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Top Story

Michigan Farm Bureau



Top– Delegate floor at AFBF

Bottom – Breakout session in 2019

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will call Texas home Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. In its 101st edition, the AFBF Annual Convention & Trade Show offers farmers and agribusinesses opportunity to learn about industry-wide policies and perspectives. This year, 108 Michigan Farm Bureau members and staff will attend the event in Austin, Texas.

Included in the six-day show are educational workshops, keynote speakers and networking opportunities. Farmers and ag leaders use this show to sharpen skills and help set a policy agenda to deploy in the nation’s capital.

“From the workshops to the trade show, from the guest speakers to the Farm Bureau delegates whose votes will guide our work, every aspect of the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention and Trade Show is designed to bring the future of American agriculture into clear focus,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We come together each year to learn and grow as agricultural leaders. Our annual convention is also a time to renew friendships, share our challenges and celebrate our successes.”

A full agenda can be found here  Highlights include:

National Policies 

Once in Austin, Michigan Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors will advocate for the national-level policies Michigan members finalized at the recent state annual meeting in Grand Rapids, including industrial hemp production and dairy issues.

As the opportunity to grow and market industrial hemp continues to evolve, members have been providing input on what opportunities and regulations are necessary to support the growing industry. MFB’s recommendations call for more help from federal agencies regarding guidance, rules research and tools like crop insurance.

Acting on a recommendation from MFB delegates in 2018, an AFBF task force last summer examined the Federal Milk Marketing Order and other issues impacting the dairy economy. Specific dairy issues on the agenda include price reporting, discovery changes and pricing regulations to expand export opportunities.

Other policies close to Michigan’s heart include research into sugar beet juice as an alternative to road salt, and unfair trade practices that have hurt the state’s specialty crop industries, including tart cherries, asparagus and blueberries.

Young Farmers

A trio of outstanding Young Farmers will represent Michigan on the national stage in Austin.

Young Farmer Achievement Award winner Rich Baker of St. Joseph County; Excellence in Agriculture Winner Joe Ankley of Lapeer County; and Mecosta County’s Cora Okkema, winner of the state discussion meet, all received expense-paid trips to compete in this year’s AFBF national contests.

Top 10 in the Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence contests will be announced Saturday and Sunday evening, respectively.  

Also… 

Texas Farm Bureau is offering several agricultural tours (Saturday and Tuesday) during the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention in Austin, Texas. Most tours have sold out, but contact Experient (800-424-5249) with questions.

MFB President Carl Bednarski and staff will share an update on membership, Young Farmer contestants and other organizational activities at a special Michigan dinner Jan. 19 at Trinity Hall.

Also on Sunday, former AFBF President Bob Stallman (Texas) and AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Chair Paul Molesky (New York) will host a noontime fireside chat at the Convention Center.

Download the AFBF convention app for more information, and follow the event online via the hashtag #AFBF2020.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will call Texas home Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. In its 101st edition, the AFBF Annual Convention & Trade Show offers farmers and agribusinesses opportunity to learn about industry-wide policies and perspectives.

County News

Michigan Farm Bureau



Top– Delegate floor at AFBF

Bottom – Breakout session in 2019

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will call Texas home Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. In its 101st edition, the AFBF Annual Convention & Trade Show offers farmers and agribusinesses opportunity to learn about industry-wide policies and perspectives. This year, 108 Michigan Farm Bureau members and staff will attend the event in Austin, Texas.

Included in the six-day show are educational workshops, keynote speakers and networking opportunities. Farmers and ag leaders use this show to sharpen skills and help set a policy agenda to deploy in the nation’s capital.

“From the workshops to the trade show, from the guest speakers to the Farm Bureau delegates whose votes will guide our work, every aspect of the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention and Trade Show is designed to bring the future of American agriculture into clear focus,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We come together each year to learn and grow as agricultural leaders. Our annual convention is also a time to renew friendships, share our challenges and celebrate our successes.”

A full agenda can be found here  Highlights include:

National Policies 

Once in Austin, Michigan Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors will advocate for the national-level policies Michigan members finalized at the recent state annual meeting in Grand Rapids, including industrial hemp production and dairy issues.

