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February 13
GreenStone to Host Home Construction Seminars

​When it comes to financing the construction of a new home, you may have a lot of questions. The experts at GreenStone can help with the answers at one of our upcoming home construction seminars​ being offered throughout Michigan next month.


The seminars will cover a range of topics including: 

  • Determining which selections will add value to your home
  • Considerations for do-it-yourself or hiring a contractor
  • Financing options for your project

See below for a list of dates and locations, and register to attend online!

Mid-Michigan

Mt. Pleasant
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
1075 S. Mission St, Mt Pleasant MI 
Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 pm

St. Johns
AgroLiquid
3055 W M-21, St Johns MI 
Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 pm

Sunfield
Centennial Acres Golf and Banquet Center
12485 Dow Rd, Sunfield MI
Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 pm

East Lansing
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
3515 West Rd, East Lansing MI
Thursday, March 16 at 7:00 pm

Southeast Michigan

Adrian
Stone's Cafe & Catering
1360 W Beecher Rd, Adrian MI
Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 pm

Ann Arbor
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
7530 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor MI
Thursday, March 16 at 6:00 pm

Concord
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
100 Spring Street, Concord, MI  
Thursday, March 16 at 6:00 pm

East Michigan and Thumb

Lapeer
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
455 Lake Nepessing Rd, Lapeer MI
Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 pm

Bad Axe
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
749 S. Van Dyke Rd, Bad Axe MI
Wednesday, March 15 at 6:30 pm

West Michigan

Grand Rapids
Crossroads Conference Center
6569 Clay Avenue SW, Grand Rapids MI
Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 pm

Northern Michigan

Traverse City
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
3491 Hartman Rd. Suite A, Traverse City, MI 
Tuesday, March 14, 12:00 pm - 1:30pm




February 08
GreenStone Scholarship Deadline Fast Approaching

Incoming college freshmen pursing an agriculture-related degree can earn scholarships from GreenStone Farm Credit Services. Students in four-year programs can earn $2,000 scholarships, while those in two-year programs can earn $1,000 awards.

To qualify, applicants must reside within GreenStone's territory, which includes Michigan and select counties in northeastern Wisconsin; must be a full-time high school graduating senior; have at least a 3.0 grade point average; and plan to study an agriculture-related field. In addition, applicants should demonstrate participation and leadership in school, community and agricultural activities. Complete details are available within the scholarship application: http://bit.ly/17GreenStoneScholarship.

Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 27, and arrive at GreenStone’s corporate office in East Lansing no later than March 6. Payment will be made after GreenStone receives a transcript identifying a successful completion of the first semester.

February 02
​The Next Generation is Back. Now What?

By Barb Dartt, DMV, MS

I met Karen for coffee to chat about her family’s business. Karen’s son, Brett, had been back working for the operation for two years. Prior to that, he’d completed college and had three successful years at a construction company. Her husband, John, had been really excited when Brett agreed to return. Brett and John had always seemed destined to work together. They had complimentary skills. They respected and enjoyed each other.

These days, though, Brett seemed increasingly frustrated. More and more often, he came to his Mom to complain about John. The topics ranged from:

  • Petty annoyances: He STILL doesn’t have his spray logs turned in! How am I supposed to take my weekend off AND hit the deadline for turning them into the state?

  • Old habits: He told me that during the winter, Ray reports to me since I’m running the shop. But in the last two weeks, he’s taken Ray four times to work on clearing fence lines without checking to see what I had planned.

  • Long-term, serious topics: We are talking about purchasing the Anderson ground. I’ve been here two years and I’m not an owner yet. We’re not even talking about ownership. It’s hard to get excited about growth. If you and Dad expand, it just feels like more that I’ll have to turn around and buy from you.

 “Is this normal?” Karen asked. 

“Absolutely!” I replied.

Tension between the generations is normal and healthy. The next generation (next gen) almost always wants to proceed at a faster pace than the senior generation. The infusion of their energy, excitement and innovation is an important source of renewal for family businesses. In fact, if they weren’t “nipping at your heels” a bit, you might be concerned about their ability to take on future business management and ownership.

So you have the next gen back in the business. What should you do to set the stage for their eventual business leadership and ownership?

