Farm Bureau News


Joe Theisen explained how to raise tens of thousands of annuals for wholesaling across metro Detroit. 

Beside some of the fastest moving water in the world, Farm Bureau members who attended the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference were flooded with new ideas and resources to boost their outreach efforts back home. Overlooking the churning St. Clair River, this year’s event brought more than 280 attendees to the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron Feb. 5-6.

Tours 

Tours explored unchartered Farm Bureau conference territory in St. Clair and Sanilac counties.

One route tasted spring inside Theisen’s Greenhouse, learning how the family farm raises annuals for wholesale to metro Detroit area retailers.

That group continued to Lauwer’s Sheep Farm to see newborn lambs and learn how the cultural landscape of southeast Michigan spurred the modern shepherds’ choice to breed and raise lamb year-round.

The tour finished at Blake’s Orchard, an agritourism powerhouse centered around family-friendly experiences and a booming hard cider empire.

The second tour route visited the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Port of Port Huron agricultural inspection facility.

Participants saw first-hand the need for action on Farm Bureau’s policy supporting increased staffing of inspection facilities nationwide. They met with inspection staff to explore how the unit ensures biosecurity through thorough inspection of agricultural products entering the U.S. from Canada and beyond.

The group also visited the USDA’s Veterinary Inspection station to see livestock import protocols in action.

The last stop was at Michigan’s oldest lighthouse, Fort Gratiot, where some participants met the challenge of climbing clear to the top of the light tower.

Sessions 

Day two started with keynote speaker and social media guru Michelle ”Farm Babe” Miller, who shared her online savvy and techniques for sharing personal farm stories on the web. (See related article here.)

From communications to mental health and agritourism, breakout sessions throughout the day provided participants with tools for improving their farm businesses or county Farm Bureau volunteer efforts.

Partnering organizations contributing to the diversity of agenda topics included MSU Extension 4-H, Michigan Sugar Company, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Pork Producers Association and the Michigan Ag Council.

Visiting from across the river, Farm and Food Care Ontario, an agriculture promotional non-profit, shared examples of outreach activities engaging farmers in Canada’s most populous province.

Charlotte Halverson of the Agri-Safe Network provided a train-the-trainer session equipping participants with three youth-in-agriculture safety modules which these participants could now conduct in their own counties. Charlotte also lead a second session focused on mental health care resources in rural communities.

Volunteers from Washtenaw County showcased their award-winning “Treat of Agriculture” program in a session, encouraging other counties to try similar activities back home. Their indoor, trick-or-treat-style event provides a safe, climate-controlled environment all while educating young participants about Michigan-raised agriculture products.

District meetings rounded out attendees’ networking opportunities. Members gathered to share ideas, discuss common ground and plan events within their own regions.

Next year will see the return of MFB’s Growing Together Conference, combining Voice of Agriculture and Young Farmer Leaders conferences, Feb. 19-21, 2021 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.

    
Beside some of the fastest moving water in the world, Farm Bureau members who attended the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference were flooded with new ideas and resources to boost their outreach efforts back home. Overlooking the churning St. Clair Ri

Chelsea Luedtke speaks during a district discussion meet in Antrim County

District-level discussion meets ramp up this spring and early summer, with the popular events engaging Young Farmers (ages 18-35) statewide in conversation about today’s most important agricultural topics.

Discussion meets are a fun competition meant to simulate committee-meeting conversations in which active participation is expected from everyone around the table. The contests are evaluated on an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined topic.

Participants build vital discussion skills, develop a keen understanding of real-world issues affecting the industry and explore how groups can reach consensus toward solving problems. They’re also a great way to meet other Young Farmers — and spectators are always welcome!

Find your district’s discussion meet below and make plans to attend!

  • District 1 — March 14 at Griner Farms in Jones; contact Sarah Pion, 269-377-4841
  • District 2 — March 19 at Ironbark Brewing Company and Grand River Brewery, Jackson; contact Paul Pridgeon, 517-320-4444
  • District 3 — March 28 at Planters Paradise & Floral Gardens, Macomb; contact Hannah Meyers, 616-485-4469
  • District 4 — March 31 at Thornapple Point, Grand Rapids; contact Adam Dietrich, 616-889-1857
  • District 5 — April 18 at Demmer Center, Lansing; contact Hannah Lange, 231-383-3131
  • District 6 — July 9; location TBD; contact Beth Rupprecht, 989-640-6913
  • District 7 — March 26 at Regional Center for Agriscience & Career Advancement, Fremont; contact Bridget Moore, 989-640-6973
  • District 8 — March 21 at Merrell Farms, Freeland; contact Becca Gulliver, 989-708-1082
  • District 9 — June; location TBD; contact Nicole Jennings, 810-569-9610
  • District 10 — June 24 at The Highway Brewing Company, West Branch; contact Sonya Novotny, 248-420-2340
  • District 11 — March 26 at The Thirsty Sturgeon Bar & Grille, Wolverine; contact Cole Iaquinto, 810-422-7322
  • District 12 — March 16 at Bay College, Escanaba; contact Craig Knudson, 231-357-3864

Discussion meets are open to Farm Bureau members ages 18-35. Visit www.michfb.com/YFDiscussionMeetfor the topics and more information.

District-level discussion meets ramp up this spring and early summer, with the popular events engaging Young Farmers (ages 18-35) statewide in conversation about today’s most important agricultural topics.
Megan Sprague

Tyler and Hannah Shepherd

Bombarded daily with poor crop forecasts and bankruptcy reports, it’s easy to worry the future of agriculture might be bleak, but that future looked bright — blinding, even — at this year’s Young Farmer Leaders Conference.  

