Farm Bureau News


The Emmet County Farm Bureau’s member-appreciation event, a drive-through dinner hosted by the Petoskey Culver’s restaurant, earned it District 11’s Champion of Excellence honors in Grassroots Innovation. Pictured above are Emmet leaders Ben Blaho (left) and Bill McMaster

Michigan Farm Bureau recently announced the winners of this year’s Champions of Excellence Awards, acknowledging county Farm Bureaus’ efforts toward engaging their membership and their innovative means of doing so.

Altogether this year 37 county Farm Bureaus applied for a total of 45 Champions awards in two updated categories: Grassroots and Involvement, each going above and beyond creating innovative and effective member programming.

Counties were also evaluated on their involvement statistics throughout the recently concluded membership year.

Here are our 2021 Champions of Excellence winners, by district:

Grassroots

  • District 1: Cass County Farm Bureau
  • District 2: Jackson County Farm Bureau
  • District 3: Washtenaw County Farm Bureau
  • District 4: Ionia County Farm Bureau
  • District 5: Clinton County Farm Bureau
  • District 6: Lapeer County Farm Bureau
  • District 7: Mecosta County Farm Bureau
  • District 8: Isabella County Farm Bureau
  • District 9: Mason County Farm Bureau
  • District 10: Gladwin County Farm Bureau
  • District 11: Emmet County Farm Bureau
  • District 12: Iron Range Farm Bureau

Involvement

  • District 1: Berrien County Farm Bureau
  • District 2: Calhoun County Farm Bureau
  • District 3: Oakland County Farm Bureau
  • District 4: Kent County Farm Bureau
  • District 5: Shiawassee County Farm Bureau
  • District 6: Lapeer County Farm Bureau
  • District 7: Osceola County Farm Bureau
  • District 8: Saginaw County Farm Bureau
  • District 9: Mason County Farm Bureau
  • District 10: Huron Shores Farm Bureau
  • District 11: Cheboygan County Farm Bureau
  • District 12: Iron Range Farm Bureau

One state-level winner in each category will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced at MFB’s 2022 Council of Presidents’ Conference, Feb. 2-3 in Midland.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding county Farm Bureaus for their exemplary work throughout the 2020-21 membership year!

The ideas and events submitted through the Champions of Excellence Awards process will be shared with all county Farm Bureaus so everyone can strive toward the greatness our winners have achieved.

Michigan Farm Bureau recently announced the winners of this year’s Champions of Excellence Awards, acknowledging county Farm Bureaus’ efforts toward engaging their membership and their innovative means of doing so.

Beyond all the tour hosts and expert speakers, Growing Together attendees enjoy ample opportunity to learn from perhaps their most highly esteemed and trusted resources: each other.
 

Farm Bureau members from across the state will converge Feb. 18-20 at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids next winter for MFB’s 2022 Growing Together Conference, where the Voice of Agriculture and Young Farmer Leaders Conference collide!

Open to regular members of all ages, Growing Together focuses on the common ground shared by Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Promotion & Education programs. Attendees will take home new ideas and resources to incorporate into their county programming — everything from reinvigorating youth programming and facilitation tips to human resource applications for your farm business and managing the ups & downs of rural life.

Keynote speaker Bruce Boguski will set the stage with a presentation about how to alter our belief systems and bolster confidence en route to success. Attendees will discover the advantages of a positive attitude and use that knowledge to change frustration and negativity into a ‘can-do’ environment.

Growing Together also offers members opportunities to network during tours, at receptions and during evening entertainment. This year, all Friday tours will converge at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for a private viewing and reception with heavy hors devours. Those looking to keep the evening going can participate in a virtual GooseChase scavenger hunt, completing challenges while enjoying downtown Grand Rapids, complete with prizes for the most points earned!

A pre-dinner reception on the second night will include a county leader reception where county Young Farmer and P&E chairs and co-chairs will be recognized for their leadership. Following that dinner will be an evening of casino fun, where the only required experience will be knowing how to have a fun, laid-back time with friends old and new!

In a new option, 2022 Growing Together attendees can choose between two Friday agendas: the Take Root Farm Succession and Estate Planning Seminar (at a discounted $50 rate) or the customary tour of regional agriculture sites.

Registration will be open Jan. 3-14. Contact your county Farm Bureau to reserve your spot and stay up-to-date at http://www.michfb.com/growingtogether

Farm Bureau members from across the state will converge Feb. 18-20 at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids next winter for MFB’s 2022 Growing Together Conference, where the Voice of Agriculture and Young Farmer Leaders Conference collide!

“Dale’s an example of a traditional county Farm Bureau board member: Their world is their county — they’re dedicated.”

This article has three simple goals:

  1. Honor the memory of an active Farm Bureau member — one specific man — whose years were recently cut tragically short.
  2. Honor the unsung style of member he was: the strictly local kind, content to do good work in their familiar, comfortable corner of a much larger universe.
  3. Encourage county Farm Bureaus to do more of #2.

The ‘larger universe’ here is the greater Farm Bureau organization, with its award plaques, stage walks and grip-n-grin photos, all in the name of recognizing the indispensable work of outstanding members and counties. In an organization reliant on the efforts of volunteers, recognizing those efforts is essential.

The ‘one specific man’ in this case never saw any of that, simply because he neither sought nor desired it. He is — was — Dale Frisque, who died Aug. 5 at the age of 59, the sole casualty of a fire at the cedar mill where he’d worked his whole adult life.

That mill is in the center of Menominee County, anchoring the south end of Carney, where Dale grew up, attended high school and was the third generation to work his family’s farm. He inherited Frisque Hilltop Farms in the wake of his father’s death, and completed its transition from dairy to beef, hay and oats.

“That was my grandparents’ farm — the farm my mother grew up on,” remembers longtime Menominee leader Pete Kleiman, a first cousin of Frisque’s.

“Dale never did get married; he stayed on the farm with his mother, raised hay, corn, oats to feed the beef… Some chickens, ducks… Sold round bales in the winter to horse people.

“Kind of an old-fashioned farm, really.”

Wasn't Like That

He joined Farm Bureau in 2001, launching an impressive track record of involvement in membership events, annual meetings and other activities central to the organization.

“I was the one who talked Dale into running for the county board in the first place,” Kleiman said. “We were looking for somebody from that area; it’s hard to find folks there.”

With a regular job in town and the farm only a couple miles away, Frisque was busy but always nearby and ready to help.

“He was kind of a homebody and involved in the community as best he could — the Lions and the church and sports clubs.”

And he brought that same sturdy reliability to the Menominee County Farm Bureau board, Kleiman recalls:

“He wasn’t a board member who… Y’know some people come onto a board with an agenda and ‘Once I get done what I want to get done, I’m gone.’

“Dale wasn’t like that. He showed up every month and he was willing to offer his opinion about how to proceed with something and if he didn’t think it was a good idea, he’d say so.

“He was just never going to be that person to serve on a state committee — that just wasn’t something he wanted to do. But when we did Breakfast on the Farm we could always count on him to be there on the weekend to help out.”

Plenty to Do 

The same held true at the mill, where Dale knew every facet of the operation and could always be counted on, even when it meant stepping away for a bit.

“At the mill when things slowed down and they needed somebody to take a week off, Dale was always willing to take a voluntary leave because he always had plenty to do back on the farm,” Kleiman said.

The mill was Peterson Brothers when he started there as a teenager, then Gilbert & Bennet, then Superior Cedar after a group of its own employees bought the place. Over the years it dealt in pulpwood and fence posts and bark mulch — mountains of mulch, feeding city folks’ garden beds by the semi load.

And in an instant, innocent sawdust turned into a lethal inferno.

Most Don't Know

News of Dale’s loss came promptly the next morning, Aug. 6, straight into the gut of MFB’s state staff convening online for an informal weekly meeting. The messenger was Craig Knudson, our seasoned Regional Manager in the Upper Peninsula.

“Most of you probably don’t know him,” he started, before announcing the loss in the succinct, economic way we do when those left behind are still wondering how and why.

That Frisque’s name was unfamiliar even to longtime MFB staffers came as no surprise to Knudson, who’d shepherded Dale’s involvement for almost two decades.

“Dale’s an example of a traditional county Farm Bureau board member: Their world is their county — they’re dedicated,” Knudson said, his voice growing bolder, more insistent.

“You won’t see them at State Annual Meeting, but they’re dedicated to the county Farm Bureau at the local level.

“That’s where Dale fit in.”

Moral of the Story

Our society rewards ambition and glorifies ladder-climbing heroes striving for greatness that skeptical observers may dismiss as out of reach. On the flip side of that, we can overlook those of more moderate aspirations: “Big fish in a small pond” is not a compliment.

The message for county Farm Bureaus is simple: Be sure to support your quiet journeymen, low-profile workhorses and behind-the-scenesters who get things done outside the limelight.

An industry that values humility can’t forget to honor the humble.

The ‘larger universe’ here is the greater Farm Bureau organization, with its award plaques, stage walks and grip-n-grin photos, all in the name of recognizing the indispensable work of outstanding members and counties. In an organization reliant on t

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

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

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

Two at-large positions are also up for reelection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every year half of the MFB Board of Directors are up for election or re-election: even-numbered districts in even numbered years, odd-numbered districts in odd years. Two/Three at-large directors (from anywhere in the state) are also up for reelectio
Creative membership events like Berrien County’s belt sander races helped county Farm Bureaus statewide achieve a second straight year of overall regular membership growth.

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

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

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

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

Here are the remaining top writers, per district:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura Lunceford manages MFB’s Membership Development department.


Another successful membership year is in the books, and it shines with all the hard work, diligence and dedication of our most driven Farm Bureau volunteers!
The Great Mississippi Tea Company is out to prove high-quality tea can be produced in America. ProFILE participants toured the operation and learned about the specialized harvesting equipment the company uses to pluck the topmost leaves from established tea plants.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Congratulations to Sydney Masters who received $1000 from The Young Farmer Scholarship Fund which is derived from a portion of proceeds of the Young Farmer Charity Golf Scramble.


Sydney shared this about her scholarly pursuits and future plans:

“I am attending MSU majoring in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education in hopes of becoming a high school agriscience teacher and FFA advisor.

I am also serving as the 2021-22 Michigan FFA State Treasurer and working with MSU Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Event Services Team.

Thank you to the Young Farmers and Washtenaw County Farm Bureau for helping to support my academic endeavors.”

Congratulations to Sydney Masters who received $1000 from The Young Farmer Scholarship Fund
Kathy Siler, Communications Chair

Congratulations to Amanda LaRoe who received $1000 from The Young Farmer Scholarship Fund which is derived from a portion of proceeds of the Young Farmer Charity Golf Scramble.

Amanda shared this about her scholarly pursuits and future plans:

“I am attending Northwest Iowa Community College. I am currently completing a two-year, online program in the Agriculture college. In two years, I will earn my associate degree in agriculture science. My future plan is to major in crop and soil management or farm management. I want to continue having an active role in my local agriculture community. I also plan to one day have my own farm; possibly specializing in feeder calves and beef cows. Thank you to the Young Farmers of Washtenaw Farm Bureau for helping to support my educational efforts.”

Congratulations to Amanda LaRoe who received $1000 from The Young Farmer Scholarship Fund

Rebecca Gulliver has been the Saginaw Valley Regional Manager for the past four and a half years. She has just recently transitioned into her new position based at the home office: Member Engagement and Field Training Specialist, which includes the Community Action Group program.

CLICK… CLACK… CLICK… CLACK…

Twenty-one steps are taken before turning sharply with the click of the heel to face east for 21 seconds exactly, then turning to face north for 21 seconds, followed by 21 steps down a black mat before repeating the process for an hour until a uniformed relief commander appears to announce the ceremonial changing of the guard. For 24 hours a day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment stand watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Looking back to my first trip to Washington, D.C., between my junior and senior years of high school, I remember the impact watching that ceremony had on me. The entire D.C. experience humbled me, helped me appreciate the opportunities I enjoy, and quite honestly fired me up, thinking of how entitled our society has become in the midst of so much selflessness showcased through the time-honored memorials in D.C.

If you are not familiar, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a white marble monument overlooking the nation’s capital from Arlington National Cemetery. Since 1921, it has been the final resting place for our nation’s unidentified servicemen and women — a place of mourning and reflection on the meaning and the cost of military service. Depending on the time of the year, the changing of the guard happens either every hour or every half hour, but it all comes down to tradition and paying respect to those who served our country.

