By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
LANSING, Mich. — Nearly 1,000 Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) members and special guests will come together during the organization’s 93rd annual meeting Nov. 27-29, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.
Nearly 500 members from Michigan’s 67 county Farm Bureaus will serve as voting delegates, charged with adopting organizational policies on state and national issues. Resolutions adopted at the meeting dealing with state issues will direct MFB action in 2013.
Beginning Nov. 27, delegates will consider 152 resolutions on a range of issues including renewable energy, Michigan State University’s land-grant mission and the baiting and feeding of game animals. Several will be rooted in Michigan’s Ag Plan (MAP), three key priorities vital to ag’s continued growth and prosperity: workforce development, market access and regulatory reform.
The resolutions being considered were consolidated by MFB’s 20-member Policy Development Committee, from 975 measures submitted by county Farm Bureaus. Adopted resolutions dealing with national issues will be forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration at its annual meeting Jan. 13-16, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.
Two new educational sessions this year will focus on the new federal health care law and transportation. The first will focus on health care reform and put the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – commonly called “Obamacare” – under a microscope. Leon Sequeira, senior counsel from Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Washington, D.C., will examine the new law.
As former assistant secretary of labor for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, he oversaw its regulatory efforts and was the principal point of contact with the White House and the Office of Management and Budget on regulatory and policy matters. He now advises clients on labor and employment issues, tapping his extensive knowledge of labor department enforcement.
During the second session, MFB Legislative Counsel Matt Smego will lead a presentation on recent changes to Michigan’s transportation landscape and how they may affect farmers. Smego specializes in state-level environmental, energy and transportation-related issues. Each session will conclude with ample time for attendees’ questions.
Members also will hear from and meet with a variety of special guests. On Nov. 29, Gov. Rick Snyder will be the guest speaker at MFB’s annual banquet, incorporating a “town hall” format, addressing questions posed by MFB members in attendance.
Earlier that day, Dr. Fred Poston, who was recently appointed dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will address delegates during their afternoon session. He is expected to discuss the university’s land-grant mission.
During the President’s Banquet on Nov. 27, MFB President Wayne H. Wood, a dairy farmer from Sanilac County, will deliver his 12th annual address. He will focus on the organization’s MAP initiative, long-term organizational planning and opportunities for member involvement in the wake of the 2012 election.
The state’s Young Farmer group will take center stage Nov. 28 during the daylong Young Farmer Discussion Meet. MFB will recognize contestants in competitions at a luncheon sponsored by its Young Farmer Committee. These farmers will also get the star treatment that evening at the “Celebrating Michigan’s Rising Stars” banquet.
In other recognition, during the Nov. 28 breakfast session, MFB will honor the winners of the County Activity of Excellence Award, Super Defender Membership-Retention Award, Key Club Member Recruitment Award and the Ecology Leadership Award.
In addition, three counties will be honored during that day’s luncheon for their efforts in helping feed those less fortunate through Harvest for All. This is a national program that encourages Farm Bureaus to help fight hunger in their local communities by donating surplus agricultural commodities, nonperishable food products, money or volunteer hours to local food banks.
The accolades continue Nov. 29 when MFB presents the Agricultural Educator, Promoter and Communicator of the year awards at the Promotion & Education luncheon. The pinnacle of all MFB awards, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture, is reserved for the annual banquet that evening.