Michigan Farm Bureau’s second Academy for Political Leadership got underway Jan. 23 with its eight participants convening for the first time at Farm Bureau Center in Lansing.
This year’s class includes Emily Calderone of Ingham County, Robert Carlin (Shiawassee), Erin Humm (Gratiot), Chris Machiela (Allegan), Matt Nilson (Van Buren), Todd Stubbs (Oakland), Anders Swenson (Kalamazoo) and Larry Walton (St. Joseph).
MFB Government Relations Specialist Matt Kapp got things under way with an overview of the academy’s goals and schedule over the coming months. He was followed by opening remarks from MFB President Carl Bednarski, after which the meat and potatoes of the opening session were served.
A full agenda of speakers addressed topics including the judiciary’s role in politics, polling techniques and strategies and the need for more farmers serving in elected offices.
Over dinner, Ottawa County dairyman and newly elected state representative Luke Meerman shared with participants some insider knowledge gleaned from his campaign experience.
Day two started with MSU-based analyst Arnold Weinfeld recapping Michigan’s 2018 election and what the new administration in Lansing could hold in store for agriculture and allied industries.
Former State Budget Director Al Pscholka explained the budgeting process and Steve Daunt from the Michigan House of Representatives’ Policy Office covered how legislative measures are written.
“I was very pleased with how this first session came together,” said Kapp, who coordinates the academy every two years for select Farm Bureau members interested in getting more active in government and politics, whether through citizen lobbying, campaign management or running for office themselves.
“I’m also encouraged—as always—with the caliber of our participants,” he added. “It speaks to the quality of our members and their passion for agriculture that so many of them are this interested in furthering the industry’s priorities.”
The programs continues over the course of another three gatherings, wrapping up in April.