County News Archive

By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager





Earlier this spring, county farm bureaus across the state gathered their candidate evaluation committees and made recommendations to Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPAC committee who announced later this summer their Friends of Agriculture endorsement list to the public.

Since then, Michigan Farm Bureau has been the driving force behind the candidates they endorsed.

Most recently, Weir Farm in Hanover hosted Trump campaign advisor Lara Lea Trump, and Trump 2020 Senior Adviser Katrina Pierson bringing in farm bureau members and local residents to accept the Michigan Farm Bureau endorsement.

The rally drew in around 300 people including Hillsdale County Farm Bureau’s President, Kayla Lewis. “This was my first time attending a rally. It was a great experience to hear from the Trump Administration and many others who supported President Trump for a potential second term,” she said. “Lara Lee Trump spoke on what President Trump has done for us during his past four years and what he plans to do in his next four years, if elected.”

Michigan Farm Bureau’s President Bednarski joined them, emphasizing the long-term gains that have been achieved with the Trump Administration.

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau’s Vice-President Chris Brooks also shared insight on his experience. “President Trump demonstrates a lot of confidence and you could tell President Trump and his Administration are very passionate about agriculture. They really care about the backbone of America in the American farmers.” Chris was also interviewed by WILX News 10.

The message was clear. Election Day is right around the corner. Exercise your right to vote on November 3rd!

Weir Farm in Hanover hosted Trump campaign advisor Lara Lea Trump, and Trump 2020 Senior Adviser Katrina Pierson bringing in farm bureau members and local residents to accept the Michigan Farm Bureau endorsement.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

President, Jacob Faist


Vice President, Charles Loveland


3rd Member, Lorene Adams

Jackson County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting in September, followed by reorganization in October. Our new executive committee for 2020-21 includes:

  • President Jacob Faist
  • Vice President Charles Loveland
  • Third Member Lorene Adams

Jacob co-owns Faist Farms with his father Andrew, and his uncle David, in Pleasant Lake Township; a corn and soybean operation. He and his wife Loren have two young children.

Jacob first joined the board as District 5 Director from 2013 to 2017 and was then elected as District 3 Director and Third Member before he was elected as President in 2018.

Jacob has volunteered at many state and local activities including Young Farmer Leaders Conference, Young Farmer state & local activities, President’s Conference, and has represented our county at the State Annual Meeting. He has recently volunteered to chair the membership committee.

Charles owns and operates Smokey Oak Farms in Leoni Township; a beef cattle, hay, corn and small grains operation. He first joined the board in August 2018 as an At Large Director.

Charles has volunteered at many state and local activities including Project R.E.D. (rural education day), Young Farmer Leaders Conference, represented our county at the Young Farmer Discussion Meets, Lansing Legislative Seminar, Washington Legislative Seminar, was appointed to the MFB ProFILE Leaders program and plans to state annual meeting.

Lorene and her husband Dave own and operate Sand Hill Farms  in Grass Lake Township; a beef cattle operation. They also grow their own feed for their cattle.

Lorene first joined the board in 2016 as District 6 Director and was elected as Third Member the following month. She was then elected as an At Large Director in 2017 and Vice President in 2018.

Lorene has volunteered at many state and local activities policy development, history committee, the local fair activities, the legislative breakfast, and Project R.E.D. (rural education day).

While this year will still pose challenges for Farm Bureau activities, the county board of directors are eager to host members at trainings and events. Please check out our website at jackson.michfb.com or our Facebook page for more details! 

Jackson County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting in September, followed by reorganization in October.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

President Kayla Lewis



Vice President Chris Brooks


Third Member Ron Oates

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting in August, followed by reorganization in September. Our new executive committee for 2020-21 includes:

  • President Kayla Lewis
  • Vice President Chris Brooks
  • Third Member Ron Oates

Kayla works on her husband’s family farm, Pleasant View Dairy, in Allen Township, a dairy and beef cattle operation. She and her husband Adam have two young children.

Kayla first joined the board as an at-large director in August 2018 and was elected vice president the following year. Since then she has volunteered to chair the county annual committee, present Ag in the Classroom lessons and has attended many state and local events, including the Young Farmer Leaders Conference, Washington Legislative Seminar, Lansing Legislative Seminar and the state annual meeting.

Kayla will be our second female county president and leads Hillsdale County Farm Bureau into its second century.

Chris is co-owner of Brooks Farms in Moscow Township: a corn, wheat, soybean, hay, cow-calf beef operation. Chris and his wife Leann have three young children.

He first joined the board in February 2019 as the District 6 Director representing Moscow, Somerset and Adams townships. Since then he has volunteered to present Ag in the Classroom lessons and represented our county at Lansing Legislative Seminar and plans to state annual meeting.

Ron is co-owner of R.W. Oates Farms in Wright Township, a three-generation wheat, alfalfa hay and soybean operation. Ron served as an at-large director from 2008 to 2015, and again in 2018, when he was first elected to the third-member position.

Ron has attended many state and local trainings over the past several years, including the Young Farmer Leaders Conference, Washington Legislative Seminar, Lansing Legislative Seminar and the state annual meeting.

While this year will still pose challenges for Farm Bureau activities, the county board of directors are eager to host members at trainings and events. Please check out our website at hillsdale.michfb.com or our Facebook page for more details!

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting in August, followed by reorganization in September.
Kathy Chase

Don't forget!  Mark your calendars!

Regular members and their spouses should both have received, or will receive in the next few days, your 2020 Eaton County Farm Bureau County Annual packet.  Please fill out the ballot and either put it in the mail using the postage paid envelope supplied by October 5th or come to the Ballot Drop Off/Take Out Dinner at the Eaton County Fairgrounds on October 10th from 4:00 - 6:00 pm.  You will be dropping off your ballot(s) and picking up the dinners from the convenience of you own vehicle for everyone's safety.

If you are participating in the event, please place your orders for dinners (for regular members and their families) by October 2nd by either phone 517-543-5567 or by email [email protected].  If you are placing the order by phone, please just leave a message with your name, phone number and the number of dinners you are reserving.

*******Please note the phone number to call on the cover letter in the packet is wrong,  Please call 517-543-5567******* 

Reminder 2020 Eaton County Ballot Drop Off and Dinner Pick Up. Totally from your car!

Huron County Farm Bureau has awarded two $1,000 scholarships to local students who are furthering their education with our first annual scholarship.  The recipients of the awards can use the funds to attend college or trade school.

 

“We are honored to give back to the youth of our community by helping them with their future endeavors through our new scholarship program” said Rita Herford, Vice-President and Promotion & Education Chair of Huron County Farm Bureau.

Avery Kuhl was awarded one $1,000 scholarship.  Avery is the son of Ryan & Heather Kuhl of Sebewaing and a graduate of USA schools.  Avery plans on attending the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute and achieving a Hontech and YamaPro certificate.

Johanna Braun from Harbor Beach was another $1,000 scholarship winner.  Johanna is the daughter of Joe & Deanna Braun and a 2018 graduate of Harbor Beach Schools.  Johanna is pursuing a career in agricultural operations.

 

We would like to wish everyone who competed for these awards the best of luck as they continue their studies.

 

Applications are due annually on June 1st.  Applicants should be pursuing post-secondary education at either a 2- or 4-year college or trade school and parents must be a Huron County Farm Bureau member at least one year prior to the student applying.  Our goal in setting up this scholarship program is to reward students that show leadership skills and have a strong work ethic. 


Avery Kuhl (top)
Johanna Braun (bottom)
Huron County Farm Bureau Awards Scholarships

Please CLICK HERE to view the Proposed Resolutions that will be presented at the Monroe County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting on September 17, 2020.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

In this ever-changing world, farmers everywhere push forward through planting season despite the hardship that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives. Young Farmers here in Jackson County might tell you that hardships come like clockwork in agriculture and they learn new ways to adapt and conquer what’s thrown at them.

On Tuesday, July 23rd, 27 Young Farmers from Jackson, Hillsdale, Branch, Lenawee and Calhoun County Farm Bureau’s gathered outdoors at the Blight Farm in Homer to hold their annual Discussion Meet, hosted by Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer Committee. Participants heard from Afton Blight who shared her story about her farm operation. They also heard from two brewing companies about how they make hard cider and craft beer.

Discussion Meets are an opportunity for young farmers to discuss and exchange ideas in a competition format where finalist are selected and based on their responses from pre-determined agriculture issues.

The district level questions were 1) The decline in rural populations is accelerated by a poor farm economy. What solutions would enhance the vibrancy and economic sustainability of agriculture and rural communities? 2) Is big data a big solution or big exposure? Technology tools are often cited as a method of increasing productivity and profitability, but there are liabilities that go along with technology. As young farmers and ranchers we are often first adopters. How do we ensure clear understanding of the risks and rewards of big data and smart farming?

