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Top Story

Katie Eisenberger

In the good ol’ days, after a long day’s work one would secure his or her horse to a hitching post outside a local establishment or a neighbor’s house before heading inside to catch up on the latest issues of the world.

We may have traded in our original horsepower for one with four wheels — and we can now communicate with one another without being in the same space — but one thing never goes out of style: learning something new. And we’ve got something new to share!

Over the next six months, members will have the opportunity to listen in as a group of Michigan Farm Bureau public policy specialists and industry professionals discuss critical agricultural topics through a virtual, laid-back atmosphere. They will look at current situations within the topic area, what related policy or programs MFB provides, and what next steps may look like.

Encourage someone you know to register if they’re interested in:

  • Gaining more awareness of current agriculture issues
  • Better understanding grassroots policy development
  • Getting perspective straight from the horse’s mouth!

To watch the Hitching Post, register for each monthly event separately. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the group. If you’re unable to join, but still interested in the content, all events will be recorded and posted to the MFB YouTube Channel.

Here’s the schedule of Hitching Post conversations, who’s moderating each discussion, and a link for participating:

I’m helping coordinate these discussions alongside my awesome coworker, Emily Reinart, the grassroots policy outreach specialist in MFB’s public policy division.

“This will be an opportunity for members to join a circle of peers for a short time commitment and invest in learning about current topics in the industry, how Michigan agriculture is impacted and how they can be involved in a solution,” Emily said.

All Hitching Post conversations will take place online via Cisco Webex, a convenient and easy-to-use online meeting platform that works on almost any desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone with a decent internet connection. Farm Bureau members can download it by clicking here.

MFB staff contacts: Katie Eisenberger (517-679-5444) and Emily Reinhart (517-679-5337

 


Over the next six months, members will have the opportunity to listen in as a group of Michigan Farm Bureau public policy specialists and industry professionals discuss critical agricultural topics through a virtual, laid-back atmosphere.

County News

Katie Eisenberger

In the good ol’ days, after a long day’s work one would secure his or her horse to a hitching post outside a local establishment or a neighbor’s house before heading inside to catch up on the latest issues of the world.

We may have traded in our original horsepower for one with four wheels — and we can now communicate with one another without being in the same space — but one thing never goes out of style: learning something new. And we’ve got something new to share!

Over the next six months, members will have the opportunity to listen in as a group of Michigan Farm Bureau public policy specialists and industry professionals discuss critical agricultural topics through a virtual, laid-back atmosphere. They will look at current situations within the topic area, what related policy or programs MFB provides, and what next steps may look like.

Encourage someone you know to register if they’re interested in:

  • Gaining more awareness of current agriculture issues
  • Better understanding grassroots policy development
  • Getting perspective straight from the horse’s mouth!

To watch the Hitching Post, register for each monthly event separately. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the group. If you’re unable to join, but still interested in the content, all events will be recorded and posted to the MFB YouTube Channel.

Here’s the schedule of Hitching Post conversations, who’s moderating each discussion, and a link for participating:

I’m helping coordinate these discussions alongside my awesome coworker, Emily Reinart, the grassroots policy outreach specialist in MFB’s public policy division.

“This will be an opportunity for members to join a circle of peers for a short time commitment and invest in learning about current topics in the industry, how Michigan agriculture is impacted and how they can be involved in a solution,” Emily said.

All Hitching Post conversations will take place online via Cisco Webex, a convenient and easy-to-use online meeting platform that works on almost any desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone with a decent internet connection. Farm Bureau members can download it by clicking here.

MFB staff contacts: Katie Eisenberger (517-679-5444) and Emily Reinhart (517-679-5337

 


Over the next six months, members will have the opportunity to listen in as a group of Michigan Farm Bureau public policy specialists and industry professionals discuss critical agricultural topics through a virtual, laid-back atmosphere.

Three MSU students honored with Michigan Farm Bureau scholarships

February 19, 2019

Three exemplary Michigan State University (MSU) students were honored Saturday, Feb.16, at Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) Growing Together Conference in Grand Rapids.

Amanda Forraht of Berrien County, Elizabeth Ritchie of Van Buren County and Samantha Wagner of Jackson County were recipients of the MFB Marge Karker Scholarship.

Each received a $1,000 award to help fund her MSU education.

Amanda Forraht

Amanda is majoring in animal science in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). Raised on her family’s farm, she learned the value of caring for animals and the land influencing her decision to pursue a career in the equine industry. Upon graduation, Amanda hopes to work in equine physical therapy or rehabilitation to keep performance horses in top condition for their sport.

At MSU, Amanda participates in the Rodeo Club and Dairy Evaluation Judging Team. Outside of the university, she’s been involved in the Ranch Horse Association of Michigan, Mid-America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team and 4-H.

Amanda is the daughter of Douglas and Suzanne Forraht of Sodus.

Elizabeth Ritchie

Elizabeth is a second-year student in MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. After helping nurse an ill calf back to health as a child, Elizabeth developed a passion for the health and welfare of livestock. Through internships during her vet school tenure, she’s found a niche in veterinary pharmaceutical development. Whether working in private practice or for a veterinary pharmaceutical company, Elizabeth hopes to use her advanced degree to further improve the health of livestock.