About 350 young farmers took over the Grand Traverse Resort Feb. 21-23 to learn more about how they could grow as both businesspeople and community members. As the new Young Farmer program specialist, it was inspiring to see so many eager faces taking time out of busy schedules to bring back information to their counties and farms.

Members went on local tours; networked during “larger than life” board games and cornhole; and attended a full day of sessions ranging from financial management to the importance of incorporating stress-relieving activities to their daily routine. 

As a new MFB staffer, the most rewarding part was hearing about our members’ experiences firsthand. They were both encouraged and excited, making me geeked for a whole year of programing with this amazing group, and looking forward to next year’s Growing Together Conference, Feb. 19-21, 2021 in Grand Rapids.  

One member told me the session titled “Building Stronger Relationships in Farm Families,” presented by Ron Hanson from the University of Nebraska, validated their thoughts on the tough discussion about succession planning they would have when they returned home.

After our keynote, Paul Long, challenged us to ask questions in ways that cause people to smile, I had attendees asking me what the best part of my morning was. Other attendees told me they intended on doing stretches taught in Sarah Zastrow’s session on mental health and self-care.

The information and practices these young farmers gained from attending YFLC were not just exciting in the moment but made a strong impact on our members. If you don’t believe me, here are some thoughts they shared on social media:

  • “This weekend I traveled north for #yflc2020 up near Traverse City. As always it was a great Young Farmer conference. Got to see and network with friends and other familiar faces this weekend along with learning a lot. But in the last picture, these ladies I have never seen or met before until this weekend. As I was sitting and having a drink with a few friends these two came up to me and said ‘I couldn’t help but over hear that you guys are farmers.’ At that moment for the location we were at I thought for sure I was going to have to defend our occupation, but by my surprise they wanted to thank us and say how much they appreciate farmers. They were surprised by my response when I said thank you and I went on to explain that we don’t hear that too often and I really appreciated their support.” Cody Ferry, Genesee County 
  • “Mike and I spent the weekend networking, learning and relaxing with other Young Farmers at #YFLC2020. First, I never thought I’d learn social media strategies from an agronomist. And second, this weekend has made me so proud to be a part of the farming community. I don’t think the general population realizes how relevant farming is in our daily lives. And that it’s so much more than planting and harvesting. I’m looking forward to our 2020 season and being more involved, aware and hopefully beneficial to Schwab Farms! Thanks for the adventurous weekend, MFB Young Farmer Program!” —Lauren Schwab, Bay County

  • “Tyler and I had an awesome opportunity this weekend to attend the Young Farmer Leadership Conference! We are so thankful to Farm Bureau for hosting this event and providing us this experience! We hope to bring many ideas, techniques, and managing skills learned this weekend into our farm.” —Hannah Shepherd, Saginaw County  

If you come across a young farmer in the upcoming months, make sure to ask them if they attended and if so, what they loved the most. I’m confident it will make you smile knowing the future is promising for agriculture.

Megan Sprague is MFB’s new Young Farmer program specialist.

Bombarded daily with poor crop forecasts and bankruptcy reports, it’s easy to worry the future of agriculture might be bleak, but that future looked bright — blinding, even — at this year’s Young Farmer Leaders Conference.
Michigan Farm Bureau
Jeremy Winsor was MFB's 2019 Educator of the Year.

Nominations for MFB’s 2020 Educator of the Year Award are due no later than Feb. 15.

Suitable nominees include any educator in your county who does an outstanding job incorporating agriculture into their curriculum and strengthening relationships between educators and your county Farm Bureau.

Both agriscience and/or K-12 educators are eligible. Qualified nominees should use innovative teaching techniques to increase their students’ understanding of agriculture.

The winner will be honored at MFB’s 2020 Annual Meeting and will receive a grant for classroom supplies and a scholarship to attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, June 24-26 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Nominations must be completed online by Feb. 15.

For more information, contact Amelia Miller, 517-679-5688.

Nominations for MFB’s 2020 Educator of the Year Award are due no later than Feb. 15.
Michigan Farm Bureau
Kalamazoo County FB members enjoy a good rapport with U.S. Dist. 5 Congressman Fred Upton, who regularly attends Farm Bureau gatherings to exchange information on ag-related issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MFB’s 2019 Annual Meeting was her last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you know where the latest version of your membership card is?

Most of our members say they don’t carry the card or have an expired one in their wallet. As you can imagine, the membership packet and ID card are expensive items to produce. Each year, Michigan Farm Bureau mails more than 200,000 packets to members when they join or renew their membership.

In an effort to minimize some of those costs and provide timely member information, Michigan Farm Bureau will begin emailing the membership ID card to members with valid email addresses in 2020. The email will contain the same information and resources that are sent in the mailed packets but can be more easily accessed just by pulling up the email.

The email campaign will officially launch in early 2020.

So, next time you renew your membership, be sure to look to your email inbox. Your membership card will be right there waiting for you!

For more information, email our membership services department or call 517-323-6552.


 
Michigan Farm Bureau

The Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies is partnering with Talons Out Honor Flight to give Farm Bureau members who are veterans of World War II or the Korean War an opportunity to visit their respective war memorial in Washington D.C. and return to a welcome-home celebration May 9, 2020.  

The Family of Companies’ $25,000 pledge will allow for 24 veterans and 24 guardians to attend — two veteran-guardian pairs per district.

