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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.

County News

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.
Emmet County Farm Bureau

Robert Vorce
The Board of Directors of Emmet County Farm Bureau are proud to announce the 2020 Emmet County Farm Bureau Scholarship winner as Robert Vorce of Harbor Springs.  Robert is a 2020 graduate of Harbor Springs High School and plans to continue his education at the Industrial Arts Institute in Onaway to pursue a degree in Welding.  Congratulations, Robert, on your academic achievements this year and we wish you success in your pursuit of higher education!
The Board of Directors of Emmet County Farm Bureau are proud to announce the 2020 Emmet County Farm Bureau Scholarship winner as Robert Vorce of Harbor Springs.

State News




The third class of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Academy for Political Leadership is set to convene with a pandemic-adjusted summer schedule instead of its usual winter time frame. COVID-19 restrictions led the group to put off meeting in person until a time when they can, hopefully, convene in person.

Eight participants are scheduled to meet in June, July, August and September:

  • Ed Scheffler — Lenawee County
  • Allan Robinette — Kent County
  • Loren King — St. Joseph County
  • Maria Carlin — Shiawassee County
  • Logan Crumbaugh — Gratiot County
  • Nadene Berthiaume — Saginaw County
  • Byron Fogarasi — Arenac County
  • Brad Lubbers — Allegan County

We’ll learn more about the participants as this year’s academy approaches.

MFB’s Academy for Political Leadership is designed for Farm Bureau members interested in politics and government. Some participants aspire to public office themselves or seek to learn how to support office-holders, while others simply want to learn more about how government works.

Content addressed through the course of the academy includes what it takes to run an effective campaign, election law, fundraising, and more.

The academy takes place every other year in non-election years. Contact your county Farm Bureau if you or someone you know is interested in taking part in a future class.

MFB staff contacts: Matt Kapp, 517-679-5883, and Melissa Palma, 517-323-6740


The third class of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Academy for Political Leadership is set to convene with a pandemic-adjusted summer schedule instead of its usual winter time frame.

By Nicole Jennings



Farm Bureau events like Rep. Moolenaar’s Dinner on the Farm took on a different look during the pandemic. Moving forward it’s important to stay mindful of the some of what we’ve learned over the past year.

If you’re anything like me, you probably look back at 2020 and still wonder, “what the HECK was that?!?”

But in the swirl of uncertainty, a global pandemic, social distancing and stay-at-home orders, county Farm Bureaus across the board still found made massive success. From a fantastic membership year, events abiding by restrictions, county annuals, board meetings, tele-town halls… You name it, the county Farm Bureaus did it. At a time when much of the world took a pause, our members persevered and found alternative ways to accomplish their goals and showcase the value of membership in our organization.

In doing so, leaders and members switched up a lot this past year and walked away with new and exciting ideas. We all mastered the subtle art of virtual meetings, sitting through our fair share of calls via Zoom and WebEx.

Unique ideas like virtual coffee hours with legislators, online trivia nights, online contests, virtual 5-Ks and virtual farm tours are all options that can bring people a little closer together even when we can’t join in person.

Social distancing is a term we’ve all come to know all too well over the past year. Yet many events were still able to take place.

Drive-through county annuals were happening throughout the state! Members revived drive-in movies, organized countywide scavenger hunts and convened outdoor summer picnics and tailgates.

Utilizing some of those skills we’ve all acquired will come in handy as we plod through winter. Sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing tournaments and skiing are all snowy engagement opportunities that Farm Bureau leaders can provide for members and hopefully take some of the chill out of Old Man Winter.

New ideas are one thing. Now, how do we share our upcoming events with members? Social media, postcards, Farm Gate and your county Farm Bureau website are all great ways to spread the word.

Also, think back on how you got involved in the first place. How did you first find yourself at an event? Most of the time it was because another member personally invited you. Never underestimate the power of a phone call and reaching out to the uninvolved — they may very well be the next great leader your county Farm Bureau’s been looking for.

If any of these event ideas speak to you directly and you think might work in your county Farm Bureau, drop everything and reach out to your county Farm Bureau board or district director. If they don’t already have plans, they can help you make it happen. And they’d just love to hear from you.

MFB Staff have come up with a new planning and promotional guide we hope will help county Farm Bureaus brew up “alternative engagement” plans that fit their needs. Click here to see and download it! 

Originally from a Genesee County grain farm, Nicole Jennings is now an MFB Regional Manager serving members across District 9, in the Benzie-Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Northwest Michigan and Wexford County Farm Bureaus.

Unique ideas like virtual coffee hours with legislators, online trivia nights, online contests, virtual 5-Ks and virtual farm tours are all options that can bring people a little closer together even when we can’t join in person.

Networking, communications, problem-solving, critical thinking, cultural awareness and social skills are just a few of the qualities today’s employers look for. World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute fosters those skills while encouraging young people to explore a variety of jobs and careers related to food security, science and agriculture.

The Institute is a one-day event coordinated by Michigan State University (MSU) where youth:

  • Present research and recommendations on how to solve key global challenges in a short speech and small group discussions with local experts.
  • Connect with other student leaders from across Michigan to share ideas, identify solutions to these problems and build lasting friendships.
  • Interact with global leaders in science, agriculture, industry and policy.
  • Take part in educational sessions to explore current research and issues in food, agriculture, natural resources, international development and life sciences.
  • Meet innovative professionals, researchers, professors and college students working to end hunger and poverty and improve food security in Michigan and around the world.

This year’s Institute takes place via Zoom from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 6; participation is free.

Students in grades 7-12 during the 2020-21 school year are eligible to register by submitting a two to five page paper (see link below) by April 1. Online registration for youth participants and their adult teachers or mentors begins March 1 at https://events.anr.msu.edu/wfpmiyi2021/

Top-performing participants will be considered as possible delegates to represent Michigan at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa (or virtually) this October.

Check out this video for more information, or contact Katie Eisenberger or your local 4-H county coordinator.

World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute fosters those skills while encouraging young people to explore a variety of jobs and careers related to food security, science and agriculture.

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