LANSING, MI -- Hundreds of farmers from across the state will put their priorities before lawmakers Feb. 12 when they visit the capitol city for Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) annual Lansing Legislative Seminar. Farmers will chat up their elected officials during an afternoon reception, giving them all an opportunity for some genuine face time with their state representatives and senators.
More than 350 Farm Bureau members representing 64 county Farm Bureaus will be in attendance. More than 60 state representatives and more than 20 senators are expected at the late afternoon reception that culminates the event.
Guests & Events
The 2014 Lansing Legislative Seminar kicks off with a tour of the Michigan Supreme Court, during which members will have an opportunity for Q&A with Chief Justice Robert Young.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette will speak with members at lunch, followed by an interactive presentation from Gov. Rick Snyder in which he'll poll Farm Bureau members for their thoughts on current agricultural issues.
At the same luncheon MFB will recognize the winner of its 2013 Excellence in Grassroots Lobbying Award—the Tuscola County Farm Bureau. The award recognizes one county Farm Bureau's outstanding grass-roots efforts toward implementing the organization's member-developed policy at local, state and national levels.
Issues at Hand
Several ongoing issues of importance to Michigan farmers are expected to take center stage throughout the day leading up to the reception: transportation and infrastructure, workforce development and ag funding; and energy and taxation.
"Obviously transportation and infrastructure is a huge topic to cover top-to-bottom," said Matt Smego, manager of MFB's state governmental relations department. "We'll go through the historical context, summarize the various funding proposals currently under consideration, and explain the big-picture economic impact—the consequences of not investing in our roads, bridges, railroads and ports."
Panelists dissecting the topic will include Dr. Frederick A. Rodammer, director of MSU's Center for Global Sustainability; Jon Cool, president of the Michigan Railroads Association; William Hamilton of the House Fiscal Agency; Mark Nagy of Great Lakes Central; Brian Brink of Brink Farms Inc.; Kelly Bartlett, governmental affairs director for the Michigan Department of Transportation; and Ed Noyola, deputy director of the County Road Association of Michigan.
Workforce development and agriculture funding will be covered in depth by a roster of guest speakers including Jamie Clover-Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; agriscience teachers Tammy Hyatt (Lapeer) and Pat Henne (Springport); Rich Harlow of the Farmland Preservation Program; Coleman Community Schools Superintendent Mary Pitchford; and MFB's own tax guru emeritus, Ron Nelson.
The briefing on energy and taxation will be led by Dr. Steve Harsh, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics at Michigan State University and Julie Baldwin of the Michigan Public Service Commission's renewable energy section.
The discussion is expected to focus on the renewable portfolio standard for electricity generation—the provision that Michigan's regulated utilities must generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2015—as well as energy infrastructure and distribution.