“This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our members who’ve served their country overseas in some of the most horrible conflicts of the 20th century,” said MFB President Carl Bednarski. “The Honor Flight is about commemorating them and their service, and our priority is on honoring the most senior of our member-veterans.

“As younger men and women, they were fortunate to survive wars halfway across the globe — then returned home to work the land and help build the greatest agricultural industry the world has ever known.”

All participating veterans must be accompanied by an able-bodied guardian, responsible for physically assisting veterans prior to and during the flights to and from D.C., and during visits to memorials and Arlington National Cemetery — an active, 18-hour day. (See preliminary agenda here.)

Guardians may not be spouses or significant others and must be between 18 to 70 years of age. To make the most of this rare opportunity, county Farm Bureaus are encouraged to find guardians who are also veterans themselves.

If a district has more than two nominees, they will be selected based on the order applications were received. County Farm Bureaus can sponsor additional veterans and guardians at a cost of $500 per person (totaling $1,000 per vet-guardian pair).

Separate application forms for veterans and guardians are under development and will soon be made available to county Farm Bureau offices.

Farm Bureau members who served in WWII or Korea are encouraged to apply directly to their county Farm Bureau. The county Farm Bureau must submit completed applications to [email protected] by 4:30 p.m. Jan. 31.

For more information, contact Nicole Guilford (517-679-5665) or Jeremy C. Nagel (517-323-6585).

The Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies is partnering with Talons Out Honor Flight to give Farm Bureau members who are veterans of World War II or the Korean War an opportunity to visit their respective war memorial in Washington D.C. and return
Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Farm Bureau’s marquee grassroots lobbying event, Lansing Legislative Seminar, is slated for Feb. 25, 2020 and promises an exciting day for members passionate about advocating for agriculture and Farm Bureau policy and learning about state legislative and regulatory issues.

Members interested in participating are encouraged to contact their county Farm Bureau before the Feb. 7 registration deadline.

While the main program begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Lansing Center, members looking to arrive early to the capital city have options for starting their day.

State Capitol Building Tours 

If you’ve never been inside Michigan’s historic capitol building — or it’s just been a while — a visit won’t disappoint! Lansing Legislative Seminar attendees can take a free guided tour of the landmark.

Tours depart the Lansing Center at 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.; pre-registration is not required. It’s a quarter-mile walk to the capitol, so dress for the weather.

AgriPac Fundraiser 

MFB’s political action committee, AgriPac, welcomes members to show their support for the organization’s efforts to elect farm-friendly candidates by attending a fundraiser at 10:15 a.m. Special guest and political speaker Patrick Haggerty promises to entertain attendees while imparting his insight into the 2020 election and his expertise on grassroots advocacy. A $50 minimum contribution is required; personal checks should be made payable to AgriPac and business checks should be made payable to FarmPac. Credit card payments will be accepted on-site. Pre-registration is encouraged and available here. 

Luncheon Program 

Lansing Legislative’s hallmark lunch program will begin promptly at 11:30 a.m. in the Lansing Center ballrooms, starting with opening remarks from MFB President Carl Bednarski.

The organization has invited the state’s four most influential legislative leaders for a panel discussion: House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

One ambitious county Farm Bureau will also be recognized with MFB’s annual Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award. The recipient will receive a $500 grant and recognition plaque for outstanding efforts to inform and influence elected officials.

Issue Sessions and Networking Break 

That afternoon, members will choose breakout sessions to attend before and after a networking break (featuring MSU Dairy Store ice cream!)

Topics will include legislative or regulatory issues impacting farms and agribusinesses, including environmental policy and water use, state budget items pertinent to the farm sector, a 2020 election preview, grassroots advocacy and more.

Legislative Reception 

Starting around 4:30 p.m. state representatives, senators and dozens of other government and regulatory leaders will begin arriving for the legislative reception, where members will visit with elected officials and discuss current agricultural issues and Farm Bureau policy priorities.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s marquee grassroots lobbying event, Lansing Legislative Seminar, is slated for Feb. 25, 2020 and promises an exciting day for members passionate about advocating for agriculture and Farm Bureau policy and learning about state le
Michigan Farm Bureau
More than 400 delegates concluded deliberations Dec. 5 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, establishing policy direction for priority state and national issues.

MFB District 7 Director Michael DeRuiter, an Oceana County fruit grower and member to the state policy development committee, said the delegate sessions were textbook examples of the organization’s grassroots policy development process.

"Policy development is the center point of this organization, so setting policy is vitally important — it’s the lifeblood of our organization," DeRuiter said. “This is where the delegates get to say their piece and set the course for Michigan Farm Bureau."

Debate on bovine tuberculosis (TB) and wildlife management both saw robust debate.

"The resolution proposed by the state PD committee took a pretty aggressive approach to enforce the baiting and feeding ban,” DeRuiter said. “After considerable discussion, delegates decided to add language that supports baiting to encourage reducing the deer population, while retaining support for the feeding ban."

Delegates also approved policy asking the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to consider a new memorandum of understanding with USDA on the issue in the TB Zone that allows for baiting, which encourages aggressive deer herd reduction.

Additional language requiring the eradication of white-tailed deer in any 10-mile radius, high-risk zone established after TB-positive deer or cattle are found, along with strengthening fines and penalties for illegal wildlife feeding, similar to those for poaching, was also approved.

Delegates approved international trade policy affecting Michigan specialty crop growers, calling for changes to the process of seeking relief in cases anti-dumping and countervailing duties challenges, while also calling for additional border and custom inspectors.