Before we talk about what to do next, I’m going to set the stage with a couple assumptions. First, I will assume that your next gen were invited to return because the business needs their valuable skills (and not just their labor). Second, I am assuming that the business is either big enough to accommodate the next gen’s compensation OR the next gen came along with a growth plan to which the business is committed.

Assuming you next gens are working in your business upon your invitation, their skills bring value to the business and your operation is big enough (or soon will be) to support their compensation, here’s how to set them (and you!) up for success. In my experience, transition works best if you follow these steps in order.

Clearly assign responsibility so your next gen(s) can be become a high performing employee.

  • Create a clear role for your new family employee. Let them know what they are responsible for and what expected performance looks like. Talk about things like work hours, weekend duty, pay and how they get a raise, as well as behaviors like how they are expected to treat other employees – both family and non-family.
  • Some folks recommend a job description at this point. I wouldn’t disagree with this approach. Typical job descriptions don’t include quite enough detail (e.g. pay expectations) and don’t substitute for actually having the conversation with your next gen.
  • If your next gen had a highly responsible off-farm job before returning, they may bypass time spent within this role. Even if that’s the case, the need to create and communicate expectations around a clear business role still exists – that role might just start at a higher level.
​After the next gen has proven that they are a high performer in an area, give them some control over a portion of the business.

  • It might be as broad as control of a full enterprise or as narrow as a seasonal project.
  • Often this step requires two things from one or more senior generation folks
  • You must give up some control to make space for the next gen to learn and grow.
  • You must watch someone with much less experience make poorer decisions more slowly than you would. It takes patience and a deep commitment to continuity of the business to be patient and coach the next gen through this period.

This control should include lots of clarity around which decisions are theirs and which are joint. For example, if the next gen takes over the cropping enterprise so you (as the senior generation member) can focus on the livestock side, do they get to make the call on variety selection? Rotation? Number of part-time truck drivers during harvest? Nothing discourages next gens faster than thinking they have the authority to make a decision – and then having their call trumped by Dad (or Uncle. Or Mom.).

Finally, after a next gen has proven themselves to be a high-performing employee and that they can grow into leadership and control of a portion of the business, they have earned the right to be an owner.

Karen, John and Brett were following this progressive approach. Brett was a valued member of the business who’d been invited back. He’d had a chance to perform as an employee and was recently “promoted” to a position that included authority over the sow herd. And yet, he and his Dad (and he and his boss!) had occasional conflict. Brett wanted things to come faster. John, at 56, had lots more wisdom and work to provide. 

Some tension between the generations is a normal part of family business. But if you are today’s senior generation and want your family business to continue, you have both the authority and the responsibility to create a process within which the next gen has a chance to be successful. As I have said before in this column, it may be the hardest AND the most rewarding work you do on your business.

Barb is a consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group, working with families and management teams to help them keep their business healthy and the people happy. Barb can be reached at 269-382-0539 or dartt@thefbcg.com. 


January 24
Join Us for a Connect Reception at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference!

GreenStone will host a Connect Reception at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference!​​

Enjoy appetizers and refreshments at the reception while learning relevant stockholder information and connecting with the GreenStone team!

Attendees will hear a short update on the year, have the opportunity to ask questions and connect with your local GreenStone team. If you'd like to submit questions in advance, email us at marketing@greenstonefcs.com​ and we will answer your question at the reception.

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Great Lakes Dairy Conference
Altmuehl Room, Bavarian Inn

All GreenStone members and guests are welcomed to attend the reception, regardless of whether or not you are registered to attend the conference.

If you are attending the conference, be sure to stop by our booth!

January 18
Four Tips to Save Energy and Money

​GreenStone customers Paul and Erin Abeuva recently built their dream home in southwest Michigan, and included a number of energy saving elements into the design. In fact, their home was named the area's first gold certifed LEED home. 

Abeuva_Web.jpg 
Erin and Paul Abueva in front of their gold certified LEED home
in southwest Michigan. 
 

Even if you are not building a new home from the ground up, there are still small changes you can make to save energy and money!

  1. A home energy audit is the first step to understanding your home’s energy use. To find a qualified professional to help, consult the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) at www.resnet.us

  2. Stop energy vampires! Using an advanced power strip could save up to $100 per year by reducing electronic waste when devices are idle.

  3. Light your home using the same amount of light for less money. An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy budget to lighting. By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you could save $75 each year.

