Proposed policy resolutions approved by delegates at the county annual meeting

View the resolutions below that were approved at the county annual and submitted to the state policy development committee to be considered at the Michigan Farm Bureau annual meeting. 

Contact the county office for information about the Policy Development process

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136-General Labor IssuesFor centuries, it has been the responsibility of parents, in conjunction with family, friends, and communities to provide youth development. In rural communities, youth develop technical knowledge, as well as leadership, problems solving skills, and other valuable lifelong habits by working with parents, grandparents, relatives, and community members, as well as through 4-H and FFA programs. These tasks may include operating machinery, working with livestock, or a number of other tasks. Previously, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed rules that would have made it illegal for youth to do many of the skill development tasks they have done for centuries. It would have been illegal to work with relatives and community members to develop these skills. This would be a loss of method for youth development, loss of a culture, loss of the opportunity for parents and relatives to be actively involved in the development of children and young people. Farm Bureau leaders at all levels should work with their elected officials to make policies stronger so the U.S. Department of Labor will no longer attempt to interfere with youth development in America.
 The Michigan Farm Bureau has long supported Michigan agriculture and has encouraged other Michigan businesses and consumers to buy commodities from Michigan, however, when it comes to advertising items and prizes, usually these items are non-food items and made overseas. When Michigan Farm Bureau is involved at farms and other related events, they should strive to use Michigan made “giveaways” such as soy nuts, cherries, or items produced in Michigan. If every county office replaced 50% of their “giveaway” budget with food based coupons or items made in the U.S., imagine the dollars kept locally in Michigan. Instead of distributing items not made in Michigan or the United States, utilize food coupons for Michigan raised commodities, or restaurants that sell local or Michigan raised food items.
061-ElectionsFarmers who own land in townships other than where they reside are not eligible to vote on issues that affect their property in those townships. Issues such as county and township services, zoning regulations, and taxation occur without any means for the land owner to officially have their voices heard. Owners of property are expected to comply with all laws and/or regulatons established by the voters and administered by township officials whether they live in the township or not. The costs to the land owner, in effect, are set by others allowing no recourse or legal representation. Farmers should be granted the opportunity to legitimately voice their concerns and vote on issues that affect their property. The Ingham County Farm Bureau recommends a review of property owner rights and responsibilities on land owned where the landowner does not reside. (NR 84)
071-Agricultural DrainageToo often when a property owner appears at a special assessment hearing at the Drain Commissioner’s office to review or appeal a drain assessment, the explanation for assessment or the amount of the assessment is either not readily available or is not adequate to explain the assessment placed on the property. The result of this is the inability of the property owner to determine whether the assessment is fair or if the amount should be appealed, or what the basis of appeal should be. The records of drain work done need to be kept in a manner so the public can view them and understand the scope of work done and the cost associated with the types and dates of maintenance performed on a drain. We recognize that there are times when drain maintenance is done under emergency conditions. We recommend that a system be initiated by the Drain Commissioner in which the cost and scope of emergency repairs as well as scheduled maintenance will be recorded in an accurate and understandable form. Affected land owners impacted by the project should be notified by requesting their input.
Local ResolutionIngham County Farm Bureau policy has supported efforts to preserve and maintain farmland throughout the region for several years. Since 2003, members of Farm Bureau have participated in committees, taken trips to other states to review programs in operation, and supported State and National initiatives dedicated to this purpose. In 2018, the voters of Ingham County passed a ballot proposal of .14 mils for 10 years to fund Farmland and Open Space Preservation. Approximately $950,000.00 is available for preservation. The program is eligible for receiving additional matching funds from Federal sources. The FOSP Program hosts an annual application for eligible landowners to voluntarily make application to the program. Ingham County Farm Bureau has participated in this effort by publicizing the landowner announcement and packet, and encouraging landowners to get involved. Action: We reaffirm the support of Farmland and Open Space Preservation efforts in Ingham County. ICFB will continue to assist the Ingham County Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program by publicizing and encouraging Farm Bureau members to learn about ways they can participate in this program.
079-Land UseThe highway department has been using various species of trees and plants to control erosion and beautify the road sides. Several of these species such as the Autumn Olive and Giant Hogweed have become invasive to farm land and crowding out desirable species such as maple and oak as well as presenting crop damage. We encourage the transportation department and private owners to research and identify the possibility of future invasive species. We encourage the land owner to identify and remove invasive species and to notify the County Road Commission when occurring along roadsides.
