Farm Bureau News

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

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
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.

Members are urged to voice concern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to modify the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS).

You can help by texting the phrase “MI CORN” to the number “52886,” then following the instructions provided to send a pre-written or customized message to the agency before the comment period closes on Nov. 29.

EPA’s proposal is problematic because they want to use a three-year rolling average of recommended Small Refinery Exemptions instead of the actual average, which is much higher.

Read our related story to understand how the exemptions work:

Comment period closes on Nov. 29
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!

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.

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.


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

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

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

Policy Discussion Schedule 

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

#238 National Dairy Program

#252 International Trade

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

#35 TB – Mycobacterium Bovis Tuberculosis

#89 Wildlife Management

#97 Highways and Funding

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

#44 State Energy Policy

#75 Farmland Protection

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

#82 Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management

#86 Water Use in the Great Lakes Basin

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

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


Environmental Protection and Authority

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

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

Non-point Source Pollution and Watershed Management

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

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

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

Water Use in the Great Lakes Basin

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

Highways and Funding

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

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

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

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB)

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

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

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

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

International Trade

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

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

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

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




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

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.

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.

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

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.

The Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) Youth Discussion Meet is a contest sponsored by the MFB Young Farmer program.

All high school students interested in agriculture, except past Michigan Farm Bureau Youth Discussion Meet state winners, are eligible to compete. While the regional contests are based on FFA boundaries and hosted by FFA chapters, competitions are open to ALL high school youth.

Region V (Ionia)
November 13, 2019
Ravenna High School

RSVP by November 6 to: Melanie Block
[email protected]
(231) 853-2218 ext 1427

Contest Guide: 

The Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) Youth Discussion Meet is a contest sponsored by the MFB Young Farmer program.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection
September 21, 2019
303 S. Jackson St., Ionia
8:00 am – noon will accept electronics.

To see a full list of items collected visit:

September 21, 2019: Ionia Collection

Ag Awareness Day Meeting

Wednesday, September 25


Ionia County Farm Bureau (basement)


Those interested in helping to plan the Ag. Awareness Day Event in 2020 are welcome to attend. 

Wednesday, September 25

State Annual Meeting

We are looking for Ionia County members to serve as delegates at the State Annual Meeting.

December 3-5, 2019

Amway/DeVos Place, Grand Rapids

Registration Deadline: October 25.

RSVP by October 25 (616) 527-3961 (limited seats)

    • Meet others dedicated to the future of Agriculture
    • Help steer the Michigan Farm Bureau priorities for the coming year
    • Learn the complexity of the one organization that represents the interests of all Michigan farms

Video: What does it take to be a delegate? From 2018


We are looking for Ionia County members to serve as delegates at the State Annual Meeting.

Career Focus Conference

Wondering what to do after high school? Be Agriculture!

Who: Any high school students interested in agriculture?

What: An exploration conference to visit agriculture industry businesses, learning firsthand the various careers available to you after high school. Unsure of what's after high school? No Problem! Pick a track that interests you the most and come with a willingness to learn more!

When: October 22, 2019


Where: Lansing Crown Plaza Hotel

Karker Scholarships – Oct. 1

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Marge Karker Scholarship offers three $1,000 scholarships to students enrolled in an agricultural program at Michigan State University.

Applicants must be a dependent of a Farm Bureau member or have his/her own Farm Bureau membership in good standing.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 1; the application form and additional details are available online.

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

White-Reinhardt Grants – Oct. 15

Oct. 15 is the next application deadline for White-Reinhardt Mini-Grants, available to help support county Farm Bureaus’ Promotion & Education projects.

Awards of up to $1,000 are available for new or existing classroom education programs in grades K-12. The fall application cycle is for programs planned to take place February through July 2020.

Click here to apply.  

White-Reinhardt Scholarships – Oct. 15

American Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture offers National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference scholarships for current, full-time educators or active volunteers who have demonstrated involvement in agricultural literacy programming.

The 2020 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference takes place June 23-26 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The application deadline is Oct. 15; apply here.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Marge Karker Scholarship offers three $1,000 scholarships to students enrolled in an agricultural program at Michigan State University.

The Michigan FFA Alumni & Friends welcomes registrations for their National FFA Convention Experience Trip  during the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 30-31 in Indianapolis. 

County board members, committee chairs and members are encouraged to consider either attending the event or sponsoring a local administrator. Participants will experience the largest event the National FFA Organization has to offer, while learning more about how FFA can impact the lives of students.

The schedule includes exploring the National FFA Career Show & Shopping Mall, having dinner with the Michigan FFA State Officer team and staff, attending the opening session of the convention, enjoying time with their local FFA chapter during breakfast or lunch, and watching the second general convention session. Full convention information can be found here.

Registrations must be submitted to Amanda Sollman by Sept. 15. For those seeking additional information, feel free to reach out to Katie Eisenberger, MFB’s high school & collegiate programs specialist.

The Michigan FFA Alumni & Friends welcomes registrations for their National FFA Convention Experience Trip during the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 30-31 in Indianapolis.

County Farm Bureaus are encouraged to nominate members for appointment to MFB Advisory Committees by Aug. 16; current members’ terms of service expire at the end of the year. The appointment window was moved to earlier in the year so as to avoid conflicts with county annual meeting planning.

Advisory committees are a critical part Farm Bureau’s infrastructure, representing specific commodity and marketing interests as well as issue-specific concerns like labor, direct marketing and natural resource issues. They provide vital input to the MFB Board of Directors and policy development process.

