Within a short, five-week period, more than 150 county Farm Bureau members will have visited our nation’s Capital to advocate on behalf of Michigan agriculture and the organization’s member-developed policy. The robust late-winter grass-roots lobbying effort began in mid-February and concludes this week with Michigan Farm Bureau’s annual Washington Legislative Seminar.
Kicking things off, the organization’s labor advisory committee visited Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress for immigration reform that addresses both short and long-term labor needs, including a new and more flexible visa program that takes into account both seasonal and year-round labor. The group also attended the National Council of Agricultural Employers annual meeting.
Attendees included: Chairman Jason Ruhlig (Monroe County), Bob DeGrandchamp (Van Buren County) and MFB Board Representative Patrick McGuire. The group was joined by Ryan Dietrich (Ottawa County), Mark Younquist (Kent County) and Dawn Drake representing the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association, as well as Ben Smith with the Michigan State Horticultural Society.
Members of MFB’s board of directors were up next and spent two days sharing the importance of Farm Bureau’s priority policy issues with members of Michigan’s U.S. House and Senate delegation.
President Carl Bednarski, Vice President Andrew Hagenow and executive committee members Jennifer Lewis, Michael Fusilier, and Dave Bahrman highlighted key issues including regulatory reform, immigration reform, farm policy (2018 Farm Bill), tax reform and trade.
Rounding out February, 12 members represented the Great Lakes State at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s advocacy conference where they discussed industry challenges and opportunities, refined their advocacy skills in workshops, heard from renowned political speakers, and made visits to their Congressional offices.
With arguably the best yet to come, more than 130 Michigan Farm Bureau members will converge upon Washington, D.C. March 14-16 for MFB’s annual Washington Legislative Seminar.
The packed agenda includes issue briefings on key policy issues, breakfast with Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, meetings with a majority of the state’s 14-member Congressional delegation, a visit to the AFBF headquarters and of course, some sight-seeing.
Watch for video and news from the trip later this week.