013-Forestry Woodlot owners (farmers) are constantly being approached and pressured by rogue timber buyers to sell their standing lumber. Lumber producers (farmers) often need guidance regarding the value of standing timber. In addition, a woodlot management plan is important to insure long term care and production for maximum returns on the woodlot assets and making the profitable assessment of the woodlot. Michigan Farm Bureau should supply a readily available list of expert advisors such as from the Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters to woodlot owners. We recommend that each county Farm Bureau office maintain a list of qualified Foresters from the Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters.
038-Agriscience, Food & Natural Resources Education & The FFA OrganizationWe encourage the expansion of junior high/middle schools and high school Agriscience and Natural Resources Education Programs (ANRE) and FFA Chapters as the vital tools for educating young people, providing career and technical training and development of leaders to work in careers related to Michigan’s Agricultural Industry as pathways to agricultural careers. We strongly encourage Agriscience and natural resource courses fulfill the criteria and are recognized as a science credit by all high schools, colleges, and universities. All schools should be provided information by Farm Bureau on curriculum requirements of Agriscience careers. ANRE and FFA Chapters must be supported by local school districts, added cost funding administered by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and federal Perkins funding. These appropriations are essential for public school districts to retain ANRE and the FFA as program priorities. We encourage county Farm Bureaus and members to become involved with their local FFA Chapters. Community support is vital to the survival of High School ANRE programs and FFA Chapters. We encourage MFB and county Farm Bureaus to assist in state and local FFA alumni activities. We support activities of the Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer Company which is providing an educational opportunity to the public to learn and experience the role, importance & economic impact of agriculture in the future of food production for future generations.
076-Game Farms and Hunting PreservesFeral Swine are a serious threat to farmers and homeowners. These animals carry disease and parasites which may spread to livestock. In addition, they cause severe damage to agricultural crops and neighborhoods in both rural and urban areas. They also have the potential for disaster on the highway, more serious than deer/car accidents. Animals that have escaped from the sport shooting facilities have been a factor in increasing the feral swine population and these animals are excellent vectors for transmitting diseases. Research studies (Hutton et al, 2006) confirm that feral swine can carry as many as 30 viral and bacterial diseases, including tuberculosis, and at least 37 parasites that affect people, livestock, wildlife and pets. In fact, in recent years, some animals from these facilities in Michigan have been found to be infected with the pseudorabies virus. Because wild hogs pose a huge threat to agriculture and Michigan’s natural resources and environment, the Department of Natural Resources has amended the invasive Species Order to include wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old Works Swine, Razorback and Eurasian Wild Boar (Sus Scrofa Linnaeus). The Invasive Species Order makes it illegal to possess the types of swine listed for sport shooting or for any other purpose in Michigan. The Invasive Species Order does not include Sus Domestica the type of swine used in domestic hog production. We support action by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources declaring wild hogs an invasive species and making it illegal to possess them for any purpose in Michigan. We also support efforts to eradicate or reduce the existing wild hog population in the state to lessen the threat these animals pose to humans, agriculture, wildlife and the environment. We favor the complete elimination of these animals from Michigan before the costs to agriculture and the danger to Human Lives escalates. We support legislation, which would make it unlawful to maintain them. (ENV 77)
041-Michigan State UniversityThe Morrell (Land Grant) Act of 1862 and the Extension Service est. 1914. The MSU Extension Service was established 100 years ago by Congress under the Smith-Lever act in support of the Land Grant Mission (taking education to the people of Michigan). MSU Extension funding has been drastically reduced during recent years. The cutback in resources has resulted in a refocusing on programs other than agriculture. County Extension positions have not been filled or staff has been reassigned to multi-county responsibilities. In an effort to increase knowledge and expertise by selected individuals, this action has also resulted in a loss of contact with local people and their problems/issues. For example, the position of County Extension Director, once a pivotal position in nearly every county, no longer exists. Agriculture Educators (agents) are no longer county based, but must serve multiple counties and their farmers & farm families. The “local” presence is no longer there. Consequently, MSU-E has become increasingly less accessible to the very people it intends to serve. We encourage MSU-E to reevaluate its educational out-reach programs and to refocus their efforts on core programs in agriculture, forestry, food, horticulture & education, while at the same time, strengthening local accessibility.
