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State Farm Bureau board welcomes 3 newcomers

Three new faces on Michigan Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors (from left): District 1 Director Larry Walton; Young Farmer Program Representative Abby Vittore; and At-Large Director Abe Pasch. Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: November 30, 2023

Delegate action at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 104th Annual Meeting brought some changes to the leadership lineup atop the state’s largest agricultural organization. The meeting’s second delegate session began with the organization’s 470-member delegate body reelecting several trusted names to the MFB Board of Directors — and three new faces.

At Large

First-year incumbent Paul Pridgeon of Branch County was reelected to his position as an at-large director. Pridgeon is a seventh-generation farmer in Branch County, where he and his family raise hogs and 4,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.

In addition to the Young Farmer program, Pridgeon has been active in Branch County’s membership campaigns and in 2015 graduated from ProFILE, MFB’s elite leadership development program.

Pridgeon and his wife Nikki have three daughters, ages 6, 4 and 2; learn more about him here.

He will be joined by newcomer Abe Pasch of Isabella County, filling the vacancy left by longtime at-large director Doug Darling of Monroe County, who chose not to seek reelection.

Pasch milks 325 cows and farms 1,400 acres of row crops and alfalfa near Beal City alongside his wife Misty and their four children. He earned his agribusiness degree from Michigan State University and boasts a resume of Farm Bureau involvement 20 years deep, including service as county president and work in membership, Promotion & Education and policy programming.

A graduate of MFB’s elite ProFILE leadership development program, Pasch served on MFB’s state-level Policy Development and Young Farmer committees.

The third at-large position is occupied by President Carl Bednarski (Tuscola), who will be up for re-election next year.

District Directors

Every year half of the MFB Board of Directors are up for election or re-election: even-numbered districts in even numbered years, odd districts in odd years.

The only change was in District 1 (Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties), where Larry Walton of St. Joseph won out over incumbent Brigette Leach.

Leach steps away after 24 years of service at the highest levels of MFB leadership. She and her family raise hydroponic tomatoes and other fresh vegetables near Climax in Kalamazoo County.

Walton previously held an at-large position on the board for two years, until it was eliminated as a consequence of redistricting.

District directors reelected to their positions were:

  • Mike Fusilier — District 3 (Livingston, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne)
  • Stephanie Schafer — District 5 (Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Shiawassee)
  • Michael DeRuiter — District 7 (Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola)
  • Ben LaCross — District 9 (Benzie, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, Wexford)
  • Patrick McGuire — District 11 (Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego, and Presque Isle)

Not up for reelection this year are those directors representing even-numbered districts:

Eligible candidates for MFB director positions must be “directly and actively engaged in farming as owners and/or operators of farms whose primary interest is in farming,” and may not be employed full-time in an occupation other than farming, nor serving in a county, state or national elective office.

State Committees

Also new to the board is Abby Vittore of Lenawee County, who will represent the State Young Farmer Committee as its chair, succeeding Montcalm County’s Lane Grieser.

Vittore earned her agribusiness and agronomy degree from Michigan State University, where she was involved with Collegiate Farm Bureau. Back home she jumped straight into several active farming interests, including row crops and cattle; greenhouse and retail flower sales; and fall-season agritourism.

She manages the greenhouse component of Carpenter Farms Greenhouse and their garden center in Adrian, Barrett’s Showplace Gardens & Flower Shop.

She also jumped headlong into her county Farm Bureau, serving on the board and as Young Farmer chair.

Vittore and her husband Ben live near Britton with their daughter Rosie; look for more about Abby in an upcoming edition of Farm Gate.

Unchanged atop MFB’s outreach programming is Osceola County’s Jess Erler, who continues his role as chair of the state Promotion & Education committee for a second year.

Michigan Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing the interests of more than 40,000 farmer members.

Jon Adamy

Jon Adamy

Media Relations Specialist
(517) 323-6782 [email protected]