  4. A well-designed landscape can not only add beauty to your home, but can also reduce your heating and cooling costs. A well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce your energy bills. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of the energy a typical household uses.
Learn about all of the energy savings measures Paul and Erin used in their home construction and read the Abueva's full story in our latest issue of Partners magazine! 

Source: Energy.gov


January 12
GreenStone Welcomes Senator Stabenow to Ann Arbor Office

GreenStone was pleased to welcome Senator Debbie Stabenow to our Ann Arbor office on Dec. 19, 2016. During her visit, Sen. Stabenow visited with GreenStone board directions, staff and customers.

Stabenow.jpg
Sen. Stabenow at GreenStone's Ann Arbor office on Dec. 19.

The GreenStone team provided a Farm Credit update, including an overview of current issues of interest on agriculture, including crop insurance, trade, labor, and water resources. The Senator understands these issues and remains steadfastly supportive of agriculture and the Farm Credit System. The group also discussed topics related to opportunities and challenges of urban agriculture. Senator Stabenow addressed the importance of the next Farm Bill and her intent to include urban agriculture legislation.

Stabenow2_cropped.jpg
Sen. Stabenow with GreenStone staff members. 

GreenStone would like to express our thanks to Sen. Stabenow and her team for taking time to meet with GreenStone staff and customers, to answer questions and discuss the issues important to our industry today.

January 10
Agricultural Leaders of Michigan Continue Discussion on Sustainability in Agriculture

​Many issues play into the discussion of sustainability in agriculture. Increasingly, consumer interest and retail demands to show how a product was “sustainably raised” are affecting farmers and agribusinesses. To keep up to speed in a rapidly-changing conversation on sustainable food production, the Agriculture Leaders of Michigan and GreenStone Farm Credit Services hosted the fourth-annual ALM Sustainability Conference on Dec. 15, 2016 in East Lansing.

The forum focused on the social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainable production. This included updates on the many efforts underway in Michigan agriculture to demonstrate on-farm sustainability, as well as updates from expert presenters on climate issues, energy savings and beyond.

15578966_1301233433253361_4628857561228040140_n.jpg Dave Armstrong, GreenStone President and CEO presents at the ALM Sustainability Conference on Dec. 15. 

In addition to presentations from Michigan-based commodity organizations and an economic update from GreenStone's President and CEO Dave Armstrong, attendees also heard from leaders in the retail and consumer research space about the sustainability considerations in food retail. Alison Sutter, corporate responsibility manager for SpartanNash, joined the meeting to provide an overview of the company’s newly-released corporate responsibility report, and explained the value inherent to showing consumers that products have been sustainably-sourced. And Madlyn Daley, senior vice president of knowledge and insights for Dairy Management Inc. discussed consumer trends in food, with a focus on how consumers are demanding more information about the food they eat. She noted that the rapid expansion of information sharing online has had a big effect on food perceptions – in fact, more than 23 billion food-related videos were viewed online in 2015.

MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Ronald Hendrick discussed the opportunity to create new partnerships between the university and Michigan’s agriculture community, noting that working closely together will present the strongest opportunity to solve pressing challenges, including sustainability, in the food system.

To close the forum, attendees received an update from State Climatologist Dr. Jeff Andresen on weather and climate considerations for Michigan agriculture, as well as an update from the Coop Elevator Company on the energy savings benefits the cooperative has identified working together with DTE Energy.

The 2016 Sustainability Forum was one of a wide range of informational discussions and educational activities the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan undertake throughout the year. The coalition of seven commodity groups and agribusinesses actively promotes Michigan agriculture, participates in the ongoing dialogue about many issues affecting our state, and seeks to harness agriculture’s power and potential to further grow Michigan’s economy.

You can learn more about ALM by visiting www.agleadersmi.com​.

January 05
Join Us for a Connect Reception at the Great Lakes Crop Summit!

​GreenStone will host a Connect Reception at the Great Lakes Crop Summit!

Guests will hear a short update on the year, have the opportunity to ask questions and connect with your local GreenStone team.

Jan. 25, 2017
5 - 6 p.m.
Exhibit Hall, Soaring Eagle Casino
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

If you'd like to submit questions in advance, email us at marketing@greenstonefcs.com​ and we will answer your question at the reception.