National policy recommendations will be forwarded for consideration at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in January. 

“We’re going to advocate for Michigan specialty crops and try to include that language, which will make it easier for specialty crops that were adversely affected by trade to get quicker relief,” DeRuiter said.

Industrial hemp, authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill, also saw considerable discussion.

“Growers are in the learning curve with this commodity, and we're all trying to figure out how to make sure growers can be profitable growing industrial hemp while complying with the regulatory aspects,” DeRuiter said.

Delegates approved state policy supporting an adjustment to the existing 0.3% THC threshold to 1.0%, to provide more harvesting flexibility. The policy now also supports alternative uses and/or disposal methods for the destruction of an industrial hemp crop that exceeds regulatory THC levels.

Delegates also approved a national recommendation calling for USDA to develop a crop insurance policy specifically for industrial hemp production.

According to DeRuiter, while there was a healthy debate on many issues, with differing views, the end result is policy that best meets the needs of production agriculture.

“It's very encouraging when you can have tough conversations with each other, but there's always a mutual respect,” DeRuiter said. “At the end of the day, our members iron out their differences so that we can move forward as one to advocate on behalf of Michigan Farm Bureau members to get the best ultimate outcomes found for all these issues.”

More than 400 delegates concluded deliberations Dec. 5 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, establishing policy direction for priority state and national issues.
Michigan Farm Bureau


Involvement opportunities abound within the comfy confines of your own county Farm Bureau, and this is a good time of year to weigh your options among the organization’s traditional program areas. Counties are encouraged to have their standard committee appointments for 2020 finalized by late January in these program areas:

  • County Nominating
  • Candidate Evaluation
  • Membership Committee
  • Policy Development
  • Promotion & Education
  • Policy Implementation Team
  • Young Farmer Committee

With 2020 being an election year (have you heard?), it’s particularly important that county Farm Bureaus appoint strong candidate evaluation committees for vetting local office-seekers and better informing MFB’s AgriPac Committee for state- and national-level endorsements.

In Barry County, Rick Lawrence has been involved in candidate evaluation for 15 years. 

“I get a more personal connection with candidates, and a better idea as to what their level of involvement with agriculture is,” Lawrence said. “That connection with a winning candidate benefits all of agriculture by being able to better communicate at their level.”

Leroy Schafer has been a candidate evaluation fixture in Clinton County for the past four election cycles. He sees the program as “a great opportunity to get to know them better and have a say in who Farm Bureau endorses to help elect pro-ag candidates.

“It gives me inside information I can use to help inform others about candidates and their positions. Also it’s just a great opportunity to meet them on a personal level,” Schafer said. “When the candidates know you personally, you become the one they call when they seek knowledge on how to vote on agricultural issues.”

Savvy leaders will note Local History Teams are missing from the program menu, as their centennial-year mandate and supporting grant program have come to a close with the end of 2019. Even so, county Farm Bureaus interested in maintaining their Local History Teams are welcome to do so; history happens every day and many county Farm Bureaus are planning their own individual centennial celebrations in the years to come.

County Farm Bureaus are strongly encouraged to welcome newcomers onto standing committees. New perspectives, directions and opinions will only strengthen your local organization — benefits that seep up through the grassroots to the regional, state and national levels. Aiming to turn over at least a quarter of committee members annually, and carefully surveying your membership roster — especially new members — is a smart approach for finding prospective new volunteers.

Via Farm Gate and direct communications, members and county Farm Bureau leaders will receive more notices and reminders over the coming weeks. Contact your county Farm Bureau office or MFB regional representative for more information about involvement opportunities.

With committee appointment season upon us, it’s a great time to look for new avenues of involvement in your county Farm Bureau!
Michigan Farm Bureau

Selected from the 90 nominations received from county Farm Bureaus across the state, 18 promising young Farm Bureau members have been selected to take part in the 2020-21 ProFILE program:

  • Kathleen Blust — Oakland County
  • Emily Boeve — Ottawa County
  • Casey Bozung — Van Buren County
  • Sara Bronkema — Ottawa County
  • Marianne Buza — Huron County
  • Jacob Carruthers — Manistee County
  • Alisha Gibson — Kalamazoo County
  • Brandon Hotchkin — Jackson County
  • Charles Loveland — Jackson County
  • Matt Marston — Livingston County
  • Michael Mathis — Oakland County
  • Nathan McGuire — Antrim County
  • Dirk Okkema — Mecosta County
  • Terry Page — Ionia County
  • Michael Sell — Wayne County
  • Brenda Sisung — Clinton County
  • Amanda Sollman — Saginaw County
  • Cody Tyrell — Huron County

ProFile’s 15-month agenda of leadership and professional development activities, including expert speakers, involvement opportunities and visits to ag-industry sites in Michigan and nearby states. It gets under way in January 2020 with orientation at the MFB home office in Lansing and a visit to Carhartt’s headquarters in Dearborn.

Meetings in February and March will include participation in MFB’s Washington Legislative Seminar. The busy summertime offers an optional picnic outing before the schedule ramps back up again in September and a flurry of activity the following winter.

In January 2021 participants will embark on a five-day multistate bus trip, then take part in MFB’s Lansing Legislative Seminar the following month before the program concludes with a graduation ceremony in March 2021.

Established in 1990, ProFILE is an intensive leadership development course for the best and brightest young Farm Bureau members ages 25-35. Prospective participants are first nominated by their county Farm Bureaus then selected by an MFB staff panel based on the strength of their applications.


