In less than two weeks Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 21-member state policy development committee will begin reviewing hundreds of county Farm Bureau policy recommendations ahead of the organization’s annual meeting, Nov. 29-30 in Grand Rapids.
To prepare, the committee held a one-day meeting in late September to hear from subject matter experts, including leaders from MSU's College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, representatives from various business groups, and state and natural Farm Bureau staff.
Navigating his first year as state PD chair, MFB Vice President and Oceana County fruit grower Mike DeRuiter recapped what the group accomplished in its initial meeting.
“Today we got acclimated and broke into our subcommittees, where we received a lot of good information and presentations to prepare us for receiving the resolutions from our counties,” DeRuiter said. “One of the beauties is we have a plethora of commodities represented and different perspectives they bring to the table.
“That diversity helps us have good, robust discussion when resolutions come before the committee.”
In sharing her takeaways from the day, District 10 Director Leona Daniels says Farm Bureau members have an especially important role to play in using the grassroots policy delegates will finalize near the end of the year — to be proactive on issues in a time she feels state agencies are being reactive.
“We've not had a real ag-friendly state government in the last few years and I’m seeing much more of a breakdown in interagency communication and cooperation,” Daniels said, explaining that Farm Bureau members use policy to get accurate information to lawmakers and regulators.
Drawing a connection to the Nov. 8 general election, Daniels added, “It's not always that the Friends of Agriculture we endorse are out there making lots of bills and laws come to fruition.
“A lot of times they are stopping the bad ideas from ever getting started, and I think that's what we're going to need to be doing so the parties with regulatory authority, have good information to protect us and stop bad ideas.
“I don't know who else besides Michigan agriculture is positioned to do that.”
Watch member publications like Farm Gate and Michigan Farm News for updates related to policy development and state annual meeting delegate session. Additional online resources include: