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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.

County News

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.

Matt Kapp


Rob Haag

‘Tis the season in Farm Bureau Land for candidate evaluation work, with county Farm Bureaus facing a May 27 deadline to submit recommendations to the MFB AgriPac Committee. One of the best methods for evaluating candidates is interviewing them face-to-face, and while COVID-19’s taken that option off the table, good options still exist.

Last week 14 members representing six county Farm Bureaus took part in a collaborative interview forum for Michigan’s 10th congressional district via WebEx teleconference.

 

 

Huron County Farm Bureau member Rob Haag chimed in on the virtual format.

“I’m not an avid user of web virtual-video meetings, but I’m learning and do think that it’s use can be productive and that it has a place in today’s world. There is a fit for it, however it’s not same as in-person meetings.”

There are even some subtle advantages to remote interviews, Haag admits.

“There is no drive time, which is a huge time saver, and in some ways virtual interviews are more personal because they’re conducted in homes,” he said. “That means we can see things that we usually wouldn’t see in other locations, such as family pictures on the wall. That helps us learn something about the candidates that we normally wouldn’t learn.”  

Tuscola County candidate evaluation chair Mike Milligan said, “I thought it went pretty well.

“It seemed more timely in a way, as candidates seemed more concise with their answers on camera. Two years ago at an in-person meeting, candidates seemed to ramble.

“What I didn’t like is that it was harder to have a group discussion at the end of the interviews. That’s tough to do virtually.” 

Another plus is that volunteers who missed taking part in the interviews as they happened can easily catch up because they’re recorded, and the links shared with members across the congressional district. 

Whether it’s Webex, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, online video conferencing technology, while not ideal, is still an effective means for Farm Bureau members involved in candidate evaluation to accomplish their important work this month in a timely fashion. Give it a try!

Matt Kapp is MFB’s government relations specialist

‘Tis the season in Farm Bureau Land for candidate evaluation work, with county Farm Bureaus facing a May 27 deadline to submit recommendations to the MFB AgriPac Committee.

State News

Kent County Farm Bureau member Kylee Zdunic-Rasch speaks on a policy amendment at the 2019 Michigan Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting.

If anyone worried COVID would dampen the grassroots spirit of county Farm Bureau members involved in the policy development process, they were fretting over nothing. They’d also be wrong to think a mere pandemic would jeopardize the quality of policy recommendations submitted by Michigan’s county Farm Bureaus. If anything, 2020 appears to have strengthened our members’ resolve and sharpened their talent for crafting meaningful, well-thought-out policies to protect and enhance Michigan agriculture and our rural communities.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s state policy development committee recently spent two days in Lansing deliberating nearly 500 policy recommendations from 60 county Farm Bureaus and 12 state advisory committees. The result is a carefully crafted slate of resolutions that 400-plus delegates to MFB’s 101st annual meeting will debate and approve, setting the organization’s course for 2021.

Unlike any previous annual meeting, county Farm Bureau delegates are encouraged to spend time preparing for the all-virtual delegate session Dec. 2 — the first of its kind in MFB history and certainly an unforgettable way to kick off the organization’s second century.

In his capacity as chair of the state policy development committee, MFB Vice President Andy Hagenow’s guidance is firm and simple:

“Attend your district delegate meeting,” Hagenow urges. “We’ll have limited time to discuss the policies during the delegate session, so it’s important members get together to determine what questions they have.

“Members should try to prepare amendments in advance to make the best use of our time during this year’s abbreviated delegate session.” 

A small sampling of policies with significant amendments are summarized below. The complete policy docket will be available online in early November.

COVID-19 and Emergency Powers 

To no one’s surprise, delegates will consider numerous amendments stemming from COVID-19, conflicting government authority, and food and agriculture industry disruptions.

“There were a lot of resolutions specifically dealing with COVID and executive orders that have been embedded all over the policy book,” said committee member and District 7 Director Mike DeRuiter. “That’s one of the pieces I would definitely focus on as a delegate.”

