Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week exercised her line-item veto authority, eliminating nearly $1 billion in spending from the state budget offered by the Legislature last week, including striking $4.7 million in funding for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
Taking the brunt of the cuts in the agriculture budget was the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (MAAA), losing its entire $3 million in program funding.
“It’s disappointing to see the program’s funding eliminated because it has proven itself to be a strong economic driver with a $10 return on every $1 invested,” said Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park. “This will be a tough pill for our members to swallow because they place a high value on the alliance, not only because of the research, outreach and workforce development it conducts but also because it demonstrates a unique, strong partnership between the state, MSU and other industry partners.”
In addition to the $3 million elimination in MAAA funding, other items vetoed from the 2020 agriculture budget include:
“Michigan Farm Bureau will continue to keep our members up-to-date if the budget situation changes and will certainly engage them if an opportunity arises to influence their elected officials and advocate on behalf of their grass-roots policy funding priorities for MDARD,” Park added. “With all vetoed monies going back to the general fund, that nearly $1 billion is, for all intents and purposes, unassigned to any department or program.”
Subsequently, the State Administrative Board convened—only the second time in state history—to make their own series of budget moves.
Comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer and a few other key leaders, the board finalized several transfers within MDARD.
The board removed all funding for the Food and Agriculture Investment Grant Program—$4 million in total—and transferred funds to the following:
Lastly, MDARD funding included in the general government budget remained intact including $1.3 million for industrial hemp program administration and $5 million for licensing and inspection systems.