 Misinformation regarding genetically modified organisms dominates popular press, social media and television. Authors and hosts of these publications and/or broadcasts ignore, or choose not to mention, 30 years of research and over 1000 academic studies that have evaluated Genetically Modified crops and found them to be safe. Furthermore, both the US food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have released statements supporting the safety of GM or GE crops. Public perceptions of GM crops are being formed without scientific merit. A public attack on the use of GM Crops, which increase production, while decreasing pesticide use is eminent. The result may be an outright ban on GM crops in the US. The impact of allowing a misinformed public to shape farming practices in the United States and beyond is great. Currently, GM crops are raised on 3.95 billion acres. The use of this biotechnology between 1996 and 2012 reduced the amount of pesticide use by 500,000 tons. In the same period, biotechnology increased yields by approximately 9+ billion bushels of corn and 4.7+ billion bushels of soybeans. A return to non-GM crops would require additional tillage passes and pesticide applications resulting in increased fuel consumption and increased emissions. The world population has exceeded 7 billion people and is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050. Arable ground will decrease to about 1/3 acre per person by this time. This equates to a reduction of approximately 66% since 1961. New technology is required to meet the increased demand on our limited land resources. We recommend that the MFB information & Public Relations Division aggressively pursue action that educates, informs, and promotes programs that showcase modern agricultural practices. These are practices that lead to feeding a growing and hungry world, while demonstrating that environmental and human safety is priority number one.
096-Highway Improvements and MaintenanceWeight restrictions on implements of husbandry essential to the farm operations during spring frost restrictions should apply to agriculture. Farm Bureau supports the use of sound engineering principles and criteria to determine when to apply and remove spring load restrictions on country roads. We support reasonable standardized frost laws permitting criteria on fees for all counties within the state. Conflicts should be resolved when road damage is present by contacting the farmer and addressing the issue. Liability insurance is carried to cover damages occurred to public roadways.
038-Agriscience, Food & Natural Resources Education & The FFA OrganizationMichigan needs more Agriscience instructors at the Junior and High School level. There are not enough AgEd graduates to sustain the need in Michigan and across the country. By supporting Emergency Certification, the State of Michigan knows we identify the need and are in support of non-AgEd graduates teaching in our schools. Impact or Cost: Allows schools to continue offering Agriscience Educators if a graduate/certified teacher is not available. Need: Enough AgriScience Educators to supply our Junior and Senior High Schools with quality Agricultural Education. Action: We support the need for AgriScience Education Emergency Certification. (ED 042)
 With the continuous negativity spread about farming there is an urgent need for a person to watch online news, print news, social media, etc., to ensure education and accurate information is being provided to the public. This person will be an active spokesperson for ag and ag practices. They will need to be both proactive and reactive to bad press whether it is written in print or online. This person would scan news for negative and incorrect information. Ideally this person would have a short (5 minutes) segment on public radio about ag in Michigan. Action: We support maintaining the creation of a Michigan Farm Bureau AG Advocacy/Promotion Specialist.
039-Educational ReformsA change in language at the State Annual in 2016, moved to promote grant funding to the school of choice per pupil. Public schools are forced to accept all students,, often needing extra staffing to handle students with disabilities. Non-public schools that do not accept students with disabilities or other factors, should not receive full per student funding. Action: We recommend the State Policy #39 Educational Reforms, Line 20, be amended to read...of their choice, and that each school receiving funding is accessible to all students without discrimination. And Line 43 be amended to read...grant for education. We encourage equalized per pupil funding between districts across the state.
021-Dairy IndustryModification to existing MFB Policy #21 Michigan Dairy Industry: During agriculture’s recent economic downturn, Michigan dairy farmers have taken significant losses of income. Indeed, many are still struggling to stay in business. Of the main reasons for these losses is the gradual decrease in consumer demand over time. Competition for consumer dollars includes the marketing of soy, almond, and other “milk-like” products as actual “milk”. These products are often promoted in slick packaging in order to appeal to different market segments. Meanwhile, the packaging of a gallon of actual milk never changes. Therefore, we encourage milk co-ops and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan to work with processors and retailers to enhance milk and dairy product packaging and marketing to better compete in the current marketing environment. Action: We support Farm Bureau collaborating with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan and Michigan Ag Council educating the medical community and education system about the benefits of milk/dairy consumption, especially for youth.
