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If voters in the 65th District want to see farm-developed common sense at work in the state House of Representatives, they’ll elect Sarah Lightner in the Aug. 7 primary. Not only is she experienced with her farm’s “dirty jobs,” she will listen to common-sense solutions to the state’s challenges.
“I’ve always had a servant’s heart and have given tremendous amounts of time to things I believe in such as volunteering…” she said. “I hope to continue my civic service by being available and approachable to my constituency.”
A current Jackson County Commissioner, Lightner said she believes her county’s road and infrastructure solutions are a good model for the state.
“In Jackson County, we have been aggressive in getting private contractors to work on our roads with us and by purchasing more efficient equipment, steering us in the right direction,” She said on her Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPac questionnaire. “I believe our taxpayer dollars should be spent on effective and efficient practices, and I hope for input from my constituents to help us come up with a fair funding mechanism to solve our infrastructure deficiencies.”
Having been active on many local and state committees such as the Criminal Justice Policy Commission and MSU Extension Advisory Board, Lightner understands what some local governments don’t.
“Local government’s role in agriculture is to take into consideration GAAMPs when forming or enforcing policy,” she said. “The Michigan Right-to-Farm Act governs practices that are good for Michigan, and local governments need to respect that and not cater to non-farmers who don’t like the sounds and smells of agriculture…” she said.
More sounds of agriculture should be encouraged, Lightner said, which is why she supports the state’s Food and Ag Investment Program, “which helps with technical assistance for our industry, such as processing.” Along with processing comes more jobs, an issue with which the state could help.
“Michigan could assist ag in meeting its labor needs by providing education in skilled trades, ag careers and ag sciences,” she said. “Career and technical education classes are essential for our workforce.”
Even within higher education, Lightner said, agriculture needs to have increased emphasis.
“MSU Extension should refocus its emphasis on ag educators,” she said. “We have a serious lack of ag educators in our state, and without that focus, the teachers we have now in ag will retire with no serious contenders to carry on the agriculture legacy our state needs…”
Lightner, who along with her husband operates a hay baling and wrapping business, also understands that common sense should be applied to the state’s environmental regulatory structure.
“Sometimes rules change before they even have a chance to be in compliance with environmental practices,” she said. “The use of common sense and working with the county Farm Bureaus will ensure practices, oversight and understanding of regulatory issues.”
If Lightner makes it into the State House, she won’t forget her farming and community roots, no matter how complicated things may seem.
“I want to be able to connect, collaborate and work toward solutions to problems that my communities face,” she said.