The next generation of Michigan farmers gathers this weekend in Grand Rapids for a fast-paced agenda geared toward their common goals of merging into the industry mainstream and heading full bore toward a prosperous future for their farms and families.
Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 2017 Young Farmer Leaders Conference takes place Feb. 17-19 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, although attendees will spent most of day one on the road, on one of three themed tours stopping at marquee agricultural destinations across western Michigan.
A crop-and-livestock tour will stop at an ethanol production facility, grain mill and a cutting-edge dairy farm. The fruit-and-vegetable tour will visit a prominent Grand Rapids-area brewery, apple processing plant and a wholesale produce market.
A consumer marketing tour starts at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, Greenhouse and Incubator Kitchen before continuing on to visit Byron Center Meats and a Gordon Food Service distribution facility.
Saturday offers a packed schedule of workshops and breakout sessions covering a multitude of topics of practical utility in modern agriculture.
Financial sessions will address fundamental economics both on and off the farm, negotiating lease agreements, budgeting, retirement savings and capitalizing on prosperous agribusiness opportunities.
Business sessions will look at direct farm marketing tactics, making the best of commodity checkoff programs, and how consumer marketing trends impact farm-level decision making.
Commodity-specific workshops will address current issues in livestock, soybeans, wheat and forage production. Other technical topics include nutrient management techniques, specialty crop harvesting and the role of integrated pest management in orchard efficiency.
Leadership development opportunities are the focus of pair of workshops dissecting MFB’s Young Farmer program itself.
Several general sessions will showcase the insights of several guest voices, beginning with Kelly Barnes, a professional speaker and storyteller with a message about finding and harnessing the power of everyday activities.
Adrianne Massey of BIO—Biotechnology Industry Organization—will equip attendees with the necessary language and science to help them better engage consumers in defense of commodities and foods enriched by genetic modification. Training guru Mark Jewell closes the conference Sunday morning with a cautionary tale advising attendees on emerging from survival mode and gearing up to thrive.