As the opportunity to grow and market industrial hemp continues to evolve, members have been providing input on what opportunities and regulations are necessary to support the growing industry. MFB’s recommendations call for more help from federal agencies regarding guidance, rules research and tools like crop insurance.

Acting on a recommendation from MFB delegates in 2018, an AFBF task force last summer examined the Federal Milk Marketing Order and other issues impacting the dairy economy. Specific dairy issues on the agenda include price reporting, discovery changes and pricing regulations to expand export opportunities.

Other policies close to Michigan’s heart include research into sugar beet juice as an alternative to road salt, and unfair trade practices that have hurt the state’s specialty crop industries, including tart cherries, asparagus and blueberries.

Young Farmers

A trio of outstanding Young Farmers will represent Michigan on the national stage in Austin.

Young Farmer Achievement Award winner Rich Baker of St. Joseph County; Excellence in Agriculture Winner Joe Ankley of Lapeer County; and Mecosta County’s Cora Okkema, winner of the state discussion meet, all received expense-paid trips to compete in this year’s AFBF national contests.

Top 10 in the Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence contests will be announced Saturday and Sunday evening, respectively.  

Also… 

Texas Farm Bureau is offering several agricultural tours (Saturday and Tuesday) during the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention in Austin, Texas. Most tours have sold out, but contact Experient (800-424-5249) with questions.

MFB President Carl Bednarski and staff will share an update on membership, Young Farmer contestants and other organizational activities at a special Michigan dinner Jan. 19 at Trinity Hall.

Also on Sunday, former AFBF President Bob Stallman (Texas) and AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Chair Paul Molesky (New York) will host a noontime fireside chat at the Convention Center.

Download the AFBF convention app for more information, and follow the event online via the hashtag #AFBF2020.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will call Texas home Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. In its 101st edition, the AFBF Annual Convention & Trade Show offers farmers and agribusinesses opportunity to learn about industry-wide policies and perspectives.
Farm Bureau Insurance

It's once again time to take seasonal inventory to help protect your homes and vehicles throughout another Winter in snowy Michigan. We've updated our annual Winter checklist to help guide you through your annual preparations and keep you standing tall even as temperatures plummet.

Your Auto

Colder weather creates its own requirements for car maintenance. These basic maintenance tips increase safety and decrease chances of a breakdown on a cold, winter road:

  • Charge it: Charge or replace battery as necessary.
  • Coolant: Replace and replenish antifreeze in the cooling systems. As a general rule, this should be done every two years.
  • Make sure heaters, wipers, and defrosters work effectively. Consider using winter wiper blades and cold weather washer fluid.
  • Kick the tires: Do you have enough tread? Are they properly inflated? Consider winter tires that provide more grip on icy roads.
  • Changing the oil: Changing the oil in accordance with your car’s maintenance schedule is one of the simplest ways to maintain and prolong the life of your vehicle.
  • Getting in tune: If your car is due for a tune up, get it done! Simple fixes like pings, hard starts, and sluggish performance can often become magnified problems during the winter months.
  • Get your brakes checked.

Your Home

It’s cold outside so you’re most likely keeping it warm inside! Here are a few things to add to your seasonal home checklist:

Heat

  • Open vents near the floor and close those near the ceiling for better air circulation.
  • Test your furnace and replace the filters.
  • Check the furnace, part II: Let a professional give your heating system a checkup.
  • Use solid fuel safely: Make sure stoves are UL approved and fireplaces are cleaned and maintained.

Attic Ventilation

  • Ensure attic insulation doesn’t cover ventilation vents in the eaves (also called soffits or overhangs). This helps prevent winter ice dams.
  • Make sure vents, eaves, and troughs are free of plants and debris.

Keep it Clean

  • Vacuum under and behind freezer and fridge. This can greatly improve efficiency of unit.
  • Chimney cleaned and checked: Increases ventilation and reduces fire hazard.
  • Trim low-hanging branches. Collected snow and ice could break branches and do damage to your roof, home,

Windows & Doors

  • Storm windows: If you have older, removable wooden storm windows, make arrangements to have them re-installed.
  • Replace or repair any broken window locks or latches.
  • Caulk around frames.
  • Repair any cracked or broken window panes.