The Rules of Organization and Operation of MFB Advisory Committees explain the purpose, makeup and membership of the 13 committees. Counties receive an automatic appointment to any committee in which they lead production, as noted below:

  • AQUACULTURE & COMMERCIAL FISHING — 8 members; all counties eligible; no automatic counties designated; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • DAIRY — 16 members; automatic appointments: Huron, Clinton, Sanilac, Allegan, Ionia, Missaukee, Gratiot, Barry; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335 
  • DIRECT MARKETING — 12 members; automatic appointments: Berrien, Lapeer, Macomb, Ottawa, Kent, Van Buren, Allegan; contact Audrey Sebolt, 517-391-5055
  • DRY BEAN & SUGAR BEET — 12 members; automatic appointments: Huron, Sanilac, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Gratiot; contact Theresa Sisung, 517-323-6729
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT — 16 members; all members at-large; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • EQUINE — 12 members; automatic appointments: Washtenaw, Allegan, Oakland, Livingston, Jackson, St. Joseph; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • FEED GRAINS, OILSEEDS & WHEAT — 16 members; automatic appointments: Sanilac, Lenawee, Saginaw, Huron, Tuscola, Gratiot, Hillsdale, St. Joseph; contact Theresa Sisung, 517-323-6729
  • FORESTRY — 10 members; automatic appointments: Copper Country, Mac-Luce-Schoolcraft, Hiawathaland, Iron Range, Chippewa; contact Craig Knudson, 231-357-3864
  • FRUIT & VEGETABLE —14 members; automatic appointments: Van Buren, Ottawa, Berrien, Montcalm, Kent, Monroe, St. Joseph; contact Audrey Sebolt, 517-391-5055
  • LABOR — 8-12 members; all members at-large; contact John Kran, 517-679-5336
  • LIVESTOCK & POULTRY — 16 members; automatic appointments: Allegan, Ottawa, Huron, Ionia, Cass, Gratiot, Branch, Mecosta; contact Ernie Birchmeier, 517-679-5335
  • NATURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES — 13 members; one member from each MFB district and two at-large; contact Laura Campbell, 517-679-5332
  • NURSERY & GREENHOUSE — 12 members; automatic appointments: Ottawa, Kalamazoo, Kent, Allegan, Monroe, Wayne; contact Audrey Sebolt, 517-391-5055

Counties receiving automatic appointments must submit two nominations for each committee. Other counties may submit up to two nominations for each committee.

All nominees must be regular Farm Bureau members, commercial producers of the commodity, representative of the industry and willing to serve by attending the meetings.

Committees meet once or twice annually. Those who have served on past advisory committees are eligible for reappointment. Appointments are for a two-year period, 2020-21, beginning January 1, 2020.

Click here for the nomination form to be completed and returned to MFB by Aug. 16.

Mail nominations to the MFB Center for Commodity, Farm & Industry Relations, P.O. Box 30960, Lansing, MI 48909; or email to Andrena Reid or fax to 517-323-0230. To submit nominations online, work with your County Administrative Manager to complete the application here.

For more information, contact your MFB Regional Representative or staffer listed for each committee.


To celebrate 100 years of Michigan Farm Bureau and highlight our members’ many creative talents, the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture will host an Agricultural Art Gallery event at MFB’s 2019 Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.

Members from across the state will have the opportunity to share their work in the areas of woodworking, metal work, photography, drawing and painting, fabric and fiber arts, ceramics, pottery and sculpture. Participants may enter one work per category.

All entries will be considered donations to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture. The top item in each category will be auctioned off during a live auction event during the annual meeting. Those items not selected will be available for sale at their estimated value.

Winning entries in each category will be selected by popular vote. Entries incorporating a centennial theme will earn their makers a commemorative ribbon!

The entry deadline is Oct. 31; submit yours online at

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

LANSING, MI – The FARM Science Lab (Food, Agriculture, & Resources in Motion) II was open for visitors today as the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture celebrated its debut during the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Centennial Celebration.

The FARM Science Labs are 40-foot mobile classrooms, equipped with the latest teaching technologies and tooled with STEM-based lessons that meet Next Generation Science Standards and National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes to increase agricultural awareness. The Labs were developed by Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom.

Staffed with regional educators, the FARM Science Labs helps reinforce grade-level standards with hands-on science experiments while increasing students’ knowledge of how agriculture impacts their daily lives.

The FARM Science Lab offers schools the convenience of bringing a field trip-style experience to their front door. Students receive an out-of-classroom, hands-on experience without the hassle of transportation arrangements or field-trip permission slips.

“The FARM Science Labs are fully funded by generous donors giving to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, something not everyone knows” said Kate Thiel, development manager for the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.

“Our first mobile FARM Science Lab has been on the road for two school years. During its tenure it’s seen 31,157 students and 1,212 educators,” Michelle Blodgett, Ag in the Classroom and FARM Science Lab manager said. “We’re excited to have two labs on the road for the coming school year. To date the labs are over 80% booked too. Imagine how the impact will grow with a second lab,” she added.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have so many people supporting our initiatives. Many sponsors of the FARM Science Lab program were able to join us Friday, we’re appreciative of their time and support. And we’re so happy with the impact we’re all able to make with the FARM Science Lab,” Thiel said.

To find out how to donate to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, visit:

To find out more about the FARM Science Labs, visit:


Kent County Farm Bureau is kicking off National Ag. Week March 10-16 with a free day at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.   

March 10 is Free Day at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, sponsored in part by the Kent County Farm Bureau. Local farmers will man educational booths at the event to help visitors learn more about where food comes from.

