Michigan Farm Bureau members from districts 2 and 5 were able to get one-on-one time to share their thoughts and concerns with lawmakers thanks to MFB’s regional Lansing Legislative Seminar (LLS), which held it’s district-level event in Lansing on March 1.
The day kicked off with in-depth updates on key issues from MFB staff members before shifting to an informal lunch and discussion that was attended by multiple elected officials representing areas of Branch, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lenawee and Shiawassee Counties.
Rep. Brian BeGole (R-Antrim Township) said LLS was a “perfect environment” to hear from his constituents, most of whom knew him well from his more than three decades of experience as Shiawassee County Sheriff.
“It’s really helpful to get everyone together in one locale because the district is so spread out, there’s so many different meetings going on and some happen at the same time so you’re obviously not able to be everywhere at once,” BeGole said.
“Fortunately, I know many of the Farm Bureau members because they’re active in their community and through that relationship there’s a great exchange of information.”
Hillsdale County Farm Bureau member Ron Oates spoke with two lawmakers from his area, joining others to share their concerns about the proposal to reclassify the Prairie River.
“We have a lot of investments into irrigation systems that we won’t be able to use if that happens,” Oates said.
He’s been to multiple LLS events in the past but added that he liked the different style of this year’s gathering, including being able to walk through Lansing and make a visit to the state capitol.
After meeting with their legislators, MFB members were able to watch a House session in-person and learn how to effectively share their stories with lawmakers during formal testimonies.
MFB at-large Director Paul Pridgeon has attended two regional LLS events so far this year and received positive feedback from members who felt they were able to have more time with their lawmakers at the district-level events. He said it’s important for Farm Bureau members to remember that legislators are people and they’re just like them.
“They’re no different than your neighbor or the person you sit next to at church or at a restaurant. If they don’t know what’s happening on your farm, then that’s concerning,” Pridgeon explained.
“And the only way they’re going to know what you know is if you come and tell them. It’s an opportunity for you to continue to make a relationship with somebody in your community so that they know what your concerns are and what’s important to you.”