The pandemic has changed a lot about how we do things, and Michigan Farm Bureau has had to adapt as well.
In a virtual world, advocacy efforts in Lansing have changed. According to Rob Anderson, manager of state-government relations with MFB, they had to get creative in how they educate Michigan’s lawmakers.
“Right out the gate this year, we have really looked to some of our local county Farm Bureau leaders who already have a lot of good relationships with legislators,” he says. “For Michigan Farm Bureau as a grassroots organization, that’s where our policy comes from. That’s the message that really resonates with legislators.”
At this time in a typical year, MFB would have already had several events in Lansing geared toward bringing lawmakers and farmers together.
“Absent those kinds of interactions, what we’ve had to do is work through technologies,” says Anderson. “With Ag Week upon us, there are going to be opportunities that we’re using to showcase the industry with some video spotlights on Michigan agriculture and try and demonstrate the diversity and broad spectrum of agriculture commodities that are grown in Michigan.”
Anderson recognizes that virtual connections can be uncomfortable. But he does believe telling personal stories are still the best way to relay agriculture’s story to everyone.
“Maybe it’s about their commodities, things they’re doing to protect the environment, things that have to do with marketing opportunities,” he says. “Those individual stories are really the bread and butter of our producers in Michigan. Focusing on those in the context of a bigger conversation is really where agriculture shines, and it gives us an ability to share the story and the importance of the industry to Michigan’s economy.”
Until things are back to pre-pandemic life, Anderson says Michigan Farm Bureau won’t stop talking with elected leaders and regulatory industries and advocating for agriculture.