For almost two years, low turnout stymied Oceana County Farm Bureau’s attempts to host legislative breakfasts. This spring brought a fresh new focus on the need to engage with lawmakers, so organizers tried a significant change of venue.
And it worked, bringing together more than 15 members from Oceana and neighboring Newaygo County on April 19 for an inaugural legislative ice cream social!
Well-equipped and always ready to host a gathering, New Era’s Country Dairy proved to be an ideal location, with plenty of room for social distancing and delicious, scoopable treats aplenty.
State Senator Jon Bumstead sponsored the event and was on hand to speak with attendees along with representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Gary Peters and Congressman Bill Huizenga.
Labor issues topped the list of conversation topics, with several variations on the top of members’ minds. They expressed their concerns about H-2A, the rising wages farmers are having to pay, and the challenge of finding workers despite high unemployment.
Outside the labor front there was substantial conversation revolving around the more than 800 identification tags now required for 4-H pigs — at the exhibitor’s expense if the home farm doesn’t have a premise ID registered with the state.
Oceana County President Tara Oomen said she felt it was a great turnout with productive conversation.
Look for more legislative ice cream socials in the fall and next spring.