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Peasley: Female bureau president plows ahead

Michele Aavang, who farms near Greenwood with her husband, Gary, is in the midst of several responsibilities related to her new position as president of the McHenry County Farm Bureau.

Aavang is the first woman to serve as president of the MCFB during its 100 years. Since the MCFB was organized in 1912, 29 men have served as president. She served as vice president during Bruce Meier’s last year as president in 2011-12.

“One of my goals is not only to increase membership but encourage current members to become involved in farm bureau. Farm bureau has many programs, and we are always looking for interested individuals to participate,” Aavang said.

Active in her community, Aavang is secretary of the Greenwood Cemetery Association board and president of the Woodstock Farmers Market. She is a former two-term trustee for the village of Greenwood and was a 4-H Club leader for several years. Aavang is currently running to become a member of the McHenry County Board in District 6.

Michele and Gary raise corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay on their farm. They have a commercial cow-calf operation marketed through the local farmers markets. Gary’s family has deep roots in McHenry County, farming in Greenwood Township since the 1840s.

“I’m passionate about agriculture and feel strongly about communicating with the non-farm public,” Aavang said.

One of her first opportunities was to recognize U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, as a “Friend of Agriculture” on Tuesday. Farm bureau initiated the friend program to recognize legislative leaders who support farm bureau’s position on current farm policy issues.

In his first term, Hultgren has compiled a 98 percent voting record on Illinois Farm Bureau priority issues. In this session of Congress, he voted for each of the three free trade agreements that will boost agricultural exports.

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Hultgren is supporting a House version of the farm bill that would strengthen risk management tools for farmers, tighten eligibility requirements for food stamp recipients, and cut the federal budget deficit by $35 billion.

When IFB challenged state enforcement of agriculture trucking regulations, Hultgren supported farm bureau efforts. When the U.S. Department of Labor sought to impose new stringent regulations that would have prevented 14- and 15-year-olds from being able to learn valuable farm safety lessons on the farm, Hultgren again stepped in to assist.

Hultgren has consistently opposed the Environmental Protection Agency’s unnecessary permitting requirements for pesticide applications. He has also voted for legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating farm dust and opposes EPA’s attempt to expand its authority to regulate the Clean Water Act.

Don Peasley has been editor, columnist and historian in McHenry County since October 1947. He began his association with Shaw Publications in 1950. 815-338-1533.

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