046-Utility PlacementModification to existing MFB Policy #48 Utility Placement: On many of the state’s roadways, hazards exist that make it difficult for farmers to safely move large equipment. These hazards include utility lines that are not high enough to allow safe clearance and roads signs and mail boxes that are too close to the traveled part of the roadway. Action: Therefore, we support modifying MFB policy #48 to state: • We support a reporting system for specific road encroachment hazards and an official response of action within 30 days from the Department of Transportation, County Road Commission or municipality.
086-Water Use in the Great Lakes BasinThe current Aquifer Conflict & Dispute Resolution, Part 317 of P.A. 451, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), is not designed to protect producers that use high capacity wells. The present conflict resolution process as implemented by MDARD has shown to consistently place full liability for small well failure on the user of the high capacity well: the farmer. These decisions are made with inadequate or nonexistent evidence. Also, there is no system in place to prevent repetitive claims made by the same small well owner against the same farmer. The result of the failure of this dispute resolution process is to consistently deny producers the right to farm using the technology and resources available to irrigate crops. Action: To create a dispute resolution process that is fair to all parties, we support the following additions to the process: • To ensure the availability of quality evidence that the high capacity well in question is at fault, MDARD will certify a number of well drillers to verify complaints. These contracted well drillers would be ineligible to be hired to replace, repair or modify any well they are sent to inspect. • The inspection of the adversely impacted well should determine and record as evidence the following: o The age of the well o Whether or not the well meets state regulations and is registered with the health department o Thorough equipment inspection including the functionality of the pump and motor, check for clogged or collapsed screen, and check for power and casing problems. • Inspection findings will be reported back to MDARD. • MDARD will use the inspection results to determine the percentage of remedial action for which each party is responsible. • Due process. • A statute of limitations on claims, and release from future claims.
 Agritourism should have a separate commodity advisory committee to allow people involved in agritourism to develop and promote relevant questions and practices. Action: Therefore, we support the creation of a separate MFB Agritourism Commodity Advisory Committee.
044-State Energy PolicySolar energy is starting to shine in Michigan. Solar technologies use the sun’s energy to provide electricity, heat, light, and hot water for homes, farms, commercial businesses, and industry. Technology and the economics of solar has been rapidly changing over the last couple of decades to where now solar power and energy efficiency is feasible at the home, commercial and utility scale. Michigan has proven to have adequate solar resources that are renewable which justify installing feasible solar energy systems in appropriately planned and zoned locations. Michigan State University is leading the way with its solar car ports installed on the commuter parking lots on campus. Consumer’s Energy and other energy providers are working towards more renewable fuels and incorporating solar grids as a source of renewable power. Because of the need for solar energy grids, many farmers are being approached by developers trying to acquire large parcels of farmland for solar farms to supply this energy demand. While solar booms in Michigan, local and state government face land-use issues and renewable energy policies. Townships are developing new ordinances to address the development of solar farms in their townships. MSU Extension provides educational seminars and offers professional review of proposed utility solar farm energy easements and solar energy zoning ordinance amendments that can be helpful to landowners and/or units of local government. ACTION: We support legislation and zoning that will allow solar energy production and marketing on farms while encouraging utilization of brown-fields, public property, parking lots ( similar to MSU), MDOT Right-of-ways, and other marginal lands, as well as industrial, residential and agricultural buildings to protect prime farmland and reduce easements across farms for alternative energy projects. We encourage development to utilize existing power grid infrastructure. We support the establishment of state standards for commercial solar energy conversion systems that protect private property rights and allow for reasonable development of projects. We support ensuring adequate funds are in place for removal of all solar panels and other equipment used for the solar farms after decommissioning. We support pasturing of sheep to control weeds, and inclusion of pollinator plants to encourage natural pollinators. We support the ability to put PA116 contracts on hold during the commission of the solar farm and that the contacts will resume following decommissioning of the solar farm. We support giving solar farms the same consideration as CRP contract in retaining the base acres with the Farm Service Agency after the decommissioning of the solar farm. (NR 79)