 Event details: 

Nominations are now being accepted for Michigan Farm Bureau’s elite Institute for Leadership Education, ProFILE. The program is an in-depth leadership experience for agriculture’s most promising current and future leaders. We need your help finding progressive young farmers to participate in next year’s program!

ProFILE’s 15-month agenda enhances leadership and interpersonal skills as well as Farm Bureau organizational knowledge for a select group of members ages 25-35.

If that sounds like a good opportunity for someone you know, nominate them for consideration through your county Farm Bureau office. County nominations are due to Michigan Farm Bureau by June 28, 2019. Once nominated, potential ProFILE participants must then submit an application directly to MFB.

The next ProFILE program gets underway in January 2020.

Participants pay $100 per year for the program ($200 total), which is refunded back to the participant upon successful completion of the program in March 2021.

For more information, contact Emily Reinart, 517-679-5337.

Stick around Farm Bureau any length of time and you’ll see we’re pretty big on giving credit where it’s due—especially when it comes to recognizing those members who go above and beyond in the name of Michigan agriculture.

To that end, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) annually honors standout individuals for their contributions and achievements in supporting and advancing Michigan agriculture and furthering Farm Bureau values and policy.

Champions of Excellence Award

Now is the time to receive recognition for the great work your county Farm Bureau is doing!

Following a bit of a facelift, our Champions of Excellence Awards focus on two distinct categories: Advocacy and Innovation.

A third award category, Involvement, is based on statistics pulled from our membership database on July 1; no application is required. Components of the previous Leadership Development category have been incorporated into Advocacy and Innovation.

County Farm Bureaus’ applications in the Advocacy and Innovation categories are due to MFB by July 1. One winner per category, per district will be announced by Aug. 16; each will receive a $350 grant.

District winners will then compete at the state level. Announcement of the three state winners will be made at the MFB Council of President's Conference and receive a $1,000 county grant.

More information and application links are available online.

Presidential Volunteer of the Year

MFB President Carl Bednarski knows the value of volunteers to the success of this organization. His Presidential Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes members who exhibit commitment to a specific program or event in their local community, and who are instrumental to the success of that event or program.

Nominees should be regular members who have served the entire year (Aug. 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019), leading one or more county Farm Bureau projects and recruiting others to help.

Sound like someone you know? Nominate them with this online form by Aug. 2, 2019.

MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture

The 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of volunteers or groups exhibiting excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership development in the areas of beef cattle, dairy cattle, goats, horses, horticulture, crops and soils, poultry, rabbits, sheep, swine, and/or veterinary science.

Honorees choose where their $1,000 recognition award will go to advance Michigan 4-H agriculture programs: volunteer training, supplies, curriculum materials, or to enhance 4-H agricultural programming locally or statewide.

Submit nominations to the Michigan 4-H Foundation by June 1, 2019.

Distinguished Service to Agriculture award

This award is on hiatus this year as we focus on celebrating MFB’s centennial. Start thinking of outstanding members who have had statewide impact for nomination in 2020.

For more information on any of these awards, visit the MFB website or contact Sara Miller, 517-679-4781.


The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has launched “Women in Ag,” an online survey designed to gauge the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture in a variety of areas.

According to Tonia Ritter, Michigan Farm Bureau manager of Education & Leadership Programs, the AFBF survey is timely and based on the recently released 2017 Ag Census Data, which showed more women are becoming principal producers in U.S. agriculture.

“According to the Ag Census data, 1.23 million females were principal operators in 2017, up nearly 27% from 969,672 in 2012,” Ritter said. “It marks the first time the figure has topped 1 million — meaning women now represent 36% of all U.S. farm operators.”

According to Ritter, data collected from AFBF’s “Women in Ag” survey will be used to gauge trends related to the achievements of women in agriculture, including leadership positions, business successes and election to public office.

“This comprehensive survey asks women in-depth questions about how they are connected to agriculture and what leadership skills they think are most important today as well as the top business challenges they’re facing,” Ritter said.

Results from the survey are slated for release this fall and will add to findings gleaned from a similar survey conducted in 2014. Participants will be entered to receive one of five $100 gift cards after the survey closes on June 21.

Farm Bureau membership is not required to participate.

One of the high points of Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th anniversary is coming June 14 with a Centennial Celebration at the organization’s home office on the west side of Lansing. Regular Farm Bureau members are invited to attend for a day of summer fun and festivities with food, games, prizes and entertainment for all ages.

Admission is free but registration is required online by June 1. Use the event unlock code 1919.

The historic day of fellowship takes place 3-8 p.m. Friday, June 14 at the Farm Bureau Center, 7373 W. Saginaw Hwy. in Lansing.


Because of limited on-site parking, attendees driving themselves to the event will park at nearby Mount Hope Church (202 S. Creyts Road, Lansing) and take a shuttle bus from there to Farm Bureau Center.

Attendees can also take advantage of free charter bus transportation to and from the event; click here for a list of bus pick-up locations and times. Buses are scheduled to arrive at the event at 3 p.m. and depart promptly at 8 p.m. Be sure to select the RIDING BUS ticket option when registering to take advantage of this complementary transportation option.

Space is limited, so register today to reserve your seat!

Entertainment & Fun & Games

MFB’s State Young Farmer Committee is hosting a cornhole tournament to determine once and for all which county Farm Bureau’s beanbag tossers reign supreme.

For the kids there’ll be inflatable bounce houses, face painting and pedal pull tractors while the grown-ups take their turn on a mechanical bull.

