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2019 County Annual Meeting


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS

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.

County News

2019 County Annual Meeting


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS

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

State News

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.
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.

 

Coming Events

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January2020
Wednesday
29
2020 Council of Presidents Conference
111 W Main St
Midland,
Open to all county Farm Bureau presidents
February2020
Wednesday
5
2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference
800 Harker Street
Port Huron, MI
Learn new tools for connecting with consumers via social media, direct outreach, school-based events or news media at the Voice of Agriculture Conference. Hear from keynote speakers who understand the challenges of working in agriculture. Meet Farm Bureau members from across the state to share ideas for county programming. Tour agricultural businesses and farms in Michigan’s Thumb region
February2020
Friday
21
2020 Young Farmer Leaders Conference
100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd
Acme,
The Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer Leaders Conference is for young members between the ages of 18 and 35. This two-and-a-half-day conference unites 350 young agriculture leaders and industry experts, centers on these members’ professional and personal growth and addresses issues relevant to this generation, including leadership training, management skills and business/family relationships.
February2020
Tuesday
25
2020 Lansing Legislative Seminar
333 E. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI
Lansing Legislative Seminar provides an opportunity to learn from expert speakers on policy issues impacting agriculture, help legislative and regulatory leaders understand Farm Bureau policy, and share ideas and talk about local issues with fellow members.