County News Archive

2019 County Annual Meeting


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The 2019 Monroe County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, September 19, at the Old Mill Banquet Hall in Dundee.  A reception from 5:00 to 6:00 PM will allow for attendees to take a look at the Smithsonian exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” that will be on display in the museum.  The meeting and dinner will start at 6:00 PM.  It will be a shorter meeting, focusing on election of board members and both policies and delegates to send to the statewide annual meeting in December.  Some of the recognitions and introductions took place earlier at the centennial picnic celebration in Ida, such as the scholarship winners, 4-H Capitol Experience participants, and the Promotion & Education Committee volunteer of the year.

This meeting is of great importance, since this is a “grass roots” organization; this is where policies developed at the local level come to the regular farmer members for votes.  If approved, these can go on to be incorporated into the policies and actions of our state and national organizations.  Monroe County is well known for developing meaningful policy recommendations that are often adopted into the Michigan policy book and even some of the language finds its way into the national, American Farm Bureau policy book.  The policy development committee consists of seasoned members who have also been involved in state and national farm organizations such as the commodity groups and includes some active young farmers.  The committee has been hard at work again this year drafting proposed policies.  You will be able to read the proposed policies by CLICKING HERE .

Board seats up for election include the Dundee-Summerfield District seat currently held by Matt Reau of Petersburg and the At-Large seat currently held by Mary Webb of Newport.  Any eligible member who would like to run for one of these positions should contact the county office for referral to the nominating committee or plan to be nominated from the floor at the meeting.

Farmers and landowners who are not yet members may attend and should want to join their largest, most effective organization as a way to meet likeminded people, help their industry and learn how to take collective action to make things better for everyone.  Call the Monroe County Farm Bureau Office, 734.269.3275 to register.  This is a free event for our regular farming members; dinner for non-members is $12 each.  Members should respond to their invitations no later than September 10th to confirm their registrations.

The 2019 Monroe County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, September 19, at the Old Mill Banquet Hall in Dundee.

Ag Students Receive Farm Bureau Scholarships

By Monroe County Farm Bureau



 











Monroe County Farm Bureau has awarded two $750 scholarships to local students aspiring to careers in agriculture.  Interviews were held on May 11 and the committee’s selections were notified the following week.  Recipients of the awards can use the funds to attend college, trade school, or apprenticeship programs which support the agricultural industry.

“These students are the future of the agriculture industry of Monroe County, and we consider these scholarships to be an investment in the future of our community,” said Mark Mathe, president of the Monroe County Farm Bureau.  “Their success will impact the future success of farms and agri-businesses in our area.”

The 2019 winner of the Betty Bliss Scholarship is Madison Bank of Carleton.  It is named for long-time County Office Administrator Betty Bliss, and has been presented annually since 1988.  Madison is attending Michigan State University studying Crop and Soil Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies and Sustainability.  The daughter of William and Heather Bank, she graduated from Airport High School and has been a member of the Swan Creek 4-H Club for ten years.  Upon graduation from MSU, she plans to become a crop consultant to help serve the farmers of Southeast Michigan.

The 2019 Young Farmer Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Tanner Burkett of Ida.  The oldest scholarship awarded by the bureau, it was renamed five years ago as a tribute to the Young Farmers of our group whose lives were cut short before reaching their full potential.  Tanner is a graduate of Ida High School, and currently attends Michigan State University majoring in Crop and Soil Sciences.  He is the son of Chad and Karen Burkett and has been involved in the Monroe County 4-H program since 2007.  Getting his interest in agriculture from his dad and uncles, he plans to help the industry by becoming an Agronomist.

Winners are eligible to compete in all years of their studies against new applicants, provided they continue their studies in an agriculture-related field.  Since 1988, Monroe County Farm Bureau has invested over $40,000 in the future agricultural leaders of our community!  We wish everyone who competed for these awards the best of luck as they continue their studies.  They are truly the future of agriculture in Monroe County!



Monroe County Farm Bureau has awarded two $750 scholarships to local students aspiring to careers in agriculture.

Members Attend Washington Legislative Seminar



U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg responds to questions from members on the status of USMCA.

The annual Washington Legislative Seminar is a fitting capstone to Farm Bureau’s wintertime meeting season—a summit of the organization’s grass-roots lobbying ethic perched at the tail end of many growers’ availability before the crush of spring planting. After returning home to their farms, attendees from across the state shared their thoughts about the program celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Representing Monroe County at this year’s seminar were Dee Dee and Jerry Heck. Even as longtime members with lengthy track records of Farm Bureau involvement, the Hecks still found fresh value in the experience.

“Even though I have been a longtime member, this trip gave me new enthusiasm for the value of the organization,” Jerry Heck said.

“The time spent with our two Senators was very educational. It was nice being able to ask them questions, and it gave me a different viewpoint of them.”

Gratiot County Young Farmer Marie Zwemmer hadn’t been to D.C. since high school. This time around she got a much better feel for the real workings of the nation’s capital.

