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Mary Draves brings business, ag experience to bid for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District seat

A Midland native, Mary Draves has a keen knowledge of Michigan agriculture, having participated in 4-H programs as a youth and adult. She’s a former trustee for the Michigan 4-H Foundation and a current board member of the Nature Conservancy of Michigan. Image credit: Courtesy Photo
Date Posted: July 8, 2024

Former Dow Chemical Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Mary Draves has been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPac, which is endorsing her candidacy for Michigan’s 8th Congressional district.

The ag-heavy district includes Saginaw and Bay counties, a majority of Genesee County and parts of Midland and Tuscola counties. Longtime Rep. Dan Kildee’s retirement is opening a seat in the race that’s receiving national attention.

A Midland native, Draves has a keen knowledge of Michigan agriculture, having participated in 4-H programs as a youth and adult. She’s a former trustee for the Michigan 4-H Foundation and a current board member of the Nature Conservancy of Michigan. 

As the granddaughter of dairy farmers, Draves said agriculture is important to her. Mary’s family operates Maple Hill Nursery in Midland, and her daughter completed her degree in agricultural genetics and agronomy at Iowa State University and is continuing her graduate work in corn plant genetics at the University of Missouri.

“Farmers are an essential part of our nation's economy — they feed the world,” Draves said. “I understand and appreciate their value to the economy of my community and believe it is my responsibility to work with their farmers and represent their interests in Washington.”

Among the major reasons Draves cited for seeking Congressional office are ensuring energy independence for America to lower prices at the gas pump, stopping the federal government from trampling businesses by overregulation, and securing our nation’s borders to stop the flow of illegal immigration and drugs. 

Draves noted escalating costs for seed, fertilizer, spray, equipment, and fuel — much of which she said has been caused by the current administration’s policies — among the major issues farmers are facing in her district. She also strongly believes in local control for land use. 

“Local municipalities must be allowed to determine their own land use policies and regulations. Recently, we've seen the state of Michigan take away control of land use from local municipalities specifically concerning wind and solar projects,” Draves said. “This is an example of the kind of government overreach that I oppose — I support local control in these matters.”

MFB policy supports returning decisions on commercial scale energy projects to locally elected officials. 

Draves holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in technological processes from Saginaw Valley State University. She spent 32 years at Dow Chemical in Midland, working her way from dishwasher to VP and Chief Sustainability Officer before retiring in 2022. 

Above all else, Draves noted that her responsibility was ensuring the health and safety of every person at the company.

Draves said a productive dialogue is needed with farmers to cooperatively solve the ecological problems emerging in the 21st century.

“Too many of the people in Washington who are attempting to solve this issue with top-down mandates have no experience with farming and are not concerned with the ability of farmers to make money for their families,” Draves said.

“Ultimately, everyone relies on farmers and farmers rely on the ability to turn a profit. Any mandates which would affect this equation must be opposed.”

Draves also takes farmers’ livelihoods into account in her stance on the H-2A guest worker program, which she said should be streamlined for hiring and allow the market to dictate wages — not Washington bureaucrats.

Ultimately, when it comes to getting things done on Capitol Hill, Draves said we’re stronger as a nation when we work together. 

“I seek to listen, learn, collect data, and make informed non-dogmatic decisions,” Draves said. 

“In my over three decades of private sector experience, I have found these are essential traits for productive, results-oriented leadership. I am approaching this role as a service to my community, with the intention of producing practical results — not advancing ideology or picking fights with perceived enemies.”

Support Friends of Agriculture 

AgriPac needs your contributions to support candidates like Mary Draves who have the wisdom to listen, an eagerness to learn, and the dependability to advocate for our way of life.

Help AgriPac elect candidates who are capable of crafting bipartisan, common-sense, and science-based policy, and recognize the importance of asking for input and feedback from farmers instead of making assumptions about farms, families and businesses. 

Contributions in any amount are accepted and can be sent to: AgriPac, 7373 W. Saginaw Hwy, Lansing, MI 48917. Personal checks can be made out to MFB AgriPac and farm or business checks can be made out to MFB FarmPac. Credit or debit card contributions can be made by calling 517-323-6740. 

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Matt Kapp

Government Relations Specialist
517-679-5338 [email protected]