There’s a new face atop the Northwest Michigan Farm Bureau hierarchy, and if the name David Dreves sounds familiar, there’s good reason: there’s a whole clan of them up there.
David raises about 400 acres of hay, corn, soybeans and oats with his brothers Jeffrey and Brian. All three Dreves boys also help on their father Greg’s farm — same crops but twice the acreage.
At home David and his wife Emily are proud parents of youngsters Caroline and Josh, and by day he works as a branch manager for Nutrient Ag Solutions.
Dreves assumed the mantle of county president last fall, succeeding his father in the role.
“My dad was county president and was looking to step away,” David said. “And after ProFILE, I decided I wanted to do that.”
Prior to that he “was just a regular member,” albeit one being groomed for leadership through the Young Farmer program and ProFILE, the elite state-level leadership development program.
Groomed or not, none of his previous Farm Bureau experience could’ve prepared him for the world shutting down this spring, all thanks to one pesky virus.
“We had to cancel a lot of stuff we had in the works, like our member appreciation breakfast,” Dreves said. “And you know the Cherry Festival was canceled. Last year was our first time in the parade and we were looking forward to doing that again.
“It’s a little discouraging, but we’ll get through.”
One program that’s functioned well despite the two-month lockdown is membership.
“Our membership campaign is going pretty well,” Dreves said. “We’ve had a few people reach out to us through Facebook — that’s becoming more of a focus. People have seen or heard about Farm Bureau and they want more information. Some heard from friends or colleagues and wanted to look more into it.”
Also in the ‘win’ column is candidate evaluation.
“We’re feeling pretty good about that,” Dreves said, noting the challenges of backing farm-friendly candidates in a region whose urban center often leans in the opposite direction.
One big change this year comes in the county-annual department. Normally Northwest’s annual meeting is a subset of the District 9 Ag Summit, one of the first and most successful joint county-annual experiments in the state. But coronavirus has that on hold this year, leaving the district’s five county-level Farm Bureaus to their own devices.
“Everything’s kinda in a holding pattern right now,” Dreves said. “It is frustrating because we were making membership a focus — not only new membership but getting current members engaged.”
In that arena, still on his 2020 to-do list is boosting Northwest’s outreach efforts.
“Some of the changes in the [county Farm Bureau] funding mechanism will allow us an opportunity to do more Promotion & Education than we have in the past,” he said. “I’m hoping it allows us to branch out — maybe buy more animals at fair. That’s definitely a big positive.”