As the latest wave of pandemic lockdowns took effect in mid-November, a handful of Michigan Farm Bureau regions found ways to squeak in their district-level policy meetings as state-level leaders reconfigured the Dec. 2 state annual into an entirely virtual affair. Under the wire and despite trying circumstances, all 12 MFB districts contributed to this year’s policy process.
The Thumb's large member delegation meant special challenges in complying with the state’s limitation of 50 attendees at one event.
“We were fortunate to be working with Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth, where they had just installed a camera system to stream their main banquet room to other areas of the building,” explained Thumb Regional Manager Beth Rupprecht. “We were the first event to utilize their technology. Two counties, about 20 members, were housed downstairs for our district meeting where they were able to see a live stream of the meeting taking place upstairs. The remaining 40 delegates were upstairs in the main banquet room — all safely socially distanced, of course.”
Despite the clumsy circumstances, the district election, business meeting and policy discussion were all completed as smoothly as could be expected.
Rupprecht added that her members readily took to the CloudVote application — “like they've been doing it their whole life” — and looked forward to revisiting it come Dec. 2.
West Regional Manager Lori Schrauben turned to her best humor to summarize how her members rolled with the changes: “It’s fine… Things are fine… Everyone’s fine!”
Hers was the only region where delegates had to quickly get on board with an all-virtual district meeting.
“Members were bummed that we couldn’t meet in person,” she said, and missed the immediacy of face-to-face contact and the deeper conversations it makes possible. Even so, she praised the resiliency and determination of those delegates whose “diligence, patience and positive attitudes” persevered and demonstrated their commitment and dedication to Farm Bureau’s grassroots policy process.
Only two districts? Several others were covered in this previous article.