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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

CAGs respond to March discussion topics

Community Action Groups have some strong opinions and sound guidance on some of the issues challenging Michigan's Young Farmers.
Date Posted: May 16, 2024

Young Farmer Discussion Meets simulate a committee meeting, during which discussion and active participation are expected from everyone. Participants build basic discussion skills, improve their understanding of key industry issues and explore how groups can pool knowledge and forge consensus en route to solving problems. 

They’re also a great example of what our Community Action Groups do every month, meeting and discussing topics important to agriculture. In March our active CAGs dove into this year’s discussion meet topics, and have this to share:


What are some ways that Young Farmers utilize diversification to explore new revenue sources? How can Farm Bureau support YF&R members as they strengthen their farm and ranch businesses?
  • Finding niche things. Make more money from resources they already have. Diversify. Promote legislation to allow freedom on the farm. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • Livestock, custom operations, or provide professional services to other farms/community businesses. Farm Bureau can support by walking farmers through unknown requirements/details of operating as such: insurance, lending, legal, labor, etc. (The CDC; ProFILE)
  • Direct marketing, custom services, roadside stands, co-op options for machinery and specialized tools, succession planning, specialty crops. Farm Bureau can help by creating resource databases for making it easier to learn more about atypical commodities and services. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • Utilize the diversity of Young Farmer seminars, and their attendees, to learn more about how they can diversify their operation. Young Farmers can also utilize their existing equipment to try new revenue sources without a huge investment. By diversifying Young Farmers can showcase their skills outside of their specific ag commodity. (The Moo Crew; ProFILE)
  • A few Young Farmers in our county have diversified and added value to their products such as goat soap and lotion, processing poultry, grading private roads and driveways. The Farm Bureau can offer information on diversification and the regulation and paperwork involved. (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • Agritourism, alterative crops… Government/grants/training, resources on government funding. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • Support members as they strengthen their business. (Neighborly Northerners; Newaygo County)
  • Search online for information. Explore and research wind and solar energy income stream to see if it would be an option for them.  Farm Bureau needs to support any and all actions that can give 100% reliable internet to rural areas. (Maple River Rowdies; Clinton County)
  • There are many different things a Young Farmer can do to diversify their income; the problem is they almost all take time and money — but mostly they take ambition. The other problem diversity brings is that being involved in too many things makes you a "Jack of all trades, master of none.” (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
How can Young Farmers position themselves to react to competition for agricultural land?
  • Make sure you are preapproved and have relationships with neighbors and other farms. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • Aside from being prepared with your lender in order to act quickly if opportunity arises, there is not much Young Farmers can do to compete with the deep pockets of land investors. One position is that land needs to be just as protected as wetlands. Maybe give PA-116 more teeth? (The CDC; ProFILE)
  • Relationships, relationships, relationships! Marry a finance expert. Be mindful of keeping debts/payments down to be in a solid-enough financial position to go after land when it comes available. Programs like MI Farm Link and the Greenbelt databases — projects that protect farmland by putting available farmland opportunities into one area for young and beginning farmers to be connected with retiring farmers. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE).
  • In the extremely competitive land market, farmers can react by creating good relationships with the other farmers around them who may be looking to part with land eventually — as well as creating good financial relationships. Farmers can also protect themselves by waiting for the perfect piece of land that suits their needs instead of jumping prematurely into a piece of land that doesn't suit them. Farm Bureau can help by creating policy against foreign land ownership. (The Moo Crew; ProFILE)
  • Young Farmers can position themselves in the competition for farmland by making connections with older farmers regarding land contracts. They can know what grants and loans are available to them. (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • In this area land doesn't come up to public auction as much as other areas. Have funding lined up before it’s needed. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • We should encourage businesses that are building new to use old and toxic land that can be used safely. That should be the only way business can receive any subsidies from the government. Discourage the building of apartment complexes or subdivisions on useable farmland; encourage them to build on brownfields. And clear old woods, since new homeowners want trees anyway. (Neighborly Northerners; Newaygo County)
  • Have a sustainable second source of income, a hard work ethic, a passion for farming and a financial plan for the long haul — 30+ years. (Maple River Rowdies; Clinton County)
  • Rob a bank — or pray a lot that things you don't have a lot of control over just happen to
    go your way. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
How can Farm Bureau provide value and opportunity to welcome members from across the broad diversity of modern agriculture and American farmers and ranchers?
  • Be more open to people in ag business, not just production ag. Flexible event planning for the people with off-farm jobs. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • Resources and contact information for networking and connections in non-traditional avenues. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • In order to attract a wide diversity of people, Farm Bureau has to remain open-minded, extend personal invitations and continue to meet people where they are. (The Moo Crew; ProFILE)
