Deer baiting among hot topics at Michigan Farm Bureau centennial meeting.

December 6, 2019

Ron Wood, foreground, and Seth Earl of Mason County Farm Bureau participate in the delegate session.

Deer baiting among hot topics at Michigan Farm Bureau centennial meeting.

The Land is a series telling the stories about local agriculture. It is a presentation of Peterson Farms.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

GRAND RAPIDS — Earlier this week the Michigan Farm Bureau held its 100th annual meeting at the Amway Grand Plaza and Devos Center. Over 400 voting delegates met for three days to set policy for the state’s most influential agriculture organization.

“Policy development is the center point of this organization, so setting policy is vitally important – it’s the lifeblood of our organization,” said Mike DeRuiter of DeRuiter Farms of Hart. “This is where the delegates get to say their piece and set the course for Michigan Farm Bureau.”

DeRuiter sits on the Michigan Farm Bureau board, representing Oceana, Muskegon, Newaygo and Mecosta counties.

Mason County Farm Bureau members Brad Brown, left, and Lisa and Burke Larsen.

“Farm Bureau is a grass roots organization which begins with the county farm bureaus recommending policy,” said Mason County Farm Bureau President Seth Earl. “From there those recommendations are taken to the state level, and then many are brought to the national level with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Legislators take the Farm Bureau’s policies very seriously when considering laws.”

DeRuiter said policy debate regarding Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) disease control and Wildlife Management were both subjects of a robust debate.

“The resolution originally proposed by the state policy development committee took a pretty aggressive approach to strictly enforce the statewide baiting and feeding ban,” DeRuiter said. “After considerable discussion, delegates ultimately decided to add in language that would support baiting to encourage reducing the deer population, while retaining support for the current statewide feeding ban.”

The Michigan legislature recently passed a bi-partisan bill to lift the deer baiting ban. Gov. Whitmer was expected to veto that bill, however.

Farm Bureau members also approved policy that asks the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to consider a new memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would allow deer baiting in TB zones and encourages deer herd reduction.

The delegates approved policy language that would require the eradication of white-tailed deer in any 10-mile radius of a high-risk zone established after a TB positive deer or cattle herd is found. Strengthening of fines and penalties for illegal feeding of wildlife, similar to those for poaching, was also approved.

Delegates also approved an international trade policy meant to help speciality crop growers. The policy calls for changes to the process supporting “anti-dumping” legislation and countervailing duties challenges. It also calls for additional border and custom inspectors.

Hemp was also part of the meeting’s discussions. The Farm Bureau approved state policy to support seeking an adjustment to the existing .3% THC threshold to 1% to provide more flexibility for harvest options. The policy now also supports alternative uses and/or disposal methods for the destruction of an industrial hemp crop that exceeds regulatory THC levels. The Farm Bureau will also encourage the USDA to develop crop insurance policies for industrial hemp production.

The annual farm bureau meeting also includes the young farmers’ discussion meets, which help encourage public speaking and debate among future leaders of the organization.

“The Farm Bureau believes strongly in investing in its younger members,” Earl said. “Whether those young farmers are at the annual meeting to participate in the delegate sessions or the discussion meets, it’s a valuable experience that helps create future leaders in not only agriculture but also in local, state and federal government.”

If you have a suggestion for a Land story, please email [email protected].

For information on Peterson Farms, including careers, visit www.petersonfarmsinc.com.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

I am WSCC

Legally Speaking: Sentencing Guidelines