Among the amendments:

  • Provisions requesting that proper security, identification and safety protocols be followed by state agency personnel when visiting farms, including compliance with executive orders (Policy #16 Food Safety).
  • Opposition to a segment of the workforce being targeted for mandatory testing or regulatory compliance (Policy #47 Agricultural Labor).
  • Support for allowing healthcare facilities to decide to remain open during emergency circumstances (Policy #62 Health).
  • Language stating that rulemaking authority should be limited by legislative actions and state government should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act when emergency powers are enacted (Policy #67 Regulatory Reform and Reduction).
  • Support for government checks and balances during emergency power situations and that those powers should be valid for a maximum of 28 days without legislative oversight (Policy #68 Streamlining Michigan Government).
  • Support for liability protection for employers providing proper training, personal protection equipment, and working in good faith to protect employee health (Policy #69 Tort Liability Reform).
  • Support for a refundable income tax credit for businesses shut down due to government-issued executive orders (Policy #91 Taxation).

Transportation

Delegates will also review an overhaul of MFB’s longstanding policies on transportation.

State committee member Jarris Rubingh explained that a new “Transportation Improvement” policy will replace existing policies #95 Highway Improvements and Maintenance and #96 Highways and Funding.

“The transportation subcommittee went through the book, and we have a lot of policy on transportation, whether it’s road funding, improvements, rights of way, etc.” Rubingh said. “We tried to organize it so that it would make more sense and be easier to find specific things.

“Read through the whole transportation policy, because we deleted very little… It’s just moved around to make it more concise.”

Meat Processing

County Farm Bureaus also had strong feelings this year about challenges and opportunities for the state’s meat-processing industry.

“We probably had over 20 different county policy recommendations for the meats industry and processing side,” said John Bowsky, state committee member representing district 6. “We crafted a brand-new policy under commodities and marketing, so you’ll be seeing all-new language.”

The proposed “Michigan Meat Processing Industry” policy would add language supporting:

  • Studying the meat-packing industry’s retail sales, custom-exempt facilities, market access, expansion opportunities and regulatory issues.
  • A partnership between MSU, community colleges, career technical schools and the livestock industry to establish a livestock harvest/meat processing certification program.
  • Investment in and promotion of more mobile agricultural processing labs.
  • Creating a Michigan-based meat inspection and licensing system for in-state processing.
  • Limiting regulatory burden for small and medium-sized meat processors while protecting and enhancing food safety.
  • State funding and low-interest loans for small and medium-sized facilities to comply with regulatory requirements.
  • Greater utilization of the meats laboratory and professionals at MSU to support the meat industry, educate students and train industry professionals.

Environmental

Delegates will review proposed changes to the structure of the organization’s environmental policies.

A new policy, Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), was created by relocating MAEAP-specific language from policies #73 Environmental Protection and Authority and #80 Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management. If approved, the shift would streamline some of the bulkiest policies in the book.

In terms of new language, delegates should look for the addition within Policy #73 Environmental Protection and Authority calling for evaluation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process in Michigan and supporting an MFB study committee on the topic.

Bovine Tuberculosis  

Policy #34 TB – Mycobacterium Bovis Tuberculosis, continues to be a priority as delegates consider language to support requiring heads from all deer taken on private and public lands in the Modified Accredited Zone and surrounding TB surveillance counties be submitted for testing. The amended policy also calls for supporting the movement of cattle out of the region to maintain market access, if testing and other requirements are met.

If anyone worried COVID would dampen the grassroots spirit of county Farm Bureau members involved in the policy development process, they were fretting over nothing.

The “hybrid-virtual” format of this year’s Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting marks the event’s biggest makeover since it outgrew and left the Michigan State University campus in 1970. Wrinkles are still being ironed, but what’s coming slowly into focus are the promising opportunities for refreshed member involvement at the county and regional level.

That grassroots activity is at the heart of the monthlong agenda, and there’s a lot to accomplish between the Nov. 4 kickoff and Dec. 2 business sessions.

District-level meetings Nov. 9-19 will offer a new kind of delegate experience for those chosen to represent their county Farm Bureaus. Delegate registration will be open Oct. 12-23; substitution deadlines will be forthcoming.

Delegates should be prepared to review the resolutions booklet online beginning Nov. 1; printed copies will be available at district meetings. Reviews should prioritize looking for possible amendments and potential omissions. Members will be encouraged to address either; procedures for doing so will be forthcoming.

“What we anticipate is something like what our old open-policy sessions used to look like,” said Deb Schmucker, director of MFB’s field operations division. “Delegates will need at least a smartphone or a tablet to vote.”

