Farm Bureau members learn about promotion and education, young farmer programs.

February 19, 2019

Seated, from left: Lyndsay Earl, Becky Alway, Mary Alway, Leta Larsen. Back, from left: Seth Earl, Jake Anderson, Tom Alway, Rob Alway, Levi Schwass

Farm Bureau members learn about promotion and education, young farmer programs.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

GRAND RAPIDS — Last weekend, the Mason County Farm Bureau sent a delegation of nine people to represent it at the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Growing Together conference at the Amway Grand Plaza. The conference was a combined effort of MFB’s Promotion and Education (P&E) and Young Farmers (YF) programs.

Those attending included Seth and Lyndsay Earl of Ludington, Levi Schwass of Riverton Township, Jake Anderson of Victory Township, Rob and Becky Alway of Scottville, Leta Larsen of Victory Township and Tom and Mary Alway of Amber Township.

P&E concentrates on teaching farmers how to promote their services and products and also to educate the public on modern agricultural practices. YF is an effort by MFB targeted at adults ages 21 to 35 and emphasizes social activities along with leadership trainings.

“Mason County Farm Bureau has a strong representation on the state level of both P&E and Young Farmers,” said MCFB President Seth Earl. “We believe that the future of farming is to educate the public about the true practices of modern agriculture, rather than many of the myths portrayed in various media, and to also encourage our youth and young adults to seek careers in agriculture.

“Michigan Farm Bureau dubs itself as ‘Michigan’s Voice of Agriculture’ because it is the top organization in this state to advocate for the agriculture industry. MFB has a strong voice in Lansing and that is all due to the voices that begin right here in our home counties,” Earl said.

 “We were fortunate to send a delegation this past weekend that consisted of farmers ranging from their early 20s to mid 50s. We believe that farming in Mason County is strong and will continue for many generations to come.”

The conference included tours of a variety of facilities in the Grand Rapids area that support the farming community or promotional industry. Some of the delegates, for example, took a tour of Meijer headquarters in Walker to learn about the corporation’s efforts to promote locally grown farm products. The same group also toured and volunteered at the Feeding America West Michigan facility, which provides food and household supplies to over 400,000 people on the west side of the Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula.

Other tours included a visit to the Grand Rapids Public Museum Community Archives and Research Center where the attendees viewed agricultural artifacts in observation of the MFB’s centennial celebration this year. The attendees then visited Michigan Turkey Producers to learn how the farm-owned co-op processes turkey. They also visited Herman Miller’s greenhouse furniture manufacturing facility. A third tour visited Family Farm and Home which retails supplies for gardeners, farmers, and FFA students. It then went to a horse boarding and training facility focusing on sport horses and then Heeren Brothers Produce, a third generation produce distribution facility which works to store, package and distribute produce year round.

A fourth tour visited Grand Valley State University’s Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon and Continental Dairy in Coopersville.

The conference also included a variety of educational sessions.

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