By Jeremy C. Nagel
One of our New Year’s resolutions here at Community Group Headquarters is to do a better job pre-planning your discussion topics. Back in the earlier decades of the program they were planned out a whole year at a time, but (and as much as I hate the tired cliché I’m about to use) things moved a bit slower then and there were more folks working the program.
Here in the early 21st century we run a bit leaner and between the variety of issues affecting Michigan agriculture and the pace with which they’re addressed, it can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, we have YOU — the Farm Bureau member — the very heart of the organization since day one.
Maybe it was because so many of us spent so much of last year cooped up at home, but in recent months we’ve seen a buffet of tasty new discussion topics come in from CAG members across the state. That is a huge help and we’ve already started turning your ideas into the monthly topics included in this newsletter.
January’s topic about maintaining the economic health of rural communities sprang from one of several suggestions submitted by the AgVentures CAG in Saginaw County. They also suggested we dig into water quality issues, the status of the Soo Locks, and how to attract more young people into farming.
From out the Thumb, Huron County’s Golden Fawns group suggested a topic take a new look at the evergreen organic vs. conventional conversation, but adding a layer by contrasting how that conversation differs between farmers and consumers. I’m looking forward to that one and we have just the right people picked out to take that on and we look forward to putting that before you later this year.
The Kirk’s Farm Bureau group in Livingston County wrote in with some interesting questions about foreign ownership of American farmland and other components of our food chain. It’s a compelling question from several angles, so look forward to that one as well.
More recently we heard from a member of the East Hopkins Next Generation group in Allegan County, who was curious about a land-use issue that dogs farmers statewide: how to best guard against losing good land to rezoning decisions made by local municipalities and planning commissions. That’ll strike some familiar chords all over and I know just the coworkers to address it.
Two final thoughts…
First, the moral of the story: Your Farm Bureau staff in Lansing is a diverse brain trust with interests and expertise across a wide range of subject matter. There’s at least one person on staff here (sometimes more) capable of addressing each of the topics suggested.
They work for YOU, so the moral of the story is this: When in doubt, ASK. Even if our own staff comes up empty (rare), we know people who know people…
Second: Re-read the headline!
Submit your discussion topic ideas to [email protected]