Staffers from MFB’s public policy and commodity division will attend each district meeting to help facilitate those conversations.

Even-numbered districts will also have to squeeze elections onto their agendas.

See below for a complete list of district meeting times, dates and locations.

~ ~ ~

Prior to all that, the Nov. 4 kickoff session will take place entirely online and therefore viewable by all members with high-speed internet. MFB President Carl Bednarski will launch the monthlong process with his annual address, which will include announcements of the 2020 Volunteer of the Year and Distinguished Service to Agriculture winners.

That agenda will also include reports from CEOs Scott Piggott and Don Simon, Treasurer David Baker, representatives of the rules and credentials committees, and approval of last year’s annual meeting minutes.

~ ~ ~

The Dec. 2 business and policy session will take place in person or virtually by district, based on COVID phase restrictions; they’re also listed below.

All 12 districts will join as satellites around a hub composed of MFB leadership and the state Policy Development committee to manage the proceedings:

  • Nomination and election of district, Young Farmer and P&E directors
  • Election of MFB President
  • Policy resolution discussion – reaffirmation style
  • Policy resolutions

~ ~ ~

Look for more details as they develop in Farm Gate and all your usual Farm Bureau communications channels.

~ ~ ~

District Meetings 

District 1

  • Nov. 9 — 6 p.m.; Essenhaus Inn and Conference Center, 240 US-20, Middlebury, IN; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 2

  • Nov. 19 — 6:30 p.m.; Hillsdale College Dow Hotel and Conf. Center, 22 E. Galloway Dr, Hillsdale; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 3

  • Nov. 11 — 6 p.m.; Crystal Gardens Banquet Center, 5768 E Grand River Ave, Howell; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 4

  • Nov. 19 — 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; Railside Golf Club, 2500 76th Street SW, Byron Center; lunch included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 5

District 6

District 7

  • Nov. 11 — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Reed City Fire Department, 523 Morse St, Reed City; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 8

  • Nov. 12 — 6 p.m.; Jeremy and Kayla Enser Farm, 8290 Kochville Rd, Saginaw; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 9

  • Nov. 11 — 6 p.m.; Evergreen Resort, 7880 Mackinaw Trail, Cadillac; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 10

  • Nov. 9 — 9:30 a.m.; Arenac Community Center, 583 E Cedar Street, Standish; refreshments will be served
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 11

  • Nov. 10 — 6:30 p.m.; Courtyard Marriott, 1866 Mkwa Place, Petoskey; dinner included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; same location; lunch included

District 12

  • Nov. 10 — 11 a.m. EST; Sweet Grass Convention Center, W 399 US 2 & 41, Harris; lunch included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST; same location; lunch included
The “hybrid-virtual” format of this year’s Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting marks the event’s biggest makeover since it outgrew and left the Michigan State University campus in 1970. Wrinkles are still being ironed, but what’s coming slowly into f


Collegiate Farm Bureau continues to provide opportunities, both virtually and in person, for college students this fall. Registration is open for undergraduate students (age 18-35) interested in networking with peers and industry professionals, building career and leadership skills, and developing your voice as advocates for agriculture.

Thirteen chapters across the state organize and host events designed by chapter members for chapter members — everything from speed networking and public policy workshops to organizing Thanksgiving baskets for needy families and engaging youth in agricultural activities during community events and open houses.

Interested students should reach out to the Collegiate Farm Bureau advisor at their school (see list below). Returning members can click here to update their information and re-enroll for the 2020-21 school year. (Depending on your browser, you may need to hit refresh or type the direct link into the address bar https://collegiate.michfb.com.)

Students can learn more at the Collegiate Farm Bureau website and are encouraged to reach out to their advisor:

Does your student attend one of these colleges but isn’t enrolled in an ag-related major? That’s okay! There’s no requirement for any specific major to join. You just need a passion for agriculture, a willingness to experience a variety of activities, and the desire to network and connect with others!

For more information or questions, please contact an advisor or email Katie Eisenberger, MFB’s High School and Collegiate Programs Specialist.

Collegiate Farm Bureau continues to provide opportunities, both virtually and in person, for college students this fall. Registration is open for undergraduate students (age 18-35) interested in networking with peers and industry professionals, build

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