A dunk tank will help raise funds for the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.

An on-site DJ will set the stage for musical guests later in the day: Three Men and a Tenor take the main stage in the late afternoon, followed by rising country star Jordan Davis in a live performance sponsored by Consumers Energy.

Food & Drink

A pair of food trucks will dish up deliciousness for all. Paradise Concessions will cover the summer picnic-inspired basics, and the MSU Dairy Store will cover the dessert base.

To wash it down there’ll be on tap a custom-brewed centennial beer, centennial-branded red and white wine and all the necessary non-alcoholic beverages as well.

Finally, the occasion will provide a venue for two momentous events outside the themes above: the launch of MFB’s second FARM Science Lab trailer and the interment of the organization’s 100-year time capsule on the home office grounds.

For more information, visit


By Theresa Sisung

Last month farmers interested in growing industrial hemp this year received the news they had been waiting for when the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced the launch of the state’s Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program. The program will allow for the growth, cultivation and marketing of Michigan-grown industrial hemp in 2019.

Before we get too far into the weeds, let’s clarify that industrial hemp and marijuana are NOT the same thing. They’re both members of the cannabis family, but industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% THC—tetrahydrocannabinol— the psychoactive compound that produces a ‘high’ only at much higher concentrations, such as are found in marijuana.

Industrial hemp is grown for fiber, seed and oil which can then be turned into many other products. In particular, there is a lot of interest in growing hemp for cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound currently being marketed as a supplement for humans and animals.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the commercial production and processing of industrial hemp, but each state must have an approved plan in place before commercial production is allowed. USDA is in the process of implementing a national program scheduled for a fall release, after which Michigan can submit its state plan for approval.

Until USDA’s program is in place, Michigan is using authority in the 2014 Farm Bill for an Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program, which permits an institute of higher learning or MDARD to grow industrial hemp for research purposes as part of an agricultural pilot program.

Really what all this means is that if you want to grow hemp in 2019 you must work in partnership with MDARD on a research program, but in 2020 full-scale commercial production should be an option.

To grow hemp, you must submit to MDARD an application and a $100 registration fee. If you wish to process, handle, broker, or market industrial hemp in Michigan you must submit an application and a $1,350 application fee.

Prior to harvest, growers must submit a sample of the crop to a testing facility to measure the THC concentration. If it’s above 0.3% the crop cannot be harvested and must be destroyed.


  1. What sort of resources or information should Farm Bureau provide to help better inform our members about industrial hemp?
  2. What potential roadblocks do you see as the industrial hemp industry expands from a research program to full-scale commercial production?
  3. Do you know farmers in your area who are planning to grow and/or process industrial hemp under the research pilot or once commercial production becomes legal?

Theresa Sisung grew up on her family’s cash crop and livestock farm in Clinton County, and earned a degree in ag communications from Michigan State University. At MFB she serves as the associate field crops and advisory team specialist and the resident “expert” on industrial hemp. She focuses on developing relationships with the corn, soybean, wheat, sugar beet and dry bean industries.

The 2019 theme-park season has finally arrived, so let the laughter and screams begin with tickets discounted by your Farm Bureau membership!

Ticket prices fluctuate during peak season—meaning the discounts fluctuate with them—so check our website for the most up-to-date pricing. Start-of-season Farm Bureau member prices are below:

Cedar Point — opens May 11

  • Daily admission ticket: $29.99 + online processing
  • Two-day admission ticket: $56.99 + online processing (consecutive or nonconsecutive days)
  • Processing: $6.99 and up depending on number of tickets purchased

Michigan’s Adventure — opens May 25

  • Daily admission ticket: $30.99 + online processing
  • Two-day admission ticket: $50.99 + online processing (consecutive or nonconsecutive days)
  • Processing: $5.99 and up depending on number of tickets purchased

Six Flags Great America — opened April 27

  • Daily admission ticket: $50 + online processing
  • Hurricane Harbor Water Park daily admission: $10 when you add it to a daily ticket

Kings Island — opened May 3

  • Single day admission ticket: $36 + online processing
  • Two-day admission ticket: $68 + online processing (consecutive or nonconsecutive days)
  • Processing: $5 and up based on number of tickets purchased 

All ticket sales are final and are only available online. For more information, contact MFB Member Services, 888-805-4864.

It's calendar time again...

Each year, Michigan Farm Bureau holds an annual calendar contest and we are currently looking for 2020 submissions. This year’s theme: Farm Friends.

We’re looking for photos of your 4-legged farm friends. Winning submissions will be featured in our 2020 calendar and will include your name and photo credit.

Photo entries should be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to:

Michigan Farm Bureau

Attn: Member Communications and Relations

7373 W. Saginaw Hwy, Lansing, MI 48911

Photos should be horizontal and we need a minimum resolution of 300 DPI for printing. 

The deadline to submit entries is June 21. Send us your Farm Friends photos today!


A group of 18 Michigan farmers made a 12-hour flight to Argentina March 8 to 14 as part of the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Agricultural Leadership Exchange. There, the group took in the South American country’s culture, food, landscape and production agriculture.

Co-sponsored by the Michigan Corn Growers Association, the trip started off in a meeting with MAIZAR, the Argentinian Corn Growers Association. Their president, Marcello Morelli, said Argentina’s corn harvest has increased 62 percent in the past five years, with the total corn value chain now representing 3.3 percent of the country’s total GDP.