 

As the dividing line between the organization’s first and second centuries, Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids, offers attendees a unique opportunity to take part in an historic event.

Some routine features of the three-day conference will uphold and reinforce the comfort of routine — the annual changing of Farm Bureau’s seasons, out with the previous year and in with the new.

Other components will encourage members to take stock of what their now century-old organization has accomplished, just as it challenges them to meet the lofty expectations of a new age.

For the 14th consecutive year the event will take place at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids.

All attendees should start at the beginning; registration will be open daily in the DeVos Secchia Lobby:

  • 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • 9 a.m.–noon Thursday, Dec. 5

Delegate Session

The heartbeat of annual meeting is delegate session, taking place each day in DeVos Ballroom A:

  • 1:30 p.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • 9:15 a.m.–11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • 1:45 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5

District Functions

This year’s annual offers two opportunities for attendees to meet with their districts, some of which are new starting at this very event; MFB’s new redistricting plan means many members’ districts have changed.

District kickoff meetings (10–11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3) are the first official function of the annual meeting. District breakfasts begin the meeting’s final day (7:30–8:45 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5).

Both sets of district meetings take place in various rooms in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel; attendees should see their weeklong schedule booklet for details and maps.

Attendees should review the new arrangement and note whether their district as of Dec. 3 is different than they’re accustomed to. Redistricting will also affect several elections taking place during the meeting.

Meals & Receptions

All meal functions take place in DeVos ballrooms B-C-D; receptions are in the Grand Gallery pre-function area.

  • President’s Luncheon — 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • Reception — 5:30–6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • Awards Banquet — 6:30–8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3
  • Promotion & Education Breakfast — 7:30–9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • Centennial Lunch — noon–1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • Reception — 5:15–6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4
  • Centennial Gala — 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4

Discussion Meets

Tuesday is the day for Youth and Collegiate Discussion Meets, with preliminary rounds (9:15–11:15 a.m.) and the finals (1:45–2:30 p.m.) taking place in the DeVos Grand Gallery rooms. Winners will be announced at that evening’s awards banquet.

The same rooms on Wednesday will host the preliminary and semifinal rounds of the Young FarmerDiscussion Meet:

  • 8:30–9:30 a.m. — registration
  • 10–11:45 a.m. — rounds 1 & 2
  • 1:30–2:15 p.m. — semifinal round
  • 3:30–4:15 p.m. — final round (delegate stage, DeVos A)

The “sweet 16” semifinalists will be announced during the Centennial Luncheon (noon–1:30 p.m.); the finalists will be announced at 2:45 p.m. The winner will be announced during the pre-gala reception, approximately 5:30 p.m.

Ag Art Gallery

Members bringing their entries into the inaugural Agricultural Art Gallery should drop off their items at registration in the DeVos Secchia Lobby 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The live auction of the Art Gallery’s biggest vote-getters will take place during the Centennial Gala, starting at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Awards & Recognition

MFB’s 2019 Presidential Volunteer of the Year will be announced during the President’s Luncheon, Tuesday, Dec. 3.

At Tuesday evening’s Awards Banquet, special guest AFBF President Zippy Duvall will help Michigan recognize its winners of Key Club honors, Young Farmer Leadership Awards and county Harvest for All.

MFB’s 2019 Educator of the Year will be recognized during the Promotion & Education Breakfast, Wednesday morning.

Other Fun Stuff

MFB’s 2019 Young Farmer Excellence winner, Lapeer County’s Joe Ankley, will preview his presentation for interested attendees 5:30–6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 in the DeVos Grand Gallery D. Ankley will represent Michigan on the national stage at AFBF’s 2020 Annual Meeting and Convention, Jan. 17-22 in Austin, Texas.

After the Awards Banquet Tuesday night, fans of Spartan hoops can enjoy each other’s company at a basketball game watch party in the Ambassador Ballroom (Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). Izzo’s ballers will take on the Duke Blue Devils starting at 9:30 p.m.

Delegates bringing their youngsters should know there will be a field trip to the Grand Rapids’ Children’s Museum 9–11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. The excursion will gather and depart from the DeVos Grand Gallery pre-function area.

 

Upbound on the St. Clair River, the American Spirit passes under the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario.
The new year brings a fresh venue for MFB’s Voice of Agriculture Conference, and with it a fresh new landscape of conference tours. Attendees can choose from two different excursions on Feb. 5, day one of the two-day conference hosted by the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron.

Lambs, Libations and Landscaping

One tour agenda includes sites in western St. Clair and northern Macomb counties, beginning with Lauwers Sheep Farm, where more than 600 ewes live indoors. Shepherd Cameron Lauwers will explain how he staggers his lambing schedule to provide a consistent supply of animals year-round.

Just down the road, attendees will “spring forward” at Theisen’s Greenhouse. This third-generation wholesale operation raises annuals, bedding plants and potted plants year-round for retailers across metro Detroit. The early-February time frame will showcase the earliest bloomers bound for spring flower sales.

This tour wraps up with a holistic look at the agritourism program at Blake’s Orchard. From school tours and family u-pick to hard cider processing and tasting, participants will hear how this farm provides non-farm families with a fun and informative experience. Following a tour of the orchard and cider brewery, dinner and cider tastings will take place in Blake’s event barn.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

One of Michigan’s biggest trading partners is right across the river: Canada. Exports to our neighboring Canucks totaled $902 million in 2018 alone, and they’re a strong import partner to boot.

