The Michigan Farm Bureau, the state's largest general farm organization, will hold a first-ever statewide Policy Kickoff in Lansing on July 8, providing MFB members an opportunity to hear from prominent guest speakers on emerging agricultural issues and the chance to begin discussing these matters within the framework of the organization's grassroots policy process. Discussion topics will include the federal budget, 2012 farm bill, state fiscal outlook, and government streamlining.
MFB policy is determined annually by farmer members and lays out the organization's positions on a wide range of issues for the coming year. In recent years, meetings to discuss probable policy issues have been held on a regional basis in advance of county- and state-level Farm Bureau annual meetings but never on a statewide basis or to this degree, said Sarah Black, director of the Michigan Public Policy and Commodity Division.
"The Michigan Farm Bureau wants Farm Bureau members to have the best, most current and most relevant information going into Farm Bureau's policy development process because the better informed a person is on all sides of an issue the more equipped that person is to thoughtfully engage in a policy discussion," said Black.
With the new statewide Policy Kickoff, MFB can bring in top-level experts and speakers, said Black, and "provide Farm Bureau members with valuable insight and the knowledge to help them better engage in discussions on issues that currently impact or have the potential to impact the state's agriculture industry."
The agenda for the half-day event is online, http://www.michfb.com/policy/meetings, and features an impressive lineup of guest speakers who will address pertinent issues including the following:
Importance of Farm Bureau's grassroots policy process
Congressman Dave Camp, chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee (video message)
National debt and the federal budget
Sara Imhof, regional director of The Concord Coalition, a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization that advocates generationally responsible fiscal policy
Agriculture's priorities for a new farm bill in a fiscally challenged budget climate
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Michigan's fiscal picture
Mary Ann Cleary, deputy director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency
Reinvention of Michigan
Rob Nederhood, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Farm Bureau's role in government streamlining
Matt Frostic, immediate past president of the Sanilac County Farm Bureau and chairman of MFB's county presidents' committee on government streamlining
Resources and guidance to kick-start MFB's policy development process at the county Farm Bureau level
Opening and closing comments and organizational charge
MFB President Wayne H. Wood and Vice President Mike Fusilier, chairman of the MFB 2011 Policy Development Committee.
The Policy Kickoff will be held at the Lansing Center. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The program starts at 9 a.m., and concludes with lunch served at 12:15 p.m.
MFB members unable to attend the event in Lansing and engage face-to-face can still participate via a live webcast that will be streamed simultaneously that same day. A link to the webcast will be posted on MFB's website, http://www.michfb.com/mfb.
In addition, there will be four satellite meeting locations in Cadillac, Escanaba, Gaylord and Saginaw where members in outlying areas far north of Lansing can watch the simultaneous webcast and engage in policy discussions as small groups. The satellite meetings will be held at:
• Bay de Noc Community College, 2001 North Lincoln Road, Escanaba
• University Center at Gaylord, 80 Livingston Blvd., Gaylord
• Davenport University-Saginaw Campus, 5300 Bay Road, Saginaw
• Baker College of Cadillac, 9600 East 13th St., Cadillac
MFB members interested in attending either the Policy Kickoff in Lansing or one of the four satellite meetings should RSVP with their county Farm Bureau office by June 28. Visit http://www.michfb.com/counties/ for county Farm Bureau contact information.
For more information about the 2011 statewide Policy Kickoff event, visit http://www.michfb.com/policy/meetings or call the MFB Public Policy and Commodity Division at (800) 292-2680, ext. 6560. Visit http://www.michfb.com/policy/development to learn more about MFB's policy development process.