Exterior

  • Keep gutters clean at all times.
  • Roof: If there are any signs of a leak or damaged shingles or flashing, have the roof checked. Make sure all culverts and exterior drains are free of debris.
  • Drain and coil all those garden hoses.

Snow Preparation

  • Shovel-ready: Make sure you have a working snow blower, shovels, and sidewalk salt on hand.
  • ·or pedestrians.
It's once again time to take seasonal inventory to help protect your homes and vehicles throughout another Winter in snowy Michigan. We've updated our annual Winter checklist to help guide you through your annual preparations and keep you standing ta
Michigan Farm Bureau

Macomb County Farm Bureau President Amanda Kutchey has been named Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 2019 Presidential Volunteer of the Year for her volunteer involvement and leadership of local and state-level Farm Bureau activities. 

MFB President Carl Bednarski said the success of the grassroots farm organization, this year celebrating its 100th anniversary, depends on the commitment of dedicated volunteer leaders.

“Amanda epitomizes the volunteers who have built and sustained the state’s largest general farm organization over the last 100 years,” Bednarski said. “She has exhibited a commitment to Michigan agriculture through her volunteer efforts and is instrumental to the success of the Macomb County Farm Bureau, as well as playing a significant volunteer role at the state level.”

In nominating Kutchey for the state-level award, the Macomb County Farm Bureau said she “always finds time to volunteer and make a difference every day as a Farm Bureau member.”

Under Kutchey’s leadership, Macomb County Farm Bureau has seen a continued increase in membership involvement and engagement thanks to her direct and personal connections with members through phone calls, visits, texts and emails.

She’s also assisted in creating a number of new membership events and programming including farm safety and emergency preparedness training, and Project Rural Education Days, a program designed to promote agricultural awareness to the non-farm community.

Growing up in a Farm Bureau family, Kutchey began attending events at an early age with her parents helping work programs and sitting through meetings.

She always knew she wanted to be involved.

“Once I was old enough to get involved on my own, I understood why my parents picked Farm Bureau,” Kutchey said. “Through my volunteer efforts, Farm Bureau helps me reach my urban neighbors by helping them understand where their food comes from. It also helps us create policy to help legislators understand how their policies impact every one of our farms across the state.”

Kutchey recently co-chaired a 13-member statewide study committee tasked with reviewing the organization’s structure, programs and services. Those networking opportunities with volunteer members across the state have been the most rewarding, she said.

“Others may not grow or raise the same products as you, but they understand the trials and frustrations that can happen in any given season,” Kutchey added. “It allows for sharing ideas, successes and failures with each other while continuing to move forward to preserve the agricultural footprint in our state.”  

Kutchey will receive her Volunteer of the Year award at the 100th Michigan Farm Bureau Presidents Luncheon, Dec. 3, at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

“I’m truly honored to be selected to receive this award. Michigan Farm Bureau is full of so many deserving volunteers who put their time and energy into this organization,” Kutchey said.

 
Macomb County Farm Bureau President Amanda Kutchey has been named Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 2019 Presidential Volunteer of the Year for her volunteer involvement and leadership of local and state-level Farm Bureau activities.

State News


Joe Theisen explained how to raise tens of thousands of annuals for wholesaling across metro Detroit. 

Beside some of the fastest moving water in the world, Farm Bureau members who attended the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference were flooded with new ideas and resources to boost their outreach efforts back home. Overlooking the churning St. Clair River, this year’s event brought more than 280 attendees to the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron Feb. 5-6.

Tours 

Tours explored unchartered Farm Bureau conference territory in St. Clair and Sanilac counties.

One route tasted spring inside Theisen’s Greenhouse, learning how the family farm raises annuals for wholesale to metro Detroit area retailers.

That group continued to Lauwer’s Sheep Farm to see newborn lambs and learn how the cultural landscape of southeast Michigan spurred the modern shepherds’ choice to breed and raise lamb year-round.