Jackson County Farm Bureau’s Chris Sanford was one of three finalists in this year’s discussion meet! Each finalist received a beautiful stadium blanket presented by Jim Baisden at Consumer’s Energy Ag Department.

All Young Farmer discussion meet finalists will move onto the state competition. While changing times will prevent the typical setting, plans for a state-level Young Farmer discussion meet are pending final details.

Learn more by visiting www.michfb.com.

Discussion Meets are an opportunity for young farmers to discuss and exchange ideas in a competition format where finalist are selected and based on their responses from pre-determined agriculture issues.
Angie Hague

Huron Shores has elected to cancel our in-person County Annual Meeting this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Ballots will be mailed out this week to all of our Regular Members.  Documents can be viewed on this site by clicking on the Resources tab and choosing County Annual Resources.

Please be sure to return your ballot!  The bottom portion of each ballot will be entered into a drawing for one of 8 prizes.  Stay tuned to Facebook on Monday, October 5th at 7:00 p.m. when we will host a Facebook Live to present the results and prizewinners.

County Annual Ballots Mailed
Deb Holmes

Livingston County Farm Bureau will be holding their Annual Meeting on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at the Fowlerville Family Fairgrounds, 8800 W Grand River in Fowlerville.   Registration will begin at 6:00pm with dinner being served at 6:30pm.    This event will be held outside at the Bingo Pavilion at the north end of the fairgrounds, near the historical village.

Social distancing will be practiced in that picnic tables will be spaced appropriately for diners or if attendees prefer, parking will be adjacent to the pavilion so that you may dine in your vehicle.  Dinner will consist of pulled pork, cheesy potatoes, Cole slaw and a cookie.  Bottled water will be provided for refreshment.

Horseshoes and corn hole games will be set up.  There will be some appropriate games for children that will allow for social distancing and safe play.

In order to accomplish the business of the Annual Meeting, a business meeting will be held following dinner to approve the 2019 Annual Meeting Minutes, approve the financial statements as of August 31, 2019,  to elect new directors and to review policy to be forwarded for consideration to Michigan Farm Bureau.  If you are unable to attend the meeting in person, the business materials will be made available for email as of September 2, 2020.  A ballot is also being prepared so that you may submit a vote via email.  To request these materials, please email [email protected] .  Completed ballots would need to be emailed by 4:00pm to [email protected] on September 9th to be counted in that evenings vote.

The LCFB Board of Directors thanks each of you for being a member in our organization.  We will do everything possible to make sure that the County Annual Meeting is a safe and family friendly event.  Our hope is that you will attend either in person or by reviewing the Annual Meeting materials and by submitting a ballot via email.  2020 has been a challenging year and we hope that our meeting will give members an enjoyable evening out at the fair.

Livingston County Farm Bureau will hold their Annual Meeting on September 9th. Materials will be made available via email if you cannot attend in person
Katie Moore, CAM

CLINTON COUNTY FARM BUREAU                                                                     

2020 OFFICIAL ELECTION OF DIRECTORS         
                       
                                    
                                  

If you would like to nominate someone for one of the following seats please contact Katie Moore at [email protected] or phone (989)224-9536.
Nominations must be submitted by September 10, 2020. Results will be posted after the 2020 Drive in County Annual on September 24, 2020.

District 1 Bath, DeWitt, Olive and Victor (3 year term)                                                                          

___ Name:  Madison Margraves                                                                                                                     


___ Name:  __________________________                                                                 

      

 

District 4 Bengal, Dallas, Lebanon and Essex (3 year term)                                                                                            

                       

___ Name:  Mike Halfman                                                                                          

 

___ Name:  __________________________                                                                 


Young Farmer
(1 year term)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

___ Name:  Alex Taylor                                                                                              

 

___ Name:  __________________________                                                                                                                                                     

 

 

Promotion and Education (1 year term)                                                                                                                                                           

 

___ Name:  Co-Chairs Carol Stewart & Mindy Voisinet                                            

 

___ Name:  __________________________

 

LCAP (Every Other Year)

 

___ Name:  Brenda Sisung                                          

 

___ Name:  __________________________

2020 Clinton County Annual OFFICIAL ELECTION OF DIRECTORS

County Farm Bureaus statewide are adapting their usual annual-meeting routines to meet the challenging circumstances 2020 continues to pose. Innovative approaches rooted in ensuring members’ safety from coronavirus are being weighed against each other depending on what works best for each county’s members.

Various combinations of online or mail-in voting are being fit together with meal options from food trucks to drive-though ice cream socials. Outside of state executive orders in place to safeguard the wellbeing of all Michigan residents, counties are only limited by their imaginations!

Jen Marfio juggles three counties in District 7 — Mecosta, Oceana and Osceola — all of which are doing drive-through annual meetings this year. While a radical departure from the norm, she said the concept was met with enthusiasm given members’ time constraints this time of year.

“Everyone is crazy busy either chasing irrigation or harvesting,” Marfio said. “Mecosta’s was already set up and we had an option to make it drive-through if necessary. When I went to Oceana, they were all pretty stressed about planning a big event only to have it canceled.

“I told them what Mecosta was doing and they decided a drive-through at the fairgrounds was the ticket. Add a little ice cream and there’s the annual!”

Osceola soon followed suit and all three of Marfio’s counties were on straighter paths toward tying up their annuals.

“The plan is for the member to drive up and check in,” Marfio explained. “We will hand them a packet with anything that needs to be voted on, and a ballot. Upon completing their ballot they’ll receive their meal and/or ice cream, depending on the county.”

Over in the Thumb, Sherri Gottleber CAMs for both Sanilac and St. Clair.

“Sanilac is hosting an ‘open house’ format,” she said. “Folks can arrive at the county fairgrounds anytime within a three-hour window. They’ll register from their car and get their ballot — and a ticket to one of several food trucks that will be on site.”

Members will submit their completed ballots as they leave, in exchange for a prize-drawing ticket.

To the south, where COVID numbers have been on the rise, the St. Clair County Farm Bureau board is opting for an even safer electronic vote-from-home format. Mail-in ballots will also be available for members who aren’t online.

“Very different from Sanilac, but I think St. Clair’s made the right decision” to safeguard members’ health, she said.

Janelle Walworth is administrative manager for both the Hillsdale and Jackson County Farm Bureaus down in District 2. Both are sticking with in-person meetings, but working within the parameters of the state’s executive orders.

Founded in June of 1920, Hillsdale County Farm Bureau this year celebrates its centennial, so that meeting will be more about celebrating history than conducting business.

Policy resolutions are being made available ahead of time to streamline their adoption at the meeting itself. 

  

And here’s where we stand with this year’s annual-meeting schedule — alphabetical by county Farm Bureau name, omitting meetings that’ve already happened and those with dates yet to be determined:

