VULCAN – Ed McBroom never truly intended to become a state legislator.
He also hadn’t planned to become a full-time farmer, although he returned home to the family farm in the Upper Peninsula upon graduation from Northern Michigan University and helped milk cows while waiting to land a teaching job.
Instead, he wound up whistling a familiar tune—for someone coming from a proud heritage of Dickinson County dairy farmers.
“I got involved with Farm Bureau when I got out of college, where I had studied to be a music and social studies teacher,” McBroom recalled. “I went back home and was doing some teaching, waiting for a full-time position and milking cows every day. Then I got married, and, one day, Farm Bureau asked me to participate in (Young Farmer) Discussion Meet.
“I had watched one once and said, ‘Oh, I can do that.’ So, I went and did that,” he said of taking the first step in a budding political career. “After the meeting the (MFB board district) director said, ‘By the way, we’re putting you down to be our district representative on the State Young Farmer Committee.’ It was like, ‘Wow! What’s that mean?’ ‘Oh don’t worry, you’ll be OK.’ ”
At age 35, McBroom, a fourth-generation farmer, is proud to be part of the family legacy at Melodydell Dairy, which is preparing to celebrate its centennial anniversary next year. He is part of a partnership with his father, Ken, and brother, Carl, who oversee a 600-acre dairy operation with 120 cows and two robotic milking units and raise alfalfa, corn and wheat.
Ed McBroom is part of a 600-acre dairy operation in Dickinson County with 120 cows and two robotic milking units.
Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) is equally as proud to serve constituents in the Iron Range region of the U.P. as the State Rep. for the 108th District in Michigan.
His passion for agriculture and public service led Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) to name him as its 2016 Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award winner. He’ll be honored at the 97th MFB State Annual Meeting, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, in Grand Rapids.
“Ed McBroom is a terrific example of what a person can accomplish through leadership and service to others,” MFB State Young Farmer Committee Chair Mark Daniels. “He cares deeply about issues that affect U.P. and Michigan farmers because he’s one of them. He performs a difficult balancing act of spending time on the farm and spending time in Lansing as part of our legislature.
“He’s a true friend of agriculture who really understands the industry. We need more friends like him representing our members.”
McBroom, a Norway High School graduate, was first elected to the Michigan House of Representative in November 2010. He represents the residents of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties and has been re-elected twice. He serves as chair of the committee on oversight and ethics and is a member of the education, energy policy and natural resources committees.
Ed McBroom, left, shares a light moment with his brother, Carl, middle, and father, Ken.
“I always had an interest in government and politics.” McBroom said. “It’s just been one of those boyhood interests that grew and grew and grew, and I thought someday there’d be a chance to serve in Congress and that would be really interesting.”
His leadership experience includes serving on the MFB State Young Farmer Committee from 2007-10 and State Policy Development Committee from 2007-08, and continuing to be part of the MFB Candidate Evaluation Committee (2008-present).
“It was Farm Bureau that really pointed me to the state and showed me how critical what’s going on at the state level really is,” McBroom said of his political awakening. “I began to see that state policies were impacting dairy farms, whether it was the size of the manure pit, times of year that we could spread, how many cows we could have, all sorts of regulations.
“I got involved at that point, but still thought I was too young,” he added. “I was in my 20s at the time, but gained confidence and experience, and when I was prompted to run by the previous state rep, I decided God was leading us to give it a try, and I managed to win, amazingly. I’ve been working hard ever since on a lot of things I believe make a difference for agriculture and also for the whole state. There’s so much to do and I really believe that the work I’m doing is very important.”
It all goes back to that first Young Farmer Discussion Meet.
It’s when McBroom initially began to find his voice as an ag-vocate for U.P. farmers and the state agricultural industry as a whole.
“I first started getting involved with Farm Bureau in 2004,” he said. “I got invited to a (Young Farmer) Discussion Meet and didn’t really know what I was getting into, then got sent to a Young Farmer Leaders Conference and to State Annual (Meeting) and really came to respect the organization so much. I saw its huge potential for what it can do for farmers—protect us from government overreach or to advocate in the public square … and really fell into enjoying being part of that organization.
“I ended up on the State Young Farmer Committee for four years, and I’ve been really involved ever since, whether it’s policy development or Young Farmer programming,” McBroom added. “I certainly wouldn’t have made it where I’ve been able to go with the state legislature if it hadn’t been for Farm Bureau’s help and the training they put me through.”
McBroom is completing his third and final term in the Michigan House of Representatives for the 108th District due to term limits this year. A number of political observers expect him to make a run for the 38th Senate District seat representing much of the U.P. in 2018.
In the meantime, the married father of four children has the farm—and much more—to keep him occupied.
He has had an active role in the Dickinson County Fair and U.P. State Fair for more than 15 years and currently is part of its livestock advisory committee.
In his spare time, he teaches Sunday school and directs the choir at First Baptist Church of Norway. He has directed and played the French horn in the Norway City Band—the oldest band in the state—for the past decade and has participated in the Dickinson County Band.
“The Upper Peninsula, we think, is a special place, even for farming. It’s a wonderful place to be,” McBroom said. “We have four kids and No. 5 on the way (due the first week of December), and my brother and his wife have six kids, so we have a busy place here. It’s a good life and we enjoy working here and being together.
“I couldn’t do the things in the legislature or with other Farm Bureau leadership if it weren’t for the support and encouragement of my family (wife Sarah and children Eddie, Helen, Kenny Jack and Etta).”