Community Action Groups are a special tradition within our Farm Bureau Family. Personally, after I came on staff almost five years ago, attending my first CAG meeting was when it all came together — I felt like I finally understood what Farm Bureau was all about. I cherish that memory and look forward to being able to work in this capacity and with our organization’s time-honored tradition.

For those of you I haven’t yet had the honor of meeting, I am Rebecca Gulliver. For the past four and a half years I’ve been the Saginaw Valley Regional Manager, and just recently transitioned into my new position based at the home office: Member Engagement and Field Training Specialist, which includes this program.

Before Farm Bureau, I worked as the agriscience academic assistant at North Huron Schools, helping high school, junior high and elementary agriscience students with FFA. I graduated from Michigan State University in 2015 with a degree in agriscience, food and natural resources education and recently graduated from Northwood University with a master’s in organizational leadership. In my free time, I enjoy painting, crocheting, being the best aunt I can be to four nieces and a nephew, and playing with my dogs Harper and Hudson.

I look forward to getting to know each of your groups, and using the lessons I have learned through my experiences to give selflessly and serve our Community Action Groups to the best of my ability.

Community Action Groups are a special tradition within our Farm Bureau Family.

Attendees to MFB’s 2021 Annual Meeting can expect a smaller sea of delegates, as many are expected to take advantage of options to participate virtually — one of the silver linings of the pandemic-forced learning curve we’ve all been navigating since March of last year.
 

Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2021 Annual Meeting is taking shape as a hybrid affair, incorporating several familiar in-person activities and elements of last year’s virtual proceedings.

Pandemic precautions in 2020 made it necessary for an almost entirely virtual annual meeting, and feedback from members who took part was mixed. Most missed the camaraderie and efficiency of in-person interaction, but that sentiment was tempered by the undeniable convenience “phoning it in” meant for those living and farming long distances from Grand Rapids.

Barring the unforeseen, this year’s format will borrow from 2020 an early virtual kickoff event in early November for dispensing with reports and other formalities, followed by in-person district meetings the following week.

Those district meetings will allow delegates to nominate and elect their district director (odd-numbered districts only this year) and review the policy agenda prior to the full delegate body convening three weeks later.

The final component will largely resemble our familiar, in-person annuals, but in a condensed, two-day format that will incorporate means for delegates to join the proceedings without coming to Grand Rapids. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 will be packed with Young Farmer discussion meets, the Ag Art Gallery, Promotion & Education content and more.

The agenda below isn’t final but is close enough to offer a good idea of what this year’s MFB Annual Meeting will look like. And it is not too early for interested members to let their county Farm Bureau leaders know they want to take part!

DRAFT AGENDA: MFB 2021 STATE ANNUAL MEETING 

Wednesday, Nov. 3

Virtual Kickoff: 7-8 p.m.

  • Welcome 
  • Business session call to order 
  • Approval of 2020 annual meeting minutes 
  • Officer reports 
  • Rules Committee report 
  • Credentials Committee report 

Tuesday, Nov. 9 & Wednesday, Nov. 10 

District Meetings: in person within the district; times TBD

  • Nominations & elections of district director (odd districts only) 
  • At-large director candidates to join virtually for introductions and Q&A 
  • Policy review

Tuesday, Nov.30

State Annual Meeting Day 1: in-person at Amway/DeVos, Grand Rapids

  • 9 – 11 a.m. • Young Farmer Discussion Meet registration, contestant & judges briefing 
  • 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. • Young Farmer Discussion Meet Sweet 16 – Round 1 
  • 12 – 1:30 p.m. • Discussion meet participant lunch 
  • 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. • Young Farmer Discussion Meet Sweet 16 – Round 2 
  • 2 – 9:30 p.m. • MFA Ag Art Gallery showcase & voting 
  • 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. • Opening delegate session (Hybrid delegation) 
    • Welcome 
    • Scheduled polices 
    • Young Farmer Discussion Meet Final Four announcement 
  • 5 – 5:30 p.m. • P&E Showcase sneak peak (for non-delegates) 
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. • Reception 
    • P&E Showcase of County Activities of Excellence & 2-3 stations from state P&E committee 
    • Young Farmer Excellence Award presentation 
    • Sponsor exhibit space 
  • 6:30 – 9 p.m. • Leadership Banquet 
    • State Young Farmer committee Introductions 
    • Young Farmer Discussion Meet finals 
    • State P&E committee introductions 
    • Foundation introduction & kick-off for Art Gallery 
    • Recognition of county P&E activities and announcement for Ag Week 2022 
    • YF Awards – winners and finalist recognition 
    • Ag in the Classroom (Farm Science Lab & FARM Crates) and Educator of the Year 
    • Young Farmer Discussion Meet winner announcement 
    • Distribute P&E t-shirts

Wednesday, December 1 

State Annual Meeting Day 2: in-person at Amway/DeVos, Grand Rapids

  • 7:15 – 8:45 a.m. • Breakfast 
    • State AgriPac committee recognition 
    • AgriPac keynote speaker 
  • 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. • MFA Ag Art Gallery showcase & voting 
  • 8 – 8:30 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet registration & briefing
  • 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet round 1 
  • 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • Delegate session (hybrid delegation) 
    • Nomination and elections of district, YF, P&E and at-large directors 
    • Scheduled polices 
    • Block voting 
  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet round 2 
  • 10:45 – 11 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet final six announcement 
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet final six round 
  • 12:45 – 2:30 p.m. • Lunch 
    • Key Club recognition 
    • Agent Charitable Fund recognition 
    • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet winners announced 
    • Presidential Volunteer of the Year 
  • 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. • Closing Delegate Session (hybrid delegation) 
    • Block voting 
    • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet contestants observe 
  • 4 – 7 p.m. • Ag Art Gallery Silent Auction 
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. • Friends of Agriculture Reception 
    • Incorporate elected Friends of Agriculture as a showcase event 
    • AgriPac pin sales 
  • Sponsor exhibit space 
  • 6:30 – 9 p.m. • Annual Banquet 
    • Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award 
    • President’s Address 
    • MFA Ag Art Gallery live auction (popular vote winners & best in show) 
Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2021 Annual Meeting is taking shape as a hybrid affair, incorporating several familiar in-person activities and elements of last year’s virtual proceedings.

One of two FARM Crate options for September brings Michigan’s prosperous apple industry into the classrooms of your choice.
 

Summer fun might be in full swing but back-to-school season is just around the corner, and here are some reasons to gift FARM Crates to teachers in your community:

  • Help them incorporate agriculture into their lessons
  • Supplement your county Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom efforts
  • Reach grade levels your county’s P&E activities don’t normally reach
  • Enrich Project RED learning by providing a crate at another time of year
  • Connect with a new school you haven’t yet worked with

FARM Crates are again available in K-2 or 3-5 grade options. Each includes a food or agriculture book, a hands-on, printed lesson plan and support materials, an online extension activity and a teacher gift. The content is based in grade-appropriate educational standards and helps connect required content to agricultural concepts.

Crate subscriptions will include four fall themed crates: Apples, Pumpkins, Turkeys, and Christmas Trees. Subscribe and save with a discounted rate of $25 per crate. One brand new crate with an Insect theme is available for individual purchase.

New this year is a Refresh Pack for encouraging the reuse of crates received last year. Refresh Packs include consumable materials and renewed access to digital resources for just $15 each.

All fall crates for the fall months must be ordered by Aug. 23. Crates will be shipped at the end of the preceding month; October crates will ship in late September, and so on. Because Aug. 23 is so close to the end of county Farm Bureaus’ fiscal year, counties will receive a discount code for use in delayed billing to pay for their order in the 2021-22 fiscal year. (Note this option is only available to county Farm Bureaus.)

Here’s more detailed information about each of our fall 2021 FARM Crates:

September: Math, Easy as Pie

Students will learn about the parts of an apple, where they grow and meet a Michigan apple farmer. Teachers and students will use pie pieces for a variety of math concepts from patterning; identifying greater than, less than or equal to; or solving word-problems while learning about the different varieties of apples grown in Michigan.

September: Creepy Crawly Critters

Up for an adventure? Get up and get out! Take your students on a walk to explore the environment and insects found in your community. In this lesson, students will explore insects through three types of resources, they will hear from a local Michigan farmer about how insects are beneficial and how they treat for pests and conclude by completing various complementing worksheets.

October: Pumpkin Spice & Everything Science

Explore the life of a pumpkin! Students will review what a plant needs to grow before diving into a fresh pumpkin to identify and learn about the internal and external parts of a pumpkin and what role they play in its healthy development. Students will learn about the parts of a pumpkin, where and how they grow and meet a Michigan pumpkin farmer. Teachers and students will use a pumpkin to identify the parts of the pumpkin and how they support its healthy growth. Students will build a pumpkin life cycle using pictures to identify the process, from seed to decomposition.

November: Talkin’ Turkeys

Kindergarten through second-grade students will be introduced to non-fiction text and learn about the parts of a book. They will learn about turkeys and use what they learned from the book by applying it to activities in this lesson. Activities include creating a turkey puppet and completing a flap book highlighting the turkey facts they have learned. Third- through fifth-grade students will reach a fiction chapter book and answer comprehension questions for each chapter. Students will recall actions from the book to outline the plot, conflict and feelings of the characters. All students will meet a Michigan turkey farmer!

December: Trees, Traditions & Trade

Sit down next to the crackling fire as students learn about Michigan Christmas trees through the eyes of a young child and the stories her grandfather shared when she was growing up in Northern Michigan. Hear first-hand from a Michigan tree farmer and see what it takes to care for and grow the best trees for the holiday season. Finally, students will learn about goods and services in their community and needs versus wants through interactive activities.

Have your Promotion & Education volunteers work with your county administrative manager to order through the Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom online store. Click here to download a promotional flyer. 

MFB staff contact: Amelia Miller, 517-679-5688

Summer fun might be in full swing but back-to-school season is just around the corner, and here are some reasons to gift FARM Crates to teachers in your community:

If you have never had the chance to attend a district-level Young Farmer Discussion Meet, what you’ll find is: ambitious Young Farmers to network with; great conversation around important agricultural topics; and a chance to build your leadership resume with Michigan Farm Bureau.

Discussion meets date back to the 1940s and are designed to replicate a committee meeting in which Farm Bureau members, ages 18-35, explore an agricultural topic and discuss how to address it. The conversations not only help participants improve their speaking skills, but also generate exciting new ideas on key industry issues.

This year’s district-level topics focus on mental health and farm safety:

  1. Studies show more farmers and farm families are experiencing stress and mental health issues. What can farmers, ranchers and Farm Bureau do to proactively promote good mental health in both themselves and their communities?
  2. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries. What can we, as young farmers and ranchers, do to create a more preventative, rather than reactive, approach to farm safety in our communities?

Don’t miss this opportunity to have some fun and connect with Young Farmers in your area:

  • District 1 — Aug. 14 with trap shoot & cornhole tournament; St. Joseph County Conservation and Sportsman Club, Sturgis; contact Sarah Pion, 269-377-4841
  • District 2 — Aug. 5 with trap shoot; Big 9 Sportsmen’s Club, Concord; contact Kim Kerr, 269-967-3759
  • District 3 — Aug. 14; Planters Paradise & Floral Gardens, Macomb; contact Hannah Meyers, 616-485-4469
  • District 4 — Aug. 6; Zoom Farm Equipment, 7980 Pratt Lake Ave. SE, Alto; contact Lori Schrauben, 517-230-3462
  • District 5 — Aug. 21; Potter Park Zoo, Lansing; contact Clinton County Farm Bureau (989-224-9536), Eaton County Farm Bureau (517- 410-2438), Ingham County Farm Bureau (517-676-5578), Genesee County Farm Bureau (810-350-9513), Shiawassee County Farm Bureau (989-725-5174)
  • District 6 — Aug. 5 with golf outing; Grand Banquet & Conf. Center, Essexville; contact Beth Rupprecht, 989-640-6913
  • District 7 — Aug. 21 with golf outing; Waters Edge Golf Course, Fremont; contact Bridget Moore, 989-640-6973
  • District 8 — Aug. 14; Dow Diamond, Midland; contact Becca Gulliver, 989-708-1082
  • District 9 — Aug. 27; Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville; contact Nicole Jennings, 810-569-9610
  • District 10 — Sept. 18; Ogemaw County Fairgrounds, West Branch; contact Sonya Novotny, 248-420-2340
  • District 11 — Aug. 21; 3:30 p.m. sporting clays tournament, 5:30 p.m. dinner, 6 p.m. discussion meet; Charlevoix Rod & Gun Club, 11330 US-31, Charlevoix; contact Cole Iaquinto, 810-422-7322
  • District 12 — Aug. 31; Island Resort & Casino, Harris; contact Craig Knudson, 231-357-3864

District-level finalists will move on to participate in two rounds of virtual discussion Nov. 12. Those advancing to the Sweet Sixteen will participate in two in-person rounds at this year’s MFB State Annual Meeting, scheduled for Nov. 30 in Grand Rapids.

For more information, including videos on the parts of a discussion meet, visit www.michfb.com/YFDiscussionMeet.

 
If you have never had the chance to attend a district-level Young Farmer Discussion Meet, what you’ll find is: ambitious Young Farmers to network with; great conversation around important agricultural topics; and a chance to build your leadership res
Alyssa Bednarski

Abby Vittore (here with husband Ben) is outspoken on the value of Young Farmer discussion meets.

With this year’s district-level Young Farmer discussion meets quickly approaching, Michigan Farm Bureau knows that for some, getting the courage to participate can be hard but it is never impossible. Lenawee County’s Abby Vittore was once in your shoes and is here to share her experience along with advice and information that can be beneficial to this year’s participants.

Abby’s agricultural background began at her family’s fifth-generation farm near Adrian, where they grow row crops, provide agritourism and operate a spring retail greenhouse. Abby is still active on her farm as the majority owner of the greenhouse business, in addition to being a crop insurance agent for River Farms Crop Insurance Agency, Inc.

While attending Michigan State University, Abby joined Collegiate Farm Bureau, which helped prepare her for her current roles as vice president on her county Farm Bureau board and as a representative of District 2 on MFB’s state-level Young Farmer committee.

When her high-school FFA advisor pushed her to compete she was up-front about her nervousness, but jumped into competition anyway and has been hooked ever since. Her continued involvement over the years has seen her meeting members from all over the state.

“I have walked away from every discussion meet having learned something new,” she said, whether at the local, state or national level. “My favorite opportunity was competing at the national-level Collegiate Discussion Meet. I got to travel to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the Young Farmers Leader Conference, which was a great opportunity to meet Young Farmers from across the U.S. who all had such differing backgrounds to learn about.”

Discussion meets can be a powerful asset to help strengthen many different areas in your skill set. For Abby, taking part in these competitions has helped improve her readiness to speak up in conversations where her view may — or may not — agree with others. She’s also become more comfortable sharing her opinion in day-to-day conversations thanks to the environment discussion meets create.

“Everyone has to start from somewhere,” she said. “It’s easy to be intimidated by the people who you think are more experienced or more knowledgeable than you, but at some point they were also in your shoes. Taking the time to listen and learn will help you reach their level of knowledge and experience too.

“The only way to gain more knowledge — to get more experience, to be more confident — is to get involved and take the opportunity to better yourself,” she continued, going on to share some guidance to those who might feel some of her old reluctance to jump in.

“My advice would be to gain as much knowledge as possible on the topics given. Take the chance to prepare by talking to others in the industry or to reach out to local farmers or agribusiness people to get their thoughts on the topic at hand. This isn’t only a great opportunity to brush up on your leadership skills, but also a chance to learn something new about a topic and network with others in the industry.”

Michigan Farm Bureau would love to see and hear what you have to say at this year’s discussion meets. There’s plenty more information online, including the Young Farmer Discussion Meet Guidebook; this year’s topics; a scorecard rubric and rules; district contest information; and instructional videos.

Alyssa Bednarski is interning with Michigan Farm Bureau’s Center for Education and Leadership Development.


County Farm Bureau policy development teams are well into their yearly process of crafting resolutions that ultimately become the policy guiding Michigan Farm Bureau’s legislative and regulatory work year-round. Numerous electronic resources are avai

Have you recently contributed to fight hunger in Michigan as a member of Michigan Farm Bureau? If so, you can be a part of this year’s Harvest for All campaign.

Created by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Harvest for All is a yearlong campaign encouraging Farm Bureau members across the country to work together to help fight hunger.

To inspire their fellow members to donate their time, produce and dollars, every year the state Young Farmer committee hosts Harvest for All, which distributes $1,000 back into local hunger-relief organizations.

This year sees some exciting changes to the contest.

The 2021 Harvest for All Contest will be tallied at the district, not county, level. The district with the highest total will win $1,000 dollars to donate to a food bank of their choice.

All 2021 calendar year donations of volunteer time, commodities, food and dollars given by members on behalf of Farm Bureau are reportable. (Activities that took place in November and December of 2020 are also accepted.)

The winning district will be recognized at the 2022 Growing Together Conference.

Contact your county Farm Bureau office by Dec. 31 to report donations and activity. The deadline for this year’s contest is December 31, however contributions should be reported to county Farm Bureau’s by December 1 to assist in timely reporting.

For more information on the contest and resources visit www.michfb.com/HarvestforAll.

Created by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Harvest for All is a yearlong campaign encouraging Farm Bureau members across the country to work together to help fight hunger.


County Farm Bureau policy development teams are well into their yearly process of crafting resolutions that ultimately become the policy guiding Michigan Farm Bureau’s legislative and regulatory work year-round. Numerous electronic resources are available to help members engage in a variety of ways.

Probable Issue Briefs: To help members get discussion and ideas flowing, Farm Bureau staff prepare briefs on emerging issues and hot topics impacting the agriculture sector. Briefs this year include:

Current Policy: The 2021 MFB and AFBF policy books are available to search and download if members are considering amendments to existing language.

Submit your ideas: Use this form to submit ideas or amendments throughout the year.

Policy Development Process: Once compiled, hundreds of resolutions from Michigan’s 65 county Farm Bureaus will be considered by a 21-member state-level policy development committee. The final slate of policies is then considered by voting delegates at MFB’s annual meeting in Grand Rapids.

State Policy Development Committee: The committee consists of 20 members: one from each of the 11 districts; three at-large; three representing the State Young Farmer Committee; and three representing the MFB Board of Directors.

Looking to learn more about policy development? Contact your county Farm Bureau.

County Farm Bureau policy development teams are well into their yearly process of crafting resolutions that ultimately become the policy guiding Michigan Farm Bureau’s legislative and regulatory work year-round. Numerous electronic resources are avai
Kathy Siler, Communications Chair | Washtenaw County Farm Bureau


Photos courtesy of DeAnna Rose Cody 
Our thanks to DeAnna Rose Cody who sent us these dramatic scenes she captured near Bemis and South Industrial Dr. in Saline as a storm rolled in this afternoon.

Hopefully everyone stays safe during the ongoing storms and warnings.
Kathy Siler, Communications Chair, Washtenaw County Farm Bureau

!! FARM BUREAU GIVEAWAY !!


Shop local at the Chelsea Community Farmers' Market on June 12 from 8 AM - 1 PM. Look for our Washtenaw County Farm Bureau sign/booth at the Chelsea Farmers Market to pick up your free member's gift (voucher to shop with the vendors) and enjoy shopping a wide variety of local vendors - all with homegrown, homemade, hand-crafted products! We will be giving away a voucher to all Washtenaw County Farm Bureau members who show up. The voucher will be good for $5 to be used at the vendor booths who are Farm Bureau members.
Washtenaw County Farm Bureau Member Giveaway - Shop Local at the Chelsea Community Farmers Market

The third class of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Academy for Political Leadership convenes for the first time later this month, beginning a pandemic-adjusted schedule that will continue through September.

COVID-19 restrictions led the group to put off meeting meet in person until a time when they can, hopefully, convene in person.

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

Nadene Berthiaume grew up on a small farm in Genesee County, earned her education credentials at Michigan State and worked as an ag teacher and FFA advisor. She’s now district administrator of the Saginaw Conservation District, following several years as an ag-tech instructor and program director at Baker College of Owosso.

While raising her family Berthiaume is building two small businesses: a farm accounting service and a small horse farm. Her lifelong passion for agriculture informs her efforts as an advocate for agriculture, outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation.

Maria Carlin farms with her husband in Shiawassee County, raising cash crops near Owosso and running a pair of related ventures: d’Vine Wines and Maria’s Garden. She’s a graduate of MSU’s vet-tech program with degrees in microbiology and business administration; he’s a fifth-generation cash crop farmer and environmental engineer. Both entertain political aspirations.

Currently a member of the Shiawassee County Farm Bureau board of directors, Carlin represents District 5 on MFB’s state-level policy development committees and has take part in both MFB’s Lansing and Washington Legislative Seminars.


Logan Crumbaugh grew up on his family’s farm in Gratiot County, growing corn, soybeans, wheat and sugar beets. He earned his agribusiness management degree from Michigan State and through Farm Bureau events has developed a passion for political involvement, including an itch to someday seek an elected office.

Off the farm he enjoys homebrewing, riding ATVs and snowmobiles, and exploring Michigan with his wife Morgan.


Byron Fogarasi is the fourth-generation owner of his family's centennial farm in Arenac County near Sterling, raising cash crops, hay and beef cattle with his wife Robyn and their children, Ryder and Rose. Combining childhood lessons learned from his grandparents with formal education in mechanical engineering and business administration, Fogarasi is deeply committed to ensuring future generations can embrace the farming heritage his forbears made possible for him.

A member of Arenac County Farm Bureau’s executive committee, Fogarasi is already politically active as a township supervisor, taking an active role in policymaking to maintain his community’s agricultural legacy.


Loren King comes from St. Joseph County, where he serves on the count Farm Bureau board of directors and helps his family raise corn and soybeans. Off the farm he works with digital media for an agricultural startup serving farmers with digital media technology including photography, videography and drones. 

His Farm Bureau involvement has him hooked on developing solid policy and advocating for farm-friendly legislation. In 4-H and FFA, and as an MFB policy intern, King has developed and fed his passion agricultural policymaking, and personally lobbied lawmakers in advocating for measures that benefit American farmers.


Brad Lubbers farms near Hamilton in Allegan County with his parents, wife Konni and their children Thomas and Noelle. Together they raise hogs on a 200-sow farrow-to-finish farm, in addition to 900 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.

An active member of the Allegan County Farm Bureau, Lubbers has a deep resume of involvement in every corner of the organization, from candidate evaluation and policy development to the Young Farmer program and serving on the county board of directors, including as county president.

Allan Robinette is a fifth-generation fruit grower near Grand Rapids, and a member of the Kent County Farm Bureau. His family operates a popular agritourism destination where Allan works behind the scenes, growing apples, sweet cherries and peaches.

Robeinette’s Apple Haus includes operate a year-round farm market, cider mill, bakery and winery.

Ed Scheffler comes from a third-generation farm in northeastern Lenawee County he shares with his wife Wendy and their children Faith and Austin. A member of the Lenawee County Farm Bureau board of directors, he farms alongside his father, raising about 150 acres soybeans, 100 acres of hay and 80 acres each of wheat and oats.

By day Scheffler is Lenawee County’s deputy drain commissioner, a position that informs his volunteer work with the River Raisin Watershed Council’s farmer group promoting water-quality practices and public outreach.

At their June kickoff meeting all new Academy participants will spend time getting acquainted with each other and the program itself.

MFB President Carl Bednarski will speak to the need for farmers to be active politically.

Participants will take part in training mass-media interviewing skills, social media strategy and campaign material design.

Dist. 88 State Representative Luke Meerman, a dairy farmer from Coopersville and active Farm Bureau member, will share what he’s learned from campaigning and serving constituents.

MFB Legal Counsel Andy Kok will speak to the role of the judiciary and State Legislative Counsel Rob Anderson staff will walk participants through the process of how legislation really becomes the law of the land.

The program continues with subsequent sessions in late June and mid-August, and concludes with a mid-September session in Washington, D.C. (tentative, depending on the status of pandemic precautions there.)

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

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

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


The third class of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Academy for Political Leadership convenes for the first time later this month, beginning a pandemic-adjusted schedule that will continue through September.

Even with COVID restrictions lifting, a better-safe-than-sorry approach to children’s activities at the fair still makes good sense this year.

A: Each equate to approximately six feet of distance. While you might not be planning to line up livestock to remind fairgoers of appropriate distancing; restrictions and guidelines are everchanging.

Making small adjustments to children’s county fair activities should set up your county Farm Bureau Promotion & Education activities for success no matter the restrictions at the time of your events.

Please consider these general tips:

  • Plan for volunteers to individually hand out materials as opposed to help-yourself distribution of flyers, handouts, trinkets or craft supplies, etc.
  • Limit activities or displays where objects are handled by numerous individuals throughout the day to avoid cumbersome cleaning responsibilities.
  • Prepackage craft supplies or trinkets for children so one child or one family gets a bag of items.
  • Seek donations of small packages of crayons (MI Soybean Promotion Committee) to hand out with a coloring page instead of a bin of crayons to be shared by children at the fair.
  • Consider using painter’s tape or similar to mark off stations or work spaces for children at activity tables or picnic tables.
  • Avoid activities such as sawdust penny hunts, corn boxes, play areas with shared toys, craft supplies, etc.
  • Host individual make-and-take craft projects instead of games or activities that involve groups of children using shared materials. (See below.)
  • Avoid make-and-take activities involving food such as making butter or ice cream in a bag. Instead consider individually packaged food giveaways such as cheese sticks, small milk cartons or fruit.
  • Provide volunteers with cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer so all children sanitize hands before participation and all tables and materials are cleaned following activity.
  • Order safety posters from the MFB print shop to remind visitors of proper health and safety protocols.

Activity ideas:

Questions? Contact Amelia Miller or Katie Eisenberger

Making small adjustments to children’s county fair activities should set up your county Farm Bureau Promotion & Education activities for success no matter the restrictions at the time of your events.


Need extra hands at your district-level events this summer? Reach out to your future members: high school and college students.

Two sweet wins right off the bat: Your county Farm Bureau grows its volunteer pool (surely on your long to-do list) AND the students you involve experience our grassroots process firsthand.

For ways to utilize high school and collegiate members, check out this huge infographic below (click here to see and download a full-size version).

For help connecting with these groups, contact Katie Eisenberger, MFB’s High School & Collegiate Programs Specialist.

Need extra hands at your district-level events this summer? Reach out to your future members: high school and college students.
Inside MFB’s Farm Science Lab next school year won’t look the same with new safety protocols in place, but duty calls and the mobile classroom is eager to get its STEM game back on the road.

Don’t look now but chances are good Michigan Farm Bureau’s Farm Science Lab may very well be back on the road this fall, bringing ag-informed STEM lessons to elementary schools across the state! Sidelined like everything else by the COVID pandemic, MFB’s twin mobile classrooms are getting masked up and vaccinated with new safety protocols in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.

“Our goal is to have one lab on the road this fall, then both reactivated in the spring of 2022,” said Michelle Blodgett, who manages the labs as a function of MFB’s greater Ag in the Classroom efforts. “Right now our phone lines are open and we’re booking reservations for the fall.”

New safety measures start with slashing the lab’s normal 30-student capacity, possibly to as few as 10 kiddos per session. All students will have to sanitize upon entering and exiting the trailers, which will be thoroughly wiped down and sanitized between sessions.

The overall frequency of lab visits is also expected to decrease well below its customary pace of five to eight schools per month.

The Farm Science Labs each represent the culmination of a tremendous grassroots efforts to develop the programming and fund the construction of the mobile classrooms that’ve been a jewel in MFB’s crown since the first lab hit the road four years ago.

Praise from teachers has complimented every aspect of the Farm Science Lab experience; their comments speak for themselves:

  • What an awesome program. We need more of this available to our students.
  • My students really enjoyed the lesson and really liked the small farm they got to take home with them.
  • The educator was very professional and having a background in teaching was definitely a plus in managing our class.
  • Great presentation. Impressive lab! Students were happy and proud to take home a plant. THANK YOU!
  • It was a really neat and innovative way to bring a field trip to our school for less cost!
  • My class really enjoyed this. They came back to the classroom talking about all of the parts and how they were important. They were excited to share what they learned with each other. My group was thirsty for more. Overall it was a great experience!
  • Very well organized and I appreciated the video to show first. The teacher very effective in getting across concepts — very cheerful, very patient…
  • Our students absolutely loved the true lab experience! They were engaged and talked about it for several days. The instructor was fun and energetic! Thank you for the wonderful lessons!
  • Thank you so much for making this such a meaningful and fantastic opportunity for the students and teachers!
  • I was really impressed with the knowledge and patience that the teacher had.
  • Our instructor was super with my students! She kept their attention and had management skills to keep them on her. My students loved it!

Click here to learn more about the Farm Science Lab. School administrators can reserve the lab here.

Don’t look now but chances are good Michigan Farm Bureau’s Farm Science Lab may very well be back on the road this fall, bringing ag-informed STEM lessons to elementary schools across the state!
By Jeremy C. Nagel





2019 Volunteer of the Year Amanda Kutchey
2020 Volunteer of the Year Diane Hanson 
2015 Volunteer of the Year Kristin Kubiszak 



As an adjective used to describe Farm Bureau, grassroots is one word: your grassroots organization. As a noun synonymous with our membership itself, it’s two words: Farm Bureau’s strength comes from its grass roots.

I write it both ways all the time and it’s still confusing. I look it up a lot. But until there comes a word/term better suited for both labeling and describing Farm Bureau members, we will continue to wear…it...out.

This is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and its Farm Bureau half-sibling, County Leader Week — as good a time as any to give credit where it’s due, express gratitude and ponder how to improve. To that end Farm Gate phoned some experts: recent state-level Volunteers of the Year.

It’s a busy time of year so we didn’t get through to everyone, but those who could chat shared some very ponder-worthy thoughts on the role and value of Farm Bureau volunteers, including how to ensure their efforts are properly recognized after the fact.

It's an Attitude

Wise beyond her years, 2015 Volunteer of the Year Kristin Kubiszak (blueberries, Van Buren County) knows all outstanding volunteers share a kind of aw-shucks-it’s-nothin’ nonchalance about what they do.

“It’s an attitude,” Kubiszak said. “It’s a mindset that applies to much more than volunteering. My grandpa always told me: ‘There’s doers in this world and there’s people who don’t do, so you might as well be a doer.’”

Her timely example:

“We ordered FARM Crates and had all these deliveries to make and called around to find people to help,” Kubiszak said, but ended up leaning on board members. “We have a really good board.”

Another common quality is that great volunteers rarely expect — and often shun — recognition for their effort. Their real reward is in the work itself.

Back to the FARM Crates:

“So I delivered all these boxes to all these schools and by the end of the day it was just so fun and exciting, talking with all the school secretaries and they were all excited to take them to the classrooms,” she said. “You just felt so nice that you were going out and making a difference, reaching out to all these kids.”

When it comes to thank-yous, she said even first-timers appreciate something tangible over a paper certificate at the county annual, months after the fact.

“We started giving people food vouchers — $10 to eat at fair — and they love it,” she said. “Also we gave people t-shirts and it was like this big deal, they loved it!”

Yeah I'll Help

With first-hand insights as a grassroots member, county staffer and now a county Farm Bureau president, Amanda Kutchey (vegetables, Macomb) has stared down the volunteer experience from every angle. Even so, the 2019 Volunteer of the Year doesn’t have a magic wand and wrestles with all the same challenges as her peers across the state.

“When I was a CAM they had me calling people directly to round them up for activities,” but remembers it being like holding water in her hands. “Even for my county now, as a volunteer and county president, that’s something we can do better at.”

One effective tactic she’s found starts with being realistic about the effort involved in specific tasks, then divvying them up accordingly.

“If you leave the heavy lifting to the board and the county office — so your volunteers just get the fun stuff, so it’s not like a job per se — then it’s easier for people to volunteer.

“It does help get people more responsive to say, “Yeah I’ll help with that.”

When it comes to tangible-token recognition, Kutchey hasn’t found a $10 gift certificate any more or less effective than “the hitch pin or the gloves — although some people do love those things…

“I think truly when you get people who are passionate about the industry, they’re going to do it whether there’s recognition or not: They’re rewarded by the outcome.”

Can't be Afraid to Ask

Yoopers take pride in doing things their own way, but Diane Hanson’s recruiting approach may still surprise you. Last year’s Volunteer of the Year has found success staffing events by looking outside the box.

“Look outside your own Farm Bureau membership,” said the former Hiawathaland president. “I’ve found that for the Miracle of Life exhibit I don’t just get Farm Bureau members, I get people who’re interested in just doing that exhibit.

“They don’t have any ag background, but they’re retired” and enjoy the social component: mingling with the thousands of fair-goers who every year visit Michigan’s premier live-birthing exhibit.

But her wider-net approach isn’t limited just to the biggest event on the calendar.

“When we did the district discussion meet, the people I had helping weren’t Farm Bureau members. One was an MSU Extension person who comes to a lot of Farm Bureau things. Then I asked my neighbor from down the road and they took on the food.

“You can’t be afraid to ask somebody to help.”

Food for Thought

You can’t help but notice some themes here; each is worth a good hard think:

  1. Each has found success trying things that deviate from what we’d consider Farm Bureau convention or norms. We all love our comfortable ruts, but sometimes leaving them pays off.
  2. By a landslide, they’re mostly women. The last male Volunteer of the Year was Dave VanDyke in 2012 (dairy, Ottawa), a soft-spoken giant who avoids notice better than a shy owl.
  3. …because: Not one Farm Bureau rock star is in it for the recognition. Their reward is in the work itself, only it’s not work to them. Appreciation after the fact is important but not motivational; and practical/edible tokens win out here over ceremonial ones.

~

NOTE: Members’ names above are linked to their original Volunteer of the Year article. Each contains more Yoda-level wisdom illuminating the mysteries of volunteerism. Here are some more:

  • 2013 Volunteer of the Year Mandy Teachworth’s nominator tellingly remarked, “She doesn’t think she’s done anything special.”
  • 2014: Kathy Walicki launched Oceana County’s industry-spanning Ag Banquet and Taste of Oceana events.
  • 2016: Daniela Dryer “jumped in and kept going… I grew up with farming, it’s my life and I want to share it.”
  • 2017: Katelyn Packard said: “That’s really what drives me: I really enjoy teaching people about what I do every day.”
  • 2018: Stacey Lauwers was vital in developing MFB’s FARM Science Lab mobile classrooms.
As an adjective used to describe Farm Bureau, grassroots is one word: your grassroots organization. As a noun synonymous with our membership itself, it’s two words: Farm Bureau’s strength comes from its grass roots.
Washtenaw County Farm Bureau - Kathy Siler, Communications Chair

Sadly, for the second year in a row, school buses won’t be rolling in to the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds for Project RED (Rural Education Days)! We continue to miss the cadre of more than 300 dedicated volunteers who assist us with our “in person” event. This year marks our 31st anniversary of this award-winning, fun, educational event.

The great news, however, is that Washtenaw County Farm Bureau and the MSUE Washtenaw County and the

Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Program are excited to launch our second Virtual Rural Education Days. This year, 65 teachers preregistered for the free event and our volunteers have already delivered books and other resource materials to them at their various schools or mailed the materials to homeschool teachers!

We hope you’ll join us, too!! Beginning Monday, April 19th we’ll be sharing a series fun and informative short videos created by Washtenaw County folks involved in agriculture and the natural resources industry, as well as colorful commodity infographics.

Look for our posts on Facebook and Instagram. You can also search for the hashtag: #VirtualRED2021 to find them.

Spread the word by sharing our posts on your own page and letting family and friends know about this fun and educational virtual event!!

The great news, however, is that Washtenaw County Farm Bureau and the MSUE Washtenaw County and the Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Program are excited to launch our second Virtual Rural Education Days.
By Katie Eisenberger

Teenagers!?! Am I right??? We want to connect with them, but sometimes figuring that out isn’t as straightforward as reaching elementary students.

Our kindergarteners enjoy meeting a farmer and reading an ag-accurate book while sitting on their classroom rug. Third-graders look forward to the FARM Science Lab arriving for a day of hands-on learning. Fifth-graders engage with the FARM Crate or a county Project RED (Rural Education Day) event.

Then we have our middle schoolers, who turn into high schoolers, who then graduate to attend a trade school, college or head into the workforce. To help county Farm Bureaus develop stronger engagement points for grades 6-12 and beyond, the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture has set up the 2021 MFA High School and Collegiate Pail Program. (Play your cards right and it might also strengthen your membership pipeline at the same time.) 

County Farm Bureaus can recognize, connect and strengthen relationships with high school students and Collegiate Farm Bureau members with MFB feed buckets pails filled with resources that can spark conversations and connect the county with these future members. Four add-on packages can boost your county’s giveaway game at career fairs, honor state FFA degree recipients or graduating students, and boost brand awareness at county fairs and farm visits.

Each basic pail ($9) includes Collegiate Farm Bureau and Young Farmer program promotional material; an “Engage at Any Age” postcard (customizable for your county); networking and engagement tips; a panel of county-specific information (customizable); and suggestions for other county Farm Bureau touch points, like scholarship information, Young Farmer contests, social media and website links.

Four add-on packages are available for an additional $3 per pail:

  • Be Agriculture is for use at career fairs or college nights. Present one to FFA chapter officers or 4-H county representatives during National FFA/National 4H Week, or as giveaways or participation prizes during farm or industry tour. Contents include a career-themed Ag Mag, ‘Be Agriculture’ sticker and a Be Agriculture student handout.
  • On the Farm packs are great for giving to youth participating in youth safety events, livestock shows or county fairs. Connect with FFA Greenhands (first-year members) during your local FFA chapter’s Greenhand Ceremony, or give them away at farm visits to help promote Farm Bureau events. Contents include an MFB-branded first aid or sewing kit, a copy of Michigan Farm News and an MFB-branded emergency phone number magnet.
  • Recognition add-ons are good for presenting to county FFA and 4-H members earning state awards in Proficiency, Academic Excellence or State Degrees during their chapter/club annual banquet. Use them to award top showman in each livestock specie/age division at the county fair or local livestock show; to honor graduating FFA, 4-H or Collegiate members, or your county scholarship recipients. Contents include a customizable congratulations certificate and an MFB vinyl file folder with Collegiate membership and Young Farmer program information.
  • Be Mindful packages are aimed at encouraging students to practice good wellness and mindfulness practices. They’re good gifts for 4-H or FFA seniors as they move into their next phase of life, whether in post-secondary education or the workforce. Contents include a farm-stress post card, MFB stress ball or fidget spinner, and a Farm Bureau-themed journal/coloring booklet.

Through cost-share support from the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, county Farm Bureaus will get half off their first $600 of pail purchases made by April 30 through the Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom store. Orders must be made by the county administrative manager from March 1 through April 30; click here.

Direct your questions and orders through your county administrative manager. Like I do with my 13-year-old, set some phone reminders and post a checklist on the bathroom mirror so you don’t miss the April 30 deadline. Your county won’t want to miss a chance to recognize, connect and strength relationships with your future members!

Also feel free to contact me with any questions!

Last year was tough and we’re all eager for 2021. Even if the New Year isn’t magical it still gives us a sense of light at the end of the tunnel and a new beginning. With that new beginning, one thing remains the same: We’re still all in this togethe

Continuing our series of real talk with real experts about the real issues facing Michigan farmers, Farmers After Hours: Rural Access, Wellness and You will explore the struggles and resources available for rural healthcare, wellness and support. By breaking down the building blocks of overall health — medical healthcare, rural health trends and mental health — this series will help viewers build awareness of their current health habits and connect with resources to improve their overall well-being.

  • March 17: Live Farmer Panel
  • March 24: Rural Access: The Struggle is Real; healthcare & broadband; Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan
  • March 31: Creating Connectivity: Resources for Rural Areas; healthcare & broadband; The Rural Broadband Association and Rural Health Association
  • April 7: Rural Health Trends; mental health, suicide and cancer; Drs. Elena Stoffel and Joe Himle, University of Michigan
  • April 14: Rural Trends: Diffusion and Meaningful Solutions; mental health, suicide and cancer; Kim Vapor and Dr. Joe Himle, University of Michigan
  • April 21: Farm Stress: The Physical and Mental Toll; real-life stressors, tolls and stigma reduction; Charlotte Halverson, AgriSafe
  • April 28: Combating Stress: Tactics, Resources and Networks; Eric Karbowski, MSU Extension
  • May 5: Live Ask-the-Expert Panel

Register for the new Farmers After Hours series here. Catch up on previous series here on YouTube.

MFB staff contact: Kate Thiel517-679-5741


Continuing our series of real talk with real experts about the real issues facing Michigan farmers, Farmers After Hours: Rural Access, Wellness and You will explore the struggles and resources available for rural healthcare, wellness and support.


Tricia McDonald joined Gratiot County Farm Bureau in 2017, first getting involved simply because she had friends to go to events with. Fast forward three short years and Tricia notched an outstanding achievement as the top membership writer statewide. In the 2019-20 membership year, she signed up 15 new regular members.

As Gratiot’s then-new Young Farmer chair, McDonald originally set out simply to share some of the value she’d found in the organization, starting with some friends who weren’t yet members. But she quickly encountered an obstacle that dogs membership writers everywhere: Many of her prospects had been members previously but lost sight of that membership’s value.

The question is legendary and worth a good think: What does Farm Bureau membership offer that’s valuable enough to attract prospective members?

Tricia started with her own Young Farmer group’s current events and how they might be enhanced to provide more value.

“That really lit a fire and led to our Young Farmer group committing to hosting events and facilitating programs that met members’ needs and showcased the value of membership,” McDonald said. “We did a Young Farmer barbecue, which was later paired with a membership ice cream social.

“It also led to us developing our Feed-a-Farmer program.”

Feed-a-Farmer was the brainchild of a previous Young Farmer chair who ran out of time to execute it. When COVID restrictions made traditional events difficult — or impossible — McDonald thought it warranted revisiting as a way to demonstrate membership value even within healthy safeguards.

The way Gratiot’s Young Farmers drew it up, Feed-a-Farmer eligibility only required the recipient farm’s primary contact to be a member — but the whole crew got fed a solid meal livened up with a generous sprinkle of Farm Bureau seasoning…

Back at the clubhouse, McDonald turned her attention to striking a better balance between new-member recruitment and existing-member retention.

She encouraged her Young Farmer peers to bring a non-member friend to the group’s annual chili cookoff and cornhole tournament — a fun networking opportunity already on the calendar. Each cornhole team was to have at least one current Farm Bureau member onboard to help ensure good interaction between existing and prospective members…

Next thing you know? Tricia’s the state’s top volunteer writer of new regular members.

“Farm Bureau impacts every individual in the ag industry in a different way, but it’s valuable to everyone in some way,” McDonald said. “Find someone in agriculture, whether a farmer or industry professional, and really listen to them.

“Learn what’s important to them, and it’ll help you find the value they’re looking for. Once you know their interests, talk about how the organization could benefit them through its various programs, discounts, or just the ability to network and meet others in the area and industry.

“Most importantly, remember it doesn’t hurt to just ask. Now might not be a good time for them to join, but at least you’ve planted a seed for the future.”

Planting seeds. That is how we grow.

Tricia McDonald joined Gratiot County Farm Bureau in 2017, first getting involved simply because she had friends to go to events with. Fast forward three short years and Tricia notched an outstanding achievement as the top membership writer statewide
Kathy Siler, WCFB Communications Chair

THANK YOU

We’re grateful to everyone who participated in any way with our Ag Week celebration.

“National Ag Day was created to encourage everyday people to understand and appreciate how their food and fiber products are made and how farmers and those involved in ag ensure those products are safe, abundant, and affordable every day.
Lastly, it’s to remind us that agriculture plays a critical role a strong economy. The theme for National Ag Day 2021, "Food Brings Everyone to the Table,” stresses the importance of a stable food supply and the essential role farmers play which was made obvious during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.” #amplifyag #AgWeek21 #ProudFarmer #FarmBureauProud

We’re grateful to everyone who participated in any way with our Ag Week celebration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Nicole Jennings



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




March is reading month! Over the past years, we’ve donated several Agriculture related children’s books to area libraries. Check with your local library to inquire about reserving one or more of these informative and fun books!!

Manchester District Library
Dexter District Library
Saline District Library
Ypsilanti District Library
Chelsea District Library
Milan Public Library - Milan, Michigan
March is Reading Month!
MAEAP.org

Farm Bureau Insurance Michigan supports farmers working through the MAEAP program and achieving verification by offering a discount to the liability portion of their Farmowners Policy.

MAEAP Discounts

* Complete an environmental risk assessment and receive a 10% discount.
* Complete one system of MAEAP (Farmstead, Cropping, Livestock, Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat) and receive a 15% discount
* By completing verification in two or more MAEAP systems, you are eligible for a 20% discount
More information at the link:

MAEAP Savings
Story and photo courtesy of Mike Schaible, President of the Washtenaw Dairy and Livestock Council

pictured l-r are: John & daughter Martha Broesamle, Mike Schaible, Dennis Huehl, Dale Heselschwerdt

Although the annual Ag Banquet was canceled, the Washtenaw Dairy and Livestock Council recently awarded its 2020 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award to Dale Heselschwerdt.

In the late 1950's, marketing livestock was rather limited to shipping to Detroit or Chicago. An auction operated in Jackson, but after closing due to financial difficulties, Dale’s father Orin saw a need for the area farmers. They purchased a building in Napoleon that was formerly a "Fur Farm" that raised rabbits. A quick add on of an office and loading docks turned the Snow White Fur Farm into Napoleon Livestock in 1956. Dale’s wife Pat actually started working at the Sale Barn as a waitress in the onsite lunch counter. The first auction had no roof over the arena and buyers sat on planks placed on cinder blocks. The business quickly grew and they added pens on the north, west, and east side in the early 1960's. Since the horse business was popular, they also conducted a bi-monthly horse and tack auction for several years. Dale and Pat have also conducted hundreds of Farm and Estate auctions over the years. He takes great pride in his business, noting that Napoleon Livestock is by far the longest running Livestock Auction in Michigan owned by the same family. Dale and Pat are very proud of being part of a family business, having 4 generations take part and every grandchild has contributed to Napoleon Livestock at one point in their life.

Dale and Pat are active at Napoleon United Methodist Church, and Dale was one of the first in a group of people to create the Napoleon Athletic Booster Club. He was proud to serve on the Napoleon School Board for many years. Defying retirement, both Dale, who is now 84, and Pat who declined to give her age, are still on duty 6 days a week! Dale looks forward to coming to the yards every day and working alongside and in partnership with his sons, Randy and Rick.

 

In the late 1950's, marketing livestock was rather limited to shipping to Detroit or Chicago. An auction operated in Jackson, but after closing due to financial difficulties, Dale’s father Orin saw a need for the area farmers.
Story and photo courtesy of Mike Schaible, President of the Washtenaw Dairy and Livestock Council

Pictured l-r: Dennis Huehl, Mike Schaible, Milton Weidmayer, wife Janet Weidmayer and Pastor Dave Bucholtz

 

Although the annual Ag Banquet was canceled, the Washtenaw Dairy and Livestock Council recently awarded its 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award to Milton Weidmayer

Milton Weidmayer is a lifelong resident of Washtenaw County. After graduating from Manchester High School in 1961, he went to work on his family's dairy farm, where he planned to build a lifelong career in farming. However, after only four years of milking cows, arthritis in his knees forced him to give up on his dream.

He enrolled in Cleary College, where he earned a degree in accounting, then landed a job at a firm in Ann Arbor, where he worked first as an associate and then as a partner until his retirement in 2019.

He has served on the Board of Saline Hospital, is a past-president of the Washtenaw Salvation Army, a trustee of his alma mater, Cleary College, past treasurer of the Saline Kiwanis Club, current treasurer of his church, a Farm Bureau member for 53 years, and for 30 years, the accountant for the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds.

Of all his accolades, perhaps his greatest is being recognized as “the farmer’s friend”. Even after a long day of work at the office, he was never too busy to answer an accounting question, lend a word of advice, or offer a handshake of encouragement, while Janet, his wife of 54 years, stood by his side.

Despite being fearlessly dedicated to his work, his top two priorities were always God and family, having been blessed with four children and nine grandchildren. Milton’s career, as well as his life, can be summed up in the words of Proverbs 21, verse 5 which reads: "While hasty short cuts lead to poverty, good planning and hard work lead to prosperity."
Congratulations Milton Weidmayer!

 

Milton Weidmayer is a lifelong resident of Washtenaw County. After graduating from Manchester High School in 1961, he went to work on his family's dairy farm, where he planned to build a lifelong career in farming.
By Alyssa Bednarski

Katelyn Packard and her family milk 400 cows and raise 800 acres of corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and forage crops in Washtenaw County.

