Skip to main content
Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

CAGs respond to April discussion topic: Membership

“We need to just keep talking and inviting people to events and spreading the word about all the benefits of being involved in Farm Bureau.”
Date Posted: June 10, 2024

There are officially two months left in the membership year; Aug. 31 marks the end and will be the determining date for if the organization grows in farmer membership for the fifth year in a row! 

In order to continue on the path of growing and maintaining our membership, we need to continue to meet the needs of members. In April we navigated membership trends, here’s what you all had to say.

What should the focus of your county be to assist with these membership trends?
  • While it should be the goal of all members and the county board to recruit younger members to continue feeding the lifeblood of the organization, beyond just signing up new young farmer members, those in the elder demographic who hold and have held leadership positions for a number of years need to look at what they are bringing to the table, because while there is some viability within the latter groups experience there comes a time when the reins need to be handed off to the next generation in line that have the ability to bring new and more current concepts and experiences to the organization. (The CDC; ProFile)
  • The older generation needs to make room at the table for the younger generations and make sure they feel like their voice and opinions are heard. We as a whole need to continue to explain what we do legislatively and as a whole in Farm Bureau. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • There are a lot of membership events geared towards Young Farmers, the question always seems to arise however, what do you do after you age out of Young Farmers? More information put out about Community Action Groups and membership events for all to attend might help drum up more involvement. Consider district level events to use more resources to bring a wide variety of events to members across the district. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • The county should continue to focus on participation of members attending all types of farming events including the Community Action Groups which can discuss issues in a social environment that brings local, state and national concern awareness. The county should also continue to encourage Young Farmers to reach out to those that could benefit from being members and having their voices heard on real farming discussion topics. We need to find a spark to revive the meeting topics and participation. Zoom didn’t seem to work. You need face-to-face interaction to form strong groups. With the aging of general membership it is important to focus on Young Farmers and making their involvement worthwhile, in order for them to step from their busy schedules for monthly meetings. (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • Poll the younger and upcoming farmers. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • Just getting the FB name out there, advertising works. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
  • Trends show Young Farmers are involved but the involvement falls off once they no longer serve on committees or are otherwise involved. More opportunities should be available to membership once they age out of the Young Farmer group. CAG involvement should be incentivized. (Green Meadow Plow Jockeys; Kalamazoo County)
  • We do not know about any incentives that are available to move us into the use of AI. We do know that 25 years ago we thought we were high tech using foam markers for our spray equipment. Little did we know that by today how frequently we would be using GPS on our farms. If AI will save us time and/or money, we may not need other incentives. (Modern Producers; Monroe County)
  • Keep the information flowing to the public. (Golden Fawn Farm Bureau; Huron County)
When considering the programming offered by your county Farm Bureau, does it meet the needs of your members? If not, what is being missed?
  • While the programs offered at the county level varies from one location to another, I feel we all agree that gaining useful feedback from members as to what they are looking for or interested in is lacking, which doesn’t necessarily aide those of us on county boards or committees when it comes to figuring out what programs to focus on. One area that seems to have a good response is the Young Farmer programs and events, which if executed well tends to draw a decent crowd. Without sound feedback from the members it can be difficult to pinpoint what is being missed, however when we are offered that insight we obviously are making the changes to mitigate the voids or shortcomings. (The CDC; ProFile)
  • Riley believes that in her county we are meeting the need. Andrew thinks that more consistent events would be beneficial. Claire thinks that having more casual events such as getting together at local restaurants would help boost membership engagement. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • KALAMAZOO: Yes, programming is meeting the needs of the members. Things like monthly shop tours for members to come hang out and network as well as offering programs such as farm safety day and CPR first-aid training for members seem to be successful. WAYNE: Yes, the county seems to always be open to new programing and bridging the gaps. Events like Euchre, tractor parade, county annual and connecting with representatives engage members and bring people together. WASHTENAW: Yes, membership events range across a variety of events that will bring members from across specialties and focuses together. HILLSDALE: Yes, the county tries to offer a variety of membership events throughout the year to meet the demands of the younger farmers, and older farmers. The county has done a great job at focusing on events and the time of day to host them in order to reach those with day jobs or who work off the farm. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • Our CAG misses the monthly DVDs giving updates on a myriad of topics showcasing not only Michigan but even what was being done in foreign countries. We found ourselves huddling around the screen listening to every word and enjoying every picture before continuing much more knowledgeable with the discussion and answering the questions. We also miss the exchange of Michigan and other state-grown food products available to members with a semi-annual sale. Members felt privileged to have access to a variety of products from frozen Michigan cherries, Georgia pecans and Florida orange juice and more. These were quality, delicious products that state Farm Bureaus coordinated. Those were just a couple of missed perks that made Farm Bureau worthy. (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • Seems to us that FB is constantly asking what they can do to better serve its membership. That’s all they can do. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