  • Farm Bureau can promote active county Farm Bureau members with P&E committees and other subsets, and interest groups within the farming community. (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • You need to poll the younger farmers. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • Farm Bureau can provide legal advice/representation to members and give one voice for farmers. Strength in numbers. (Maple River Rowdies; Clinton County) 
  • We think Farm Bureau does a very good job of letting people of any kind of agricultural interest know that all they have to do is ask them for help and Farm Bureau will guide them as best they know how. Nobody can ask for more than that. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
What are some ways county Farm Bureaus can encourage involvement from young members and how can actively engaged young board members help their county Farm Bureaus plan for the future?
  • Offer an event that explains what Farm Bureau does. Push young farms to get involved. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • Allow for or promote more observation at meetings and events to give interested members an opportunity to see what is involved before making a commitment. Have roles with lesser responsibility that allow young members to get involved without being overwhelmed. (The CDC; ProFILE)
  • We think hosting fun events, reaching out with personal invitations and asking members what they’d like to learn more about will help keep members engaged and interested in what is going on. Also organizing leadership training, finance workshops and even local/state ordinance briefings could be important building blocks for not only the county Farm Bureau programs but also the local ag industry. Additionally, offering tours of local community businesses that are family owned/commodity driven/ag-adjacent will help make connections and build relationships. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • The best way to get people involved is to ask — not demand — and to meet people where they are. (The Moo Crew; ProFILE)
  • The county Farm Bureau can encourage involvement of young members by offering workshops specifically geared to Young Farmers on cost-share opportunities and succession planning. Also encourage the Young Farmers to be involved in their communities. (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • Farm Bureau needs to show the value of Farm Bureau. Young Farmers have not been affected by some of the issues older farmers have faced. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • Work with the local FFA to pair young people with diverse farms and farm businesses for FFA's intern programs. Many of these kids do not come from farms but would like the experience so that they can run a farm, or farm business. (Neighborly Northerners; Newaygo County)
  • Along with providing information and support for Young Farmers, keep it entertaining. (Maple River Rowdies; Clinton County)
  • Several years ago this secretary was president of two different groups of farmers and let me tell you: It was worse than pulling teeth to get other farmers to serve on the boards or to take the lead on issues. At one time I truly thought the best way to get farmers off their butts and do something would have been to do something that so infuriates them that they get mad enough to act. I never did that, but maybe Farm Bureau needs to "poke the bear” once in a while. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
How can Farm Bureau work with energy companies, local governments and rural communities to increase domestic energy production, minimize loss of agricultural land and protect private property rights?
  • Encourage use of existing technology. Promote and use guidelines for PA-116. Have positive conversations with governing officials so they understand agriculture. (The Cornstalks; ProFILE)
  • Continue to promote/educate legislatures and utility companies about MFB’s policy on renewable and biomass products (#64), state energy policy (#66) and utility placement (#70). (The CDC; ProFILE)
  • Conversations about using spaces that aren’t valuable farmland for energy production is a must — like rooftops instead of fields. Farm Bureau can be a tremendous resource for supporting as well as educating both landowners and energy companies. There are many conversations to be had and many questions to be answered. Farm Bureau can provide valuable space for those conversations to be had, questions to be answered. (Bringin’ the Bacon!; ProFILE)
  • Defining the need of what the public and government and farmers want from alternative energy should be the starting point. The needs can vary from community to community so a broad policy may not be effective. Farm Bureau can also continue to protect landowners from the overreach of the government. A great example of this is the Rural Communities Task Force. (The Moo Crew; ProFILE)
  • Finding multiple solutions to domestic energy production is a knotted ball of string: Each piece needs to be untangled. Perhaps Farm Bureau can offer some perspective with facts: How many acres of tillable farmland is in Michigan? What’s the amount of energy needed to power Michigan’s industrial, household and electrical vehicle needs? How much energy per acre can a solar field produce? And how much cropland does Michigan have to spare? Farm Bureau can promote biogas and other alternative fuels. Michigan has a diverse agricultural base; why not diversified energy production? (Kirk’s Farm Bureau Group; Livingston County)
  • Get more energy from crops/soil; give local governments back the power of decision; bio fuels; and farmland protection as wetlands. (AgVentures; Saginaw County)
  • Increase domestic energy production with local governments? Fight the closure of Fremont's digester, which is exactly the kind of clean energy they want to build. Minimize loss of farmland? Same as above answer #2. Protect private property rights? Run for local offices and keep in contact with state representatives. We contacted our representatives and signed the Citizens for Local Choice petition to prevent the MI Public Service Commission, with only three members appointed by the governor, to be able to decide where they want to put solar and wind projects. Taking away local zoning control and demanding that someone's property will be used for their projects. That's called eminent domain. (Neighborly Northerners; Newaygo County)
  • Farm Bureau should support sources that provide information that is 100% accurate, not slanted. (Maple River Rowdies; Clinton County)
  • Farm Bureau needs to carry the torch on pointing out that there are good places for windmills and solar panels that are not farmland. (Cass River Crew; Saginaw County)
Rebecca Gulliver headshot

Rebecca Gulliver

Member Engagement & Field Training Manager
[email protected]