2009-12-13 / Community

Local farmers take role in developing MFB policy

LANSING - Delegates from Michigan's 67 county level Farm Bureaus represented their local agriculture industries at Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) 90th Annual Meeting, where they spent three days last week approving policies defining MFB's 2010 agenda.

Local voting delegates included:

Daniel Armbruster, Elkton

Aaron Bismack, Pigeon

Allen Dutcher, Ubly

Stephen Gayari, Pigeon

Amy Haag, Sebewaing

Robert Haag, Sebewaing

Julia Heilig, Ubly Philip Leipprandt, Pigeon

Calvin Maust, Bay Port

Gladys Maust, Bay Port

Corey Oeschger, Essexville

Dale Oeschger, Bay Port

Linda Oeschger, Bay Port

Sarah Oeschger, Essexville

Cynthia Rathje, Pigeon

Robert Rathje, Pigeon

Matthew Reibling, Bad Axe

Michelle Reibling, Bad Axe

Carol Roggenbuck, Ruth

Ryan Roggenbuck, Ruth

Leanne Schuette, Elkton Troy Schuette, Elkton Amy Schulte, Ruth

Bryan Schulte, Ruth

Barbara Siemen, Harbor Beach

Darrin Siemen, Harbor Beach

John Strieter, Bay Port

Darrel Yoder, Bay Port

Lynette Yoder, Bay Port

Policy development sessions were at the core of the annual meeting, Dec. 1-4 in Grand Rapids. Delegates voted on more than 147 resolutions concerning state, national and organizational issues. These were consolidated by MFB's Policy Development Committee from nearly 900 resolutions adopted by county Farm Bureaus.

Acting on the findings of a special task force appointed by the MFB Board of Directors, delegates called for streamlining state government, improved policing of abused social services, and incorporating fingerprint identification into drivers' licenses and state ID cards. The policy also recommends revising sentencing guidelines for non-violent crimes to shrink the corrections budget, clarifying state regulations impacting farms, and extending legislative term limits."

Other recommendations included foregoing the 2010 constitutional convention, and consideration of a part-time legislature. Delegates also approved policy supporting Michigan's commission system of government to keep oversight authority-specifically with respect to the state agriculture department in commissioners' hands rather than in the executive branch.

Responding to heightened scrutiny of animal care practices, delegates called for creating a state advisory board to oversee animal care guidelines and regulations. The same policy urges livestock farmers to comply with existing Right to Farm laws and Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices, implement animal care guidelines for farm employees, and educate authorities and local humane societies about livestock care and production practices.

Seeking to maintain its positive perception in the eyes of a general public increasingly detached from agriculture, Farm Bureau members agreed upon a national-level resolution urging improved consumer education programming: "We encourage all Farm Bureau members to take an active role in educating their neighbors and consumers in an effort to spread the general information on their food supply; ... (and) we support an aggressive, comprehensive program presenting the facts of modern agriculture production to the general public, food industry and school children."

In addition to policy development, Farm Bureau members attended educational workshops about public relations, communications and how to better inform the non-farming public about agriculture. The meeting also featured several award presentations as well as agricultural promotion and education activities.

Based in Lansing, MFB is the state's largest general farm organization, representing more than 47,000 farm families across the state.

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