The tour finished at Blake’s Orchard, an agritourism powerhouse centered around family-friendly experiences and a booming hard cider empire.

The second tour route visited the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Port of Port Huron agricultural inspection facility.

Participants saw first-hand the need for action on Farm Bureau’s policy supporting increased staffing of inspection facilities nationwide. They met with inspection staff to explore how the unit ensures biosecurity through thorough inspection of agricultural products entering the U.S. from Canada and beyond.

The group also visited the USDA’s Veterinary Inspection station to see livestock import protocols in action.

The last stop was at Michigan’s oldest lighthouse, Fort Gratiot, where some participants met the challenge of climbing clear to the top of the light tower.

Sessions 

Day two started with keynote speaker and social media guru Michelle ”Farm Babe” Miller, who shared her online savvy and techniques for sharing personal farm stories on the web. (See related article here.)

From communications to mental health and agritourism, breakout sessions throughout the day provided participants with tools for improving their farm businesses or county Farm Bureau volunteer efforts.

Partnering organizations contributing to the diversity of agenda topics included MSU Extension 4-H, Michigan Sugar Company, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Pork Producers Association and the Michigan Ag Council.

Visiting from across the river, Farm and Food Care Ontario, an agriculture promotional non-profit, shared examples of outreach activities engaging farmers in Canada’s most populous province.

Charlotte Halverson of the Agri-Safe Network provided a train-the-trainer session equipping participants with three youth-in-agriculture safety modules which these participants could now conduct in their own counties. Charlotte also lead a second session focused on mental health care resources in rural communities.

Volunteers from Washtenaw County showcased their award-winning “Treat of Agriculture” program in a session, encouraging other counties to try similar activities back home. Their indoor, trick-or-treat-style event provides a safe, climate-controlled environment all while educating young participants about Michigan-raised agriculture products.

District meetings rounded out attendees’ networking opportunities. Members gathered to share ideas, discuss common ground and plan events within their own regions.

Next year will see the return of MFB’s Growing Together Conference, combining Voice of Agriculture and Young Farmer Leaders conferences, Feb. 19-21, 2021 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.

    
Beside some of the fastest moving water in the world, Farm Bureau members who attended the 2020 Voice of Agriculture Conference were flooded with new ideas and resources to boost their outreach efforts back home. Overlooking the churning St. Clair Ri

Chelsea Luedtke speaks during a district discussion meet in Antrim County

District-level discussion meets ramp up this spring and early summer, with the popular events engaging Young Farmers (ages 18-35) statewide in conversation about today’s most important agricultural topics.

Discussion meets are a fun competition meant to simulate committee-meeting conversations in which active participation is expected from everyone around the table. The contests are evaluated on an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined topic.

Participants build vital discussion skills, develop a keen understanding of real-world issues affecting the industry and explore how groups can reach consensus toward solving problems. They’re also a great way to meet other Young Farmers — and spectators are always welcome!

Find your district’s discussion meet below and make plans to attend!

  • District 1 — March 14 at Griner Farms in Jones; contact Sarah Pion, 269-377-4841
  • District 2 — March 19 at Ironbark Brewing Company and Grand River Brewery, Jackson; contact Paul Pridgeon, 517-320-4444
  • District 3 — March 28 at Planters Paradise & Floral Gardens, Macomb; contact Hannah Meyers, 616-485-4469
  • District 4 — March 31 at Thornapple Point, Grand Rapids; contact Adam Dietrich, 616-889-1857
  • District 5 — April 18 at Demmer Center, Lansing; contact Hannah Lange, 231-383-3131
  • District 6 — July 9; location TBD; contact Beth Rupprecht, 989-640-6913
  • District 7 — March 26 at Regional Center for Agriscience & Career Advancement, Fremont; contact Bridget Moore, 989-640-6973
  • District 8 — March 21 at Merrell Farms, Freeland; contact Becca Gulliver, 989-708-1082
  • District 9 — June; location TBD; contact Nicole Jennings, 810-569-9610
  • District 10 — June 24 at The Highway Brewing Company, West Branch; contact Sonya Novotny, 248-420-2340
  • District 11 — March 26 at The Thirsty Sturgeon Bar & Grille, Wolverine; contact Cole Iaquinto, 810-422-7322
  • District 12 — March 16 at Bay College, Escanaba; contact Craig Knudson, 231-357-3864

Discussion meets are open to Farm Bureau members ages 18-35. Visit www.michfb.com/YFDiscussionMeetfor the topics and more information.

