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County Farm Bureau delegates complete policy action on land-use, farmland protection and food insecurity

Voting delegates approved policy opposing the use of eminent domain for solar or wind energy projects, voted to oppose allowing farmland currently enrolled in the state’s PA 116 program being eligible for commercial solar project development. Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: December 5, 2023

More than 400 county Farm Bureau voting delegates considered state and national policy at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 104th Grand Rapids, with a strong emphasis on recommendations generated from the MFB Rural Communities Task Force.

A wide range of land-use issues, agricultural representation on local boards and commissions, and food insecurity were approved as amendments to existing policy and as new policy, including Food Insecurity.

According to Oceana County fruit farmer Michael DeRuiter, who served as chairman of the MFB Policy Development Committee this year, delegates were actively engaged through the organization’s grassroots policy development process.

According to DeRuiter, the increase in county-level policy recommendations this year, up 33% from last year, was matched by the level of delegate engagement during policy sessions.

“I'm always impressed with the committee members and the delegate body where you can actually get farmers from across the state of Michigan to work together to come up with common-sense policy that we can all agree on and move forward as an organization,” DeRuiter said. 

Approved national recommendations advance to the American Farm Bureau Federation level for consideration and, if included, would be considered during the AFBF Annual Meeting policy resolution session in January. 

Land use

Delegates approved policy placing a high priority on protecting the rights of private property owners while also requiring that agriculture be included in community master plans, county economic development plans and all aspects of local planning and zoning.

Included in the policy were calls for agricultural representation on councils, commissions and boards created by government, state legislators, and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to represent agricultural interests.

Delegates also approved policy calling for legislation that would prevent farmland from being annexed to a municipality without a vote of the people in the affected area and, if approved, a vote of all residents within the appropriate unit of government.

In regard to energy and mega-site projects, delegates approved policy calling for local units of government to utilize brownfield redevelopment authorities.

Delegates also reaffirmed policy that land-use decisions are best made by local communities that include planning and zoning decisions for energy siting and mega-site development and opposing preemption of local zoning.

Land-use policy also opposes rezoning agricultural zones if the use has not changed and the landowners have not requested the zoning change. Delegates also approved policy opposing the use of state and federal funds being used to develop farmland for non-agricultural purposes.

In separate policy action, delegates approved proposed changes to “Land Acquisition for Public Projects” policy that would oppose the use of eminent domain for solar or wind energy projects.

Farmland protection

Noting that “investments in farmland protection is an investment in the future of agriculture and the next generation of Michigan farmers and citizens,” delegates approved policy language calling for a voluntary, coordinated, and incentive-driven approach at the state and local levels that protects large blocks of farmland and increases the opportunity for economically viable agriculture.

Approved policy also supports MFB and county Farm Bureaus to continue working with partners to develop innovative farmland protection funding approaches at the state and local level, including tax relief based on parcel size and duration of ownership and the linking of urban development tax credits with greenfield preservation, in addition to established concepts including conversion fees, millage proposals, tax credits, and recapture penalties.

New policy was approved opposing farmland currently enrolled in the state’s PA 116 program being eligible for commercial solar project development.

In separate policy language regarding “Ag Security,” delegates reaffirmed policy citing foreign investment in Michigan assets as a concern, especially in terms of farmland ownership and that ownership of agricultural land by nonresident aliens, foreign businesses and foreign governments should be limited, if not prohibited, in Michigan.


Delegates approved policy advocating for adequate and affordable energy to address agriculture’s vulnerability to energy interruptions and price volatility, and a state energy policy placing a high priority on agricultural enterprises.

Policy calling for upgrades to the current electrical grid, development, and expansion of affordable to natural gas for farms, and net-metering legislation or regulations that would allow producer to sell excess power generated on their farms to utilities at equitable rates was also approved.

Included in the new policy was language to incentivize the production and use of renewable energy on non-agricultural use areas such as brownfield, public property especially state-owned/leased buildings with suitable land for solar, Michigan Department of Transportation rights-of-ways and other.

An amendment calling for Michigan state parks, state-owned forests and any state-owned/leased marginal open space lands suitable for renewable energy projects should be developed was also approved.

Voting delegates also approved policy opposing any attempts to restrict or ban the use or production of natural gas or LP gas propane or fossil fuels.

Food insecurity

New policy addressing food insecurity was approved by delegates calling for MFB to provide farmers with information on how to connect with existing programs for those who are in need as well as the benefits of donation, such as tax credits and/or other financial incentives.

Additional policy language includes support for:

  • Food assistance programs such as, but not limited to, Michigan Agricultural Surplus System (MASS) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and encourage these market opportunities.
  • Food assistance programs in the farm bill and partner with like-minded Michigan organizations that receive nutrition title funding.
  • Changes to the farm bill and USDA programs that would increase farm gate value through federal food assistance or government purchase programs.
  • More focus being placed on the food delivery system to connect farmers with rural families that are food insecure. Consideration should also be given to the time of day and locations for distribution.
  • More research on preferred food packaging, size, and quantity to best serve families utilizing food assistance programs.
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources should promote the program and available processing locations.
  • Increasing access to the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program that includes increasing available processing locations and removing barriers to distributing venison.
  • The donation of protein sources (venison, beef, etc.) that have not been processed through a USDA processing facility but that have been processed responsibly through a state inspected processor.
  • County Farm Bureaus coordinating with charitable food networks regarding needs that they have locally, such as cold storage.

Michigan State University

In addition to reaffirming existing MSU policy, voting delegates approved new language calling for expanded utilization of current farmland assets on campus at MSU with the goal of no net loss of farmland/farm and agriculture education facilities.

Delegates also approved new policy to reestablish the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) stakeholder advisory committee, reestablishing and filling the MSU equine extension position in CVM and College of Ag and Natural Resources (CANR), and for CANR and CVM to make a concerted effort to recruit students from FFA chapters, 4-H programs, and agricultural businesses within Michigan.

Jon Adamy

Jon Adamy

Media Relations Specialist
(517) 323-6782 [email protected]