GRAND RAPIDS — The Michigan Farm Bureau Board of Directors has a new look as the implementation of a member-devised redistricting plan added a new numbered district and shed one of three at-large positions. New to the organization’s state-level leadership roster are farmers from Arenac and St. Joseph counties.
Arenac County farmer Leona Daniels is the newest face to the board, elected to represent the new District 10: Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Iosco and Ogemaw counties.
“This is a real opportunity to make our voice heard,” Daniels said of the new status of the J-shaped district of northeastern Lower Peninsula counties stretching from Alpena south and west to Clare.
“Working together we’re a lot stronger,” said Daniels, who in recent months has been visiting with and garnering support from the leadership of county Farm Bureaus she’ll now represent at the state level.
St. Joseph County farmer Julie Stephenson was elected to represent Farm Bureau’s Promotion & Education program on the board, succeeding Sharon Kokx of Barry County. Stephenson’s cash crop and seed corn operation also includes a farm market.
Ottawa County apple grower Adam Dietrich was reelected to represent MFB’s Young Farmer program on the board for a second year.
With the addition of the new numbered district, one of three at-large seats on the board was shed, leading to a challenge for delegates thereby tasked with removing one of three highly regarded leaders: Andy Hagenow of Kent County, Douglas Darling (Monroe County) and Larry Walton (St. Joseph County).
In addition to the incumbents, Osceola County farmer Doug Bontekoe was nominated from the floor for one of the two open at-large positions.
Hagenow and Darling were reelected to serve new, two-year terms as at-large directors. Walton’s years of valued service to the organization’s leadership were acknowledged with a standing ovation from the entire delegate body.
Incumbent Director Pat McGuire was elected to represent the reconfigured District 11: Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego and Presque Isle counties. The Antrim County fruit grower has long represented the previous District 10, now split to become new Districts 10 and 11.
Incumbent Director Dave Bahrman was elected to represent the county Farm Bureaus of the Upper Peninsula, renumbered from District 11 to District 12.
Other components of the redistricting plan shifted Macomb County from District 6 to District 3, and Mason County from District 7 to District 9.
Incumbents from odd-numbered districts reelected to the board were:
Incumbents in even-numbered districts not up for reelection were:
Michigan Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing the interests of more than 40,000 farmer members.
NOTE: Following its reorganization meeting later today, Dec. 5, the MFB Board of Directors’ executive committee will be announced, including the positions of board president, vice president and third member.