Let’s start the New Year with a warm round of applause for our 12 new county Farm Bureau presidents! Typically that number is in the high teens but for whatever reason in 2023 only an even dozen county Farm Bureaus chose to pass the gavel to either a newcomer or a veteran with previous experience at the head of the table.
Over the next several Farm Gate issues we’ll meet several of these ambitious new leaders, with an unapologetic emphasis on those newcomers stepping into their vital role for the first time.
Without further adieu, in alphabetical order by county…
Bay County welcomes Terry Histed back to the role of president; his last term was back in 2010-11. One of the most steadily involved members Bay’s seen over the past two decades, Terry’s a familiar face armed with thorough experience and an even-keeled demeanor — sterling credentials for a county Farm Bureau leader!
Piepkows are thick on the ground in Calhoun County, where Thomas Piepkow is the new president. I look forward to sharing with you his plans for continuing his family’s deep legacy of Farm Bureau involvement.
Shane Harris is now president of the Cass County Farm Bureau. Just to be safe I’m taking my passport when I visit him outside Edwardsburg; one wrong turn and I could find myself in Stones-Throw Indiana.
In Eaton County, former Dist. 65 State Rep. Brett Roberts has been active in a broad spectrum of Farm Bureau programs, but this will be his first time as county president.
Iosco County is breaking in its first new president in forever as Tawas-area blueberry grower Nathan Payne takes over from veteran Russ Nelkie. Russ and his wife Jane have been the first couple of Iosco County for longer than I’ve been on staff, meaning Nate’s stepping into some big boots there, but he’s got a big, supportive Farm Bureau family behind him.
Chad Geoit — your 2022 Young Farmer Ag Employee Award winner — assumes the presidency of the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau, and up US-131 into Kent County, apple grower Kylee Zdunic-Rasch (of the Sparta Rasches) is a first-time leader there.
Up in my own homeland, Young Farmer Jake Anderson is the new president of the Mason County Farm Bureau and I look forward to introducing him to Farm Gate readers statewide. Jake’s roots are deep there in Victory Township, where the road he lives on is named for his family.
Same story up in the Upper Peninsula’s Banana Belt, where Pete Kleiman (of Kleiman Lane) resumes his longtime presidency of the Menominee County Farm Bureau.
The name Brennan Mudd is not a familiar one to me so I’m eager to hit the road and learn more about him and his plans for the Midland County Farm Bureau. That’s not too far from Munger so with any luck we’ll catch Brennan and Terry on the same day.
On that note, with grace from the scheduling gods I’ll be able to meet up with Robert Rudat near Shelby on my way to (or from) Jake’s place outside Ludington. Robert’s the new president in Oceana County and has the auspicious honor of being younger brother to MFB veteran staffer Dennis Rudat, the guy who hired me back in 2003. Oceana is where Rudats come from!
Last but not least, Washtenaw County has promoted Travis Fusilier to the president’s chair. An active Young Farmer boasting an already-deep resume of Farm Bureau involvement, Travis is a well-known, high-profile member from a well-known, high-profile Farm Bureau family: His dad Mike’s on the state board of directors so I might have to dress up for that visit.
And that’s the rundown for 2023, which promises to be another great year for Farm Bureau’s grass-roots leadership. In the coming months I’ll do my best to get around and visit as many of these new faces as possible before we lose them to the fields in April!