Zoning, ag education, environment and growth among resolutions passed by MC Farm Bureau.

September 16, 2016


GRANT TOWNSHIP — The Mason County Farm Bureau held its annual membership meeting Thursday at the Farmview Resort. During the meeting, members voted on several resolutions that include emphasis on zoning, agricultural education, and sound environmental policies. The organization is also passed resolutions that will influence the county farm advocacy group’s growth and economic well being.

Farm Bureau is the largest farm advocacy group in the United States. The organization is based on the concept that policy is initiated from the local level. Mason County Farm Bureau has been in existence since 1945 and has 359 members.

Zoning. As the Mason County Planning Commission reviews the county’s existing zoning ordinances, the Farm Bureau voted to send a representative to the planning commission meetings to encourage those ordinances be farm friendly.

Education. The Farm Bureau passed a resolution, which will be delivered to the Michigan Farm Bureau, to encourage the Michigan State University Board of Trustees to put an emphasis back on agricultural education, which it is required to do by virtue of its charter Land Grant.

“Currently Michigan is facing a shortage of quality agricultural educators to fill positions within our state’s school systems,” the resolution reads. “Without teachers to fill these positions many programs either hire unqualified individuals or the programs are eliminated as a result. The lack of promotion and dedicated resources by Michigan State University shows minimal commitment to any agricultural education department to meet the needs of this state and one of its largest industries. Inadequate programming to train ag educators has led to a decrease in retention of current students as well as attracting new students to the program.

“We ask that the board of trustees of MSU therefore rededicate appropriate resources and commitment to an agricultural education program and to its Land Grant charter to produce more qualified agricultural educators within our state.”

The resolution also requests Michigan State re-establish a department dedicated to agri-science education, extension education, and agricultural communications along with housing the Institute of Agriculture Technology.

In a separate resolution, the county organization expressed its support of local agri-science secondary education which is offered through the West Shore Education Service District’s Career and Technical Education program.

The Mason County Farm Bureau also expressed its support of encouraging environmentally sound farming practices by endorsing the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assessment Program (MAEAP). To date, over 50 Mason County farm have become MAEAP certified.

The group also passed a resolution encouraging the Michigan Farm Bureau to re-evaluate how it distributes funds to its county organizations. A 2014 change in funding distribution put Mason County’s organization at a disadvantage, because of its smaller size. The change was made after a task force issued a report. At that time, MC Farm Bureau voted against the change.

“”The Mason County Farm Bureau is requesting that Michigan Farm Bureau go back and review the recommendations of the task force to determine if Mason County and other small units have (experienced) unduly hardship by these actions. We seek better equalized funding for small counties (versus) large counties.”

In a separate resolution, the Mason County Farm Bureau is also encouraging Michigan Farm Bureau to align Mason County Farm Bureau from the Northwest Region to the West Central Region.

“Both parties have discussed the issue numerous times, including a meeting with current CEO Scott Pigget. Following a review of maps of the regions and districts of Michigan it is evident that Mason is not the only county in this situation.”

MCFB policy development chairman Gary Dittmer explained that MCFB is in one particular FB region but is represented by a different district, causing a disadvantage.

Along those lines, MCFB also passed a resolution to encourage its local board to seek incentives to encourage new members.

The organization also re-elected Jesse Petersen to the board and elected Rob Alway and Brad Brown. The president of MCFB is Seth Earl, vice president is Jacob Zwagerman.