Dist. 6 U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell toured four Washtenaw County farms Aug. 22, spending time with several Farm Bureau leaders and their families. Michigan Farm Bureau District 3 Regional Manager Hannah Meyers recently shared some highlights from the day.
“Starting her day at HillTop Greenhouse and Farms, Rep. Dingell spent time with owners Ken and Denise Prielipp and their son, David,” Meyers said. “In addition to running the greenhouse — the first to be MAEAP-verified in Washtenaw County — the Prielipps grow hay and raise beef cattle.”
Meyers said the couple discussed with Rep. Dingell the challenge of acquiring affordable farmland and the importance of farmland preservation.
“They also explained why the stepped-up basis tax method must be maintained, to encourage families to continue investing in their business and allow future generations, like the Prielipp’s son David, to continue farming.”
Meyers said David didn’t miss a beat and as he was showing off an award-winning steer slyly provided Rep. Dingell with a buyer letter for the Chelsea Fair Auction happening later that week.
Rep. Dingell, who said she “loved getting to see our farmers in action,” next visited the Horning family at their sixth-generation farm in Manchester where they milk nearly 400 cows and harvest 750 acres of cropland.
“Earl and Diane (Horning) showed Rep. Dingell how the farm has worked to preserve energy through innovation, as far back as the 1930s,” Meyers explained. “Their grandchildren, Katelyn (Horning) Packard and her brother Mason Horning, showcased the daily milking process and cow-calf care on the farm.”
The family shared with Rep. Dingell how important checkoff dollars are to facilitating educational programs and community events on their farm. Meyers said they also spent time talking about the current limitations of the H-2A guest-worker program, specifically the dairy industry’s inability to participate due to its seasonal nature.
“At Horning Family Farms, environmental stewardship, animal care, and healthy food are all top priorities,” Rep. Dingell shared via social media after the tour. “Loved getting to learn more about the work that goes into producing some of the best milk, cheese and beef products around!”
Next on the Congresswoman’s agenda was a visit to Tantre Farm in Chelsea, home of Richard Andres and Deb Lentz.
“Richard and Deb have a passion for connecting people to their food, and through their CSA offer families the opportunity to come visit the farm and pick a bouquet of fresh flowers with their weekly box of fresh produce,” Meyers said. “They serve more than 300 families weekly.”
The final stop of the day for Rep. Dingell was Fusilier Family Farms, proudly operated by MFB District 3 Director Mike Fusilier, wife Kathy and their sons, Travis and Chad. Their diverse vegetable operation provides fresh produce through the on-farm market, farmers markets and a direct-delivery subscription service.
“They shared with Rep. Dingell how the specialty crop industry was especially challenged this year by drought, deer damage and the limited options of crop protection tools available on the market,” Meyers explained. “They also stressed the importance of the passing of a timely farm bill, as previous delays nearly caused Chad to lose out on the opportunity to open his own market due to the delay in funding.”
Additionally, the Fusiliers presented the Congresswoman with the Friend of Farm Bureau award, which recognizes members of Congress who have supported the organization’s policy and whose actions demonstrate their commitment to agriculture.