Early November saw Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2022 Annual Meeting building a head of steam after the Nov. 2 virtual kickoff event teed up regional policy meetings in all 12 MFB districts.
Ideal harvest conditions Nov. 3 took a bite out of attendance to the district meeting in the Thumb, where District 6 Director Travis Fahley knows how hard it is to be inside on a dry November day.
“We had our two District 6 representatives on the state Policy Development committee give an update on hot topics,” Fahley said, including labor issues, inflation, trade and solar and wind farming — especially implications at the local, township level.
Another topic was growing concern about ESG: Environmental Social and Governance, referring to the impact a farm’s conservation practices could have on a lender’s evaluation of that farm’s loan-worthiness.
“ESG’s effects on lending and farming practices,” Fahley said, “it’s going to become a serious part of our future.”
The day was just as sunny to the west, where members from across District 5 convened in Owosso.
“My meeting went as good as I could expect for such a nice night!” said District 5 Director Stephanie Schafer, alluding to the ideal harvest conditions that nicked attendance.
“And I don’t blame ‘em one bit. I would rather have them combine — get their beans and corn off — and be there at state annual in a couple weeks. I hope everybody gets their crops in because weather’s coming!”
Schafer said those who were able to make it were of course top-shelf, engaging each other on both the issues themselves and the mechanics of the policy development process — all handily addressed by the district’s trio of state PD gurus: Bob Carlin (Shiawassee), Kristi Keilen (Clinton) and Schafer herself.
Among the issues discussed were dairy pricing and worrisome actions by municipal animal-control authorities, as well as substantial discussion about cannabis production.
Cannabis chatter is ongoing statewide and was a high point up at District 11’s meeting the same day in Gaylord.
“Some people are pretty pumped about cannabis policy coming out of our district,” reported North Regional Manager Matt Frollo. “They’re ready to talk about it. A couple of members up here grow it and they want to have that seat at the table. Whether we go for it or against it, they want to use our voice as an organization.”
Also on members’ minds Up North is the evergreen topic of government overreach, particularly coming out of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“They just want a better understanding of who’s in charge at MDARD,” Frollo said, his voice echoing the frustration his farmers express, feeling detached from the state agency with arguably the most impact and influence on their livelihoods.
Housekeeping items common to all district meetings included overviews of delegate chair responsibilities and training in CloudVote, the system used by delegates taking part both in-person and remotely.
Delegates unable to attend their district meeting should familiarize themselves with the proposed resolutions and delegate quick tips. Contact your district's representative on the state PD committee with questions.
District meetings continued last week and wrap up Nov. 17 in Jonesville. Next stop, Grand Rapids: See you there in two weeks!