Farming isn’t for the faint of heart and every farmer’s story differs from the next, but each journey is valuable and should be recognized. One way Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) recognizes the journeys of hard-working, up-and-coming leaders is through the Young Farmer Awards.

As the 2020 Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award Recipient, Katelyn Packard didn’t win her first time out. She had applied for these awards before, and each year she watched her application grow and change as she continued to deepen her involvement in Michigan Farm Bureau and the agriculture industry. Filling out the award application each year has helped her reflect on how much she accomplishes each year and has led to a greater appreciation of her own growth, allowing her to feel proud of the hard work she had done. Each long and frustrating day, along with the great ones, comes together to showcase her accomplishments.  The victories that might seem small in the moment, shine when you put them on paper, one of the many reasons on why young farmers should apply.

Katelyn didn’t do this alone, with the support from her husband, family, Farm Bureau Regional Manager, and other county Farm Bureau members, she submitted her application in 2020. After being selected for the Sweet 16, Katelyn moved on to the interview process, which went virtual due to COVID-19. While the thought of virtual interviews was initially daunting, Katelyn’s nerves were soon calmed after practicing with MFB who offered tips and solutions to issues she may have encountered-especially as someone who struggles with rural internet connection.

The interview process went well and was effective, despite being virtual. Katelyn expressed that she was still able to network and create connections with other young farmers. “To meet those other young farmers has been a great opportunity. It’s nice to have your county young farmers that are all local and you have that in common but it’s different to meet the young farmers that are willing to take that next step in involvement and apply for the awards. That’s a whole different group with a commonality that I wouldn’t have necessarily made the connection with otherwise.”

Networking with others can open doors to new opportunities for many young farmers, like Katelyn, these experiences are valuable and could be only one application away!

Katelyn shared that there is no reason for other fellow young farmers not to apply, yes, we are talking to you!

“All those frustrating times allowed me to really see my progress and growth,” Katelyn said. “This resulted in great networking opportunities and prizes.” You never know what can come out of your very own experiences and application. Find more information on types of awards and 2021 prizes at www.michfb.com/MI/YFAwards

Farming isn’t for the faint of heart and every farmer’s story differs from the next, but each journey is valuable and should be recognized. One way Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) recognizes the journeys of hard-working, up-and-coming leaders is through t
Rebecca Gulliver

Last year was tough and we’re all eager for 2021. Even if the New Year isn’t magical it still gives us a sense of light at the end of the tunnel and a new beginning. With that new beginning, one thing remains the same: We’re still all in this together — and we’re always stronger together.

American Farm Bureau Federation’s Virtual Convention concluded this week with that theme: Stronger Together. Over the course of five days convention sessions were held, Young Farmers competed, awards and recognitions were given, and live sessions were facilitated.

One of these sessions, Farm State of Mind – Responding to the Challenges of Rural Mental Health, reminded us to lean on one another for support and check in on our friends, even the strong ones.

This workshop was a farmer panel (pictured above) led by Colorado Farm Bureau member Chad Vorthmann. Each panelist shared their own personal stories about how mental health, stress and suicide touched their lives and communities: Robin Kinney from American Farm Bureau Federation; Randy Roecker of Rolling Acres, LLC; Marshall Sewell, Bayer Crop Science; and Meredith Bernard from This Farm Wife Inc. all helped break down barriers in a real conversation on a tough topic.

A consistent need for adequate mental health care in rural America — and professionals who know how to work with farmers and their unique challenges — was made very clear throughout.

Bernard mentioned how farmers are all big-time gamblers without ever hitting the casino or buying a lottery ticket — and we all know that’s the truth! Between the weather, erratic commodity prices and the constant pressure of maintaining a multi-generational legacy, farmers carry a lot of stress and anxiety with them every day. Add to that the common “go it alone” mentality many have come to work under as the problem solvers and entrepreneurs all farmers are.

Before the panel opened up for questions, each panelist shared some powerful takeaways from their conversation.

Roecker, who overcame a battle with depression following the dairy crash of the 1980s, shared that farmers need to support each other, if only because we all understand the uniqueness of agriculture. It takes proactively checking in with one another regularly, even your strong friends.

Bernard lost a friend by suicide and reminded her virtual audience that none of us are ever really alone: we are worthy, our lives matter, our stories matter, and that no one should suffer in silence. Seek a friend!

Sewell reflected on what he would have said to his dad the last time he saw him alive, prior to taking his own life, and how he would strive to find the good things in the day and the value we all add: the world may be crammed with people, but it still needs YOU.

Kinney stressed the importance of a mental wellness check being part of a normal, physical health check. We check the oil in our tractors and address routine equipment maintenance, so don’t forget to do the same with ourselves.

Not sure where to start? Uncomfortable with the topic of farm stress and mental health? Rural Resilience Training provides a comprehensive understanding and is a great place to start. This program is a partnership with American Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union, and facilitated by Michigan State University Extension.

Meredith said it best: “When people feel seen, they get help.” So let’s not be blinded by everything that’s going wrong in our world. Let’s check in with each other — even our strong friends.

Rebecca Gulliver is MFB’s Regional Manager in the Saginaw Valley (District 8) and a member of our Farm Stress & Mental Health team.

Resources

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • Avera Health Farm and Rural Stress Hotline: 800-691-4336
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 800-662-HELP
  • Crisis text line: text HOME to 741741
  • FarmStateOfMind.org
Last year was tough and we’re all eager for 2021. Even if the New Year isn’t magical it still gives us a sense of light at the end of the tunnel and a new beginning. With that new beginning, one thing remains the same: We’re still all in this togethe




The 2020 #SpeakAgMichigan Challenge supported by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture recognized the top ten high school FFA chapters and top three Collegiate Farm Bureau members with $7,000 in cash prizes.

This year’s challenge was a twist on the traditional award program, which recognizes FFA chapters and collegiate members for ag-literacy efforts in their communities, sharing a basic understanding of producing food, fuel and fiber. With schools closed last spring, limiting the ability to provide programming in person, #SpeakAgMichigan turned to social media, challenging high school students and Collegiate Farm Bureau members to engage with consumers, develop advocacy skills and earn some funds for their chapter! 

The purpose of the #SpeakAgMichigan Challenge was to develop and implement a four-month social media challenge highlighting designated commodities — the ones focused on in our Fall Teacher FARM Crate subscription boxes: apples (September), pumpkins (October), turkeys (November) and Christmas Trees (December).

From demonstrating a piece of equipment related to the commodity to visiting a farm to offering a recipe or growing tip, our top-10 high school FFA chapter winners and their competitors together laid out a thorough plan to accurately and effectively connect with consumers.

“My students learned a TON through these challenges,” said Ashley FFA Advisor Amber McAllister. “They’re collaborating online to collect information and debating which is best to share with our community, as well as growing leaps and bounds in technology!

“This has been a fantastic learning experience for us.”

Help us congratulate our winners and participants in both divisions by liking their pages and supporting their efforts:

FFA Chapters

Collegiate Farm Bureaus

  • First Place ($500): Madelyn Cary, Gratiot County; MSU Main Campus
  • Second ($300): Michael Ceja, Gratiot County; Delta Collegiate
  • Third ($200): Jewel Lantis, Livingston County; MSU Main Campus Collegiate

In the collegiate division, cash awards were awarded to the top three Collegiate members and their respective Collegiate Farm Bureau chapters.

The Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, is a 501(c)3 governed by Michigan Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors, positively contributes to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming.

For more information, contact MFB High School and Collegiate Programs Specialist Katie Eisenberger.

 
The 2020 #SpeakAgMichigan Challenge supported by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture recognized the top ten high school FFA chapters and top three Collegiate Farm Bureau members with $7,000 in cash prizes.

Farmers After Hours’ next series, Boosting Your Bottom Line, will build on the financial foundation laid during the previous series, Financial Fundamentals and Profitability. This iteration will explore business planning, connect individuals with grant or loan sources and explain USDA resources and programming.

Live panels flank a series of five mini-sessions where subject-matter experts dive into resources and information to bolster farms and agribusinesses. Each live panel allows participants to join anonymously and ask questions of presenters.

Tune in at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays to catch fresh content, or catch up by checking out MFB’s YouTube channel. Here’s an overview of our next series:

  • Jan. 20 — Live farmer panel; register via Webex
  • Jan. 27 — Building Your Business Plan; GreenStone
  • Feb. 3 — Exploring Funding Sources
  • Feb. 10 — Decoding USDA Programs
  • Feb. 17 — Tips for Low Interest Loan Applicants; GreenStone 
  • Feb. 24 — Grant Dollars: The Do’s and Don’ts
  • March 3 — Live expert panel; register via Webex

The Farmers After Hours series is a special project of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, in partnership with GreenStone Farm Credit Services. The Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, a 501(c)3 formed by Michigan Farm Bureau, has a mission of positively contributing to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming.

Farmers After Hours’ next series, Boosting Your Bottom Line, will build on the financial foundation laid during the previous series, Financial Fundamentals and Profitability. This iteration will explore business planning, connect individuals with gra

Way back in February, the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference was the last time members got to enjoy personal contact and tours of Michigan ag facilities — in this case Thiesen Greenhouse in St. Clair County.

In a Dec. 11 message to county Farm Bureau leaders, MFB President Carl Bednarski broke the bad — but not wholly surprising — news that the organization’s winter 2021 core programs will be canceled to safeguard the health and well-being of members and staff alike.

“For months we’ve been holding our breath and hoping for a change in the state’s health situation and restrictions,” Bednarski said. “After soliciting feedback from state committees, county presidents and staff, the MFB board of directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 Growing TogetherLansing Legislative Seminar and Presidents Capitol Summit.”

Note that those three named events actually represent five: Growing Together is a combination of the Young Farmer Leaders and Voice of Agriculture conferences. And the Presidents’ Capitol Summit brings together the Council of Presidents’ Conference and Washington Legislative Seminar.

That clears the slate of the organization’s usual wintertime “meeting season,” the normally predictable sequence of events and conferences that gathers a head of steam with county Farm Bureau annual meetings then kicks off after Thanksgiving with the State Annual Meeting.

Clearing the slate of the wintertime “meeting season” rests on a lot of solid reasoning:

  • Meeting-size limitations from both the state(s) and the privately-owned hotels and conference centers would have shrunk any of the core program events to a fraction of their normal size. Limited venue capacities make tours and breakout sessions functionally impossible.
  • State and federal legislators’ offices are closed and most won’t attend large gatherings.
  • Advanced notice is required to avoid cancellation penalties from venues hosting events. Canceling those events early also means more time to plan alternatives.

State-level leaders are conferring with staff and county Farm Bureau presidents to find alternative means of working toward core program objectives through county, district or regional events or programming. Among those goals:

  • Provide resources, training and leadership development for county Membership, Promotion and Education and Young Farmer chairs
  • Offer leadership development for county leaders and boards
  • Enhance member relationship building with state and federal officials
  • Host Young Farmer district discussion meets
  • Conduct Policy Development discussions
  • Promote collaboration amongst counties and districts

Delegates were surveyed at their district meetings in November; their responses will help district directors, county presidents, state committee members and regional managers plan alternative programming for 2021.

County Farm Bureaus contribute to a core program fund according to their membership, partially underwriting the cost of those statewide programs and enabling counties to send an allocated number of attendees to each event.

“These resources will be redirected as determined by district directors, county presidents and state committee members,” Bednarski said.

“We appreciate your grace and patience as we make decisions in the best interest of our members’ and organization’s health and safety. Stay tuned for alternate programming announcements and opportunities in January!”

In a Dec. 11 message to county Farm Bureau leaders, MFB President Carl Bednarski broke the bad — but not wholly surprising — news that the organization’s winter 2021 core programs will be canceled to safeguard the health and well-being of members and
By Jeremy C. Nagel









From top to bottom:
Mike Sell
Mitch Bigelow 
Amanda Sollman
Jeff VanderWerff
Chris Creuger 

Normally the phrase “phoning it in” refers to someone doing the bare minimum to get the job done. But Farm Bureau members taking part in MFB’s Dec. 2 Annual Meeting didn’t get that memo, and didn’t let the challenges of a remote format get in the way of expressing their stances on the 2020-21 policy docket.

One of the big unknowns heading into the event was the toll an all-virtual format might take on the policy deliberations at the heart of the event. With hundreds of members participating remotely — calling in through computers and voting via smartphone — it was easy to imagine some feeling silenced by the distance.

Not to worry.

