LANSING — With the 2017 annual meeting shrinking in the rear-view mirror and Santa’s arrival imminent, the Farm Bureau calendar once again flips to what familiar insiders refer to as “Meeting Season.” Setting aside the perpetual-motion machine that is dairy farming, most of the state’s croppers, orchardists and herdsmen are looking at a relative lull in their overall activity level. That’s when most agriculture groups—and of course Farm Bureau is no exception—pack their members’ schedules with meetings, seminars, workshops, conferences and other gatherings.
Here’s what’s in store:
New Presidents’ Training
This week saw new county Farm Bureau presidents convening at the MFB home office in Lansing for a rapid-fire, one-day agenda orienting them to their role at the helm of their county organizations.
Workshop session topics will run the gamut of running a successful county Farm Bureau, including leadership and management skills, conducting efficient meetings and committees, goal setting, administrative responsibilities, finances, media relations and how to culture mutually rewarding relations with Farm Bureau Insurance staff.
Attendees include nine of 14 new county Farm Bureau presidents: Mark Mathe, Monroe County; Terry Finegan, Hillsdale; Chris McCallister, Lenawee; Tiffany Howell, Lapeer; Nathan Engelhard, Tuscola; Kurt Tubergen, Ionia; Luke DeHaan, Ottawa; Gerrit Herrygers, Oceana; and Clay Maxwell, Gladwin.
AFBF 2018 Annual
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 2018 Annual Meeting takes over the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn. Jan. 5-10. Members of the MFB Board of Directors, aided by a cohort of key staff, will serve as the voice of Michigan farmers in the national-level delegate policy session.
Members attending can choose from six tracks of educational workshops relevant to all agricultural sectors: business and rural development; consumer engagement; leadership development; member engagement; niche agriculture and marketing opportunities; and public policy and advocacy.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall will be joined by keynote speaker and country music superstar Reba McEntire to address the hundreds of attendees gathered in Nashville under the national Farm Bureau banner. In addition to her groundbreaking career in country music, McEntire will speak about her upbringing on her family’s 8,000-acre ranch in rural Oklahoma.
Voice of Agriculture Conference
MFB’s Voice of Agriculture Conference takes place Jan. 18-19 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. Interested members have until Dec. 15 to register for this conference, tailored to the interests of members interested in bridging the understanding gap separating farm and non-farm communities, equipping members with new gadgets and tactics for their consumer-outreach toolboxes.
Many attendees will enjoy one of two themed tours, each highlighting ag-related businesses and institutions across western Michigan. The Classroom-to-Consumer tour will visit Careerline Tech Center and FFA Chapter, Byron Center Meats and Grand Rapids Downtown Market. The Periodic Table tour visits Carbon Green BioEnergy, Swiss Lane Dairy and Founders Brewery or Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
Day two starts with farm-friendly speaker Michele Payn’s motivational guidance for upgrading advocacy skills, meeting at the intersection of farm and food to practice techniques for translating what you do every day into consumer-friendly language.
Workshops and breakout sessions will dig into agricultural education, urban farming, social media and other facets of connecting with consumers. The event wraps up with “Why I Farm” road-trip blogger Natalina Sents exploring the why behind agricultural advocacy.
Young Farmer Leaders’ Conference
The up-and-coming generation of Michigan farmers will convene at the Kalamazoo Radisson Feb. 9-11 for MFB’s Young Farmer Leaders’ Conference. Plans call for a weekend of engaging programming looking into farm and agribusiness trends, technology, leadership development and networking.
The registration window is Jan. 8-19.
Day one is devoted to three optional tours concluding with a destination dinner, then a night of corn hole and euchre back at the hotel. Tour options:
Saturday’s agenda includes 20 breakout sessions covering a wide array of topics, including farm finances, managing forage quality, stress management, employee management, farm apps panel, family farm dynamics, livestock regulations, herbicide resistance management, H-2A seasonal ag labor and CPR training.
Wrapping up Sunday is keynote speaker Amberley Snyder, barrel racer, breakaway roper, paraplegic and motivational speaker, exploring the impact of choice and power of resiliency.
Visit the conference website for more information, and register with your county Farm Bureau by Jan. 19.
Take Root Conference
MFB’s legal department reprises its popular Take Root Conference Feb. 26 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Lansing. Prospective attendees have until Feb. 12 to register for this daylong seminar examining the nitty gritty of succession and estate planning.
Take Root is a must for farm families in any stage of inter-generational farm transfer. Between interactive workshop sessions and professional panelists—lawyers, tax professionals and financial planners—attendees will have at their fingertips an in-person clearinghouse of vital expertise gathered specifically to shed light and provide guidance on farm succession.
Registration is open now through Feb. 12; visit the Take Root website for more information.
Lansing Legislative Seminar
Following on the heels of Take Root is MFB’s annual Lansing Legislative Seminar, Feb. 27 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. A linchpin of the Farm Bureau calendar for decades, the event is the organization’s 2018 policy kickoff and one of members’ best opportunities for “face time” with their state senators and representatives.
Registration is open Jan. 22 to Feb. 2.
This year’s event features keynote speaker Matt Rush, a New Mexico farmer and cattle rancher who will share his message, “The Power of an Inch,” and discuss the opportunities life presents in times of challenge and controversy.
Participants will also hear from expert speakers on policy issues impacting Michigan agriculture; help legislative and regulatory leaders understand Farm Bureau policy; and share ideas about local issues with fellow Farm Bureau members.
For more information, visit the LLS web page, and register with your county Farm Bureau by Feb. 2.
Presidents’ Capitol Summit
Every three years, MFB combines its usual Council of Presidents’ Conference with Washington Legislative Seminar to create the Presidents’ Capitol Summit—and 2018 is one of those years. The 2018 Presidents’ Capitol Summit takes place March 19-22 in Washington, D.C.; preview a tentative agenda here.
This event is exclusive to county Farm Bureau presidents, or another member of the county’s executive committee if the president is unable to attend. Contact your county administrative manager to register by Jan. 19.
Highlights include a private tour of the Gettysburg battlefield, leadership opportunities on Capitol Hill and a dinner cruise.
For more information, contact Heather Costigan at 517-679-5443.