.”

“The potential implications of EGLE’s unrealistic permit requirements is just the first step toward more overly-burdensome regulations impacting all of Michigan agriculture — livestock and crop operations alike,” Bednarski said. “Regardless of farm size and regardless of whether we’re talking manure or commercial fertilizers, the threat is real.”

On the economic front, Bednarski acknowledged the “tough spot” farmers were put in due to retaliatory tariffs during intense trade negotiations with China and the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but commended the Trump administration’s support of agriculture throughout process. 

“It was a breath of fresh air to hear President Trump make agriculture a priority during trade negotiations with China, Japan, Canada, Mexico and now the European Union,” Bednarksi said. “Those of us in agriculture recognized the game that was being played — we had seen it before.” 

As a result of those tough negotiations and the new Phase-1 trade deal signed last January, Bednarski predicted better days ahead for producers, with China making record purchases of U.S. corn and soybeans, which are reflected in the markets during fall-harvest.

With his annual address coming just a day after arguably one of the most contentious and controversial elections in recent memory, Bednarski commended the work of County Candidate Evaluation Committees for recommending “Friends of Agriculture” endorsements to MFB’s AgriPac. 

“Yesterday’s results at polls reflect on successes and change,” Bednarski said. “Amid a volatile election cycle, many of Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPac-endorsed Friends of Agriculture proved victorious in their general election races — including several hard-fought and highly contested races.  

“Unfortunately, it appears we’ll have to wait a few more days before we know if President Trump will continue to be there for our farmers, as he has been throughout the last four years,” he added.

Calling it a memorable election for agriculture, Bednarksi thanked members for their efforts to meet with candidates on their farms to understand the needs of farmers and rural communities, noting their efforts will need to continue.

“As final official election results are determined, Michigan agriculture will face additional challenges and opportunities to assist those newly elected officials to understand agriculture’s concerns and the impact of their future policy decisions,” Bednarski said.

In addition to assisting farmer members navigate the challenges of a pandemic, he said the Farm Bureau Family of Companies staff, insurance agents and members stepped up to help those in need in a big way, including the “We’re in This Together” initiative to support local restaurants, and the “Million Meals Challenge.”

“Together, in a one-week campaign, Farm Bureau agents, members, insureds and staff raised more than $183,000 for families in need,” Bednarski said. “Those dollars helped the organization surpass their goal, raising enough for 1.1 million meals for Michigan children and families affected by the pandemic.” 

Watch President Bednarski's annual address here.
Despite several major challenges in 2020, Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski urged Farm Bureau members to recognize the economic turnaround in major commodity markets, setting the stage for a better 2021.

State News

Creative membership events like Berrien County’s belt sander races helped county Farm Bureaus statewide achieve a second straight year of overall regular membership growth.

Another successful membership year is in the books, and it shines with all the hard work, diligence and dedication of our most driven Farm Bureau volunteers! For the second year in a row, we achieved statewide Target — growth in our regular memberships. That’s a major achievement regardless of the circumstances, but in a year when associate membership slipped, it’s a significant milestone and testament to the hard work happening in our 65 county Farm Bureaus.

Some of the exciting things from the 2020/2021 membership year:

  • 39 county Farm Bureaus reached Target
  • Statewide regular membership increased by 78 members
  • 144 agents and volunteers qualified for Key Club, and 34 volunteers qualified for Carhartt Club
  • The statewide regular member retention rate was 94.95%
  • Statewide inactive regular members (2,208) decreased by 228 from last year — 1,285 less than three years ago!
  • 2,105 total new regular members, 376 of them being new regular members written by 170 volunteers
  • 348 new members written the previous year jumped in and got involved in Farm Bureau events and programs

We also saw a tie for our Top Writer Award: Lenawee County Farm Bureau President Thomas VanWagner (Dist. 2) and Missaukee County Force of Nature Ellen Vanderwal (Dist. 9) each signed up 10 new regular members!

