As of Nov. 1 — last Wednesday’s virtual kickoff — Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2023 State Annual Meeting is officially underway!
That day was also the deadline for announcing candidacies for the open at-large seats on the MFB Board of Directors. By the stroke of midnight three seed-brand hats had been thrown into the ring: Incumbent Paul Pridgeon of Branch County seeks to retain his at-large seat, while newcomers Doug Bontekoe (Osceola) and Abe Pasch (Isabella) are vying for the position being vacated by Doug Darling (Monroe). All three submitted candidacy videos; click here to view them.
District delegate meetings started Nov. 2 and will continue through the 16th. (Review the full resolutions book here.) First out of the gates was District 12 with a late-morning session in balmy Marquette, followed by District 7’s event that evening in Fremont.
Intrepid Farm Gate correspondents filed the following dispatches from the front lines:
Director Dave Bahrman (Hiawathaland) called the meeting to order at 10 a.m. Delegates from all Upper Peninsula county Farm Bureaus were present to review delegate procedures for voting and making amendments in Grand Rapids, and watch the at-large director candidate videos.
MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park reviewed the proposed resolution book, section by section, and drew delegates’ attention to those resolutions with scheduled discussion time on the delegate floor.
Policy Development committee member Dan Bahrman (Hiawathaland) discussed several amendments and new polices the committee is proposing based on county resolutions.
After lunch, MFB Human Resources Director Tom Nugent and staffer Audrey Carey reviewed the Family of Companies For-Purpose initiative to end childhood hunger in Michigan, including research conducted in the Upper Peninsula.
One part of this year’s initiatives was a home office food collection drive that took place during September Hunger Action Month, collecting 550 pounds of food donations for the Western Upper Peninsula Food Bank. Copper Country Farm Bureau delegates Anthony Lampinen and John Mattila (pictured below) delivered the donation to the food bank in Houghton after the meeting.
Delegates representing the county Farm Bureaus of District 7 convened at the Fremont District Library. The meeting started with a welcome and celebration of membership accomplishments by District Director Michael DeRuiter (Oceana).
As chair of the state Policy Development committee, DeRuiter presented highlights on proposed measures and amendments likely to see discussion at the final, in-person component of the State Annual Meeting, Nov. 28-30 in Grand Rapids. Some of those topics included revisions to the state-level policy on cannabis production; the craft beer industry; and food insecurity.
Another spotlight shone on an American Farm Bureau Federation policy proposal, urging the creation of a national-level guest-worker task force.
Back at the state level, two candidate for the open at-large seat on the MFB Board of Directors — Pasch and Bontekoe — were present to introduce themselves to those gathered. A caucus of District 7’s county presidents reaffirmed their support for DeRuiter, selecting him as their choice to serve the district for another two-year term on the MFB Board of Directors.
Farm Gate thanks Tom Nugent and Becca Gulliver for reporting in from the field.