Van Buren County Farm Bureau earned MFB’s Grassroots Lobbying Award for its outstanding efforts last year engaging with legislators at all levels of government: local, state and national. Awarded at last week’s Lansing Legislative Seminar, the honor recognizes county Farm Bureaus that excel at building relationships with elected officials in championing farm-friendly causes.
Traditionally one of its most popular events, some 75 members and guests attended Van Buren’s annual Summer Legislative Dinner last August on Mike Alaga’s farm near Decatur. There they found an inclusive and dynamic forum where farmers and lawmakers were able to discuss ag-community issues and the policies influencing them.
Both members and prospective members were welcome, with everyone seeing firsthand the county Farm Bureau’s passion for flexing its collective voice.
The guest list included local officials representing Van Buren County Commissioners, register of deeds and sheriff’s department — plus state legislators and U.S. Congressman Fred Upton.
“It speaks volume that legislators from all levels of government made it a priority to attend, given their often-intense schedules,” said president Mike Bozung. “In a time of division and divide, this event exemplifies the determination our membership has to be heard and to make a difference.”
Indeed the county makes a priority of including elected officials in its local events and discussions, encouraging members to stay in touch with lawmakers and responding promptly to issue action requests.
“In turn, elected officials make it a priority to attend our events and remain involved as members themselves,” Bozung said.
Sometimes they even roll up their own sleeves, like when Dist. 66 State Representative Beth Griffin pitched in at last year’s Ag Venture Tent at the Van Buren Youth Fair.
“While our members may not see this involvement as lobbying, it clearly defines the meaning of grassroots involvement.”
As the winner of MFB’s Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award, Van Buren County Farm Bureau earns a $500 grant for use toward future lobbying activities.