“I was on the trade track, which allowed us to meet with both Senators and our Congressman,” said Zwemmer, who attended alongside her husband Frank. “We learned about their thoughts on trade issues and what needs to happen for effective trade to positively impact Michigan farmers.”

She credits her Farm Bureau involvement for making the opportunity more accessible.

“Without my membership, I probably would never have had breakfast with our Senators or sit in our Congressman’s office, sharing concerns about issues impacting agriculture and getting questions answered about what’s being done to solve problems,” Zwemmer said.

“As a Farm Bureau member, I feel my voice matters and I know it’s more likely to be heard. The value of that—being able to influence policy-makers to do what Michigan agriculture needs—I don’t feel like I would have that through any other organization.”

Zwemmer found some valuable lessons in her D.C. experience—lessons she’s eager to implement back home.

“Don’t be afraid to ask policy makers hard questions,” she said. “They represent us, and we have a right to have our questions answered and our voices heard. They don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s up to us to make sure important issues surface and they are getting solved at every level.”

Two of Zwemmer’s neighbors to the south, Johanna and Ronald Balzer of Clinton County, also made the trip to D.C..

“We were very impressed with the opportunity to meet the people making our laws and regulations,” said Johanna Balzer upon returning home. “It was good to see the common humanity that binds us together, putting a face with a name in this echelon of bureaucracy.

“It was a good experience hearing how even experts struggle with making policy decisions. We appreciated meeting others from our U.S. House district—along with Iowa Farm Bureau members—and discussing our common concerns.

“If you have the opportunity to attend the seminar, take it!

Otsego County Farm Bureau President Tim Kauska attended with his wife Pat—their second time lobbying in D.C.   “Our main objective was information gathering and sharing. We take all Farm Bureau events seriously and use the time wisely,” Kauska said.  “Our main concerns are immigration and labor—specifically the H-2A program. That there is still a tremendous amount of work still needed to improve the H-2A Program.”

The annual Washington Legislative Seminar is a fitting capstone to Farm Bureau’s wintertime meeting season—a summit of the organization’s grass-roots lobbying ethic perched at the tail end of many growers’ availability before the crush of spring plan

Monroe celebrates legacy of strong leaders

By Hannah Meyers


Pictured (from left): Michigan State Senator Dale Zorn, Gary Charter, MFB At-Large Director Douglas Darling, James VanBuskirk, Paul Marks, Donald Sahloff, Gerald Heck, Richard Kamprath, Gary Drodt, Elgin Darling, Dennis Meyer, Herb Smith, Tom Woelmer, MFB Dist. 3 Director Michael Fusilier, and current Monroe County Farm Bureau President Mark Mathe. (Photo by Roger Bezek)

Farmers in the spring spend their days fixing, planting and tending. The role of a county Farm Bureau president often involves the same. 

They’re needed to help resolve issues at board meetings or local troubles presented by members. They plant ideas and tend to young leaders by serving as a mentor or role model. After a day spent in the truck, tractor or field, they attend board meetings—often with mud still on their boots or sweat still on their brow

But they are there—they show up ready to lead, gavel in hand.

The Local History Team in Monroe County decided to recognize the hard-working individuals who have served as president of the county Farm Bureau. As a part of the yearlong Centennial Celebration, all Monroe County presidents were invited to attend a special Presidents’ Breakfast to be acknowledged for the time and service they’ve committed to their local farming community and the Farm Bureau organization.

Local History Team Chair Mary Webb and her committee led the efforts in planning the event, held April 8 at the Monroe Country Club.

“They’re hard working—it’s a hard job,” Webb said. “Each of them have left their own unique fingerprint on our organization. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

The presidents didn’t get all the kudos of course; each of their wives got a personal thank-you and a corsage.

“We know they aren’t doing it alone,” Webb said. “The wives deserve to be honored and thanked as well for their service.”

Promotion and Education Chair Mary Janssens shared with the group an album she compiled featuring articles and photos from Monroe County Farm Bureau’s long history.

Twelve presidents total attended the breakfast, their terms of service stretching from 1977 to today: Gary Charter, Elgin Darling, Gary Drodt, Gerald Heck, Richard Kamprath, Paul Marks, Mark Mathe, Dennis Meyer, Donald Sahloff, Herb Smith, James VanBuskirk and Tom Woelmer.

Only four living county presidents were unable to attend.

Other special guests included Dist. 17 State Senator Dale Zorn and Michigan Farm Bureau Directors Mike Fusilier and Doug Darling.

Monroe County Farm Bureau’s Local History Team is also planning a centennial farm tour and centennial picnic this summer to continue its 100-year celebration.

Ravenna native Hannah Meyers is MFB’s regional representative in the southeast, working with Farm Bureau members in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.



The Local History Team in Monroe County decided to recognize the hard-working individuals who have served as president of the county Farm Bureau.