Neither technology nor the abbreviated time frame hindered a free exchange or kept members from taking an active role in this most sacred of Farm Bureau institutions: delegate-floor policy deliberations.

Steeled for the long game 


Regardless of the meeting format, one of the more daunting delegate feats is introducing, supporting and defending a concept that doesn’t go over as well as you’d hoped.

“We thought it would be a slam dunk but it got tossed out,” said Wayne County Farm Bureau President Mike Sell about a proposal to raise the profile of diversity and inclusion language.

“Let’s just say I could’ve been a little more tactful — I kinda shut myself down,” he added. “Here in Wayne County, we talk about it frankly: Farm Bureau needs to clearly state we need to be inclusive of those people who meet the membership requirements.”

Opponents cited the presence of very similar language already included in the company’s Code of Conduct.

“We view the Code of Conduct as an HR (human resources) tool — it’s about staff, not members,” Sell said. “It’s not the policy book.”

The issue’s dismissal, he said, has only energized his membership and steeled them to dig in for the proverbial Long Game.

“You need to keep even, constant pressure on it,” Sell said. “Others will come onboard but it’s going to be a slow process.”

The cause wasn’t without allies; Bay County delegate Mitch Bigelow offered a convincing defense of the proposal.

“I think it’s important having policy not just saying we’re inclusive but actively promoting and searching out diversity,” he said afterwards. “A lack of policy around inclusion is not indicative of how inclusive we are.

“The more times we can put that in the policy book — and not get hung up on where it goes — the better,” Bigelow said. “As a general farm organization, we’re only as strong as how active we are at getting different segments represented and heard in our policy.”

Go to the microphone


The overarching concept of policy as the organization’s enduring definition was also tested by attempts to codify therein some members’ skepticism about the integrity of the 2020 general election.

Saginaw County’s Amanda Sollman wasn’t letting that go without sharing a firm, concise opinion on the matter.

“We already have laws in place,” she said — existing laws guarding against the alleged voter fraud one recommendation alluded to. “Our policy should be timeless.

“I didn’t even phrase it as a motion,” she said afterward, admitting she expected scant support for her position.

“It’s really important for Farm Bureau to speak with a unified voice when we speak with representatives and stakeholders. We’re an organization made of individuals with a wide range of opinions. It’s vital people go to the microphone and make their voice heard — bring those perspectives to the forefront for consideration.

“People have to take into account different angles and different points of view. If they don’t hear them from somebody, they may never hear them,” Sollman said. “It’s hard to go into that group knowing you hold a different perspective. It’s easy to feel alone.”

We're all guilty

Of course she is not alone; Amanda has good company in those members who aren’t the least bit shy about expressing themselves with conviction.

“I struggle a little with what I even said. I’d heard this notion and it hit a nerve with me,” recalls Jeff VanderWerff, the outspoken Ottawa County apple grower who spoke assertively in favor of an ag-labor housing GAAMP.

Beyond the obvious practical benefits, such a move would dramatically elevate the profile of an ongoing, high-priority issue common among specialty crop growers who know providing quality housing for the seasonal workers they rely on is key to attracting those workers in the first place.

But in an arena dominated by highly mechanized row-crop, livestock and dairy farmers, it may sound like pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

“The simple reality is we’re all guilty: We don’t necessarily understand the challenges other producers see every day,” VanderWerff said. “We have to try to keep an open mind and seek to understand the perspective of our fellow growers.

“Michigan is so diverse, not only agriculturally, but culturally as well, with varying political views, cultural views,” VanderWerff said. “And when you have an organization like Farm Bureau that has as big a tent as it does, and which truly wants to represent all sectors, you have to be willing to speak up for your individual commodity and region.”

Death & t*x*s

Sometimes the challenge comes in reminding folks of certain fundamental truths they readily understand but will go to their grave cursing.

“I don’t like paying property taxes any more than anyone else, but Chris had a point,” VanderWerff said about his peer from across the state: Tuscola County Farm Bureau Delegate and Pioneer Seed man Chris Creuger.

“Nobody likes paying taxes, but how will we fund public services we’ve all come to expect?” Creuger said. “Public schools, fire departments, police, road funding, infrastructure… It all has to be paid for somehow. Those things don’t just happen.

“Specifically about taxation, we have to consider policy resolutions holistically.

“Annual meeting is a great place to have an open discussion to present the facts and let the delegates decide for themselves,” Creuger said. “But it’s important to have all  sides represented, and when you see something on the screen that you feel doesn’t meet that criteria, it’s important that you speak up.

“We’re a diverse organization that represents a lot of different commodities and our needs and desires don’t always fall in line, but at the end of day we try and come up with policies that serve everyone.”

Normally the phrase “phoning it in” refers to someone doing the bare minimum to get the job done. But Farm Bureau members taking part in MFB’s Dec. 2 Annual Meeting didn’t get that memo, and didn’t let the challenges of a remote format get in the way
Washtenaw County Farm Bureau

Matthew Noggle our Young Farmer Representative and Joe Packard our County Farm Bureau president presented a check to Ann Arbor Food Gatherers today for $3,441.06. This is the money raised by our young farmer golf tournament that took place on September 12th. This past year has been challenging for food banks. Ann Arbor Food Gatherers saw a 130% increase in use this year; distributing 7.8 billion pounds of food since March of 2020. This is a record year in their 31 year history. Thank you to everyone who supported our efforts that enabled us to make this donation. We wish you and your families all the season’s best!
Matthew Noggle our Young Farmer Representative and Joe Packard our County Farm Bureau president presented a check to Ann Arbor Food Gatherers

As of Nov. 20, Michigan is at less than 50% of its deer TB testing quota required in a USDA/MDARD agreement. Failure to meet the testing quota could prompt USDA to reevaluate Michigan’s TB status, leading to additional testing requirements statewide of the state’s beef and dairy herds. (Photo, MDNR) 

Deer hunters in a dozen northern Lower Peninsula counties are urged to turn in the heads of harvested deer to an MDNR check station or drop box for bovine tuberculosis testing this hunting season. If testing quotas aren’t met by year’s end, the USDA could reevaluate the entire state’s TB status, imperiling Michigan’s beef and dairy farmers. 

“The new memorandum of understanding between USDA and Michigan requires a significant number of deer heads to be turned in for TB testing in the Modified Accredited Zone and surrounding counties,” said Ernie Birchmeier, MFB’s dairy and livestock specialist. “It is imperative that we all collaborate to achieve those goals.

“Failure to meet the requirements could cause USDA to reevaluate the TB status of the entire state of Michigan. Lowering the state’s status could lead to additional testing requirements statewide, which would be a significant challenge for our beef and dairy farmers.”

While more than 2,000 animals across the Northeastern region of the state had been tested as of Nov. 20 (current numbers are available online), it's significantly under the MOU testing requirements.

Per the MOU, signed this past February, MDNR is required to conduct active surveillance for bovine TB in free-ranging white-tailed deer. Michigan’s Modified Accredited Zone (MAZ), which includes Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda counties, is required to test 2,800 deer annually. 

As of Nov. 20, only 1,220 deer — just 43.6% of the number required — had been tested collectively in the MAZ.

New annual testing quotas are also required for the seven counties surrounding the MAZ including 500 free-ranging deer in Presque Isle County, and 300 each in Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Ogemaw, Otsego and Roscommon for a combined total of 2,300 deer. 

Thus far only 798 deer had been tested in those counties — less than 35% of the number required in the USDA/MDARD agreement.

“It’s imperative we hit those testing quota numbers,” Birchmeier said. “Harvesting a large number of deer and getting the heads tested for TB can help reduce the overall population in areas that have a significant number of deer and we can help to prove to USDA that we are containing the disease and working to eliminate it.”

“Sixty percent of deer that test positive show no signs of the disease, so testing is important,” said Emily Sewell, DNR wildlife health specialist. “It’s important that hunters take precautions like wearing latex or rubber gloves when field dressing. If they notice any lesions on the lungs or in the chest cavity, they should avoid cutting into the lesions and bring the deer to a check station.” 

Check station and drop box locations are listed below and online at Michigan.gov/DeerCheck

For more information visit Michigan.gov/BovineTB or contact Sewell or Birchmeier directly.

DNR Drop Box Locations

  • Alanson — Oden Hatchery Visitor Center; 24-hour drop box; 3377 Oden Road, Alanson; 989-732-3541 ext. 5031
  • Alpena Field Office — check station, 24-hour drop box; 4343 M-32 West, Alpena; 989-785-4251 ext. 5233
  • Atlanta Field Office — check Station, 24-hour drop box; 13501 M-33, Atlanta; 989-785-4251 ext. 5233
  • Cheboygan Field Office — 24-hour drop box120 A Street, Cheboygan; 989-732-3541 ext. 5031
  • Curran BP Gas Station — check station; M-65 & M-72, Curran; 989-348-6371 ext. 7477
  • East Tawas State Harbor Dock — check station; 113 Newman St., Hwy. US-23, East Tawas; 989-275-5151 ext. 2039
  • Gaylord Customer Service Center — check station, 24-hour drop box; 1732 West M-32, Gaylord; 989-732-3541
  • Grayling Field Office — check station, 24-hour drop box; 1955 Hartwick Pines Road, Grayling; 989-348-6371 ext. 7477
  • Hale — Alward’s Market, 118 S. Washington St., Hale; 989-728-2315
  • Hillman BP Gas Station — 24-hour drop box; 27400 M-32 West, Hillman; 989-785-4251 ext. 5233
  • Indian River Field Office — 24-hour drop box; 6984 Wilson Road, Indian River; 989-732-3541 ext. 5031
  • Lincoln Field Office — check station; 408 Main Street, Lincoln; 989-736-8336
  • Lupton — Rifle River Recreation Area; check station; 2550 E. Rose City Road, Lupton; 989-473-2258
  • Mio DNR Field Office — check station, 24-hour drop box; 191 S. Mt. Tom Road, Mio; 989-275-5151 ext. 2722030
  • Onaway Check Station — Tom’s IGA, 20597 State St., Onaway; 989-785-4251 ext. 5233
  • Posen Check Station — behind Huron Oil Co., 10941 Michigan Ave., Posen; 989-785-4251 ext. 5233
  • Rogers City — Adrian’s Sport Shop; 24-hour drop box; 335 N. Bradley Hwy., Rogers City,
     989-785-4251 ext. 5233
  • Roscommon Customer Service Center — check station, 24-hour drop box; 8717 N. Roscommon Road, Roscommon; 989-275-5151 ext. 2722039
  • West Branch Field Office — check station; 410 N. Fairview Road, West Branch; 989-345-0472

Related Stories:

State updates bovine TB quotas for 7 counties

Another Alpena County beef herd confirmed TB positive

Deer check and CWD, TB testing changes for 2020 hunting season

 
Deer hunters in a dozen northern Lower Peninsula counties are urged to turn in the heads of harvested deer to an MDNR check station or drop box for bovine tuberculosis testing this hunting season. If testing quotas aren’t met by year’s end, the USDA
By Audrey Sebolt


Most agritourism ventures in Michigan lean hard toward the autumnal.



Michigan produces more than 300 different agricultural commodities. Add breathtaking views from hilly apple orchards and wide open spaces for corn mazes and Christmas tree farms and it’s no small wonder Michigan is home to a thriving — and growing — agritourism sector.

As the intersection of agriculture and tourism, agritourism allows for the public to connect with agriculture, experience farm life and taste its bounty. Activities can encompass everything from picking produce like strawberries, apples and blueberries to experiencing exciting adventures such as corn mazes, pumpkin catapulting and wagon rides. Agritourism allows families to celebrate events such on-farm weddings and holidays by choosing and picking your favorite pumpkin and Christmas tree.

The agritourism industry relies heavily on good weather weekends for visitors to enjoy. For the agritourism business, weather that keeps family and friends at home means lost revenue.

This summer, Michigan experienced its busiest summer on record due to COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of most other activities. The busy summer meant most strawberry operations had to close their doors, after being open for only a few hours, because all of the available ripe berries were picked before noon.

I myself visited a small operation where the owner had to close the gates 45 minutes after it opened. Compare that to last year when I picked berries at another operation and saw late-season berries rotting on the vine. When I asked the owners why, they said they’d had two very rainy weekends back-to-back, so visitors didn’t come to pick and a tremendous amount of revenue was lost.

Michigan’s agritourism operations invested a tremendous amount of time this year preparing to open their doors to the public while implementing COVID-19 precautions to ensure their customers’ safety.