This tour starts with a look at how agricultural imports from Canada are safely transported into the United States at the Port of Port Huron. U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff will explain their role ensuring biosecurity through inspections at the Blue Water Bridge and those crossing the international border by train, boat or plane.

After a short presentation, attendees will tour the inspection facilities on the Blue Water Bridge deck, then head to the USDA livestock inspection facility a short drive away.

Next participants will visit Michigan’s first lighthouse at Fort Gratiot, where Lake Huron empties into the St. Clair River. Port Huron Museum docents will lead a guided tour and share the facility’s history. Weather permitting, participants may climb the 82-foot tower.

From there this group will split in two, each half headed to separate dinner locations in opposite directions. One bus heads north to the Cadillac House, an historic inn and tavern just a block from Lake Huron in Lexington. The other bus heads south to Marine City Fish Company on the St. Clair River, specializing in locally caught fish in addition to some terrestrial options.

NOTE: Participants on this tour are subject to a background check by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to enter their facilities; names, addresses and birth dates (from MFB’s membership database) will be provided to the agency in advance. Registering for this tour equates to consent to the background check. No substitutions or latecomers will be allowed after the Jan. 6 cancellation deadline.

Details, details…
Both tours will depart from the Blue Water Convention Center promptly at 1 p.m.

Participants staying at the Holiday Inn Express may park their vehicles at the hotel and take MFB’s shuttle to the convention center prior to departure. Shuttles will transport participants back to the hotel following the tour or evening social at the convention center.

No children under 18 are permitted to participate in the tours and all participants must ride the buses.

The full conference agenda and tour information is available online.

Contact your county Farm Bureau to register, Dec. 9-20.

 
The Military Street bridge crosses the Black River in downtown Port Huron

A key highlight of Farm Bureau’s wintertime “meeting season,” the Voice of Agriculture Conference next February is taking shape with a fresh new lineup of tours, workshops and activities to nourish legions of farm-friendly advocates interested in preaching the gospel according to ag.

Registration for MFB’s 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference will be open Dec. 9-20. Farm Bureau members with a passion for consumer-facing outreach are encouraged to leave Feb. 5-6 open for two days at Port Huron’s Blue Water Convention Center, in the shadow of the famous Blue Water Bridge linking Michigan with Sarnia, Ontario.

Day one will be dominated by afternoon tours of ag-related facilities in and around Port Huron and St. Clair County; look for tour details in an upcoming issue of Farm Gate.

The heavy lifting comes Thursday, Feb. 6, with breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon, punctuated by general programs during breakfast and lunch.

Attendees in three hourlong breakout sessions (two in the morning and one in the afternoon) have these workshops to choose from:

  • Building Bonds with Local Schools —An expert panel discusses how to build strong relationships with local schools through FARM Science Lab visits, Project RED, Ag in the Classroom, reading ag-accurate books to students and other outreach activities for children.
  • Agritourism: A Practical Guide — A panel of farmers who’ve added value to their business by embracing agritourism and welcoming customers onto their farm will discuss some of the challenges they faced, including local government, zoning, building codes and public safety.
  • Ag Education at County Fairs — Fairs are great venues for engaging consumers about agriculture. Learn about fair-based educational activities from across the country and activities that draw in consumers.
  • Our Changing Communications Landscape — Good communication within Farm Bureau is more important than ever, but the who’s and how’s of it have been shuffled. Catch up on recent changes and get reacquainted with your role in a grassroots communication system that relies on your involvement!
  • Farm and Food Care Ontario — With the rich soils of southern Canada right across the St. Clair River, learn more about Ontario agriculture from this coalition of ag organizations representing the province’s diverse farm sector — and how they make connections between farm and non-farm audiences. 
  • Hello, My Name Is... — Polish your public-facing persona and put your — and agriculture’s — best foot forward at your next speaking engagement, career fair booth, farm tour or worker recruitment event.
  • Playing the Game — In the up-and-down world of volunteer engagement within your county Farm Bureau, learn how to build on positive momentum and bounce back from setbacks.
  • ‘Reptile’ Litigation — Personal injury lawyers have begun attacking agriculture emotionally and psychologically. This session explores recent real-world cases bearing this out and offers guidance for countering such tactics.
  • Train the Trainer: Youth Program Leadership — This presentation will open three AgriSafe topics and provide training tools for working with youth ages 14-21. Provided materials cover zoonotic diseases; personal protective equipment recommendations; and hazard mapping.
  • Mental Health Resilience in Ag Communities — Some 60-80% of visits to primary care providers in America are related to stress. Learn to better identify stressors prevalent among agricultural producers; describe signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression; and discuss the impacts of natural disasters on rural communities.
  • The Five Magic Words — Learn how to get more mileage out of “thank you,” “please” and “no thanks.” Practical strategies in using these five simple words can help safeguard your sanity while transforming your county Farm Bureau, community and business.
  • Building Partnerships with 4-H — 4-H goes beyond the county fair, and today’s 4-H members are tomorrow’s Farm Bureau leaders. But how can you better engage with and support local and statewide 4-H activities? Learn how to improve this partnership and grow your future membership.