  • ALLEGAN — Aug. 25, 6:30 p.m. at the Trestle Stop, Hamilton
  • ANTRIM — Sept. 15, 6 p.m. at Royal Farms, Ellsworth
  • ARENAC — Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m. at Pine River Golf Course, Standish
  • BARRY — Aug. 17, 5:30 p.m. at Charlton Park, Hastings
  • BAY — Aug. 17, 6 p.m. at Auburn City Park, Auburn
  • BENZIE-MANISTEE — Sept. 20, 3 p.m.; location TBD
  • BERRIEN — date TBD; mail-in ballots
  • BRANCH — Sept. 21, 6 p.m. at Branch County Fairgrounds, Coldwater
  • CALHOUN — Sept. 15, 6 p.m. at Marshall United Methodist Church, Marshall
  • CASS — Sept. 15, 6 p.m. at Burger Farm, Niles
  • CHARLEVOIX — Sept. 19, 6 p.m. at Boyne City Administration Building, Boyne City
  • CHEBOYGAN — Sept. 10, 6 p.m. at Beaugrand Township Hall, Cheboygan
  • CHIPPEWA — Sept. 24, 7 p.m. at Tanglewood Marsh Golf Course, Sault Sainte Marie
  • CLARE — Sept. 3, 5 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Farms, Beaverton
  • CLINTON — Sept. 24, 4 p.m. at the AgroLiquid parking lot (tentative), St. Johns
  • COPPER COUNTRY — Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m. at Chassell Fire Hall, Chassell
  • EATON — Oct. 10, 4 p.m. at Kardell Hall, Eaton County Fairgrounds, Charlotte
  • EMMET — Sept. 17, 6 p.m. at LTBB Government Center, Harbor Springs
  • GENESEE — Sept. 16; location TBD
  • GRATIOT-ISABELLA-MIDLAND — Aug. 10, 5 p.m. at Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders, Wheeler
  • HIAWATHALAND — Oct. 26; location TBD
  • HILLSDALE — Aug. 29 at Hillsdale County Fairgrounds Grange Building, Hillsdale
  • HURON — Aug. 19, 5 p.m. at Huron County Fairgrounds, Bad Axe
  • HURON SHORES — Oct. 5, 6 p.m. at Ossineke Township Hall, Hubbard Lake
  • INGHAM — Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m.; mail-in ballots                                     
  • IONIA — Sept. 9, 6 p.m. at Shadow Ridge Golf Course, Ionia
  • IOSCO — Oct. 14, 6 p.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hale
  • IRON RANGE — Oct. 20, 6 p.m. at Sagola Community Building, Sagola
  • JACKSON — Sept. 19 at Thorne Farms, Hanover
  • KALAMAZOO — Aug. 20, at Prairie Baptist Church, Scotts
  • KENT — Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m. at FireRock Grill, Caledonia
  • LAPEER — Sept. 12, 5 p.m. at the Lapeer County Farm Bureau office, Lapeer
  • LENAWEE — Aug. 21, 6:30 p.m. at Carpenter Farms, Adrian
  • LIVINGSTON — Sept. 9, 6 p.m. at Fowlerville Family Fairgrounds, Fowlerville
  • MAC-LUCE-SCHOOLCRAFT — Oct. 8, 6 p.m. at Garfield Township Hall, Engadine
  • MACOMB — Sept. 15, 6 p.m. at Blake’s Orchard, Armada
  • MASON — Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m. at Farm View Resort, Free Soil
  • MECOSTA-MONTCALM — Aug. 23, 5:30 p.m. at Hearty Harvest, Remus
  • MENOMINEE — Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m. at Belgiumtown Restaurant, Stephenson
  • MISSAUKEE — Sept. 11, 5 p.m. at Missaukee Lake Park, Lake City
  • MONROE — Sept. 17, 5:30 p.m. at Old Mill Banquet Hall, Dundee
  • MUSKEGON — Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. at Muskegon Farmer’s Market, Muskegon
  • NEWAYGO — date & location TBD
  • NORTHWEST MICH. — Sept. 18, 6 p.m.; location TBD                         
  • OAKLAND — Sept. 16, 6 p.m. at Springfield Oaks Park, Davisburg
  • OCEANA — Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m. at Oceana County Fairgrounds, Hart
  • OGEMAW — Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m. at Horton Township Hall, West Branch
  • OSCEOLA — Sept. 23, 6:30 p.m. at Osceola County 4H Fairgrounds, Evart
  • OTSEGO — Oct. 4, 2 p.m. at Livingston Township Hall, Gaylord
  • OTTAWA — Sept. 17, 5:30 p.m. at Second Church, Allendale
  • PRESQUE ISLE — Aug. 24, 6 p.m. at The Pavilion at Elowsky Mill, Posen
  • SAGINAW — Aug. 27, 7 p.m.; conference call                                     
  • SANILAC — Aug. 21, 5:30 p.m. at Sanilac County Fairgrounds, Sandusky
  • SHIAWASSEE — Sept. 15, 9 a.m.; mail-in ballots                                 
  • ST. CLAIR — date TBD; mail-in ballots                                                 
  • ST. JOSEPH — Aug. 25, 6:30 p.m.; Evergreen Ranch, Burr Oak
  • TUSCOLA — Aug. 20, 5:30 p.m.; Midway Hall at Tuscola County Fairgrounds, Caro
  • VAN BUREN — Oct. 26, 6 p.m.; location TBD                                      
  • WASHTENAW — Sept. 21, 5 p.m. at Weber’s Inn, Ann Arbor
  • WAYNE — Aug. 26, 6:30 p.m. at Wayne County Fairgrounds, Belleville
  • WEXFORD — Oct. 13, 7 p.m.; “tele-town hall”
County Farm Bureaus statewide are adapting their usual annual-meeting routines to meet the challenging circumstances 2020 continues to pose. Innovative approaches rooted in ensuring members’ safety from coronavirus are being weighed against each othe
Cheboygan County Farm Bureau

Allison Kubiak and President Greg Whittaker
The Board of Directors of Cheboygan County Farm Bureau are proud to announce the 2020 Cheboygan County Farm Bureau Scholarship winner as Allison Kubiak.  Allison is a 2020 graduate of Cheboygan Area High School and plans to continue her education at Iowa State University, majoring in Animal Science.  Her future goals include studying Veterinary Medicine and becoming an Equine Veterinarian.  Allison attended our last Cheboygan County Farm Bureau Board Meeting where she was presented with a certificate by President Greg Whittaker.  Congratulations, Allison, on your academic achievements this year and we wish you success in your pursuit of higher education!
The Board of Directors of Cheboygan County Farm Bureau are proud to announce the 2020 Cheboygan County Farm Bureau Scholarship winner as Allison Kubiak.
Antrim County Farm Bureau

Vincent Cooper

Antrim County Farm Bureau is proud to support Vincent Cooper in the upcoming election for County Commissioner of Elk Rapids Township. Vincent is a fourth-generation farmer in the Elk Rapids area who has served on the MFB State Young Farmer Committee and graduated from the ProFILE: Institute for Leadership Education Program. He has been active in the Elk Rapids Fire Department for the past ten years and is currently serving as Captain. He also serves on the Elk Rapids Township Zoning Board of Appeals and looks forward to continuing to be involved and serving the Elk Rapids Community!

Antrim County Farm Bureau is proud to support Vincent Cooper in the upcoming election for County Commissioner of Elk Rapids Township.

Submit your Farm Bureau policy idea and be entered to win a LG TONE PRO HBS-780 Wireless Stereo Headset. 

Michigan Farm Bureau’s policy development process is time-tested and successful. It thrives on consistent and quality input from county Farm Bureau members like you.

You don’t have to join a committee, attend an event or even do extensive research to offer your input. Any member can weigh in on the more than 100 policies that guide Michigan Farm Bureau’s work to represent, protect and enhance the agriculture sector.

We’re looking to capture your ideas, whether they’re based on challenges you’ve experienced locally or statewide opportunities you see for the agriculture sector.

We're rolling out some prizes too: We'll be giving away a LG TONE PRO wireless stereo headset every two weeks through the end of July. 

All you have to do is take a few minutes and share your ideas for policy development via the electronic submission option.

To help members get discussion and ideas flowing, we’ve prepared briefs on emerging issues impacting the agriculture sector. Topics include:

Looking to learn more on how to engage in policy development? Contact your county Farm Bureau.

Submit your Farm Bureau policy idea and be entered to win a LG TONE PRO HBS-780 Wireless Stereo Headset.
Monroe County Farm Bureau

Monroe County Farm Bureau has awarded three $750 scholarships to local students aspiring to careers in agriculture.  The Selection Committee met on May 29 to determine this year’s winners.  Recipients of the awards can use the funds to attend college, trade school, or apprenticeship programs that support the agricultural industry.

“These students are the future of the agriculture industry of Monroe County, and we consider these scholarships to be an investment in the future of our community,” said Mark Mathe, President of the Monroe County Farm Bureau.  “Their achievements will impact the future success of farms and agri-businesses in our area.”

The 2020 winner of the Betty Bliss Scholarship is Colten Aikens of Monroe.  It is named for long-time County Office Administrator Betty Bliss, and has been presented annually since 1988.  Colten is attending Michigan State University studying Agribusiness Management and Crop and Soil Sciences.  The son of Mike and Rachel Jaworski, he is a Dundee High School graduate and was active in 4-H and FFA.  At MSU, he serves as chairman of the AGR Beef Preview Show and works with Alpha Gamma Rho charitable philanthropies.  He is currently in an internship with the Public Policy Division of Michigan Farm Bureau, where he aspires to work upon graduation.  He also plans to return home and continue to work the family farm.

The Dale Lynn Mason Scholarship, which honors long-time secretary Dale Lynn Mason who served the bureau for over 28 years, was awarded to Grace Herkimer of Monroe.  Grace is a student in the MSU Agricultural Operations program, housed on the campus of Monroe County Community College.  She also plans to transfer to MSU after earning her Associate’s Degree.  A graduate of Ida High School, Grace is the daughter of Jerry and Carol Herkimer and plans to remain in the agricultural industry after graduation, possibly in animal research, production, or nutrition.  In high school, she was an active member of the Ida Trap Team, 4-H Dog Program, and Junior Livestock Association, and volunteers her time with Ida United Methodist Church.

Finally, the third scholarship awarded this year is the Young Farmer Memorial Scholarship.  The oldest scholarship awarded by the bureau, it was renamed six years ago as a tribute to the Young Farmers of our group whose lives were cut short before reaching their full potential.  The scholarship was presented this year to Bethoney DeSilvis of Carleton.  She is a graduate of Jefferson High School and is also a student in the MSU ag program at Monroe County Community College.  Bethoney is studying Agricultural Technology, and plans to transfer to Michigan State University for Environmental Engineering.  The daughter of John and Deborah Gross, she was involved in the Key Club and Pom & Dance Team at Jefferson, and is now active in Collegiate Farm Bureau at MCCC.  Bethoney was one of the Collegiate Discussion Meet participants from MCCC at the Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting last December.