U-pick strawberry patches offered new containers for customers and asked them to keep last year’s container at home. Many large u-pick apple operations offered the ability to reserve time slots online so crowds could be managed and adequate staffing was ensured. One large operation hired staff specifically to safely sanitize high-touch areas.

Despite such successes, Michigan agritourism felt two huge gaping holes this year.

The first was on-farm weddings that were cancelled due to crowd restrictions, meaning thousands in lost revenue. The second were cancelled field trips — a lost season of educating young people about the significance of Michigan agriculture.

The last agritourism segment to open its doors this year will be the choose-n-cut Christmas tree farms. Thanksgiving falls late on the calendar this year — Nov. 26 — so there are only four weekends between it and Christmas! Christmas tree farms are expecting an extremely busy 2020 season, managing a lot of customers in a short period of time.

And unlike other agritourism segments, Christmas tree customers rarely stay home because of the weather!

Questions 

  1. Discuss the state of agritourism in your county and region. How has it changed (presumably grown) in recent decades?
  2. How well (accurately) do agritourism ventures in your area depict the realities of food commodity production?
  3. With the exception of summertime berry picking, Michigan’s most common agritourism ventures are primarily autumnal: apples, pumpkins then Christmas trees as winter approaches. What opportunities might be feasible for expanded agritourism activities in the winter and spring.

AND/OR submit one of the following to [email protected]:

  • Suggest a CAG discussion topic your group is dying to chew on.
  • Describe a local issue impacting farmers in your area that nobody seems to be talking about.

How to Respond (Please include your name & CAG affiliation.)

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Conventional, postal mail: MFB Community Group Discussion, ATTN: Michelle Joseph, 7373 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48909
Michigan’s agritourism operations invested a tremendous amount of time this year preparing to open their doors to the public while implementing COVID-19 precautions to ensure their customers’ safety.



MFB Board Member Mike Fusilier presents Washtenaw County member Katelyn Packard with the 2020 Young Farmer Ag Leader Award at the Dist. 3 policy meeting Nov. 11.


District policy meetings got underway Nov. 9 as county Farm Bureau delegates statewide met for regional discussions about new and amended policy recommendations on the docket for Michigan Farm Bureau’s hybrid-virtual 2020 State Annual Meeting, Dec. 2. Regional meetings took place in 10 out of 12 Farm Bureau districts across both peninsulas.

District 10 

In the northeastern Lower Peninsula, District 10 was first out of the gates, meeting in the morning of Nov. 9.

Leona Daniels was reelected district director and we had good discussion,” reports Northeastern Regional Manager Sonya Novotny. “I believe we’ll have some amendments come through from our district and they are working on those before the November deadline.

Eldon Barclay, our state PD representative, did a wonderful job presenting policy and leading the policy discussion.”

District 1

In the opposite corner of the Lower Peninsula, District 1 met that same evening with 50 members gathered for food, fellowship, recognition and policy discussion.

“The event went very well,” reported Southwest Regional Manager Sarah Pion. “State Farm Bureau leaders Brigette LeachJulie Stephenson and Mitch Kline all did a great job at presenting our county members with their awards and recognition.”

On the recognition agenda were MFB Educator of the Year Steve Rigoni and state Young Farmer Employee Award winner Tera Baker, as well as State Young Farmer Award finalists Riley Brazo and Andy Heinitz.

“State Policy Development Committee members Cliff Lipscomb and Melissa Morlock were very effective at presenting this year’s proposed policy resolutions and walking through the issue ideas with our delegates and facilitating the policy discussion.”

Delegates in the southwest discussed the ongoing meat processing and packing issue, as well as bovine tuberculosis and state road funding.

District 5

District 5 delegates met in Owosso Nov. 10.

“It was nice to get out of the house, see other Farm Bureau members and talk about current issues, said Ingham County member Don Vickers.

Central Regional Manager Hannah Lange said District 5 delegates also welcomed a special guest, MFB President Carl Bednarski, who dropped in to share his thoughts on the importance of continuing business through a crisis.

District 3

District 3 met in Howell Nov. 11 to start working through its policy agenda and recognize state-level Young Farmer Ag Leader Award winner, Washtenaw County member Katelyn Packard.

Delegates from across the southeast confabbed on a wide range of policy matters: utility wire placement, urban and legislative outreach, the Michigan Ag Council Ag Ambassador program, mandatory vaccinations and the tax implications for pandemic-forced home-schooling.

District 7

Farm Bureau members from across District 7 convened Nov. 11 in Reed City.

“We have a great group of both new and experienced members,” said West-Central Regional Manager Bridget Moore. “Everyone had great attitudes and were excited to still be able to come together and focus on policy.

“The motto of the night was ‘making lemonade out of lemons.’ Our members did a great job of that and are looking forward to live discussion on Dec 2.”

District 9

Northwestern Regional Manager Nicole Jennings reports District 9’s Nov. 11 meeting in Cadillac saw exceptional engagement from several first-time delegates just getting their policy-development sea legs.

“For our first-timers, much of this process was very new,” Jennings said, “but our state-annual veterans stepped into their leadership roles to help the newer attendees understand and take part in this process.

“Even as we faced the challenges of 2020, member involvement in the policy development process has remained strong. Thorough discussion led by the members and for the members, as it has been and should be.”

~

Farm Bureau members also met last week in Districts 6, 8, 11 and 12. Regional meetings wrap up Nov. 19, with sessions that day in Districts 2 and 4.

District policy meetings got underway Nov. 9 as county Farm Bureau delegates statewide met for regional discussions about new and amended policy recommendations on the docket for Michigan Farm Bureau’s hybrid-virtual 2020 State Annual Meeting, Dec. 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~

District Meetings 

District 1

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

District 2

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

District 3

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

District 4

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

District 5

District 6

District 7

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

District 8

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

District 9

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

District 10

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

District 11

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

District 12

  • Nov. 10 — 11 a.m. EST; Sweet Grass Convention Center, W 399 US 2 & 41, Harris; lunch included
  • Dec. 2 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST; same location; lunch included
The “hybrid-virtual” format of this year’s Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting marks the event’s biggest makeover since it outgrew and left the Michigan State University campus in 1970. Wrinkles are still being ironed, but what’s coming slowly into f
Kent County Farm Bureau member Kylee Zdunic-Rasch speaks on a policy amendment at the 2019 Michigan Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 and Emergency Powers 

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

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

Among the amendments:

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

Transportation

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

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

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

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

Meat Processing

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

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

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

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

Environmental

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

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

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

Bovine Tuberculosis  

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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






What a BOO-tiful Tuesday evening for our Drive-Thru Treat of Agriculture event at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds. More than 200 youngsters and their drivers wound their way from the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds gate to the “Ag Treat” stations in Pavilion B representing various commodities:

Apples: Applesauce
Popcorn
Wheat: pretzels
Veggies: potato chips (donated by Michigan Potatoes
Michigan Potato Industry Commission)
Sausage sticks: True North Jerky and Foods
Honey straws
Dairy: Cheese sticks Horning Farms
Fruit: dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries
Animal crackers
Egg tattoos
Flower stickers
Miniature pumpkins/gourds: (Luckhardt and Jedele Farms)
Fruit Juice boxes: Lumpford Agency
Donuts: Coleman's Corn Maze Rose Family
Corn Bags filled with Farm activity books and stickers

At the first station, each child received a biodegradable bag made from corn filled with stickers and activity books. It was so fun to see how excited the Drive-Thru Treat of Ag visitors were.

Thanks to our incredible Promotion and Education Committee who planned and set up the event! Thanks to EVERYONE in all the vehicles who waited patiently in line, and ALL our awesome volunteers and donors. We have lots of photos to share throughput the day. This group of photos features some of the cute and clever visitors!

Huge thanks to ALL our Treat of Agriculture volunteers! From planning the event, shopping for and ordering goodies, to setting up, to directing traffic and registering visitors, to passing out Ag treats, and cleaning up! We couldn’t do it without you

Champion of Excellence Awards recognizes county Farm Bureaus for their outstanding efforts to implement member-developed policy, advocate organizational positions and educate and promote Michigan agriculture.

Grassroots activities are evaluated based on the innovation and effectiveness of programs executed over the preceding program year. Successful programs are then shared with other counties so great ideas can spread and multiply, enriching the greater organization and Michigan agriculture overall.

Following are the first three of Michigan’s 12 district-level winners; look for more in the weeks to come. One state-level winner will be announced at next year’s Council of Presidents Conference.

District 1: Berrien

 
Last November the Berrien County Farm Bureau partnered with 4-H clubs and the Southwest Michigan Collegiate Farm Bureau in “Thanks-4-Giving,” providing bushel baskets full of seasonal edibles to local families in need. Volunteers collaborated to collect and package food, then deliver finished baskets to underprivileged families across southwest Michigan, helping neighbors in need.

By filling gaps left by local agencies, Farm Bureau members led by example, demonstrating it’s better to give than receive. Each participating group contributed, experiencing the rewards of helping the less fortunate while sharing the abundance of southwestern Michigan agriculture.

The project was innovative for its multi-organization collaboration. On packing day, the youth building at the county fairgrounds resembled a food distribution warehouse: rows of food, stacks of baskets, coolers filled with frozen turkeys and a human assembly line circling the room.

From Clover Buds to senior Farm Bureau leaders, everyone worked side-by-side to fill the baskets to overflowing. Excited chatter about fat turkeys and the aroma of fresh-baked rolls filled the air — plus a warm camaraderie knowing their efforts meant giving local families more to be thankful for.

There’d never been a local drive in which those donating the food also delivered it, but by noon that day all 110 baskets (4,400 pounds of food!) were in the appreciative hands of local families — some delivered, some picked up from the fairgrounds.

Another benefit was closer relations between the county Farm Bureau, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and more than a dozen local 4-H clubs. Local agribusinesses (including some previously uninvolved members) and a Farm Bureau Insurance agent also donated.

Finally, many of the recipient families met Farm Bureau and 4-H members as a result, tying the local farm community closer to those whose food they raise.

District 4: Barry

With in-person events off limits but still eager to make a good first impression, the Barry County Farm Bureau coordinated a remote new-member-welcome meeting via WebEx. They introduced the board, outlined county Farm Bureau structure and summarized the benefits of membership. Embodying the organization’s grassroots ethic and reaching many new members at once, the experiment proved a successful means of welcoming newcomers while respecting everyone’s health and safety — just like the good Farm Bureau family members they are.

Even through the abstract format of a computer screen, everyone involved was able to find common ground and start building the relationships at the core of the Farm Bureau experience. One newcomer interested in the Young Farmer program was connected with the county chair; others asked general questions about the policy process and member benefits.

While the focus was on new members, any regular member was encouraged to join in. Those who did helped drive home the value of membership and the extensive networking opportunities Farm Bureau offers. The first-of-its-kind event met membership-campaign requirements, spurred leaders to lead and offered practical new skills for everyone involved.

District 2: Calhoun

 

Calhoun County Farm Bureau event combined intergenerational networking and policy chatter — plus a touch of stress management — in its Float Down the River. Even Mother Nature cooperated to make the family-friendly excursion a success, including lunch on an island for the 25 participants.

The Float achieved two key goals: member networking and policy discussion. It attracted several Farm Bureau newcomers and brought some long-uninvolved members out of the woodwork. Everyone found common ground quickly and enjoyed discussing shared issues and challenges, learning from each other and reaping value from their membership.

Everyone chipped in with loading and unloading the boats and helping others board their vessels, labeled with the names and farms of each participant.

The Young Farmer committee took the lead organizing and promoting the event, reserving canoes, buying food, arranging signage and transporting vessels — all within budget.

Board members heard about other farmers’ concerns, younger farmers connected with their elders and active members shared which Farm Bureau activities they most enjoy and find most effective.

Many participants appreciated the fresh new approach, the opportunity to leave farm stresses behind for a day and forge new relationships with like-minded peers.

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Look for another batch of Champions of Excellence district winners in the next Farm Gate, Oct. 6.

Champion of Excellence Awards recognizes county Farm Bureaus for their outstanding efforts to implement member-developed policy, advocate organizational positions and educate and promote Michigan agriculture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~

District Meetings

District 1

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

District 2

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

District 3

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

District 4

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

District 5

District 6

District 7

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

District 8

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

District 9

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

District 10

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

District 11

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

District 12

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