The Michigan delegation traveled to the very fertile Pampas Region to visit El Desafio Farm owned by the Alejandro Calderon family. This 3,000-acre farm includes soybeans, corn, wheat, oats, and green peas.

The diversified farm operation also raises Aberdeen Angus, providing bulls to cattle ranches all over the region. El Desafio Farm also custom plans, sprays, harvests, conditions and transports for other farmers using their own equipment, sending most of their grain to the many grain terminals located about 75 miles away on the Parana River.

Calderon provided a tour of his operation, discussing growing techniques, technology, fertilizer, pests and diseases and yields. His no-till corn production averages 200 bushels per acre without irrigation or subsurface drainage.

The group continued northwest into the Pampas region and entered the Province of Santa Fe to tour a Syngenta corn and sunflower seed plant, which is considered the largest seed production facility in Argentina. It is near Venado Tuerto. At this location, the group learned more about the differences in seed production, storage and distribution compared to Michigan’s large seed corn industry.

The next stop of the trip — the diversified crop and sheep farm of La Constancia, known for their ability to breed National Champion Hampshire Down sheep. While native to England, the operation has had tremendous success breeding multiple national champions of the Hampshire Down breed.

And, as might be expected, no trip to Argentina would be complete without taking a look at the country’s grain export infrastructure. The group traveled to Rosario, the third-largest, fastest-growing city in Argentina, located on the Parana River. Exporting more than 825 million bushels on an annual basis, it’s become known as the grain hub of Argentina, accounting for more than 50 percent of the country’s grain exports.

Considered to be the largest concentration of soybean crushing and export facilities in the world, the Rosario area is home to 29 separate soybean crushing and grain facilities, helping to make Argentina the world’s largest exporter of soybean meal and the third-largest exporter of corn and soybeans.

The group toured the grain terminal of ACA (Asociacion de Cooperativas Agrarias) in San Lorenzo, north of Rosario, which accounts for 18 percent of all grain exports in the area. In addition to soybeans, the facility exported 118 million bushels of corn in 2018.

Taking in 600 semi loads per day, it’s not uncommon for contract truckers and their drivers to wait two or three days to unload during peak harvest season(s).

Michigan’s delegation also paid a visit to the Rosario Board of Trade, the most important grain exchange in Argentina in terms of its volume of operations and its ability to provide reference prices for the national and international markets.

The Rosario Board of Trade also has the distinction of being the one remaining exchange in the world where grain deals are still done face-to-face and with a handshake. The Board of Trade also operates a complex of laboratories which analyze and provide quality certifications for samples of agricultural commodities, soil and water.

The last day of the trip was spent visiting ExpoAgro, the largest farm show and equipment exhibition in Argentina. There, the attendees spoke with vendors, where they compared technology, equipment and rubbed elbows with Argentine farmers in attendance.

With more than 150,000 visitors from Argentina and the world participating in the annual mega farm-show, it spans nearly 50 acres. In addition to displays of the latest technologies in seeds, livestock and equipment, the show also has a livestock auction that sells more than 45,000 head of cattle.

Upset with your township supervisor and want to lead a change? Do you have opinions about your community’s planning and zoning? Are you tired of ruining your farm equipment on county roads?

If you answered YES to any of those, you should consider serving on your township board, planning commission or road commission.

With farmers comprising less than 2% of the population, agriculture is increasingly likely to get run over and left out if farmers don’t become more active in government. That’s why Michigan Farm Bureau has a goal of increasing the number of farmers who serve in government by 20% by 2022.

To equip farmers with the right tools they need to get more active in government, MFB created the Academy for Political Leadership.

We have a lot of leadership development programs, but what makes this academy unique is that it’s the only one devoted exclusively to political and government education. Topics include: how bills become law, the budget process, policymaking, planning and zoning, campaign management, polling, fundraising and plenty more.

Participants in the 2019 academy included Matt Nilson, a member of the Van Buren County Farm Bureau.

“Increasingly, government officials, legislators and the general public don’t understand the importance of agriculture in today’s society,” Nilson said. “The Academy of Political Leadership allows those of us who grow food to learn about the political process, gain access to decision makers and influencers, and share the challenges farmers experience.

“I’m confident it’ll help get more farmers elected—people who understand the political, economic and regulatory barriers in producing healthy affordable food for all. Farmers need to be represented at every level of government to ensure that ag’s voice is heard.”

Want to learn more about the program? Ask one of our new graduates:

  • Chris Machiela — Allegan County
  • Erin Humm — Gratiot County
  • Emily Calderonem — Ingham County
  • Anders Swenson — Kalamazoo County
  • Larry Walton — St. Joseph County
  • Todd Stubbs — Oakland County
  • Robert Carlin — Shiawassee County
  • Matt Nilson — Van Buren County

MFB’s Academy for Political Leadership occurs biannually, with the next session occurring in 2021.


MFB Government Relations Specialist Matt Kapp grew up on a dairy farm in Washtenaw County.

Four nights, four topics, and free to attend. Workshops will be held on Tuesday nights 6:00-8:00pm on various farms in the area. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.


June 18- Clinton County: Roller Crimper Demonstration

AgroLiquid North Central Research Station 5605 N Findlay Rd, St. Johns

This is a hands on demonstration of the no-till planting soybeans into a crimped rye cover crop. Representatives from The Nature Conservancy, Mandako, and MAEAP will be on hand to discuss soil and land conservation, crimping equipment, Farm Bill programs, and previously planted soybean plots. Dinner will be provided for attendees courtesy of AgroLiquid.

