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Policy Development: There's a place for you, make it your own

Lapeer County Farm Bureau President Tiffany Howell (left) and members John Howell and Scott Weatherford talk issues at District 6’s Pizza & Politics meeting.
Date Posted: April 27, 2023

Many hands make light work, right? 

Michigan Farm Bureau’s policy development process can seem intimidating to those who haven’t experienced it. As a staffer who’s enjoyed the privilege of serving you nearly 15 years now, I feel the organization’s grassroots pride and joy gives truth to the adage: Many hands make light work.  

Personally I’d add that many minds make good policy too!  

But there’s no need for even a newcomer to shy away. Here’s how you can be involved in a way that fits both your interests and your schedule. 

First: Your ideas matter

Our county Farm Bureaus have remained strong for 100+ years in part because of their diversity. We need members who dabble in Farm Bureau as much as we need members who fully immerse themselves. 

Policy development is no different. Volunteers who take five minutes to submit an idea or amendment online are just as important as those who take three whole days off the farm to serve as voting delegates at the state annual meeting. You are all the collective voice of Michigan agriculture, and the industry’s continued prosperity depends on it. 

Here are some ways to get involved with policy development, from quick, independent contributions to more involved, collaborative experiences: 

Read emerging issues 

Emerging issue briefs raise awareness of challenges and opportunities and help get discussion and ideas flowing. Farm Bureau staff annually prepare the briefs on developing issues impacting the food and agriculture sector; here’s the current crop: 

Anything strike a chord with you? Turn it into more…  

Submit an idea online 

There’s a policy submission form on the MFB website for sharing ideas or amendments throughout the year. Here’s how you might use it: 

  • Propose an amendment to existing policy 

  • New policy language to MFB or AFBF policy 

  • Delete existing language 

The 2023 MFB and AFBF policy books are always available online to explore, search and download.  

Ideas submitted are passed on to your county policy development committee chair for further consideration. 

Join a local committee  

Contributing your voice to your county Farm Bureau’s policy development committee is a great way to share your ideas and hear what’s on the minds of your fellow members. The process looks different in each of our 65 county organizations: larger group meetings by district, smaller and more frequent individual county meetings, or even mostly electronic work via email.   

With that in mind, the best way to learn more is to contact your county office, get in touch with your MFB regional manager or reach out to our policy development lead, Emily Reinart at 517-679-5337. 

Attend an annual meeting  

County annual meetings are where members gather to approve or reject proposed policy amendments. In addition to voting, many counties host a meal, recognition program or fun experience at the meeting. Overall it’s a minor time commitment for yet another opportunity to weigh in on policy recommendations.  

Following county-level approval, policy recommendations are reviewed by the 21-member MFB Policy Development Committee and brought together into a draft resolutions book. 

That book is the centerpiece of the MFB State Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, where our policy development process culminates. Delegate session is the meeting’s beating heart, where voting members deliberate changes and approve the 100+ policies that guide the organization through the coming year.  

State annual is also a lot of fun, with banquets and receptions celebrating the organization’s work and recognizing member achievements, exciting discussion meet competitions and networking with fellow farmers from across the state!  

Contact your county office or MFB regional manager for more information about attending the county or state annual meeting. 

Still not convinced? 

If you’re still reading (thanks) and just not sure if this is for you – that’s okay! Policy development isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but your voice and ideas still matter. Even if you don’t try any of the ideas above, promise you’ll at least share your thoughts and concerns on local, state or national issues with your county leaders. They – and we – want to hear from you!

Emily Reinart headshot

Emily Reinart

Grassroots Policy Outreach Specialist
517-679-5337 [email protected]