Winners are eligible to compete in all years of school against new applicants, provided they continue their studies in an agriculture-related field.  Since 1988, Monroe County Farm Bureau has invested over $40,000 in the future agricultural leaders of our community!  Other candidates vying for scholarships this year were Katlyn Taylor of Ottawa Lake, Mariah Gullette of Erie, and Madison Bank of Carleton.  We wish everyone who competed for these awards the best of luck as they continue their studies.  They are truly the future of agriculture in Monroe County!
 
Monroe County Farm Bureau has awarded three $750 scholarships to local students aspiring to careers in agriculture.
Antrim County Farm Bureau

Jarris Rubingh
Antrim County Farm Bureau is proud to support Jarris Rubingh in the upcoming election for County Commissioner of Banks and Torch Lake Townships! Jarris served most recently as County President of Antrim County Farm Bureau for the past 8 years. To learn more about Jarris and his family farm, please watch Michigan Farm Bureau’s video awarding Jarris with the 2019 Agriculture Leader Award https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1022798154727224
Antrim County Farm Bureau is proud to support Jarris Rubingh in the upcoming election for County Commissioner of Banks and Torch Lake Townships.
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.

Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) annually honors deserving members and individuals for their contributions toward supporting the state’s agriculture industry and furthering Farm Bureau’s values and member-driven policy.

Applications and nominations for the following awards are now being accepted:

Champions of Excellence

Champions of Excellence got a face-lift this year and now features only a single application for your county’s grassroots work.

The Involvement award winner will be determined from data compiled from county dashboards on July 1. Be sure your county project involvement is entered in iMIS by then!

The new Champions of Excellence application now includes criteria from the previous Leadership Development, Advocacy and Innovation applications. Complete it carefully to receive the recognition your county Farm Bureau deserves!

Submit an application for the 2020 Champions of Excellence Award (each county can submit two different project applications).

Applications are due July 1.

One winner per district, announced Aug. 16, will receive a $350 county grant and advance to compete at the state level. Announcement of the two state winners (one each in Excellence and Involvement) will be made at the 2021 MFB President’s Capital Summit and receive a $1,000 county grant each.

Presidential Volunteer of the Year

MFB President Carl Bednarski knows the value volunteers bring to the success of the organization and invites you to nominate a member for the Presidential Volunteer of the Year Award. You are encouraged to nominate a volunteer who has exhibited a commitment to a specific program or event in their local community and are instrumental to the success of that event or program.

Nominees should be regular members who have served throughout the entire year (Aug. 1, 2019 through July 31, 2020); and lead one or more county Farm Bureau projects; and recruited others to pitch in.

Nominations are due Aug. 3 and can be made with this online form.

Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award

The Distinguished Service to Agriculture award is MFB’s highest honor. Since 1956, this award has been presented to deserving individuals who have made exceptional contributions to Michigan agriculture.

Every past recipient has provided distinguished service to the state’s food and farm sector.

Nominations can be made online and must be received by July 1.

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

From a Muskegon County dairy farm through life’s most daunting crises, the “Popcorn Lady” of MFB’s annual meeting passes her legacy onto the next generation.

By Kathy Chase


As farmers, Eaton County Farm Bureau members dedicate their lives to feeding people and producing healthy food for families.  Because of this dedication and the early closing of the schools due to Covid-19, the board of directors decided to donate funds toward the school lunch programs for kids in need in our county.  Eaton County Farm Bureau had allocated funds to conduct Ag education programs in the schools.  Unfortunately, we were unable to do the programs before they closed.  It is these funds that our board of directors decided to donate to the county’s school districts.  Bellevue, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, Grand Ledge, Olivet and Potterville school districts each received $200 toward their lunch program for students in need.  In addition to the funds, the school districts were given links to educational material from My American Farm/American Farm Bureau and Michigan Farm Bureau for their teachers to use in virtual lessons.


Eaton County Farm Bureau members dedicate their lives to feeding people and producing healthy food for families. Because of this dedication and the early closing of the schools due to Covid-19, the board of directors decided to donate funds toward t
Katie Eisenberger

In the good ol’ days, after a long day’s work one would secure his or her horse to a hitching post outside a local establishment or a neighbor’s house before heading inside to catch up on the latest issues of the world.

We may have traded in our original horsepower for one with four wheels — and we can now communicate with one another without being in the same space — but one thing never goes out of style: learning something new. And we’ve got something new to share!

Over the next six months, members will have the opportunity to listen in as a group of Michigan Farm Bureau public policy specialists and industry professionals discuss critical agricultural topics through a virtual, laid-back atmosphere. They will look at current situations within the topic area, what related policy or programs MFB provides, and what next steps may look like.

Encourage someone you know to register if they’re interested in:

  • Gaining more awareness of current agriculture issues
  • Better understanding grassroots policy development
  • Getting perspective straight from the horse’s mouth!

To watch the Hitching Post, register for each monthly event separately. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the group. If you’re unable to join, but still interested in the content, all events will be recorded and posted to the MFB YouTube Channel.

Here’s the schedule of Hitching Post conversations, who’s moderating each discussion, and a link for participating:

I’m helping coordinate these discussions alongside my awesome coworker, Emily Reinart, the grassroots policy outreach specialist in MFB’s public policy division.

“This will be an opportunity for members to join a circle of peers for a short time commitment and invest in learning about current topics in the industry, how Michigan agriculture is impacted and how they can be involved in a solution,” Emily said.

All Hitching Post conversations will take place online via Cisco Webex, a convenient and easy-to-use online meeting platform that works on almost any desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone with a decent internet connection. Farm Bureau members can download it by clicking here.

MFB staff contacts: Katie Eisenberger (517-679-5444) and Emily Reinhart (517-679-5337

 


Over the next six months, members will have the opportunity to listen in as a group of Michigan Farm Bureau public policy specialists and industry professionals discuss critical agricultural topics through a virtual, laid-back atmosphere.

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.

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.
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.
Andrew Vermeesch, Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Farm Bureau wants to increase the number of farmers serving in government 20% by 2022. This is part of a series of articles aimed at informing Farm Bureau members about elected and appointed positions that offer opportunities for representing agriculture in government.

Michigan agriculture relies on a strong transportation system to get products to and from market. Whether by truck, rail, plane or boat, each mode of transportation plays a part keeping Michigan farmers moving forward. But out of all the vital infrastructure agriculture needs, nothing compares to the importance of our local roads. This should come as no surprise because almost all products, whether coming or going, starts or ends on a county road leading to the farm.

Locally driven is the key principle behind managing Michigan’s local road network. Our Road Commission Act of 1909 established county-level boards empowered with local control over roads while also allowing for regional collaboration.

County road commissions are responsible for ensuring safe and efficient transportation for goods and people over local roads and bridges within their jurisdiction. They’re composed of three to five members who are either appointed by the county board of commissioners or elected by voters. Road commissioners are usually paid a per-meeting stipend and serve six-year terms, staggered so not all them are up for election or appointment at the same time.

Farmers are great candidates for road commission service because of their on-farm skills and practical experience in areas such as long-term planning and cost-effective equipment maintenance.

Ogemaw County dairy farmer Klint Marshall milks cows near Lupton and knows firsthand the importance of agriculture’s involvement, being two years into his first term on the Ogemaw Road Commission.

“Agriculture is a small part of the overall population, but in our area farming is very prevalent — primarily dairy. It’s important that the industry is part of the dialogue and that agriculture is represented,” he said. “Revenue generated by farming recirculates four to six times in the community before it leaves, whether that’s through paychecks to farm employees or for parts at the local parts store. Being on the road commission allows me to bring that knowledge to other road commissioners.”

As a dairy farmer, Marshall understands the urgency of certain projects and incorporates agriculture’s unique brand of common sense to road commission decisions.

“For example, grading a road is much like doing field work,” he said. “Just like there’s a right time to do tillage work, there’s a right time to grade a road. Too dry and the grader just creates dust; too wet and the road becomes mud. Having the right moisture in the ground, just like field work, makes a big difference.”

While managing financial operations is a foremost responsibility of road commissions, equally important is maintaining strong relationships with townships and other local communities, especially when it comes to road maintenance and improvements.

“Everything starts at the local level and it’s important to have good working relationships with townships so they can provide input and help in the decision-making process,” Marshall said. “Good relationships help alleviate issues as they come up with other farmers, whether it’s mud and debris coming off farm equipment or drainage issues from a road that impacts a farmer’s field.”

Farmers need local roads. Shouldn’t they be involved in decisions about maintaining and improving local roads and bridges? Serving on your county road commission is your opportunity to do just that.

Michigan Farm Bureau wants to increase the number of farmers serving in government 20% by 2022.
Andrew Vermeesch, Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Farm Bureau wants to increase the number of farmers serving in government 20% by 2022. This is part of a series of articles aimed at informing Farm Bureau members about elected and appointed positions that offer opportunities for representing agriculture in government.

