Rob Haag

‘Tis the season in Farm Bureau Land for candidate evaluation work, with county Farm Bureaus facing a May 27 deadline to submit recommendations to the MFB AgriPac Committee. One of the best methods for evaluating candidates is interviewing them face-to-face, and while COVID-19’s taken that option off the table, good options still exist.

Last week 14 members representing six county Farm Bureaus took part in a collaborative interview forum for Michigan’s 10th congressional district via WebEx teleconference.



Huron County Farm Bureau member Rob Haag chimed in on the virtual format.

“I’m not an avid user of web virtual-video meetings, but I’m learning and do think that it’s use can be productive and that it has a place in today’s world. There is a fit for it, however it’s not same as in-person meetings.”

There are even some subtle advantages to remote interviews, Haag admits.

“There is no drive time, which is a huge time saver, and in some ways virtual interviews are more personal because they’re conducted in homes,” he said. “That means we can see things that we usually wouldn’t see in other locations, such as family pictures on the wall. That helps us learn something about the candidates that we normally wouldn’t learn.”  

Tuscola County candidate evaluation chair Mike Milligan said, “I thought it went pretty well.

“It seemed more timely in a way, as candidates seemed more concise with their answers on camera. Two years ago at an in-person meeting, candidates seemed to ramble.

“What I didn’t like is that it was harder to have a group discussion at the end of the interviews. That’s tough to do virtually.” 

Another plus is that volunteers who missed taking part in the interviews as they happened can easily catch up because they’re recorded, and the links shared with members across the congressional district. 

Whether it’s Webex, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, online video conferencing technology, while not ideal, is still an effective means for Farm Bureau members involved in candidate evaluation to accomplish their important work this month in a timely fashion. Give it a try!

Matt Kapp is MFB’s government relations specialist