All GreenStone members and guests are welcomed to attend the reception, regardless of whether or not they are registered to attend the Expo.

If you are attending the Expo, be sure to come see us at our booth!

December 22
2016 Deer Challenge Winners

This past fall, deer hunters in northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has the opportunity to enter GreenStone’s 2016 Deer Challenge! Nearly 100 adult and youth hunters entered to win cash and prizes. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the hunters who participated in the challenge.

Adult Winners 

  • Jim Zierden, First Place, $400
  • Ethan Klister, Second Place, $200
  • Keith Schultz, Third Place, $100

Youth Winners (17 years and under)

  • Myia Darga, First Place, $200
  • Jocelyn Nueska, Second Place, $100
Congratulations to all the winners!

IMG_375.jpg 
Jim Zierden with his first place buck.

IMG_2772_rotated.jpg 
Myia Darga with her first place​ buck in the youth competition.
 
 
 


December 16
2016: The Year of Michigan's Farmer Veterans

By Adam Ingrao​

Wow, what a year! That really sums it up when I reflect back on 2016 and what has happened with the farmer veteran movement in Michigan. This year we have seen more growth and excitement around bringing military veterans into the agricultural industry than I have seen in the last three years of advocating for farmer veterans around the state. This movement all started in early 2014, when my PhD committee members at Michigan State University approved an enrichment project as part of my degree. I had proposed that I would create a statewide veterans network that would aid veterans, like myself, in finding purpose and prosperity in agriculture. At the time it seemed like a big task, creating a farmer veteran network in Michigan from scratch, but over the years of talking to anyone that would listen I have met some incredible veterans and supporters that have helped take this movement to the next level.

MIFFS-Vets-in-Ag-Logo-web-400.jpg  

In 2016, Michigan Food and Farming Systems’ (MIFFS) Vets in Ag Network connected with over 300 farmer veterans from across the state and helped coordinate more than 10 workshops on everything from food safety and business planning to soil health and raising sheep. The Vets in Ag Network also began working with MSU Extension (MSUE) Director, Jeff Dwyer, to develop educational fellowships for veterans interested in MSUE farmer training programs, such as the Apprentice Farmer Program at MSUE’s North Farm in Chatham. In addition, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Michigan hosted the third annual Farmer Veteran Coalition National Stakeholders Conference at MSU’s Kellogg Center. This conference was the largest gathering of farmer veterans in the country, to date, and was coordinated by a diverse group of individuals from Michigan ag organizations (including GreenStone and MIFFS), federal and state agencies, and MSUE. Having been to previous Stakeholders Conferences, I can report that this conference has set the bar very high for future farmer veteran gatherings.

With all this activity in Michigan, the public has become more aware of the farmer veteran movement and I am getting asked consistently by consumers and retail buyers, “How can I purchase Michigan farmer veteran products.” Growing and raising food is often one of the easier aspects of farming, but marketing your products is a whole different skillset that can be challenging for many talented farmers. Therefore, without a resource for connecting directly with consumers and buyers, many farmer veterans find themselves “feeding the crop to the hogs” because of no direct link to a market outlet. The Vets in Ag Network has realized there is an opportunity to facilitate market connections for farmer veterans and announced last week at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Expo, the 2018 Michigan Farmer Veteran Product Guide (MFVPG). This product guide will be a paper and digital publication released in Spring 2018 that will feature the stories of farmer veterans, their farms, the products they produce, and contact information to increase public visibility in the marketplace and connect them directly with buyers and consumers. 

Veterans interested in being featured in the MFVPG can submit their information (for free) through our online submission form. Organizations interested in advertising in the MFVPG should contact the Vets in Ag Network at VIA@miffs.org to learn about sponsorship opportunities. Donations to support the project can be made online​ as well (please select Vets in Ag Network under “specific programs”). Questions about the MFVPG or the Vets in Ag Network can be directed to Adam Ingrao at VIA@miffs.org. 

The Vets in Ag Network wishes a happy holiday season to you and your family, and all the best going into the 2017 farming season.

Adam Ingrao is an Army veteran, co-Director of the MIFFS Vets in Ag Network, co-Founder of Farmer Veteran Coalition of Michigan, owner of Bee Wise Farms LLC, and is a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow in the Department of Entomology at MSU. 


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