  • Aside from the policy and annual meetings, programming and activities are geared toward Young Farmers. Communication of other programming to membership seems minimal. (Green Meadow Plow Jockeys; Kalamazoo County)
  • This may be a role of our land-grant institutions. We are afraid that government will step in and take on this role. We need someone who has a good ear on agriculture to oversee that it is quality data being used in AI models. We point to the recent 40B package as an indication of how little government truly understands agriculture. (Modern Producers; Monroe County)
  • Communication: We could receive county board meeting minutes. We used to have a county newsletter; it could be emailed. (Golden Fawn Farm Bureau; Huron County)
Are there groups of Young Farmers that the county Farm Bureau may be missing? If so, how do we reach them? 
  • There are always potential Young Farmer members that aren’t involved everywhere, whether these are very young individuals just coming into the farming industry, or farm laborers and middle management types who don’t necessarily have stake in the ownership of an organization, who might not understand that Farm Bureau is still very much a place for them. The other is the young people that we may be close with as friends or colleagues who just aren’t seeing the value of a membership, or in my instance see how involved I am with the organization and view it as way more than they would care to be involved and again do not understand that you can be as involved as you want to be. Young Farmer specific programs, some educational and informative but more so social to assist in cultivating intimate connections with these younger potential members to make them feel welcome and keep them interested in the organization and what it has to offer. (The CDC; ProFile)
  • Yes, there are groups we are missing and I think we could help this by getting groups of friends to join together so they do not feel alone. We need to just keep talking and inviting people to events and spreading the word about all the benefits of being involved in Farm Bureau. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • We agree that 18-22-year-olds are the hardest group to get involved. If they are involved in a college chapter, getting them back to the county seems to be difficult. Farm Bureau can help by giving the district and county more resources to help showcase why it’s important to be involved. The best way to get someone involved is to ask them to be involved, especially when they don’t have a strong family connection to the farm. A day to shadow county Farm Bureau programing and the county Young Farmers could be a very useful tool also. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • There must be a value/incentive to attract Young Farmers? (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • Yes, most Young Farmers are juggling farming, another full-time job and young children. Text, Facebook, email... (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • FB does a good job of including everybody. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
  • Young Farmers need to be approached personally to find out how they would like to be involved. (Green Meadow Plow Jockeys; Kalamazoo County)
  • We do not know how this protection will be implemented but are 100% in favor of protections being developed. (Modern Producers; Monroe County) 
  • We think there is a gap between 4H and FFA – Young Farmers. Very hard to get in tune once the info stops. The communication between us and the next generation is not there. (Golden Fawn Farm Bureau; Huron County)
As a Community Action Group, what is something that you could do to assist with these membership trends?
  • Continue reaching out to non-members, encourage them to accompany you to events, host member recruitment specific events, show them the value of their membership and the time that they commit to organization. This is especially pertinent when it comes to the younger non-members. (The CDC; ProFile)
  • We can keep telling and sharing with new people about Farm Bureau. We can be the link for those who are looking for that sense of connection. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • As a ProFILE small group, we have a unique perspective of learning about what’s going on in multiple counties, this helps us to brainstorm outside the box of what is comfortable. We can use these ideas to bridge gaps. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • Aging of our CAG group (60’s into 80’s), with most not actively farming, our assisting with membership numbering trends is narrowing, however we do continue to remain visible and interact with many other county activities? (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • We have had Euchre Tournaments and Trivia Tournaments to get them together and seeing if they have interest in forming an action group. no new action group has been formed yet. Young farmers have different social ideas/needs. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • We have to keep talking about the benefits that being a part of an active and strong organization such as F.B. brings to everybody. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
  • It would be helpful to know what other communities are doing to get/keep membership involved. (Green Meadow Plow Jockeys; Kalamazoo County)
  • If there is a project that needs to be done, if asked we could possibly help. (Golden Fawn Farm Bureau; Huron County)
What local issues are on farmers’ minds in your area that should be addressed in the next five years?
  • Solar panels and their push for land is a big hit to agriculture, when landowners are so far removed from agriculture that it’s more about profit than how the land is being used. It puts a big weight on what land is available and how much it will cost to keep farming those acres. Additionally with a shift to urban areas in Washtenaw and Wayne, land usage, farm ground and storage space are issues on the forefront of the challenges faced. Succession planning — older generations hanging on to the farm and land with no future generation to take it over, or not allowing the next generation to make decisions — is leading to splitting of farms and sale of land. The average age of the farmer is close to 60 years old. Who will take over these family farms in the next 10 years? (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
Rebecca Gulliver headshot

Rebecca Gulliver

Member Engagement & Field Training Manager
[email protected]