June 25- Clinton County: Drainage Technology with Paul Sweeney

Stoney Creek Essential Oils field near 4507 S Francis Rd St. Johns

An interactive workshop on drainage water management, irrigation and fertigation to help answer questions and get you thinking about the next step in your farm management practices. An in-depth session will be held earlier in the day. Contact our office for information on both events.

July 9- Ionia County: Unbiased Soil Recommendations

Jeff Sanborn Farm 10277 Keefer Hwy, Portland

A short shop presentation on how to decipher your current soil tests. So often we as farmers rely solely on what the fertilizer companies tell us to apply. Do you really need it? What are some other alternatives? What do your nutrient levels say about your fields? NRCS Soil Conservationist Josh Davis explains your soil tests- unbiased. Cost share information on implementing nutrient management practices will also be available.


July 30- Ingham County: Supporting Agriculture with Hoop Houses and Greenhouses

MSU Student Organic Farm 3291 College Rd, Holt

Topics covered will include the benefits of using a hoop houses greenhouses and incorporating them into your existing production, pest and nutrient management considerations specific to this type of agriculture and the local, state and federal support available to growers. Please register for this event on Ingham Conservation District’s Facebook page or by calling our office.


All workshops will count towards a MAEAP Phase 1 credit. For more information, please call Clinton County Conservation District (989) 224-3720 ext 3 or visit

Four nights, four topics, and free to attend. Workshops will be held on Tuesday nights 6:00-8:00pm on various farms in the area. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.

What makes Michigan Farm Bureau amazing? What’s our sturdy foundation made of? What marches us forward and keeps us relevant to Michigan agriculture today and in the future?

It’s not what. It’s who: our members!

Last September our state Young Farmer committee agreed it needed a better understanding of current and future MFB leaders: what they do for a living, what their future goals are, how they prefer their communications and where they get that information from.

Working with MFB’s data collection team they created a survey to glean as much information as possible about these vital, engaged members—to better understand and better serve the needs of Young Farmers.

The more responses the better, so the committee loaded the prize bin with tempting incentives: Apple Watches and iPads, smart TVs, Yeti coolers and—the grand prize—a side-by-side Polaris Ranger.

If you haven’t already, please take five minutes to complete this simple survey and help our state Young Farmer committee better serve your needs.

If you’re outside the age range (18-35 years), please encourage your favorite Young Farmer to take it instead!

The prize drawing takes place at our June 14 Centennial Celebration event at the Farm Bureau Center in Lansing.

MFB’s Young Farmer program develops new industry leaders, equips them with a deep understanding of the organization’s philosophy and goals, and always strives to serve their needs, both personally and professionally. For more information, contact Justin Hein at 517-679-5658.


Don't miss these five policy development resources

County Farm Bureaus’ policy development teams are embarking on 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 impacting the agriculture sector. New topics include agricultural labor housing zoningLake Erie bill of rightslivestock permitting issues and septic regulations. Additional issues will be available in the coming weeks.

Current Policy: The 2019 MFB and AFBF policy books are available to search and download if members are considering amendments to existing language.

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, Dec. 3-5 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.

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

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

Lansing Legislative Seminar

Members are invited to attend Lansing Legislative Seminar February 26, 2019 at the Lansing Center.  Michigan Farm Bureau’s Lansing Legislative Seminar provides an opportunity for regular members to learn about issues affecting agriculture from expert speakers, network with Farm Bureau members and meet elected officials.    



Optional Tours

9am State Capitol Building Walking Tour

9:30am Michigan Supreme Court Tour



11am Registration

11:30am Lunch

2pm Issue Sessions (choose one)

             1. Right to Farm protection and zoning

2. Funding for the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and MSU

3. Business planning issues

4. Environmental topics such as MAEAP funding and water quality.

3:15pm Issue Sessions (choose One)

             1. Right to Farm protection and zoning

2. Funding for the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and MSU

3. Business planning issues

4. Environmental topics such as MAEAP funding and water quality.

4:30pm Reception with elected officials


Register by February 1st by contacting Ionia County Farm Bureau (616)527-3960 or ionia[email protected] 


Conference information:


To learn more about Michigan Farm Bureau policy set by members visit: 


Members are invited to attend Lansing Legislative Seminar February 26, 2019 at the Lansing Center.

Ag. Day

Ionia County Farm Bureau members will be meeting Monday, March 11 at 6:30pm to discuss plans for a Countywide Ag. Day in 2020.  The agricultural event is a day where students from across the county go through educational and hands-on stations focusing on agriculture. 

It will take several volunteers to plan an event of this scale.  If you are interested in helping plan the event please feel free to attend the meeting.  If you can't attend and are interested please let us know.   

Planning Meeting

Monday, March 11
Ionia County Farm Bureau
1973 S. State Rd.
Ionia, MI 48846

Any further questions contact (616) 527-3961    
Ionia County Farm Bureau is discussing hosting an Ag. Awareness/Rural Education Day in 2020.

Voice of Agriculture Conference

VOA 18
Pictured (left-right) Katie Ockert, Mandy Teachworth, Daniela Dryer, Dana Hengesbach, and Kris Cassel.
Ionia County Farm Bureau members attended the Voice of Agriculture Conference in Grand Rapids. The first day they toured farms, a classroom, and the ethanol plant. On the second day attendees heard from keynote speaker Michele Payn, and attended a variety of breakout sessions learning more about sharing agriculture’s story.  

Ionia County Farm Bureau members attended the Voice of Agriculture Conference in Grand Rapids.

