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Members and their dependents may apply for the Ionia County Farm Bureau $500 Scholarship due March 1, 2021.
Applications due March 1st

County News


Members and their dependents may apply for the Ionia County Farm Bureau $500 Scholarship due March 1, 2021.
Applications due March 1st
Andrew Vermeesch, Michigan Farm Bureau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


State News


“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

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!

Coming Events

DateEvents
February2022
Wednesday
2
2022 Council of Presidents Conference
111 W Main St
Midland, MI
This is the annual conference for county Farm Bureau presidents.  The conference provides and opportunity to: * Meet peers from across the state * Help guide new county presidents as they take on their new role * Learn current state and national organization issues and develop leadership skills