Here are the remaining top writers, per district:

  • Dist. 1 — Tod Kubiszak, Van Buren: 7 new regular members
  • Dist. 3 — Lisa Kelley, Wayne: 7
  • Dist. 4 — Scott Phelps, Allegan: 5
  • Dist. 5 — Devin Richards, Shiawassee: 8
  • Dist. 6 — Ben Zaleski, Huron: 8
  • Dist. 7 — Breann Bonga, Montcalm: 6
  • Dist. 8 — Jeffrey Fulton, Saginaw: 8
  • Dist. 10 — Amanda Rodabaugh, Gladwin: 6
  • Dist. 11 — Ben Blaho, Emmet: 9
  • Dist. 12 — Dean Shepeck,Menominee: 6

Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Jason Scramlin wrote 48 new regular members this last year, followed closely by Agent Mark Hop with 45. Statewide, 144 agents and volunteers qualified for Key Club, writing at least five new regular members each.

This year we also saw an increase in Carhartt Club qualifiers, with 34 volunteers writing five or more new regular members, five they wrote last year renewing this year, or a combination of the two totaling five.

On the vital retention front, Northwest Michigan Farm Bureau in Dist. 9 earned Super Defender honors with an amazing 97.64% regular member retention! Top Defender winners by district are as follows:

  • Dist. 1 — Cass: 96.05% regular member retention
  • Dist. 2 — Lenawee: 94.95%
  • Dist. 3 — Washtenaw: 95.56%
  • Dist. 4 — Ionia: 95.74%
  • Dist. 5 — Clinton: 95.27%
  • Dist. 6 — Lapeer: 96.30%
  • Dist. 7 — Osceola: 96.71%
  • Dist. 8 — Bay: 95.54%
  • Dist. 10 — Arenac: 96.59%
  • Dist. 11 — Presque Isle: 96.09%
  • Dist. 12 — Hiawathaland: 94.88%

Congratulations to all of our award winners, hard-working membership volunteers and resilient county Farm Bureaus. We look forward to recognizing them all over the coming months with prizes and recognition. The hard work and dedication happening statewide is evident in the success of this year’s membership campaign.

Take a moment to stop, breathe and celebrate your success, big or small — you’ve earned it! Then stay tuned for some exciting announcements coming soon about next year’s campaign, which we’re already a few weeks into!

Laura Lunceford manages MFB’s Membership Development department.


Another successful membership year is in the books, and it shines with all the hard work, diligence and dedication of our most driven Farm Bureau volunteers!

Members looking to join the state board of directors are asked to express their candidacy in writing — email works — to MFB Secretary Andy Kok on or before the Annual Meeting Kickoff Nov. 3.
 

Ambitious Farm Bureau members looking to take their involvement game to the next level may consider contending for a seat on the MFB Board of Directors. This year’s state board election will decide who represents Farm Bureau members in Michigan’s odd-numbered districts, currently occupied by the following:

  • Dist. 1 — Brigettte Leach (Kalamazoo)
  • Dist. 3 — Mike Fusilier (Washtenaw)
  • Dist. 5 — Stephanie Schafer (Clinton)
  • Dist. 7 — Mike DeRuiter (Oceana)
  • Dist. 9 — Ben LaCross (Northwest Michigan)
  • Dist. 11 — Pat McGuire (Antrim)

Two at-large positions are also up for reelection:

  • At-Large — Andy Hagenow (Kent)
  • At-Large — Doug Darling (Monroe)

The third at-large position is occupied by President Carl Bednarski (Tuscola), who will be up for re-election next year.

Members looking to join the state board of directors are asked to express their candidacy in writing — email works — to MFB Secretary Andy Kok on or before the Annual Meeting Kickoff Nov. 3.