Michigan agriculture relies on a strong transportation system to get products to and from market. Whether by truck, rail, plane or boat, each mode of transportation plays a part keeping Michigan farmers moving forward. But out of all the vital infrastructure agriculture needs, nothing compares to the importance of our local roads. This should come as no surprise because almost all products, whether coming or going, starts or ends on a county road leading to the farm.

Locally driven is the key principle behind managing Michigan’s local road network. Our Road Commission Act of 1909 established county-level boards empowered with local control over roads while also allowing for regional collaboration.

County road commissions are responsible for ensuring safe and efficient transportation for goods and people over local roads and bridges within their jurisdiction. They’re composed of three to five members who are either appointed by the county board of commissioners or elected by voters. Road commissioners are usually paid a per-meeting stipend and serve six-year terms, staggered so not all them are up for election or appointment at the same time.

Farmers are great candidates for road commission service because of their on-farm skills and practical experience in areas such as long-term planning and cost-effective equipment maintenance.

Ogemaw County dairy farmer Klint Marshall milks cows near Lupton and knows firsthand the importance of agriculture’s involvement, being two years into his first term on the Ogemaw Road Commission.

“Agriculture is a small part of the overall population, but in our area farming is very prevalent — primarily dairy. It’s important that the industry is part of the dialogue and that agriculture is represented,” he said. “Revenue generated by farming recirculates four to six times in the community before it leaves, whether that’s through paychecks to farm employees or for parts at the local parts store. Being on the road commission allows me to bring that knowledge to other road commissioners.”

As a dairy farmer, Marshall understands the urgency of certain projects and incorporates agriculture’s unique brand of common sense to road commission decisions.

“For example, grading a road is much like doing field work,” he said. “Just like there’s a right time to do tillage work, there’s a right time to grade a road. Too dry and the grader just creates dust; too wet and the road becomes mud. Having the right moisture in the ground, just like field work, makes a big difference.”

While managing financial operations is a foremost responsibility of road commissions, equally important is maintaining strong relationships with townships and other local communities, especially when it comes to road maintenance and improvements.

“Everything starts at the local level and it’s important to have good working relationships with townships so they can provide input and help in the decision-making process,” Marshall said. “Good relationships help alleviate issues as they come up with other farmers, whether it’s mud and debris coming off farm equipment or drainage issues from a road that impacts a farmer’s field.”

Farmers need local roads. Shouldn’t they be involved in decisions about maintaining and improving local roads and bridges? Serving on your county road commission is your opportunity to do just that.

Michigan Farm Bureau wants to increase the number of farmers serving in government 20% by 2022.
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

By Matt Kapp ‘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.
Byline Here

Michigan meat processing facilities affected by COVID-19

President Donald Trump's executive order aims to keep the supply chain moving.

May 05, 2020

Editor’s update: With 60 employees testing positive for COVID-19, JBS, a beef processing plant in Plainwell, Mich., closed April 16-17 because of a low number of employees showing up for work. Operations have since continued at the plant, according to MLive.

 

As of April 29, 86 employees had confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one death. The Plainwell plant employs 1,300 workers and has been producing meat regionally for 95 years, according to the JBS website.

 

Michigan livestock producers moved 93,000 head of beef cattle (January 2020) and 1.2 million head of hogs (December 2019) through the production cycle, according to Michigan Farm Bureau.

Agriculture has overcome low commodity prices, international tariff spats and consumers' shifting preferences in food. However, a new challenge is taking shape in the industry: a domestic supply shortage of meat.

In response, President Donald Trump on April 28 declared meat processing plants can stay open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order allows recently shuttered meat plants to be classified as critical infrastructure under the Defense Production Act.

Efforts will be led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, says Trump, noting meatpackers will continue operations per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines.

It is hoped that animals moving through the supply chain will help producers, meatpackers and consumers in the short term.

“The food chain is definitely essential, and the workers in the processing plants are very important to us,” says Mary Kelpinski, CEO of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. “Hopefully, this will get the plants up and running and get our pigs moving through again.”

Kelpinski says the U.S. is not running out of pork supply, “but the pigs were starting to back up at our farms.”

“In Michigan, I think we were a couple of weeks away from having to take the extreme measures that they did out West when some of those plants closed,” Kelpinski adds. “Clemens Food Group is still open in Coldwater. A lot of our hogs go down there [for processing].”

Clemens Food Group started operations in September 2017 and processes 10,000 hogs a day.

One way to relieve supply chain pressure is by opening up processing plants, says David Ortega, food and agricultural economist at Michigan State University. He says the U.S. is processing about 30% fewer pigs because of closures and reduced operations.

Before Trump’s announcement, Ortega called the looming shortage of meat “concerning,” saying it would have affected consumer purchases at the grocery store in the weeks ahead.

“It's really hard to tell how long this is going to go on for,” says Ortega, who’s also an associate professor at MSU. “A lot of the plants are closing. Some are closed for about two weeks while they disinfect, and then come back and implement social distancing measures and other protective measures for their workers. If these plants do not get back online, then there will not be processed products moving through the meat supply chain into grocery stores.

“Now, that doesn't mean that you're going to go to the supermarket, and there's going to be an empty shelf or an empty section. It's just that depending on the number of plants that continue to remain closed and reduce capacity, there’s going to be a decrease in that supply.”

While workforce safety is a top priority at farming operations statewide, Michigan Farm Bureau livestock and dairy specialist Ernie Birchmeier says so is a “functioning meat processing industry.”

“Many farmers are facing very tough decisions as livestock destined for harvest and processing have nowhere to go,” Birchmeier says. “The action by President Trump is certainly a step in the right direction. We must be diligent in protecting workers, but we must also keep the food supply chain operating.”

Turkey operation shutters amid COVID-19

One western Michigan operation experiencing difficulties with COVID-19 is Michigan Turkey Producers LLC.

The farmer-owned co-op said it’s temporarily suspended operations at its Chicago Drive facility in Grand Rapids after confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its workforce. According to a statement from CEO Brian Boerigter, the company made the decision “out of an abundance of caution” and to allow for employee testing at the location. The facility closed April 24.

“We have had no reported cases at our Hall Street production facility [in Grand Rapids], and it will continue to operate,” Boerigter told Michigan Farm News. “Our No. 1 core value is the health and safety of our team members. As a result of the growing COVID-19 concerns, along with elevated worker absenteeism, we felt compelled to make the decision to temporarily close, in the best interest of our employees.”

Boerigter says testing of all employees began April 26 and continues now.

“At this time, we have received confirmation of 68 positive tests,” he said. “The majority of these individuals are asymptomatic. We have mandated quarantine and monitoring of all infected associates, as well as implemented contact tracing and quarantined all people who may have come in contact with those who are infected. To date, we have no employees who have required hospitalization.”

Those testing positive for COVID-19 “will shelter in place while we work with the Kent County Health Department and local medical providers to determine a safe return to work for those employees,” Boerigter says.

Michigan Turkey Producers says it’s following CDC and Kent County Health Department guidelines, including implementing measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus. They include, among other items, deep cleaning the plant, monitoring the temperature of people entering the facility, and putting up barriers where social distancing is difficult.

“Our team members will be paid while they’re on leave, and our thoughts are with them during this challenging time,” Boerigter says. “We continue to actively monitor this situation and will continue to respond appropriately.

“By following this path forward, taking care of our employees will allow Michigan Turkey to provide safe and healthy food for the communities and families we serve.”

Editor’s update: With 60 employees testing positive for COVID-19, JBS, a beef processing plant in Plainwell, Mich., closed April 16-17 because of a low number of employees showing up for work. Operations have since continued at the plant, according t


Macomb County Farm Bureau hosted a Truck Safety Training on March 4th at Esper Farms in Lenox Township. The training reviewed smaller vehicles (pickups and trailers under 10k), trucks (under 25k), what kind of driver’s license or plate is needed and how many pulling wagons or trailers can be towed. They also reviewed larger vehicles and who needs an annual vehicle inspection, exemptions, load securement and tarping and weight laws.
Macomb County Farm Bureau hosted a Truck Safety Training on March 4th at Esper Farms in Lenox Township.

Michigan Farm Bureau


The Michigan Farm Bureau team continues working on your behalf to advocate for your needs and connect you with resources to protect your farm business and employees during this challenging time.

As agriculture serves our state and nation as essential infrastructure, we recognize the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) is increasing and it will continue to as we begin to reopen the economy. PPE includes respirators, face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, gowns, disinfectants, thermometers, face shields, barriers, wipes, goggles/glasses, etc.

To help connect you with PPE supplies for you and your employees, our team partnered with Great Lakes Ag Labor Services to compile a list of vendors willing to fulfill agriculture-based orders.

You can also access the complete MFB Coronavirus Resource web page here.

