Upset with your township supervisor and want to lead a change? Do you have opinions about your community’s planning and zoning? Are you tired of ruining your farm equipment on county roads?

If you answered YES to any of those, you should consider serving on your township board, planning commission or road commission.

With farmers comprising less than 2% of the population, agriculture is increasingly likely to get run over and left out if farmers don’t become more active in government. That’s why Michigan Farm Bureau has a goal of increasing the number of farmers who serve in government by 20% by 2022.

To equip farmers with the right tools they need to get more active in government, MFB created the Academy for Political Leadership.

We have a lot of leadership development programs, but what makes this academy unique is that it’s the only one devoted exclusively to political and government education. Topics include: how bills become law, the budget process, policymaking, planning and zoning, campaign management, polling, fundraising and plenty more.

Participants in the 2019 academy included Matt Nilson, a member of the Van Buren County Farm Bureau.

“Increasingly, government officials, legislators and the general public don’t understand the importance of agriculture in today’s society,” Nilson said. “The Academy of Political Leadership allows those of us who grow food to learn about the political process, gain access to decision makers and influencers, and share the challenges farmers experience.

“I’m confident it’ll help get more farmers elected—people who understand the political, economic and regulatory barriers in producing healthy affordable food for all. Farmers need to be represented at every level of government to ensure that ag’s voice is heard.”

Want to learn more about the program? Ask one of our new graduates:

  • Chris Machiela — Allegan County
  • Erin Humm — Gratiot County
  • Emily Calderonem — Ingham County
  • Anders Swenson — Kalamazoo County
  • Larry Walton — St. Joseph County
  • Todd Stubbs — Oakland County
  • Robert Carlin — Shiawassee County
  • Matt Nilson — Van Buren County

MFB’s Academy for Political Leadership occurs biannually, with the next session occurring in 2021.


MFB Government Relations Specialist Matt Kapp grew up on a dairy farm in Washtenaw County.