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Farm Bureau members prep for debate of state, national policies

State Policy Development Chair Andy Hagenow (right) listens to delegate floor debate at the 2019 Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. 2021 will be Hagenow’s last time leading the committee as he retires from the MFB Board of Directors after 20 years of service.
Date Posted: October 28, 2021

Michigan Farm Bureau’s state policy development committee recently spent two days in Lansing deliberating nearly 500 policy recommendations from 60 county Farm Bureaus and 11 commodity advisory committees. The result is a carefully crafted slate of resolutions that 400-plus delegates to MFB’s 102nd annual meeting will debate and approve, setting the organization’s course for 2022.

“I know the committee and many of our voting members are excited to return to Grand Rapids for in-person delegate session,” said Vice President Andy Hagenow, who will retire from the MFB Board this year after 20 years of service, including nine as the state-level policy development chair. “We’re looking forward to reviewing the many quality policy recommendations put forth through our process. We rely on them to protect and enhance our state’s farm sector and our rural communities.”

Because the annual meeting this year takes a hybrid format, with both virtual and in-person components, Hagenow emphasized the importance of delegate preparation.

“If you’re serving as a delegate, I encourage you to attend your district meeting, review the policies and prepare amendments in advance when possible.”

Several policies have scheduled discussion time; among them, a new policy titled Carbon Sequestration and Ecosystem Services Markets.

Climate-related issues continue to be at the forefront of our members’ minds,” Hagenow said. “And while there may still be more questions than answers, we recognize the importance of weighing in as we remain aware and engaged on both opportunities and challenges that present themselves.”

The policy proposes language supporting the use of sound science and public research within ecosystem services markets as well as ensuring standardization, transparency and clarity within those markets. 

Also receiving a dedicated time slot is policy #27: Michigan Meat Processing Industry.

“The meat processing policy was crafted just last year and approved by delegates at the 2020 annual,” Hagenow explained. “It’s good to see members taking steps to improve and further develop the young policy.” 

Delegates will consider new language within the policy calling for support of:

  1. A training program that would lead to state level employees as inspectors in plants;
  2. Increasing the number of federally inspected facilities in the state to grow capacity and additional retail sales; and
  3. Additional funding to offset facility upgrades, industry expansion and dealing with regulatory burden. 

Additional policies with significant amendments are summarized below. View the complete resolutions book online.

#35 TB – Mycobacterium Bovis Tuberculosis 

Delegates will consider new language to address concerns within the memorandum of understanding between USDA and the state departments of agriculture and natural resources. Among the additions are support for the development of a coordinated plan to meet deer head collection numbers, weekly reporting and a per-head payment for deer heads until the MOU requirements are met and development of an exit strategy and agency offsets when failing to meet MOU compliance. 

#39 Agriscience, Food and Natural Resources Education & the FFA Organization

Draft language was added to support the development of an agricultural credential that high school students could use to gain employment in agriculture and/or natural resources. The addition also calls for, “input from agricultural businesses, teachers and educational specialists to ensure the certification represents the skills learned through the program in a way that's meaningful for agricultural employers.”

#42 Michigan State University  

Proposed changes to the organization’s long-standing policy on MSU include language encouraging more realistic financial expectations for university farms, as well as edits to emphasize the need for expediting the hiring process for both extension educator positions and research faculty. 

#81 Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program 

Receiving some simple fine-tuning, proposed amendments affirm the organization’s support for MAEAP remaining a voluntary, confidential and statewide program. New language will also be considered to support the creation of a voluntary contribution option to the Freshwater Protection Fund that currently collects fertilizer and pesticide fees to pay for MAEAP.

#88 Waters of the United States 

Proposed new language supports county drain commissioners’ ability to make decisions and assist state and federal agencies in determinations of what should be federally regulated as a Water of the United States. 

#94 Farm and Commercial Vehicles 

Stemming from access challenges during the pandemic, delegates will consider proposed language supporting that, “Individuals and businesses should be able to conduct business and complete transactions with the Secretary of State in an easily accessible manner including in person, online, or by mail.”

The amended policy also calls for allowing doublewide round bale transportation. Currently loads are restricted to 96 inches on rural roads and 102 inches on state roads.