County News Archive

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'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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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: 

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.

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



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.

Agricultural Leadership Exchange 2019

Ionia County Farm Bureau member Daniela Dryer has been selected to attend the 2019 Agricultural Leadership Exchange to Argentina.  The exclusive group of Michigan Farm Bureau members will be traveling to Argentina in March 2019.  Attendees will see some dynamic agriculture, innovation and technology, but will also have a unique opportunity to engage in dialogue with farmers, government officials and industry leaders on some of the major agricultural issues facing Argentina’s food, agriculture and natural resource industry.

Agricultural Leadership Exchanges represent substantial investment in personal leadership development, and come with an expectation of continued involvement and leadership in Farm Bureau and Michigan agriculture.  Previous exchanges have taken MFB members to New Zealand, Germany and Belgium, Ukraine, China and Cuba.


Ionia County Farm Bureau member Daniela Dryer has been selected to attend the 2019 Agricultural Leadership Exchange to Argentina.