My normally long-winded intro will have to wait because the meat & potatoes below is already long enough. But that’s a reflection of the great work your county Farm Bureau is doing. Period.
Every month your regional manager reports in to the MFB mothership with a summary of what’s going on in their region. Because I’m not that bright it’s never occurred to me to package those reports into bite-size pieces for sharing with all y’all. What follows is my first stab at that. (If your county isn’t mentioned it only means I wasn’t scribbling my own notes fast enough. There’s always a ton going on everywhere.)
The first bit is kinda statewide, but after that we’ll mostly work our way, left to right (west to east), from the southwestern Lower Peninsula up to the U.P., just like our 12 districts are numbered.
From the Deep South to the Far North, visitors from Alabama (yup) will visit our pleasant peninsulas this summer, and apparently not just to escape another stifling August in Dixie. More than 50 members from the Alabama Farmers Federation come to Michigan Aug. 20-27 to tour farms, agribusinesses, and food and tourism destinations from Detroit to the Soo, Traverse City to Three Rivers.
Rest assured Nick Saban will not be among them. Definitely not invited.
Down in the southwestern corner of the Lower Peninsula, the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau is working with its local conservation district to plan an August legislative tour.
Berrien County had more than 30 growers turn out for a legislative meeting where, predictably, ag labor and workforce challenges commanded the agenda.
Cass County’s legislative membership breakfast was a hit, with almost 60 people in attendance, including a nice mix of both local and state lawmakers and administrators.
Heads up! In District 2 (Branch, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee), almost 40 members turned out for an early-spring axe- and dart-throwing event.
Calhoun County Farm Bureau boosted the value to their springtime membership event by combining it with an informational meeting focused on ag transportation issues, including a Q&A with Michigan State Police troopers.
Related: Several local Farm Bureau members attended a recent Calhoun County Road Commission meeting to share their concerns about apparent disparities between funding and maintenance work on rural roads compared to those in the county’s urban areas.
Farm Bureau leaders in Branch County are reviving a legacy event, the once-commonplace Rural-Urban Banquet, to which each attending farmer bring a guest from town, with particular emphasis on business owners, school administrators and those involved in municipal affairs.
A little snow didn’t stop Jackson County’s Project RED from carding a turnout of 1,000 third-graders from across the county. And not to be outdone, Lenawee’s Project RED saw a similarly huge audience — on the coldest April day since 1968.
Up in Washtenaw County, where they take credit for inventing Project RED in the first place, their event drew approximately 2,500 students over the course of three days.
Also in Washtenaw, a bowling night for Young Farmers attracted a pair of new-member families with kids in tow — a real plus when welcoming young families into the fold. Now their group is focusing on a charity golf outing planned for September.
Macomb County Farm Bureau hosted a farm-safety event for first responders that included training in grain-bin rescues and the proper use (and common misuse) of slow-moving vehicle signs. A similar event in Ingham County saw 40 attendees, some of whom praised it as a “once-in-a-career” opportunity to practice essential lifesaving techniques.
Members in Macomb are also engaged in some challenging talks with the local animal control authority they feel are sometimes overzealous in their work — a familiar issue to farm communities across the state.
In Shiawassee County, Farm Bureau leaders went from basking in the glow of their Grassroots Lobbying Award to striving toward their membership recruitment goals. Their local lobbying efforts continue later this summer with a farm tour for local elected officials and other municipal leaders.
In District 5 — Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Genesee and Shiawassee counties — the Young Farmer Discussion Meet attracted a whopping 30 attendees, including seven first-time participants.
Over in the Thumb, the St. Clair County Farm Bureau is welding a farm-tire recycling component onto its county annual meeting plan for 2023, and shopping for a trailer to house the growing inventory of materials its P&E team takes around to local schools.
About 20 members made it to Sanilac County’s chili cookoff and cornhole tournament — not quite what organizers had hoped for, but we don’t complain when favorable planting weather keeps folks in the fields.
Now back to the west:
The Muskegon and Newaygo County Farm Bureaus are looking to repeat the success of a joint annual meeting, this time on Newaygo soil at the Kropscott Environmental center and observatory near Fremont.
Muskegon is also planning a legislative breakfast at the county fair in July, to which regular members will receive free tickets. And Newaygo saw 30 members attend a bowling event with guest speaker Joe Fox, state representative for District 101.
Osceola County’s 2023 annual meeting is already in the books, surely setting an earliest-ever record with its April 23 gathering in Evart.
In other District 7 news, Montcalm’s farm safety event drew a turnout of 40 members, while Mecosta County’s Buck Ball and Fellowship Feast attracted more than 42 members.
County Farm Bureaus across the Saginaw Valley — Bay, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw — are upturning some creative stones to meet their membership goals, eyeing two active Collegiate Farm Bureau chapters and the quiet niche of fruit growers in the region dominated by big-acreage row crops.
Also in District 8, planning is well underway for this year’s tri-county annual meeting: Gratiot, Isabella and Midland, whose joint annual meeting is one of the longest-standing multi-county annuals on the books.
Saginaw Valley’s county Farm Bureaus are also looking forward to a pair of Young Farmer golf outings this summer, one in conjunction with the Thumb (District 6) to the east, the other with District 10 to the north.
Speaking of the north, and west…
Four new regular members were welcomed into the Mason County Farm Bureau at its membership event, the annual pre-planting fish fry that this year attracted some 125 attendees. That’s an impressive number, people: one hundred twenty-five.
The Northwest Michigan Farm Bureau (Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties) moved its annual membership event to early spring in hopes of boosting turnout. And it worked, with more than 50 attendees.
In the Upper Peninsula, both the Hiawathaland and Menominee County Farm Bureaus signed newcomers at their recent membership events. Mac-Luce-Schoolcraft will celebrate its members with a picnic in late June — rain or shine. Or snow.
Grand Marais schools have reached out to the Hiawathaland Farm Bureau (Alger, Delta and eastern Marquette counties) in hopes of spurring their Promotion & Education team to bring Ag in the Classroom up to the shores of Lake Superior, where the entire K-12 enrollment weighs in at little more than 30 students.
Finally from the U.P. comes word that one highly regarded but publicity-shy member — a former state-level leader — is said to be still actively farming at the age of 91. Further proof that perishable items keep longer in the fridge!