A pair of half-hour mini-breakouts begin the afternoon:

  • Treat of Agriculture — Look behind the curtain at Washtenaw County’s award-winning trick-or-treat-style event that engages rural and urban kids alike with fun learning about agriculture.
  • Advocacy Without Leaving the Farm — You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker or policy wonk to influence elected officials and regulatory leaders. Regardless of your personality, you can be a voice for agriculture through various media, often from the comfort of your own home.
  • Building Trust in Michigan Ag — Most consumers trust Michigan farmers, but for those who don’t, the Michigan Ag Council exists to answer consumer concerns and raise awareness of modern food production. Learn about their Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT campaign and building trust in Michigan agriculture.
  • P&E County Chair Update — Chairs, co-chairs and project leaders of any experience level in this session will gain updated resources, tips and tricks for leading educational outreach efforts in your communities. Share ideas with other leaders and brainstorm helpful new resources.
  • Collegiate FB Orientation  — Remember that eager anticipation from freshman-year orientation? It’s like that, only getting acquainted with Farm Bureau’s new Collegiate membership! Learn the fundamentals of Collegiate membership and what’s in it for your county Farm Bureau.

Register to attend the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference by contacting your county Farm Bureau office Dec. 9 through Dec. 20. For more information, visit the conference website or contact Amelia Miller at 517-679-5688.

A redistricting of Michigan Farm Bureau districts will mean some real-world changes for members across the northern Lower Peninsula. Proposed by MFB’s recent state study committee and approved by delegates at the 2018 annual meeting, the redistricting plan creates a new, 12th district and with it a designated representative on the state board of directors.

Why It’s Changing

MFB’s 11 districts have remained mostly static since they were first defined in 1944. The only change happened in 1967, when Macomb County moved from District 3 to District 6.

County Farm Bureau consolidation and the dissolution of two (Montmorency and Kalkaska) resulted in the state’s previous 11 districts each being comprised of four to nine county Farm Bureaus. To equalize the responsibility of district directors and improve county Farm Bureau representation on the state board, the study committee recommended creating a 12th district and eliminating an at-large director from the state board to avoid increasing the size of the body.

Adding the 12th district aligns those districts with the organization’s 12 re­gions, each serviced by a roaming staffer, the vital and familiar “regional rep.” Redistricting will finally see those staffers sync up with a designated district director, the area’s representative on the MFB Board of Directors, elected by members from that district.

This promises to alleviate the confusion of the previous 11-district, 12-region scheme, which had four district directors working with multiple regional representatives.

To maintain the size of the MFB Board of Directors, one of the three at-large positions will be replaced by a district-specific position.

How It’s Changing

The new plan rearranges the districts as follows (see map):

  • Districts 1, 2, 4 and 5 remain unchanged.
  • Macomb County returns to District 3 from District 6, reversing its 1967 move.
  • Mason County moves from District 7 to District 9.
  • The former District 10 splits, becoming a new District 10 and 11:
  • Arenac, Clare and Gladwin counties move from District 8 into the new District 10, along with Huron Shores, Iosco and Ogemaw.
  • The new District 11 consists of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego and Presque Isle.
  • District 11 (the entire Upper Peninsula) is renamed District 12.

The redistricting takes effect Dec. 3, at the beginning of MFB’s 2019 Annual Meeting, where the organization will function as 12 districts. Stay tuned for the implications redistricting will have on this year’s board of directors’ election.

 

A redistricting of Michigan Farm Bureau districts will mean some real-world changes for members across the northern Lower Peninsula.

By Jeremy C. Nagel

Newcomers to Michigan Farm Bureau’s state-level policy development committee came together for the first time Sept. 24 for a packed day of orientation and crash course on the issues they’re charged with sifting and sorting next month.

MFB Vice President Andy Hagenow welcomed these new members to the body he chairs:

  • Cliff Lipscomb — Kalamazoo County (Dist. 1)
  • Steve Williams — Livingston County (Dist. 3)
  • Jeanne Igl — Ingham County (Dist. 5)
  • Johanna Hopkins — Mecosta County (Dist. 7)
  • Jill Benson — Wexford County (Dist. 9)
  • Dean Shepeck — Menominee County (Dist. 11)
  • Nathan Clark — Midland County (Young Farmer)
  • David Dreves — Northwest Michigan (Young Farmer)
  • Michael DeRuiter — Oceana County (MFB Board of Directors)

“It’s a good idea to ask questions and speak up if you don’t understand something,” Hagenow advised those new to the group that ultimately will choose what recommendations are considered by delegates at this year’s state annual meeting. “You are not alone or on an island; you’ll always have backup from other committee members.”

The bulk of the committee’s work will take place at its next meeting, Oct. 8-9. That’s when they’ll sift through hundreds of policy recommendations sourced from the organization’s grassroots and sent up the chain of command from all 65 county Farm Bureaus.

By way of introduction, Hagenow encouraged the new committee members to share why they agreed to serve in their new capacity. The ensuing comments were picture postcards of high-level member involvement:

“I’m here to echo the concerns of other farmers and improve the bottom line of the dairy industry,” Shepeck contributed, alluding to the dominant commodity sector back home in Menominee County.

“I’ve been a Farm Bureau member for 40 years and just felt it was my turn to give back to the organization,” Hopkins said.

“I’ve served in a lot of capacities throughout the organization, but this is one place I haven’t been,” Clarke said. “This is the foundation of a great organization and I’m glad to be part of that.”

“I feel Farm Bureau’s voice this is the best voice farmers have,” Lipscomb said, speaking to the importance of “getting policy to the government so they know how we’re thinking.”

