Welcome to Personal Policy Perspectives, a look at how Farm Bureau members relate personally with the organizational policy they help create. To share your personal connection to a Farm Bureau policy, drop us a line!
By Colten Aikens
Everyone wants a clean, healthy earth for future generations to enjoy, and Michigan Farm Bureau policy reflects this nearly universal concern for sound management of natural resources and environmental conservation. MFB policy no. 83, Resource Recovery, falls squarely under the broader category of natural resources and environment.
The Resource Recovery policy is short and sweet, starting with a statement noting how much waste we produce and this suggestion: “Daily we generate vast quantities of all types of resource-recoverable materials. Our society must reduce as much solid waste as practical through a wide variety of ways.”
In high school I worked in the Dundee FFA greenhouse. We generated a minuscule amount of greenhouse plastics compared to larger operations, but still did our best to reduce and reuse it.
Customers knew they could return their old three-inch pots and flats for us to reuse the next season, benefitting everyone. The customer didn’t have to find somewhere to recycle those plastics; the FFA reduced costs by reusing old pots and flats; and we didn’t send plastic to the landfill.
Looking for perspective from a longtime Farm Bureau member, I reached out to Dana Carruthers in Arenac County. He’s has been trying to find a home for agricultural film plastics for 15 years — with no luck.
I asked Dana why it’s important to him to have policy supporting recycling of farm plastics and other materials.
“Because we don’t want to fill up landfills — and burning film plastic puts out a lot of smoke — when farmers can cut costs and use it again,” Carruthers said. “I watch the hill at the landfill near my house grow more every day. When it’s full, they’ll just move on to the next area.”
Agreeing that neither of us are interested in a future full of landfills, we discussed potential ways to help solve the issue.
“Maybe if the state gets more involved with MFB we can get more done,” Dana said.
My next stop was Tess Van Gorder in MFB’s Ag Ecology department, to hear her thoughts on the state of recycling farm materials in Michigan — and what the barriers are.
“Farmers are passionate about this,” Van Gorder said. “They want to be able to recycle tractor tires, plastic pesticide containers and film plastics they use on the farm. Unfortunately, the statewide recycling system to handle these materials is limited, in part due to the difficulty of recycling them.
“This has resulted in counties running their own tire recycling drives, and MFB’s support of an Agriculture, Greenhouse & Film Plastic Recycling Grant,” she said. “The Resource Recovery policy reflects the passion and push to find more recycling opportunities for more materials.”
There remains an acute need for Farm Bureau’s member-developed Resource Recovery policy, which reflects how important recycling farm material is to MFB and the greater agricultural community.
To learn more about issues policy development committees are discussing, check out the Michigan Farm Bureau probable issues web page.
Monroe County native Colten Aikens is studying agribusiness management & crop and soil sciences at Michigan State University. This summer he interned with MFB’s Public Policy and Commodity Division.