It’s important to note that inventory continues to fluctuate and is not guaranteed. Pricing of products, volume availability, order lead times, minimum order requirements, and shipping arrangements are all at the vendor’s discretion.  

Upon receiving your PPE and distributing to your farm and business employees, we encourage you to read the following Michigan Farm News story to ensure the PPE is being utilized correctly. COVID-19 PPE tutorial: When to use respirators, facemasks, or cloth face coverings in agriculture

Following are some best practices we recommend for sourcing Personal Protective Equipment:

  1. Check with your current supplier first. Most PPE is on allocation to other customers as the needs for healthcare are met. Websites may display product as unavailable or without a price, so contact suppliers by phone to speak directly with a salesperson. 
  2. Explain that you are part of the food and agriculture sector. Agriculture is an essential industry sector: ranked number two in priority behind health care/first responders. 
  3. Make your contacts as soon as possible. There will be additional requests when the state opens fully on May 15. 
  4. Consider pooling orders with neighboring farms and agribusinesses. There may be minimum order requirements depending on the supplier and a larger order may result in better pricing and delivery options. 
  5. Make sure you are using a trusted supplier. Cybercriminals and scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic for financial benefit. The latest FBI alert warns hackers are targeting industries that are attempting to buy PPE with business email compromise mail.  
  6. Take into consideration time frame and location. A supplier may not be able to meet entire order quantity immediately but will allocate supplies as they become available. Also make sure you’re talking to a supplier that will deliver near, or directly to, your location. 

If you have additional questions about PPE procurement, simply email us  and we’ll direct your inquiry to the appropriate team member.  

Thank you for your commitment to agriculture and Michigan Farm Bureau. We appreciate your membership and hope you and your family stay safe and healthy.  

To help connect you with PPE supplies for you and your employees, our team partnered with Great Lakes Ag Labor Services to compile a list of vendors willing to fulfill agriculture-based orders.

Michigan Farm Bureau asks members and agricultural stakeholders to send a message to Gov. Whitmer, asking her to issue a clarification to Executive Order 2020-21, deeming the retail sale of plants as essential infrastructure. To act, simply text the phrase MIGREEN to the number 52886 or visit https://bit.ly/sayyestoplantsales.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION!

Retail garden centers and greenhouses across the state are brimming with nursery stock, flowers and vegetable plants — ready for customers to purchase for their home garden and landscaping needs.

Unfortunately, unlike much of the food and agriculture sector, retail garden centers were not deemed essential to operate under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21.

In response to grower concern, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski on April 3 sent a formal request to Whitmer to “ask for a reconsideration of retail garden centers to be included as essential infrastructure workers.”

According to MFB’s horticulture specialist, Audrey Sebolt, the industry with estimated retail value of $580 to $700 million, and 9,000-plus employees, has much at stake.

“For many growers, if they’re not allowed to sell the plants already growing in greenhouses, it will mean a complete loss and an entire year without income for both the owners and their employees,” Sebolt said. “We’re hopeful Governor Whitmer will take the lead from Ohio Governor DeWine who on April 2 designated retail garden centers as essential infrastructure.”

Bednarski’s request to Whitmer also indicates the industry is “willing to comply with increased reasonable restrictions to provide for social distancing, such as curbside delivery,” so they can sell product.

Many studies have shown mental health benefits from being able to plant flowers, curate landscaping or grow vegetables.

“As Michigan residents deal with direct or indirect impacts of Coronavirus on their lives, many like to turn to gardening to cope with stress, no different than those who turn to puzzles, reading or music for similar benefits,” Sebolt added. “Because of Coronavirus, there has been a large increase in sales of vegetable plants to home owners occurring in southern states. and we’re expecting this to occur in Michigan too.

“Our growers simply would like to be able to get their product into the hands of those who need it.”

Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Farm News are committed to providing its members and readers with the latest news and information on the COVID-19 pandemic. For news, updates and resources, visit https://www.michfb.com/MI/Coronavirus/. The page will be updated daily as more information becomes available.



Michigan Farm Bureau asks members and agricultural stakeholders to send a message to Gov. Whitmer, asking her to issue a clarification to Executive Order 2020-21, deeming the retail sale of plants as essential infrastructure. To act, simply text the phrase MIGREEN to the number 52886 or visit https://bit.ly/sayyestoplantsales.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION!

Retail garden centers and greenhouses across the state are brimming with nursery stock, flowers and vegetable plants — ready for customers to purchase for their home garden and landscaping needs.

Unfortunately, unlike much of the food and agriculture sector, retail garden centers were not deemed essential to operate under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21.

In response to grower concern, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski on April 3 sent a formal request to Whitmer to “ask for a reconsideration of retail garden centers to be included as essential infrastructure workers.”

According to MFB’s horticulture specialist, Audrey Sebolt, the industry with estimated retail value of $580 to $700 million, and 9,000-plus employees, has much at stake.

“For many growers, if they’re not allowed to sell the plants already growing in greenhouses, it will mean a complete loss and an entire year without income for both the owners and their employees,” Sebolt said. “We’re hopeful Governor Whitmer will take the lead from Ohio Governor DeWine who on April 2 designated retail garden centers as essential infrastructure.”

Bednarski’s request to Whitmer also indicates the industry is “willing to comply with increased reasonable restrictions to provide for social distancing, such as curbside delivery,” so they can sell product.

Many studies have shown mental health benefits from being able to plant flowers, curate landscaping or grow vegetables.

“As Michigan residents deal with direct or indirect impacts of Coronavirus on their lives, many like to turn to gardening to cope with stress, no different than those who turn to puzzles, reading or music for similar benefits,” Sebolt added. “Because of Coronavirus, there has been a large increase in sales of vegetable plants to home owners occurring in southern states. and we’re expecting this to occur in Michigan too.

“Our growers simply would like to be able to get their product into the hands of those who need it.”

Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Farm News are committed to providing its members and readers with the latest news and information on the COVID-19 pandemic. For news, updates and resources, visit https://www.michfb.com/MI/Coronavirus/. The page will be updated daily as more information becomes available.



The @Farm Bureau Insurance Michigan and the @Agent Charitable Fund are working together to provide one million meals to Michigan families during the COVID-19 crisis. We need your help! Your gift of any size will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000. Please donate to help Michigan families in need. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/millionmeals  

Eaton County Farm Bureau has proudly donated $500 to this great cause.  Won't you join us? 


Million Meals Challenge Donation
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

Andrew & Erin Reinker, Jackson CFB members


Brandon Hotchkin & Charles Loveland, ProFILE & Jackson CFB Directors


Michigan farmers across the state, including Andrew & Erin Reinker, Charles Loveland, and Brandon Hotchkin traveled to the Washington Legislative Seminar, March 9-12, in the nation’s capital.

Members who arrived the day prior were given the opportunity to take a tour of the Capitol Building or take a trolley to see the Monuments by Moonlight.

Tuesday morning the members gathered at registration before entering the L’Enfant Ballroom at the Hilton National Mall to hear a welcome from President Bednarski and Issue Overview with AFBF Staff, Allison Crittenden on agricultural labor, RJ Karney on Broadband and rural mental health, Veronica Nigh on Trade, and Pat Wolff on Taxes.

In the afternoon, members attended one of three issue tracks they pre-registered for The issue track on “trade” highlighted how we can achieve and expand trade opportunities for U.S. agriculture, with the European Union and other partners and how we can continue to advocate for increased market opportunities with current trading partners and opening doors with new partners. The Trade track visited the Delegation of European Unions and hear from Mr. Owen Jones, who serves as the Minister Counselor for the Trade and Ag Section of the EU.  The issue track on “immigration & agriculture labor” highlighted enacting legislation to help farmers meet their labor needs, this track went to the U.S. Senate Russell building and heard from Chris Schulte, D.C. Immigration expert, and Allison Crittenden, Immigration Lobbyist with AFBF. The issue track on “rural life” highlighted how to achieve policies that promote greater access to broadband in rural areas, address mental health challenges, and improve critical infrastructure, this track went downtown to the National Association of Counties to hear from their experts on broadband and mental health in rural communities.

Erin Reinker, who attended with her husband Andrew said, “We loved DC and can't wait to go back! During the conference, it was nice meeting others in the industry that have the same issues. Having immediate and personal contact with the legislators was really great too. We can all call their office and send them letters, but having them right there in front of us and answering questions on the spot was really great. Visiting Washington D.C. made me think that every high school junior or senior should be required to visit this city so they can appreciate the history and government.”

That evening, members were able to visit D.C. and join in on optional networking opportunities at select restaurants.

Wednesday began with breakfast followed by a briefing with White House Staff at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House with Kelly Ann Conway, who spoke regarding her experience growing up on a blueberry operation and addressed COVID-19, other speakers included USDA Under Secretary Bill Northe and EPA’s Assistant Administrator of the Office of Water Dave Ross. After lunch, members attended a multi-state reception and heard from members of the U.S. House and Staff.