Ionia County Young Farmers Compete in Discussion Meet


Ionia county young farmers competed in the District Discussion Meet with other young farmers from West Michigan. Andrea Doty from Ionia county was selected to advance to the State Discussion Meet held at the Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in November. Congratulations Andrea!

Young Farmers compete in District Discussion Meet

Hunting Lease Agreement

Hunting is a valuable tool for helping to manage wildlife, particularly the state's deer herd, which can cause significant crop damage and expose livestock to disease.

Hunting seasons for deer and other wildlife provide opportunities for landowners to profit from lease arrangements that provide hunters the ability to engage in the sport on the landowner's privately owned land in return for payment. Yet, many landowners are reluctant to allow hunters on their land due to liability concerns.

Download the sample hunting lease agreement.

Agricultural Labor & Safety Services

Agricultural Labor & Safety Services (ALSS) through Michigan Farm Bureau offers a wide variety of products and services related to regulatory compliance in the agricultural industry and related businesses.

Below are some of the items available to members:

  • ALSS Newsletter Subscription - $145 per year. Includes minimum 6 newsletters per year along with a set of Federal and State mandated Farm Labor Poster Sets, and including Spanish poster.

  • Farm Labor Poster Sets w/o Subscription - $49.95 per set of 3

  • “ALSS Headliner” updates – Just send us your email and we’ll send samples of what’s in our newsletters

Also, offering a variety of on-farm consulting services tailored to meet your needs:

    • Occupational Safety & Health Administration requirements
    • Wage and hour rules
    • Seasonal worker requirements and immigration laws
    • Department of Transportation requirements
    • Good Agricultural Practices certification
    • Food safety and security

Along with expert translation services and bilingual training.

Agricultural Labor & Safety Services (ALSS) through Michigan Farm Bureau offers a wide variety of products and services related to regulatory compliance in the agricultural industry and related businesses.

For Clovis, New Mexico farmer Art Schaap, PFAS contamination in seven of his 13 wells from a nearby U.S. Air Force based, required him to euthanize his 4,000-head dairy herd. According to local authorities, the PFAS plume is spreading slowly — not only under Schaap’s farm, but across the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the nation spanning 174,000 square miles in portions of eight states, including South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

PFAS, a suite of 3,000-plus different chemical compounds, have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including the U.S. since the 1940s. Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are very stable man-made chemicals that have the ability to repel water, oil, fat and stains.

Those unique properties make it an ideal ingredient for fire-fighting foam routinely used at airports, oil repellants and some types of nonstick cookware and common household products, including stain-protectant “Scotchgard,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Unfortunately, those same unique properties have made PFAS very persistent in the environment — meaning they don’t easily break down – and they bioaccumulate or build up in human and animal tissue. As a result, there’s growing evidence that prolonged exposure to PFAS can also lead to adverse human health effects.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, two major types of PFAS — perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) — have the ability over time to increase cholesterol levels, change hormones and enhance the chances to contract cancer in humans.

With the scientific concerns and impact to human health surrounding PFAS being relatively new, the primary focus, thus far, has been on possible groundwater contamination — particularly in areas surrounding PFAS manufacturing facilities and airports — especially those used for training fire-fighting exercises.

EPA has established a lifetime health advisory limit (LHAL) for PFOA and PFOS combined at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). To put that in perspective, according to United States Navy’s PFAS website, 1 ppt is the equivalent of traveling 6 inches out of a 93 million-mile journey toward the sun, making 70 ppt equivalent to traveling 35 feet out of that 93 million-mile journey.

Michigan’s PFAS Action Response Team

In 2017, Gov. Rick Snyder signed an executive directive creating the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) as a temporary body to investigate sources and locations of PFAS and protect drinking water and public health.

Since the 2017 Executive Directive, MPART has identified 49 PFAS sites throughout Michigan (see linked interactive map below). State environmental authorities have also tested water samples from 1,744 sites, including community water supplies for 75 percent of the state’s population.

Of those samples, 179 have tested positive for PFAS, with two testing in excess of EPA’s lifetime health advisory limit (LHAL) for PFOA and PFOS combined at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) — the water supply in Parchment (Kalamazoo County) and Robinson Elementary School in Grand Haven.

This past February, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2019-3, establishing MPART as an enduring body to “address the threat of PFAS contamination in Michigan, to protect public health, and ensure the safety of Michigan’s land, air, and water, while facilitating inter-agency coordination, increasing transparency, and requiring clear standards to ensure accountability.”

In April, MPART announced plans to develop enforceable drinking water standards for PFAS in the state, including publishing health references for major PFAS chemicals by July 1, 2019, and proposing enforceable maximum contaminant level limits for public drinking water by October 2019.


As of April 4, 2019, there are 49 PFAS sites in Michigan --CLICK IMAGE FOR DETAIL.

Impact to Agriculture?

While the initial PFAS focus has been on groundwater used for direct human consumption, the study of implications for production agriculture is still uncharted territory. However, news of two dairy farms — one in Maine and one in New Mexico — testing for high levels of PFAS in their water supply has caught the attention of many farmers nationwide.

This past February, Art Schaap, owner of Highland Dairy in Clovis, New Mexico, faced every dairy farmer’s “worst nightmare” after PFAS were found in seven of his 13 wells used on his 4,000-cow dairy operation. Test results found PFAS levels at 20 to 300 times over the EPA’s health advisory limit of 70-ppt.

U.S. Air Force officials and state-level environmental regulators believe his groundwater was contaminated from firefighting drills routinely conducted at Cannon Air Force base, located adjacent to the dairy farm. Ultimately, Schaap was forced to dump milk until his entire herd could be euthanized.

