Skip to main content
Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Proposed policy amendments reflect work of MFB Rural Communities Task Force

Amendments proposed by the State Policy Development Committee are guided by resolutions submitted by county Farm Bureaus and are not finalized until delegates to the MFB State Annual Meeting debate and approve each policy.
Date Posted: October 11, 2023

Recommendations from the Michigan Farm Bureau Rural Communities Task Force were received by the MFB State Policy Development Committee during their Oct. 3-4 meeting and as a result were incorporated into the slate of policy resolutions voting delegates will debate at the State Annual Meeting, Nov. 28-30 in Grand Rapids.

The following information summarizes where the Task Force’s recommendations landed, in the form of proposed amendments to the MFB Policy Book. Recall that their charge was to address and provide recommendations on issues that impact rural community dynamics including land use decisions, agricultural representation on local boards and commissions, and food insecurity (more on that here). 

Proposed amendment language — for all policies — will be available in full when the delegate resolutions book is published later this month.

Questions on amendments summarized below should be directed to State PD Committee members, who will be attending district delegate meetings scheduled throughout early November.

Land use

Proposed amendments to MFB Policy #81 Land Use reflect the Task Force’s thoughts on preserving and sustaining agricultural land.

The PD Committee recommends adding language stating, “We acknowledge the diversity and uniqueness of each community in our state. We believe that land use decisions are best made by local communities including planning and zoning decisions for energy siting and megasite development. We oppose preemption of local zoning for these purposes.”

Within the same policy, proposed language would state MFB’s opposition to the use of state and federal funds to support the development of farmland for industrial and/or non-agricultural use.

Moving to MFB Policy #77 Farmland Protection, new language is being proposed to say that land enrolled in the PA 116 program should not be eligible for development for commercial solar projects. And further, to stop the loss of farmland, the organization supports programs incentivizing the redevelopment of brownfield properties in Michigan.

“Farm Bureau policy for a long time has been strongly in favor of local control on zoning issues,” said Chris Creguer, a Tuscola County Farm Bureau member and member of the Task Force. “So, when it comes to renewable energy siting, whether that's a battery plant or commercial grade solar sites, we feel the same way.

“We believe that those decisions should be best, debated and decided at the local level rather than having the state preempt those decisions.”

Lastly, there is a proposed change to MFB Policy #80 Land Acquisition for Public Projects to add the language, “We oppose the use of eminent domain for solar or wind energy projects.”

Food insecurity

Voting delegates will consider a new policy titled Food Insecurity, shepherded through the process in part by MFB District 10 Director Leona Daniels who serves as both chair of the Task Force and member of State PD Committee.

“Our task force learned from several reputable and experienced experts that data suggests rural communities in Michigan are at greater risk for childhood food insecurity than our urban counterparts,” Daniels said. “And we believe agriculture is positioned to have a significant impact on this issue, and I think this policy starts us in the right direction.

“We’re not going to solve food insecurity overnight, or by ourselves, but by creating specific and purposeful goals we can make progress.”

The nearly 300-word proposed policy outlines ten concepts the organization supports, among them:

  • Informing farmers of food donation/assistance programs and their potential financial benefits and market opportunities,
  • Modifications to USDA programs to increase farm gate value through federal food assistance or government purchase programs,
  • Changes to increase access to protein sources,
  • Suggestions for county Farm Bureau involvement, research, and more.

Local government engagement

Finally, proposed amendments to MFB Policy #66 Local Government highlight the Task Force’s desire to underscore the importance of agriculture representation and Farm Bureau involvement in rural community governance, planning and development, and management.

Highlights of the recommended additions include:

  • Encouraging members to take a more active role in local government, specifically in land use planning, zoning and development and updating master plans,
  • MSU Extension providing more planning and zoning education,
  • Encouraging county Farm Bureaus to take a more active role in recruiting agricultural representatives on local boards, township positions, and commissions.

Others worth noting

The State PD Committee adopted the task force’s recommendation to delete language in MFB Policy #58 Ag Security related to foreign ownership of agricultural land.

“Foreign ownership of farmland is certainly a hot button issue, really around the country and no different here in Michigan,” Creguer said. “What we found is that the data would say less than 2% of farmland across the country is foreign owned, with less than 1% of that being Chinese ownership.

“So, we felt that the threat from foreign ownership was not as real as what it's perceived to be.”

The data Creguer referred to can be found in research by MSU’s Dr. Bill Knudson, who presented to the task force in early September.

One final proposed addition stemming from the Task Force, is to MFB Policy #44 Broadband to request a report from the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office on the progress of state and federal money deploying new broadband technology.

MFB Rural Communities Taskforce Highlights
Matt Smego headshot

Matt Smego

Director, Public Policy & Commodity Division
517-679-5342 [email protected]
Portrait of MFB Director of Field Operations Deb Schmucker.

Deb Schmucker

Director, Field Operations
517-323-6587 [email protected]