Farm Bureau members work year-round to implement grass-roots policy for the benefit of the agriculture industry and likewise, to oppose initiatives that would harm the agriculture industry.
Throughout the past year, Farm Bureau members successfully advocated on the following issues:
Michigan Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA 116)
To address challenges farmers were experiencing with the state’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program, also known as PA 116, Governor Snyder signed legislation enhancing government accountability to ensure timelier processing of farmers’ applications and payments.
Governor Snyder approved amendments to the Grain Dealer’s Act and Farm Produce Insurance Act to bolster the program in the event a licensed grain dealer becomes insolvent, or declares bankruptcy. The legislation increased the fund’s cap from $5 to $10 million to provide more adequate grower protection in today’s market, and included several provisions further protecting producers and lessening the severity of economic damage caused should a failure occur.
The 2016-17 state budget approved funding for the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture, consisting of a one-year investment of $500,000 and a $399,000 annually recurring investment. A single, one-year investment of $500,000 was also included for MSU’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health.
Legislation intended to rejuvenate the state’s horse racing industry and level the playing field between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing programs was signed into law by Governor Snyder. In addition to increasing industry representation on the gaming control board, the policy changes how purse pool funds and race meeting track commissions are distributed that is intended to lead to reinvestment by the industry.
President Obama approved a new mandatory, national GMO labeling standard that prevented a patchwork of state-level labeling laws. While Farm Bureau policy explicitly favored voluntary labeling over mandatory, the bill earned support from the American Farm Bureau Federation on the merit of several other provisions consistent with the organization’s policy.
Tax law amendments allowing farmers to use a portion of their land for non-agricultural purposes without disrupting the qualified agricultural property tax credit on the remaining land.
Clarifications on agriculture’s sales and use tax exemptions to exclude tangible personal property sold to a person in the business of constructing, altering, repairing, or improving real estate for an exempt agricultural purpose. The exemptions were also extended to include machinery used to install land tile or irrigation pipe to improve agricultural land.
Reenactment of the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act allowing the Natural Resources Commission to retain authority to designate game species, including wolves, as well as manage wildlife populations, reduce property damage, and control disease transmission.
Legislation was approved by Governor Snyder to exempt certain agricultural-related activities from the requirement of a soil erosion and sedimentation control permit, so long as they do not discharge into a water of the state, or off the site. Activities include: construction, fence maintenance or removal, the removal of tree or shrub stumps or roots, installation of drainage tile, irrigation, electrical lines, and construction or maintenance of ponds less than five acres in size.