After the briefing members went to Capitol Hill for meetings with their member of Congress’s office. Followed by a reception where 500 members from 5 state Farm Bureau came together at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. States present were Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio.

Charles LoveIand, attended WLS as ProFILE member and said “My favorite parts of WLS was being able to have the time face interaction with Congressman Tim Walberg and the White House staff briefing discussing agriculture issues. We also stopped in Gettysburg for ProFILE and it was a blast developing leadership skills based on some of the influential leaders at the battle of Gettysburg and how their actions can be used in everyday life.”

Brandon Hotchkin, who also attended WLS as ProFILE member and said, “The trip was great. Gettysburg was really cool and educational. The training along, with actually going out to the battlefield where leaders and decisions were made, was impactful. Seeing the farms, stone hedgerows and land that was the battlefield was thought provoking.  Learning about the leaders and their values and how they were successful or unsuccessful in the battle was great. Washington was a learning experience; being there to see some of the inner workings of government where policy that affects myself and my community was really cool. Gettysburg was probably my favorite part and most impactful.”

The event concluded with a breakfast where members heard from U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.

Michigan farmers across the state, including Andrew & Erin Reinker, Charles Loveland, and Brandon Hotchkin traveled to the Washington Legislative Seminar, March 9-12, in the nation’s capital.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

March 11, 2020 – Farm Bureau Members from across the state recently traveled to Lansing for the annual Ag Day at the Capitol event. This event, hosted by Michigan Farm Bureau with support from Michigan commodity organizations, is held each year to celebrate and recognize the contribution of Michigan's food and agriculture industry.  

The day’s agenda included:
8:30 a.m. Briefing for basket delivery participants
Location: Capitol Building, Room 405
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Basket deliver to House, Senate and executive offices
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Exhibits open on the first floor of the Capitol
2:00 p.m. – Members are encouraged to visit their respective legislators as time permits 

This year marks the 15th year of Ag Day at the Capitol event, an event designed to raise the industry’s profile with state lawmakers. Farm Bureau members across the state are encouraged to attend where farm bureau members deliver baskets filled with agriculture related items to their local legislators followed by joining them for lunch.

March 11, 2020 – Farm Bureau Members from across the state recently traveled to Lansing for the annual Ag Day at the Capitol event.

 


During Agricultural Safety Awareness Week (March 1-7), Jackson County Farm Bureau encourages everyone to end the stigma around mental health. Recent studies have shown stress and depressive symptoms are prevalent in the agricultural community, with as many as 35% of farmers and ranchers experiencing symptoms of depression. Data also suggests that the rate of suicide among farmers and ranchers is higher than that of the general population. However, most mental health conditions are treatable and early involvement by friends and family can lead to recovery.

Recovery starts with conversation, and discussions about mental health don’t have to be tricky. Starting a conversation by simply asking “How are you doing today?” or “How have you been feeling lately?” could be the invitation a loved one has been waiting for.

Once you have opened a dialogue, be ready to listen and offer support. Withhold judgement and try to avoid making the conversation about yourself. Be prepared to offer resources, such as a referral to a primary care physician or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255 (TALK)).

An important step in reducing the stigma around mental health conditions is to know the signs of a mental health crisis, particularly in the rural community (adapted from Robin Tutor-Marcom, North Carolina Agromedicine Institute).

• Decline in care of crops, animals or farm

• Increasing life insurance

• Increase in farm accidents

• Giving away prized possessions, calling or saying goodbye

• Increase in physical complaints or difficulty sleeping

• Feeling trapped or like there is “no way out”

• Making statements such as “I have nothing to live for,” or “My family would be better off without me; I don’t want to be a burden.”

No one is ever too young or old to struggle with the impact of stress and mental health issues, and no one has to endure the struggle alone. Nearly 1 in 3 rural Americans reports having sought out care for a mental health condition. Times are tough in rural America, but if the agricultural community comes together to have the hard conversations about things that might make us uncomfortable, we can end the stigma around mental health.

 

Sincerely,

Jackson County Farm Bureau

During Agricultural Safety Awareness Week (March 1-7), Jackson County Farm Bureau encourages everyone to end the stigma around mental health.
Michigan Farm Bureau
Kalamazoo County FB members enjoy a good rapport with U.S. Dist. 5 Congressman Fred Upton, who regularly attends Farm Bureau gatherings to exchange information on ag-related issues.

Close and regular contact with regulators and elected officials is the not-so-secret approach the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau uses to maintain its high profile among decision-makers. Whether it’s a state agriculture commissioner or a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, no public official is beyond approaching from engaged Kalamazoo members advocating on behalf of their neighbors and farmers statewide.

For its full-court press approach to addressing issues and keeping officials aware of Farm Bureau’s stances on them, the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau has earned MFB’s 2020 Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award.

One longstanding issue that really got Kalamazoo members motivated to take action was the matter of removing zoning conformance from the site-selection GAAMPs (generally accepted agricultural management practices.)

“This idea began here nearly five years ago, when a local township changed its zoning and made agriculture practically illegal — all to stop livestock facilities from being built within a prime farming area,” recalls Kelly Leach, president of the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau.

Ever since, Kalamazoo members have worked relentlessly to be a continual presence at township board and planning commission meetings, fine-tuning policy addressing the issue and lobbying officials to protect agriculture.

“Through this issue we were even able to engage several un-involved members and spark their interest in strengthening the grassroots power of our organization,” Leach said. “This is a perfect example of the importance and effectiveness of strong grassroots lobbying to solve a problem detrimental to our industry.”

Kalamazoo’s regular schedule is a study in public affairs engagement. Upwards of a dozen elected officials or staffers attend the county’s annual policy development meeting, where they get a front-row seat on local issues affecting local farmers.

That theme continues at the county annual, regularly attended by U.S. Dist. 6 Representative Fred Upton and the region’s state reps and senators.

“We host these events each year to engage and involve our local, state and national officials and allow them to interact with our members,” Leach said.

Congressman Upton himself was the focus of a special roundtable last summer regarding the effects of adverse weather on the region’s farms.

“After touring several fields, Congressman Upton spoke with several farmer members from around the county to discuss policy issues impacting them,” Leach said. “Almost a dozen of our members met with him, his staff and several members of the media.”

Kalamazoo last year also co-hosted a farm tour for elected officials, working with the local Conservation District. Stops included a commercial greenhouse, a fruit and vegetable agritourism operation, a large commercial grain operation and a dairy farm.

“We filled a commercial-size bus with 12 elected officials, 15 of our farmer members and 10 staffers who either rode the bus or attended one of the tour stops,” Leach said.

Officials know they’re welcome at Kalamazoo’s monthly board meetings to hear about issues, share how they'll address them and forge stronger bonds with local farmers.

Kalamazoo members take full advantage of resources for maintaining open lines of communication with the officials who represent them in government and the regulatory staff whose decisions affect farmers’ livelihoods.

For urgent issues, every Farm Bureau member knows there’s no substitute for personal, face-to-face interaction. That’s how Kalamazoo members faced last summer’s challenges to the site-selection GAAMPs.

“Several of our members lobbied specific ag commissioners on the need to remove zoning conformance from the site-selection GAAMPs,” Leach said. “There was also a group of our members who traveled to personally attend and testify on this issue at several ag commission meetings over the past few years.”

Kalamazoo members with particularly close relations to officials are comfortable calling them directly on the phone. Others have made full use of MFB’s new ‘Farm Feed’ texting service to make their voices heard on issues including the Clean Water Rule, USDA emergency provisions, low-interest loans and glyphosate regulation.

The award will be presented at the annual Lansing Legislative Seminar, Feb. 25 at the Lansing Center. For its efforts Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau receives a $500 grant for use toward future grassroots lobbying activities.

 

For its full-court press approach to addressing issues and keeping officials aware of Farm Bureau’s stances on them, the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau has earned MFB’s 2020 Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award.
Jeremy C. Nagel



Top photo: Kathleen Slater-Hirsch at MFB's 2018 Annual Meeting
Middle photo: Her family's name was part of the Holton Township landscape long before Kathy Slater grew up there, the eldest of five daughters on her parent's Muskegon County dairy farm.
Bottom photo: Kathleen Slater-Hirsch and her son Bill flanked by Lisa Fedewa and Tom Nugent representing the MFB Family of Companies 

Even the most senior Farm Bureau veterans don’t likely remember a time when the state annual meeting didn’t smell like a movie theatre lobby from start to finish. That’s because Kent County Farm Bureau member Kathy Slater-Hirsch has been popping corn at the event for the past four decades.

How she got to become a fixture at the largest annual gathering of Michigan farmers is a story any of those farmers will appreciate, as it embodies the same kind of grit and determination characteristic of those who make their living from the land.

Kathy Slater grew up the eldest of five daughters on a dairy farm in northeastern Muskegon County, near Holton.