District-level discussion meets ramp up this spring and early summer, with the popular events engaging Young Farmers (ages 18-35) statewide in conversation about today’s most important agricultural topics.
Megan Sprague

Tyler and Hannah Shepherd

Bombarded daily with poor crop forecasts and bankruptcy reports, it’s easy to worry the future of agriculture might be bleak, but that future looked bright — blinding, even — at this year’s Young Farmer Leaders Conference.  

About 350 young farmers took over the Grand Traverse Resort Feb. 21-23 to learn more about how they could grow as both businesspeople and community members. As the new Young Farmer program specialist, it was inspiring to see so many eager faces taking time out of busy schedules to bring back information to their counties and farms.

Members went on local tours; networked during “larger than life” board games and cornhole; and attended a full day of sessions ranging from financial management to the importance of incorporating stress-relieving activities to their daily routine. 

As a new MFB staffer, the most rewarding part was hearing about our members’ experiences firsthand. They were both encouraged and excited, making me geeked for a whole year of programing with this amazing group, and looking forward to next year’s Growing Together Conference, Feb. 19-21, 2021 in Grand Rapids.  

One member told me the session titled “Building Stronger Relationships in Farm Families,” presented by Ron Hanson from the University of Nebraska, validated their thoughts on the tough discussion about succession planning they would have when they returned home.

After our keynote, Paul Long, challenged us to ask questions in ways that cause people to smile, I had attendees asking me what the best part of my morning was. Other attendees told me they intended on doing stretches taught in Sarah Zastrow’s session on mental health and self-care.

The information and practices these young farmers gained from attending YFLC were not just exciting in the moment but made a strong impact on our members. If you don’t believe me, here are some thoughts they shared on social media:

  • “This weekend I traveled north for #yflc2020 up near Traverse City. As always it was a great Young Farmer conference. Got to see and network with friends and other familiar faces this weekend along with learning a lot. But in the last picture, these ladies I have never seen or met before until this weekend. As I was sitting and having a drink with a few friends these two came up to me and said ‘I couldn’t help but over hear that you guys are farmers.’ At that moment for the location we were at I thought for sure I was going to have to defend our occupation, but by my surprise they wanted to thank us and say how much they appreciate farmers. They were surprised by my response when I said thank you and I went on to explain that we don’t hear that too often and I really appreciated their support.” Cody Ferry, Genesee County 
  • “Mike and I spent the weekend networking, learning and relaxing with other Young Farmers at #YFLC2020. First, I never thought I’d learn social media strategies from an agronomist. And second, this weekend has made me so proud to be a part of the farming community. I don’t think the general population realizes how relevant farming is in our daily lives. And that it’s so much more than planting and harvesting. I’m looking forward to our 2020 season and being more involved, aware and hopefully beneficial to Schwab Farms! Thanks for the adventurous weekend, MFB Young Farmer Program!” —Lauren Schwab, Bay County

  • “Tyler and I had an awesome opportunity this weekend to attend the Young Farmer Leadership Conference! We are so thankful to Farm Bureau for hosting this event and providing us this experience! We hope to bring many ideas, techniques, and managing skills learned this weekend into our farm.” —Hannah Shepherd, Saginaw County  

If you come across a young farmer in the upcoming months, make sure to ask them if they attended and if so, what they loved the most. I’m confident it will make you smile knowing the future is promising for agriculture.

Megan Sprague is MFB’s new Young Farmer program specialist.

Bombarded daily with poor crop forecasts and bankruptcy reports, it’s easy to worry the future of agriculture might be bleak, but that future looked bright — blinding, even — at this year’s Young Farmer Leaders Conference.

Coming Events

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