With back-to-back county annual meetings Aug. 18 and 21, the Saginaw and Bay County Farm Bureaus put a bow on their 2023 program years, buckled up for harvest and the meeting season that follows it.
Despite the abundance of common ground between them — sugar beets, dry beans and a really high water table among other things — the District 8 neighbors took individual approaches to their policy slates with county annuals now in high gear.
Saginaw’s proposed resolutions focused on fine-tuned adjustments to several existing state-level polices. Members present in Frankenmuth that evening approved:
- Adding to Food Safety (MFB Policy #17) support for conducting educational meeting for agricultural micro-businesses, such as on-farm operations smaller than those addressed by existing cottage foods regulations.
- Including in Farmland Protection (#77) support for using state funds for cataloging brownfield properties and incentivizing their reuse with tax abatements; and opposition to state or federal support for developing farmland for non-agricultural uses.
- Several points to Wildlife Management (#92) related to MDNR deer management practices.
- Adding permit and liability provisions to Safety on Roadways (#100) relating to the use of ATV, UTV and side-by-sides on public roads.
- Amending national policy on Waterways (AFBF Policy #549) to oppose water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron above 580 feet above sea level.
It was a different story up in Bay County, where the Policy Development committee, led by corn-n-soybean grower Ben Ritter, focused its attention on the inner workings of the state Farm Bureau itself. Regular members attending Bay’s annual approved — and decisively — a pair of proposed changes to the Michigan Farm Bureau bylaws:
- Changing how the MFB president is elected, from appointment by the Board of Directors to a majority vote of the Annual Meeting delegates.
- Removing the full-time farming criteria from the qualifications for state office.
Comment on the second of those measures included an impassioned appeal from Young Farmer Chair Paige Lupke, who underscored how members of her generation are unlikely to achieve full-time farming status without first working full-time off the farm — likely for decades.
Speaking of impassioned appeals, Bay County leaders wrapped up their proceedings by encouraging everyone in attendance to take advantage of the county’s regularly scheduled legislative breakfasts.
Auburn-area crop grower Bob Kernstock plugged the county’s marquee confabs with decision-makers as a prime opportunity for having the ear of officials with the power to affect real change.
“This is not them coming here to talk at you,” he said. “This is your chance to speak about your own issues and share what’s on your mind.”
Piling on alongside Kernstock, Ritter and County President Terry Histed also appealed to the gathered membership, encouraging them to take advantage of these regular, recurring opportunities for dialogue with county, regional, state and federal-level officials.