“My dad was a lifetime Farm Bureau member — he loved it — his brothers did, too. A lot of them were farmers,” Kathy said between popcorn rushes at MFB’s 2018 Annual Meeting. “He was quite the inventor and did a lot of things first in Michigan. He was the first to have a pipeline milker, bulk tank… He had all sorts of equipment to help him work because he only had girls — no boys!”

Both her parents in those early years embodied the kind of social hospitality Kathy would, later in life, bring full-circle back to the greater Farm Bureau family.

“I remember when they were first married, my mom would have a luncheon in the house and the members would come from all around,” she remembers, describing the rituals that endure to this day among Farm Bureau Community Groups.

“Dad would get everything all spiffy in the barn for the neighbors,” she said. “It was a social event — a good, social gathering of the neighborhood.”

Kathy would eventually leave the farm, graduate from accounting school, and move to Kansas City where she worked for Gulf Oil through the 1970s. She and her husband eventually returned to Michigan to start their family in Grand Rapids.

In more ways than one, their son Bill Hirsch would go on to complete the story.

By the mid-1980s, the same high interest rates and inflation that was putting so many farms into bankruptcy had the Hirsch family in a similar bind.

“And my father just walked away,” Bill remembers. “He left my mom and us — a 13-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son — under a mountain of debt.”

There were multiple mortgages, massive credit card debt and leins on auto loans. But even under those most dire of circumstances, the dairyman’s daughter from Holton rolled up her sleeves and got to work.

Besides the family and financial disaster her husband left behind, he also walked away from the popcorn wagon they’d bought from a relative a decade earlier — a 1926 Cretors originally designed to be drawn by horses. The antique went straight into storage as a sacred family heirloom, but in the economy of the mid-‘80s, it was forced back into service.

“It needed to help pay for itself,” Bill remembers.

Its first outing was at an antique market in Allegan, a few years before Kathy took on the annual Farm Bureau gig. In addition to popcorning full-tilt at events across multiple states, she had also begun a jewelry business, a carpet-cleaning business and was managing rental units across Grand Rapids.

“My mom can be very, um, strong-willed,” Bill said. “For the war she fought on her own and got through, I love her dearly and I’m just amazed at what she’s accomplished and achieved in her life.

“She never filed for bankruptcy. She never lost the house.

“In my eyes she’s always been very successful, and she did not want to quit or retire ever. She’s said to me countless times, ‘Retiring’s not in my vocabulary.’ She didn’t want to give up.”

But Parkinson’s Disease is also strong-willed, eroding the links between brain and body until Kathy was forced at last onto the sidelines.

MFB’s 2019 Annual Meeting was her last.

In another full-circle twist, Bill is downsizing his own dairy operation to make room for the popcorn wagon that’s been part of his family’s identity since the ‘70s.

“Now I feel like this is a family legacy and it needs to continue. People love it.”

The Allegan antique market is still on the agenda, as is the Farm Bureau annual meeting, but this year it’ll be Bill filling the bags in his mother’s place.

For 40 years of making Michigan Farm Bureau’s annual meeting crunchier, saltier and more buttery than it otherwise would be, Kathy Slater-Hirsch was recently honored with a token of the organization’s appreciation. Earlier this month MFB Human Resources Director Tom Nugent and Lisa Fedewa, Engagement Specialist for Farm Bureau Insurance, delivered flowers, a plaque and other tokens of appreciation to the beloved “Popcorn Lady.”

“She loved the recognition,” Bill said. “She’s an outstanding lady.

“She took care of me now it’s my turn to take care of her.”

From a Muskegon County dairy farm through life’s most daunting crises, the “Popcorn Lady” of MFB’s annual meeting passes her legacy onto the next generation.
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!

Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) state-level policy development (PD) committee deliberated hundreds of policy recommendations from 62 county Farm Bureaus.

This is MFB’s 100th annual meeting, where policies will be considered by nearly 500 voting delegates to set the organization’s course for 2020.

“After 100 years, the fact that this process is still intact today, and that it creates meaningful ideas, proves how grassroots policy debate is what makes this organization so strong,” said Renee McCauley, a dairy farmer and vice-chair of the committee. “This has been a lengthy process that started months ago with the counties having conversations about policy, and each and every policy submitted by the counties to the state committee was discussed.”

Policy Discussion Schedule 

December 3: Delegate Session 1:30 – 5:00 p.m.

#238 National Dairy Program

#252 International Trade

December 4: Delegate Session 9:15 – 11:45 a.m.

#35 TB – Mycobacterium Bovis Tuberculosis

#89 Wildlife Management

#97 Highways and Funding

December 4: Delegate Session 1:45 – 3:30 p.m.

#44 State Energy Policy

#75 Farmland Protection

December 5: Delegate Session 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

#82 Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management

#86 Water Use in the Great Lakes Basin

Any listed policy not covered in the suggested time slot will be covered during the next scheduled session.

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

Environmental Protection and Authority

Three amendments are being proposed within the organization’s Environmental Protection and Authority policy to support:

  1. Continuing work with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on developing a general permit specific to slaughterhouses, permitting land application of process wastewater without advance treatment.
  2. Allowing Part 117 licensed septic haulers to also haul food processing wastewater and not require Part 121 industrial waste haulers.
  3. Supporting legislative or administrative changes that would require a formal stakeholder committee be involved in all permit developments and rewrites so input is balanced. Additionally, that all National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) writing/rewrite committees should be chaired by an unbiased third party. 

Non-point Source Pollution and Watershed Management

Mark Daniels, a greenhouse grower representing District 8 on the state PD committee, indicated that delegates will review provisions on emerging contaminants. The new language states that before new regulations are developed, the financial impact and liability to the affected community must be determined.

“We have language we’re asking to be inserted which will require that modern, scientific processes are used both in the investigation and the setting of policy when it comes to contaminants such as PFAS,” Daniels said.

There are two additional proposed amendments on other topics important to agriculture: First, in the existing section that supports the establishment of a statewide septic task force, adding language to call for a “set of standards for mandatory time-of-sale inspections." Second, inclusion of language to support creation of a state-funded cover crop and filter strip cost-share program. 

Water Use in the Great Lakes Basin

Staying in natural resources and environmental topics, the committee is also asking delegates to approve language instructing MFB to establish a member task force on water use. The group would be charged with “examining and evaluating uses of Michigan’s vast freshwater resources and to make recommendations of steps to be taken to facilitate better water policy relative to agricultural, economic growth and population stability.”

Highways and Funding

In the highways policy, delegates will consider language that would further define the organization’s support for user fees by adding the examples of “gas tax, registration or other user fees,” in addition to supporting local options for raising dedicated road funds through user-based fees.

Additional language was also added to show support for research related to warranties for proper construction and longevity of road and bridge construction.

“Our members are passionate about where our tax dollars go and how they’re being used to fund roads and other improvements,” said Rob Haag, a sugar beet, bean and grain farmer representing District 6 on the state PD committee. “Making sure we have representation and we’re being heard at the state level is very important to our membership.”

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB)

“There was a lot of discussion about the lack of traction we’ve gained in the past (on TB) and how we can give that policy more teeth moving forward,” said Nate Clarke, one of three Young Farmer representatives on the committee, in reference to the proposed changes delegates will consider in the TB policy. 

The policy currently lists tactics the organization supports to “expedite the eradication of TB.” Proposed additions to the list include supporting:

  1. A bounty for deer taken in any TB-positive or bordering county.
  2. A late hunt; conducted annually in February or March.
  3. Funding the TB program from the Department of Natural Resource’s budget, as opposed to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development’s.
  4. The year-round harvest of deer by any legal hunter (without a permit) in high-risk areas and TB-positive or bordering counties.
  5. Access to disease control permits for producers with a completed Wildlife Risk Mitigation Plan to reduce deer and elk interaction with livestock feed to prevent disease risk. Additionally, allowing farmers in a TB-infected area to shoot deer at any time within a designated farm perimeter.

Delegates will also vote on including language to further underscore opposition to feeding and baiting. The proposed amendment emphasizes “Strict enforcement of the feeding and baiting ban, including penalties for shooting a deer over a bait pile, be charged and prosecuted the same as poaching throughout the state.” 

International Trade

Delegates will review and potentially move forward select national-level recommendations for consideration at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) annual meeting in January 2020. 

Among them are proposed changes to AFBF International Trade policy to protect American agriculture from scenarios like what Michigan growers experienced this past year when Turkey flooded the U.S. market with highly-subsidized dried tart cherries, or when Mexico and Peru dumped asparagus into American markets.

Language additions include supporting changes to federal Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duty laws to:

  • Change the time frame and data used to determine dumping that recognizes domestic specialty crops and regional seasonal industries' production cycles;
  • Provide a process for regional/seasonal industries to petition for countervailing and antidumping duties.

 



Overview of policy recommendations to be debated at the State Annual in December. Policy discussion schedule included.