MFB’s State Annual Meeting Rules Committee instituted a new rule last year asking candidates for MFB director positions to provide a written statement describing how they meet the bylaw qualifications for directors, attesting that they are “directly and actively engaged in farming as owners and/or operators of farms whose primary interest is in farming” — and that they are not employed full-time in an occupation other than farming, nor serving in a county, state or national elective office.

“This move was recommended by a statewide committee several years ago,” Kok said, “to help the delegates understand how each candidate meets the ‘full-time farmer’ eligibility requirement for service on the board of directors.”

Statements will be shared with delegates prior to elections taking place.

Prospective candidates should contact Kok directly for the necessary form or more information.

Not up for reelection this year are those directors representing even-numbered districts:

  • Dist. 2 — Jennifer Lewis (Hillsdale)
  • Dist. 4 — Jeff Sandborn (Ionia)
  • Dist. 6 — Travis Fahley (St. Clair)
  • Dist. 8 — Michael Mulders (Bay)
  • Dist. 10 — Leona Daniels (Arenac)
  • Dist. 12 — David Bahrman (Hiawathaland)

Every year half of the MFB Board of Directors are up for election or re-election: even-numbered districts in even numbered years, odd-numbered districts in odd years. Two/Three at-large directors (from anywhere in the state) are also up for reelectio
The Great Mississippi Tea Company is out to prove high-quality tea can be produced in America. ProFILE participants toured the operation and learned about the specialized harvesting equipment the company uses to pluck the topmost leaves from established tea plants.

The 2020-21 ProFILE class found better luck with its capstone trip than its kickoff junket in March of last year, which wrapped right as the world slipped headlong into a global pandemic. As the latest cohort of MFB’s elite leadership program wraps up on schedule after its 15-month agenda, COVID is still with us but it didn’t dampen the experience for Michigan’s best and brightest young farmers.

In a decidedly unfamiliar corner of the Deep South bearing little in common with Michigan’s commodity lineup, our ProFILErs did what they always do: dial in on the common denominators that tie all farm sectors together — and do it so seamlessly you’d scarcely notice where the northerners end and their southern kin begin.

ProFILE coordinator Alex Schnabelrauch, director of MFB’s Center of Education and Leadership Development, said the logistical and environmental challenges this trip posed may’ve made its payoff all the sweeter for those taking part.

“Michigan’s county Farm Bureaus — and the industry as a whole — have some truly exceptional young leaders and we’re excited to see how they use what they’ve gained to improve their farms and communities.”

This year’s class includes Emily Boeve (Ottawa County), Casey Bozung (Van Buren), Sara Bronkema (Ottawa), Alisha Gibson (Kalamazoo), Brandon Hotchkin (Jackson), Charles Loveland (Jackson), Matt Marston (Livingston), Mike Mathis (Oakland), MaryAnne Murawski (Huron), Dirk Okkema (Mecosta), Terry Page (Ionia), Mike Sell (Wayne), Brenda Sisung (Clinton), Amanda Sollman (Saginaw) and Cody Tyrrell (Huron).

Altogether the group made nearly a dozen stops around the Mississippi Delta region, seeing firsthand the production of such key regional commodities as rice, cotton, tea and catfish. More familiar than the commodities were the challenges their producers face: labor, processing, logistics, water management and at least one wildlife pest —bears! — nobody saw coming.

“Our Michigan members put all their skills and knowledge to use, serving as tour-stop emcees, engaged learners and savvy reporters providing coverage along the way,” Schnabelrauch said. “Our hosts in Mississippi and Louisiana remarked how impressed they were with the depth and breadth of our group’s questions.”

MFB Digital Editor Tony Hansen was along for the ride and filed his coverage straight from the sweltering south; follow these links to read his detailed accounts: Day 1Day 2Day 3 and Day 4.

More than 70 young farmers have been nominated by their county Farm Bureaus to be part of the 2022-23 ProFILE class.


The 2020-21 ProFILE class found better luck with its capstone trip than its kickoff junket in March of last year, which wrapped right as the world slipped headlong into a global pandemic.

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