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Nesbitt to YFs: ‘Be part of the process.’

Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt encouraged an audience of Young Farmer chairs to maximize their Farm Bureau involvement and not shy away from running for public office.
Date Posted: March 1, 2023

“It’s important to be involved in Farm Bureau because your numbers are fewer and fewer all the time. Be part of the process.”

That’s how Michigan’s Dist. 20 Senator Aric Nesbitt began his visit with a roomful of county-level Young Farmer chairs Feb. 24, in a prelude to MFB’s 2023 Young Farmer Leaders Conference.

A member of the Van Buren County Farm Bureau, Nesbitt grew up on a small family farm in Porter Township, south of Lawton. There he helped tend a 60-head dairy herd, grow grain and one of the region’s signature crops: Concord grapes.

District 20 includes portions of Berrien, Van Buren, Allegan and Kent counties. 

After wrapping up his farming chops the current Senate Republican Leader moved straight to his political chops, including some noteworthy wins during the Snyder Administration: debt reduction and the bill that codified MAEAP — the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program — into state law.

Now, however, with a wall-to-wall Democratic majority in Lansing under second-term Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Nesbitt finds himself in unfamiliar territory.

“It’s a new experience for me,” he said. “I’ve never been in the minority before.”

Even so he spent most of his time encouraging his audience of young leaders to make the most of their Farm Bureau involvement, including pursuit of public offices when the opportunity arises.

“Don’t be afraid to run for local offices,” he said, noting that township and county-level positions make ideal starting points and launch pads toward seats from which more influence and authority project.

“Those local zoning and planning bodies have a direct effect on agriculture,” he continued, and the insight and expertise farmers bring to the table for such discussions is vital to their industry maintaining its clout at all levels.

To that end Nesbitt name-dropped some other well-known farmers — and Farm Bureau members — currently serving in the Michigan legislature: Dist. 25 Senator Dan Lauwers (St. Clair County), Dist. 26 Senator Kevin Daly (Lapeer), Dist. 31 Senator Roger Victory (Ottawa), and Dist. 38 Senator Ed McBroom of the Iron Range Farm Bureau.

Legislators with real-world agricultural experience are turned to time and time again for their insights, Nesbitt said.

“It’s important that we have people back at home to turn to, so you being involved and being a resource” is valuable even if running for office isn’t on your to-do list.

“Those of you in agriculture, you just figure out how to make things work,” he said.

From there he launched into one of his main themes:

“We allow free people to be free,” he said, noting that legislating through the pandemic reinforced many of his party’s core tenets.

“Should we trust in private-sector individuals or let the government dictate what’s open and closed, legal or illegal? We feel it’s better to work with individuals. People can make their own decisions, and we trust individuals over the state — we trust parents and families over the government.”

From there he fielded a variety of questions from his audience, on topics as diverse as EPA water regulations, government support for solar energy initiatives and indemnification payments for livestock contaminated with PFAS.

“This all goes to the importance of being in touch with your lawmakers,” he finished, “so we know what’s going on.”


Media Contacts
Megan Sprague headshot

Megan Sprague

Young Farmer Programs Specialist
517-679-5658 [email protected]