In March, New Mexico announced that it was suing the U.S. Air Force over PFAS groundwater contamination at the Cannon Air Force base, and at a second location, the Holloman Air Force base, claiming the federal government has a responsibility to clean up plumes of toxic chemicals left behind by past military firefighting activities.

Last October, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a second notice of violation for PFAS contamination against the U.S. Air Force in the waters of Clark’s Marsh near Oscoda in Alcona County.

The PFAS contamination was caused by the use of firefighting foam at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base (WAFB) bordering the marsh. Surface water samples from Clark’s Marsh show PFAS levels far exceeding the 12 parts per trillion (ppt) surface water quality standard. Groundwater monitoring data showed contamination levels as high as 42,000 ppt beneath the marsh and surface water contamination as a high as 1,410 ppt.

Under the violation notice, the DEQ is requiring the Air Force to increase pumping and treatment of contaminated groundwater at the WAFB from 250 gallons per minute (gpm) to 1,040 gpm. The DEQ is also requiring the Air Force to increase the size of the capture zone of the PFAS plume emanating from the WAFB.

According to Kevin Besey, the food and dairy division director for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), state agencies are currently testing for 24 different PFAS chemicals.

In addition, he said MDARD has written to the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture asking for help, including “better guidance.” According to Besey, federal organizations will send assistance on a case-by-case basis.

Laura Campbell, manager of MFB’s Agricultural Ecology Department, said Michigan is leading the country on much of the testing and investigation of potential sources of PFAS chemicals in the environment and ultimately production agriculture.

“The State of Michigan is doing this right – using science and rigorous investigation to find out what needs to be done to protect human health and environmental quality, and informing stakeholders and the public of what they’re doing and what they’re finding,” Campbell said. “It will be important for farmers to stay informed and help where they can with agency testing efforts around the state."

PFAS, a suite of 3,000-plus different chemical compounds, have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including the U.S. since the 1940s.


The County Annual Dinner will be held August 14, 2019 at Shadow Ridge Golf Course.  Social hour will begin at 6pm, with the meeting and dinner to follow at 7pm.  

The annual provides members the opportunity to discuss and approve policy recommendations regarding issues affecting Ionia County agriculture and natural resources.  This is our “Grass roots” policy development process in action.  Members may submit a policy idea online at:   The policy idea will be sent to the county Farm Bureau.  

The evening program also includes election of directors and recognizing outstanding members. 

RSVP to attend the Annual Dinner by calling (616) 527-3961 or emailing [email protected] 

The County Annual Dinner will be held August 14, 2019 at Shadow Ridge Golf Course.

Farm Bureau offers members a dental plan administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  For plan information and rates visit

To apply contact Ionia County Farm Bureau at (616) 527-3961

Farm Bureau offers members a dental plan

 Tim Fritz

Fritz Agency of Bad Axe honored for strong bond with county Farm Bureau

Farm Bureau Insurance’s (FBI) Agent Cultivator Award this year goes to Tim Fritz of Bad Axe, for his exceptional work building strong relations between his namesake agency and the Huron County Farm Bureau—and its members. The Tim Fritz Insurance Agency owner was awarded the honor at a meeting of Bay-Thumb-region agents in Frankenmuth earlier this winter.

The Cultivator award recognizes Farm Bureau Insurance agents who do an exceptional job building relationships with their respective county Farm Bureau. The honor is seen as a starting point for giving agents more direct experience with their respective county Farm Bureaus, MFB and Core Programs.

With this award, Michigan Farm Bureau regional representatives and FBI managing partners hope to increase the value of membership, share effective strategies with other agents and communicate why such relationships are important for optimal relationships between agents and county Farm Bureaus.

Nominations are made by county Farm Bureau boards, based on the previous membership year (Sept. 1 through Aug. 31) and are accepted by MFB regional representatives in October and November. Once collected, regional representatives and FBI managing partners collaborate to choose recipients, with winners announced at FBI kickoff meetings in January.

In addition to coveted bragging rights, Cultivator Award winners receive $500 in FBI marketing dollars or platinum-sponsor status at their respective Dinner on the Farm event.

To be eligible for the award, Fritz had to have received Key Club honors for writing five or more regular members in the preceding membership year.

Nominees are weighed on their constructive contributions to their county Farm Bureaus; promotion of membership and benefits; and encouraging member involvement.

For more information, contact your MFB regional representative or FBI managing partner.

Bad Axe-based FBI agent Tim Fritz has earned the 2019 Cultivator Award for his efforts toward building strong relations with the Huron County Farm Bureau.



March 5, 2019


X-Golf Grand Rapids

5761 28th St. SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49546

*Agenda includes dinner, discussion and indoor golf. 


1. The customer is always right. How do farmers and ranchers think and

respond, through the lens of consumer priorities and marketing trends, to

build common values and confidence in modern production methods to

build consumer acceptance?


2. The 21st-century agricultural economy is threatened by labor shortages.

Without a clear solution for accessing foreign guest workers as a component

of immigration reform coming from Congress, what are some creative and

legal ways for agriculture to address the labor needs of a modern production



Find more details here:

RSVP to (616) 527-3961

March 5, 2019 - 6pm at X-Golf Grand Rapids

Scholarships due March 1st

Ionia County Farm Bureau is offering scholarships to Farm Bureau members and their dependents.  Applications are due by March 1st and can be found online at:

Ionia County Farm Bureau Scholarship applications due March 1st.