2021 Shepherds Weekend Sponsors

Interested in sponsoring the 2021 Virtual Shepherds Weekend? This year, sponsors will receive many unique benefits including…
⭐️ Recognition on MSPA’s Facebook page, website, and Michigan Shepherd News.
⭐️ 1 GUARANTEED exhibit space for the 2022 Shepherds Weekend for the cost of $100. The usual cost is $150!
⭐️ A 1-2 minute video of your business, organization, or farm, etc. shown at least once during the weekend.
(You can purchase more “plays” of your video for $25 each.)
⭐️ World wide exposure! Since the sessions are virtual, our meeting could be viewed by anyone, anywhere.

Questions? Reach out to Maury Kaercher (kaercher@msu.edu) or Samantha Ludlam (samaludl@gmail.com).

Interested? Complete the form below by October 15!

2021 VIRTUAL Shepherds Weekend

The 2021 MSPA Annual Symposium and Shepherds Weekend is going fully virtual! We will continue to have the same three-day format and provide educational and social sessions through Zoom meetings and webinars, as well as pre-recorded videos. STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS TO COME!

2020 Youth Awards Winner: Katrina Tucker

Congratulations to Katrina Tucker who was recognized this week at the Michigan FFA Association 92nd State Convention as the State Winner in the Sheep Production Proficiency AND the State Winner for the 4-H Sheep Science Award area. Katrina is a member of the Hopkins FFA and currently owns and operates Royal Court Club LambsMichigan Sheep Producers Association is proud to sponsor this award and would like to congratulate Katrina and the other award recipients on their hard work and dedication to their sheep production experiences.

Mediation Solves Farming Problems

Robert Osburn had a problem. Upon retiring 20 years ago, the Lenawee County farmer placed both of his farmland parcels into the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for two 10- year contracts as an alternative to cash renting to another farmer. Unfortunately, in the 18th year, Robert died and the farms were placed in a family trust.

The family’s trustees worked to leave the CRP upon maturity, but the purportedly ‘easy’ process became very complicated. Updated maps from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) identified over 25 “wetlands” of 0.05 to 1.5 acres each that created a “Swiss cheese pattern” on the land and would make a beautiful and productive 100-acre parcel impossible to rent. “Where were these ‘wetlands’ 20 years ago?” asked Robert’s son-in-law, Jerry Richter.

Richter conducted extensive research but failed to find the answer. He hired legal counsel and an expert witness to take his case to the USDA’s National Appeals Division (NAD). Before the hearing, he received a call from Dr. Betsy Dierberger, state resource conservationist at the Michigan office of the USDA-NRCS. Part of Dierberger’s job is to resolve wetland disputes.

Skeptical but willing to try anything to save the farm for production purposes, Richter agreed to meet with Dierberger and a mediator from the Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) in a private room at the Lenawee County Library. The NAD administrative law judge stayed the hearing pending the outcome.

With the aid of a “highly competent” mediator, according to Richter, his family and Dierberger discussed “what happened in two decades of CRP that morphed our non-wetlands into wetlands.” The Richters and Dierberger reviewed the various maps, photographs, plant inventories, and other records for each of the designated wetlands. They concluded that most were not wetlands.

Today, Richter’s farm is back in production agriculture with its first-ever organic wheat harvested in July 2018. Richter strongly urges other farmers in a dispute with USDA agencies to contact the MAMP by visiting www.agmediation.org or calling (800) 616-7863.