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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

My first rodeo: Grand indeed!

Delegates representing all 65 county Farm Bureaus took grassroots action at MFB's 2023 Annual Meeting.
Date Posted: December 11, 2023

It began with a call from a young friend, our county Farm Bureau president: We’d been slated to be voting delegates from Iosco County to MFB’s 2023 Annual Meeting at the very grand Amway Grand, in Grand Rapids, by the Grand River. 

We’ve attended Great Lakes EXPO there for 14 years, so returning for MFB’s annual seemed like a delightful déjà vu, albeit with a few strings attached. We had a half-inch-thick delegate book with 206 resolutions in color-coded sections to be studied at home and voted on in three delegate sessions.

Before the first banquet, Kevin Thiel (from MFB’s state policy development committee) took time to meet with me one-on-one about two changes I’d submitted for the cannabis resolution through the helpful channels of Laura Campbell and Emily Reinart, my two new best friends. One of my requested changes flew, the other did not; Kevin delivered the rejection kindly.

That first banquet had a delicious dinner and a smooth program honoring Young Farmers — our future! Next morning’s breakfast was sit-down and plated, with assigned seating by District — good idea!

Wednesday morning — the first delegate session — WOW: rows and rows and rows of skinny tables, chairs, power strips (they thought of everything) and red totes filled with goodies for the table. Those tables were labeled by district and county. Ours was special because our District 10 Director Leona Daniels had placed at each of our seats little holiday buckets with more goodies and a hand-written note for each of us, by name. 

The real work began with some preliminary stuff — parliamentary procedure per Roberts Rules of Order — and it was the best parliamentary procedure I’ve seen in eons. Compliments to the chef moderator! 

Next came how to vote with our cell phones using CloudVote. Each delegate session began with a test vote, with questions like, “Do you approve of putting up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving? Vote A for yes, B for no. Vote now.” (Result: A big majority against!)

Soon the real work began, resolution by resolution. Changes pre-approved by the state policy committee were read by a board member. Delegates could approach one of four microphones to speak to the proposal. This may’ve been my first MFB annual, but I’ve been around a long while and was impressed by the astuteness, detail and level of knowledge reflected in comments and motions from the floor. And mind you this was all done under strict Roberts Rules as moderated from the stage by MFB President Carl Bednarski

That first session was three and a half hours. At lunch we sat at tables for 10, so I plunked down with nine strangers and enjoyed good conversations with our extended Farm Bureau family. The meals provided a perfect venue for programs, which always lauded our fellow Farm Bureau members and their efforts. I’ve never seen so many people in an organization acknowledged and thanked — I applaud it all! 

The second delegate session began with working through some CloudVote glitches before proceeding on to the election of two at-large directors to the state board, then on to more resolutions. 

Thursday morning’s third and final session started with more of the same, then saw delegates back at work fine-tuning resolution changes, including an important modification to bee-industry policy: broadening its language from ‘honeybees’ to just ‘bees.’ Recognizing there are some 300 bee species in Michigan, it made sense in this humble newbie’s opinion, so I voted in favor of the change, as did a majority of my fellow delegates.

Continued CloudVote hiccups led to discussion of other options. We couldn’t change to just in-house voting because it would disenfranchise the virtual delegates — and the accuracy of in-house voice votes was also questioned, sensibly enough. In the end we continued with CloudVote…  

Procedural tangles also clouded the discussion about term limits for MFB board members. In the end we approved forming a member study committee to review MFB’s bylaws, to be chaired by Mecosta County President (and delegate) Kate Wernette. She and members representing all 12 MFB districts will begin work in the New Year. 

WHEW! We marched through the remaining resolutions in double time, finishing up somewhat overtime. It was a relief to be done but also a let-down, knowing I wouldn’t see all my new friends again — staff and delegates — for some time. 

Thanks for the memories!

Portrait of MFB Member Communications Specialist Jeremy Nagel.

Jeremy Nagel

Member Communications Specialist
517-323-6885 [email protected]