Rounding out MFB’s 2019 PD committee are:

  • Ned Bever, Hillsdale County (Dist. 2)
  • Renee McCauley, Kent County (Dist. 4)
  • Rob Haag, Huron County (Dist. 6)
  • Mark Daniels, Gratiot County (Dist. 8)
  • Greg Whittaker, Cheboygan County (Dist. 10)
  • John Bowsky, Sanilac County (Young Farmer)
  • Kellie Fox, Oceana County (Promotion & Education)
  • Craig Denny, Ionia County (At Large)
  • Tim Hood, Van Buren County (At Large)
  • Jeff Sandborn, Ionia County (MFB Board of Directors)
Newcomers to Michigan Farm Bureau’s state-level policy development committee came together for the first time Sept. 24 for a packed day of orientation and crash course on the issues they’re charged with sifting and sorting next month.

Entries are ramping up for the inaugural Agricultural Art Gallery, a new fundraising effort of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture debuting at MFB’s 100th Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids. The first-of-its-kind competition is looking to spotlight the creative talents of Farm Bureau members statewide, with showcasing their work on a big stage and auctioning off the best of them to help fund the Foundation.

Among the entrants is Sanilac County farmer and agronomist Darcy Lipskey, who will be sharing one of her trademark ceramic creations and is excited to showcase her work on a bigger stage than she’s accustomed to.

“For me the Ag Art Gallery is kind of a unique opportunity to engage — instead of just attend — the annual meeting,” said Lipskey, whose family raises row crops and beef cattle near Minden City. “I love that it’s a different kind of chance to contribute my voice and be part of something larger than myself. State annual is always fun, but this adds to the experience. I get to feel even more part of the event and the organization itself.”

Even as a young 4-H participant, Lipskey has made time to foster her creative side.

“It’s actually a great stress reliever,” she said, alluding to some of the everyday tensions familiar to anyone with a foot in the farm sector.

Christmas is an ongoing theme of her work, rooted in a ceramic holiday tree she remembers from childhood.

“It's a tradition now and, completing the circle, it’s a pleasure to make them now myself as gifts, adding special little details to each one — no two of them are the same.”

Lipskey’s ceramics fall into the 3-D arts category alongside other forms of sculpture. Other categories include photography; fabric and fiber art; drawing and painting; metal art; and woodworking.

“We came up with the Ag Art Gallery concept not just to raise funds, but also to spotlight the creative sides of many of our members,” said Kate Thiel, who took over managing the Foundation last year. “We know our members’ creativity isn’t limited to designing and fabricating custom harvesters. It’s a side of them we don’t always see, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to encourage and recognize these facets that don’t always get the attention they deserve.”

All entries are considered donations to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture and will be displayed in the DeVos Place’s Grand Gallery on Tuesday and Wednesday of the annual meeting (Dec. 3-4). There attendees will vote on their favorite items, with the most popular entry from each category — plus an overall, best-of-show winner — being auctioned off during the Centennial Gala Wednesday evening, Dec. 4.

The voting window begins with the President’s Luncheon on Tuesday and concludes with the Centennial Luncheon on Wednesday. Those pieces to be auctioned off will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The remaining entries will be available for purchase at their estimated value following the auction.

The deadline to enter your creation is Oct. 31, although the finished product needn’t materialize until its exhibition Dec. 3.

A 501c3 organization formed by Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture strives to positively contribute to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming.

For more information, contact Kate Thiel, 517-679-5741

 
Entries are ramping up for the inaugural Agricultural Art Gallery, a new fundraising effort of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture debuting at MFB’s 100th Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids. The first-of-its-kind competition is looking to s

Michigan Farm Bureau’s pending redistricting plan means change is coming to the organization’s board of directors. The new 12-district arrangement takes effect at the beginning of 2019 Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.

Directors in odd-numbered districts are up for re-election this year, and there will be no change to the election proce

ss in districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, where these leaders are up for reelection:

  • Brigette Leach, Dist. 1
  • Mike Fusilier, Dist. 3
  • Stephanie Schaefer, Dist. 5
  • Mike DeRuiter, Dist. 7
  • Ben LaCross, Dist. 9

Up North, however, it gets more complicated:

  • A new director will be elected to represent the new District 10 (see map) for an initial 1-year term.
  • Current District 10 Director Pat McGuire will no longer be in District 10, but will be eligible to be reelected to the board in the new District 11.
  • The director for the new District 11 (see map) will be elected to a two-year term.
  • Current District 11 Director Dave Bahrman’s term is complete, but he will be eligible to be reelected to the board in the new Upper Peninsula District 12. That election will appoint a director there to a 1-year term.

The terms of all three at-large directors expire this year: Andy HagenowDoug Darling and Larry Walton. With the addition of a 12th district-specific director, only two at-large positions will be open for election (both to two-year terms).

The organization will function as 12 districts throughout the entire annual meeting, beginning with district kickoff meetings Tuesday morning.

  • For the new District 10, the county president caucus chair will run the district kickoff and breakfast meetings since there is no incumbent director in that district.
  • In the new District 11, Director McGuire and/or the county president caucus chair will run the meetings.
  • In the new District 12, Director Bahrman and/or the county president caucus chair will run the meetings.

County Farm Bureau presidents’ caucuses are strongly encouraged to convene and nominate prospective directors at the annual meeting.

Individuals included on the slate of candidates must meet the Michigan Farm Bureau qualifications for district director and should be willing to serve if nominated. MFB regional representatives are responsible for planning the district meetings or a conference call in their respective regions.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s pending redistricting plan means change is coming to the organization’s board of directors. The new 12-district arrangement takes effect at the beginning of 2019 Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.