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Grand Valley State University. She is actively involved in many student organizations within the College of Veterinary Medicine, including serving as the secretary of the Food Animal Club. Elizabeth credits 4-H for her exposure to multiple livestock species.

Elizabeth is the daughter of Tim and Stacy Ritchie of Decatur.

Samantha Wagner

Samantha is a senior majoring in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education in MSU’s CANR. As a member of the Springport FFA Chapter, Samantha gained exposure to agricultural education in high school influencing her decision to pursue a career as an agricultural educator. At MSU, Samantha has been a Glassen Scholar working on behalf of MSU with the Department of Natural Resources’ Legislative and Legal Affairs Office.

Samantha is an active member of student organizations on campus including the Sigma Alpha Sorority, Block and Bridle, and Agriculture Future of America.

She is the daughter of Dale and Lou Wagner of Springport.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Marge Karker Scholarship was established in the 1960s to honor the former coordinator of Farm Bureau women’s programs which included activities involving citizenship, health, education, legislation, public relations, safety and community projects. Through her tenure from 1922-1964, Marge Karker helped to lay the foundation for the current Promotion and Education and Young Farmer programming. The scholarship is open to any MSU student of sophomore standing or higher who is studying in the CANR, College of Veterinary Medicine or Institute of Agricultural Technology.

The next round of applications will be due Oct. 1, 2019.

 

MSU Students

Legislators to hear from members at Lansing Legislative Seminar

February 19, 2019

Members attending this year’s Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) Lansing Legislative Seminar on Feb. 26 will help celebrate the organization’s centennial anniversary, reflecting on 100 years of grass-roots policy implementation and growth of the agriculture sector through legislative and regulatory initiatives. At the same time, nearly 400 attendees will hear from a variety of speakers, setting the tone for the year as MFB acclimates and builds relationships with the Whitmer administration and new leaders in the Legislature and regulatory agencies.  

“We’re fortunate to welcome to the event Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Deputy Director Dr. James Averill, Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger and Department of Environmental Quality Deputy Director Aaron Keatley,” said MFB Communications Specialist Nicole Sevrey, the event’s coordinator. “Through a town hall-style format, the panel of three will field questions from the audience — not only will the discussion help members learn more about the departments’ respective priorities, but also help the department leaders understand our members’ expectations and areas of potential growth or concern.”

The program will also recognize Ogemaw County Farm Bureau will receive the with the Excellence in Grass-roots Lobbying Award for their efforts to protect the integrity of the Right to Farm (RTF) Act. In 2018, the Edwards Township Planning Commission attempted to thwart a livestock operation from expansion.

“Ogemaw County Farm Bureau President Brent Illig, who is also a trustee on the commission, recruited  70 farmers to attend the commission meeting in support of the Right to Farm,” said MFB Government Relations Specialist Matt Kapp. “As a result of the local Farm Bureau’s work, the commission unanimously defeated the proposal.”

Guests will also hear from Silver Plow Award recipients including former Sen. Tom Casperson, Sen. Dan Lauwers and Rep. Aaron Miller. The trio played a critical role in three initiatives impacting all aspects of Michigan agriculture: creating three Department of Environmental Quality oversight boards; amendments to agriculture’s sales and use tax exemptions; and improvements to the state’s large-quantity water-withdrawal program. The Silver Plow is MFB’s top recognition for a member of the Legislature or Congress, signifying farmers’ appreciation for leadership and support consistent with the organization’s member-developed policy.

Before ending their day at the legislative reception where they’ll visit with state representatives, senators and numerous other government officials, members can participate in four educational sessions: 

  • Farming as a Good Neighbor – Presenters will discuss the Right to Farm Act and its application of science to protect farmers from nuisance claims. Attendees will also hear about the agriculture sector’s focus on water quality by utilizing proactive, voluntary conservation programs. 
  • State Funding Priorities and Economic Outlook – In this session members will gain an understanding of economic forecasts in relation to the state agriculture department and research funding priorities within MSU.
  • Infrastructure: Roads, Bridges, Energy, Broadband and Beyond – Attendees will receive an overview of the current state of Michigan’s infrastructure and potential new policy initiatives. 
  • Legislators Are Consumers Too – This session will provide attendees with information and resources to build and nurture relationships with new legislators by listening, asking questions, identifying common values, and discussing and relating with them on issues.

 

State News


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

CLICK… CLACK… CLICK… CLACK…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRAFT AGENDA: MFB 2021 STATE ANNUAL MEETING 

Wednesday, Nov. 3

Virtual Kickoff: 7-8 p.m.

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

Tuesday, Nov. 9 & Wednesday, Nov. 10 

District Meetings: in person within the district; times TBD

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

Tuesday, Nov.30

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

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

Wednesday, December 1 

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

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

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

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

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

Two at-large positions are also up for reelection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every year half of the MFB Board of Directors are up for election or re-election: even-numbered districts in even numbered years, odd-numbered districts in odd years. Two/Three at-large directors (from anywhere in the state) are also up for reelectio

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