Designed to acknowledge county Farm Bureaus’ efforts in advocating for agriculture and engaging members, MFB’s annual Champions of Excellence recognition is awarded annually in two categories, Involvement and Grassroots.
Let’s look at another sampling of some of the great activities that earned these county Farm Bureaus a spot among this year’s winners.
Washtenaw County's Young Farmers organized a charity golf tournament that raised almost $7,000, which was then split between a local food bank and a scholarship for college freshmen who were members of the county Farm Bureau.
The event exemplified Farm Bureau in three distinct ways: First by providing a fun, all-day activity that rewarded members for participating — and functioning as a membership event for writing non- members.
Secondly, the food bank donation aligns with the values of the state and national Farm Bureau’s ongoing Harvest For All initiative. And thirdly, the scholarship supports area youth and the future stewards of agriculture as they progress down their career path, hopefully in an ag-related field!
The scholarship amount was split between a pair of deserving local collegians, while the food bank donation on behalf of the county Farm Bureau provided more than 10,000 meals for needy local families.
From start to finish, Washtenaw’s Young Farmers had the bull by the horns, planning and executing every step: booking the course, divvying up responsibilities, budgeting, arranging refreshments, wrangling sponsors, ordering signage and promoting the outing through every available communications channel.
Entry was open to all, with a discount for current Farm Bureau members. In the end it hosted 27 teams — 108 participants altogether — and engaged local businesses as hole and prize sponsors.
The result was a lot of farmers who brought their non-farmer friends along with them to enjoy a fun day of golf.
The relaxed atmosphere worked as a low-key venue for engaging new and uninvolved members. Two special foursomes consisted of all local Farm Bureau insurance agents and farm lenders, giving them an opportunity to see and be seen as integral members of the overall farm community.
In the end the event showcased Washtenaw County Farm Bureau as a hub of the local farm community, and put local faces to building bridges with and giving back to the greater community beyond the fields and fencerows.
For their local Ag Week celebration this year, the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau teamed up with a locally owned grocery store, Market House, for an in-store event to help customers connect their food purchases back to their agricultural origins.
Farm Bureau members worked with Market House staff to hang commodity signs around the store that explained where various food products are grown. Posters went up in the deli, dairy case, meat section, produce department and bread aisle, as well as inside Market House’s in-store breakfast eatery. Commodity facts shed light on the production of fruit, eggs and pancake ingredients, all to help customers better understand where their food really comes from.
"Michigan Grown" tags were used to showcase products grown here and raise awareness of the state’s diverse farm sector. Several commodity groups donated educational materials, including those promoting cherry, poultry, pine trees, dairy, asparagus, carrots and sheep.
Members manned an in-store display where they spoke directly with consumers, answering their farming questions, distributing informational materials and explaining where their food comes from. They also assembled baskets of Michigan-grown products for giving away; more were prepared for local Farm Bureau Insurance Agents in appreciation of their membership efforts.
More than 25 members from Hillsdale’s membership, Young Farmer, and Promotion & Education programs were involved, plus all three of the county’s Farm Bureau Insurance agents.
Local radio station WCSR was on site with a live remote broadcast, interviewing members about the commodities they grow, and promoting both the Market House and the county Farm Bureau.
Market House owner Brett Boyd is a Hillsdale County Farm Bureau member himself, and a huge supporter of local producers, carrying on his shelves locally produced honey, syrup, mushrooms, jerky, apples, cider, popcorn and more.
A local farm market hosted Ionia County Farm Bureau’s Meet-the-Candidate event in April — before AgriPac recommendations were due — giving members a chance to meet everyone running for state and federal legislative seats, and for the candidate evaluation committee to formulate its recommendations.
Candidates introduced themselves to attendees in turn and stayed after for more direct conversation with individual members and small groups, encouraging fundamental relationship-building between local farmers and their would-be representatives.
Spring planting posed a challenge to the turnout, but 16 Farm Bureau members were able to attend the new function, scheduled to take place soon after the candidate filing deadline but before AgriPac recommendations were due.
Another challenge came from the recent redistricting, with member attendees uncertain which newly redrawn district they now resided in.
After the board of directors chose May as the target month, planning got underway and provided an opportunity for its members to step up to the leadership-opportunity plate. Two board members carried out the bulk of the organizing, one of them hosting it on his own farm.
Eleven candidates accepted the invitation: three congressional, two senate and six representatives.
The event helped Ionia County Farm Bureau’s Candidate Evaluation Committee better understand the field of primary contenders, especially who among them held the most promise as advocates for agriculture ready to listen to farmers’ priorities and work with Farm Bureau.
Look for more Champions of Excellence summaries in forthcoming issue of Farm Gate.