LANSING — Governor Rick Snyder is expected to reiterate his enthusiastic support for Michigan agriculture at Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 2017 Lansing Legislative Seminar, Feb. 21 at the Lansing Center. Kicking off the state’s largest farm group’s annual policy campaign, the event attracts hundreds of farmers from across the state to lay out their agenda with lawmakers face to face.
More than 400 farmers are expected to attend, and more than half of the Michigan legislature have committed to dropping by the Lansing Center for the reception, where they’ll take advantage of the opportunity to catch up with farmers from their districts.
“This event has been part of the backbone of our policy process since the 1950s,” said Matt Smego, manager of MFB’s government relations department. “It’s one of the first opportunities of the year for our farmers to share their policy focus directly with the lawmakers they helped elect and sent here to represent them.
“Providing our members with a collective voice in government is at the core of Farm Bureau’s mission, and nobody expresses farmers’ thoughts, concerns and priorities better than farmers themselves.”
Following Gov. Snyder’s luncheon remarks will be a panel discussion featuring the state’s three “quality of life” directors: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Clover Adams; Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh; and Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether.
Members will participate in policy briefings that are rooted in the organization’s 2017 policy agenda: agriculture and the state budget; government oversight and regulatory reform; transportation; workforce development and career and technical education programs; water use and quality; and energy and technology.
Done & Done
Last year’s seminar saw farmers asking legislators to prioritize strengthening Michigan’s rural communities through several routes.
A concerted appeal for research investment in the Michigan Animal Agriculture Alliance and operational funding for the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health proved successful, with both items receiving funding in the subsequent budgeting process.
Farm Bureau members also urged lawmakers to bolster K-12 career and technical education opportunities. Gov. Snyder’s FY 2018-19 budget proposes more than $40 million toward community college grants and apprenticeship programs related to training in the skilled trades.
Grassroots Lobbying Award
MFB’s 2016 Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award goes to the Iron Range Farm Bureau, representing farmers in the western Upper Peninsula counties of Dickinson and Iron. Every year this award recognizes one of the state's 65 county-level Farm Bureaus for outstanding efforts in working with elected officials and implementing Farm Bureau policy.
Iron Range Farm Bureau volunteers worked tirelessly to resolve several local challenges and proactively advocate on behalf of the agriculture industry.
“The foundation of their success is dedicating time to building and maintaining personal relationships with their legislators, area law enforcement, community business leaders and local media,” Smego said. “To accomplish their goals, the members used a variety of communication methods including emails, letters, phone calls, face-to-face meetings and media where appropriate to share their story.”