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Legislative updates for March 2024

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Date Posted: March 1, 2024

This update includes recently introduced bills and those moving through the legislative process. Michigan Farm Bureau’s positions are rooted in the organization’s member-developed policy. 

State Issues

EGLE Rulemaking Authority 

House Bill 5205 introduced by Rep. Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing) and Senate Bill 663 introduced by Sen. Sue Shink (D-Ann Arbor) would rescind the prohibition on the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to promulgate rules under Part 31 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act related to water quality. 

The Senate Energy and Environment Committee approved Senate Bill 663 on March 7 and the bill now awaits consideration on the Senate floor. House Bill 5205 has yet to be passed by the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee. 

In addition to communicating its opposition before both committees, the organization is asking members to contact their representatives and senators in opposition to the bill. To participate, text MIWATER to 52886 or visit

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Ag Commodity Marketing Groups 

Senate Bill 691, sponsored by Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), would amend the Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act to reduce auditing requirement for commodity organizations with collected producer assessments of less than $40,000 to only one audit per referenda (when producers vote to continue the program). Farm Bureau supports the bill that passed the Senate unanimously on March 12 and awaits committee referral in the House. 

Contact: Rebecca Park 

State Budget

Governor Whitmer released her budget recommendations on Feb. 7, signaling the start of the legislature’s budget deliberations. The $14.3 billion general fund budget Whitmer presented makes significant investments to the budget stabilization fund and education programs. Highlights from her education funding recommendations include: a 2.5% increase for higher education institutions (including MSU Extension and AgBio Research), continuing free breakfast and lunch for all students, implementation of free pre-school for all 4-year-olds, and a proposal for free community college for students graduating from Michigan high schools. 

For the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gov. Whitmer is recommending a $77 million general fund budget, a decrease from last year due to the removal of one-time funding measures. Highlights from her agriculture funding recommendations include: 

  • $3 million in continued funding for the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (MAAA),

  • $2 million to conservation districts for base funding, 

  • $4 million for a new farm-to-family program to “create a holistic approach to support regenerative farming, supply chain investment and promote MI food products,” and 

  • A structural change to the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). Whitmer is proposing to forgo offering contracts to 38 conservation districts to hire MAEAP technicians and instead transition those technicians to be state employees charged with implementing conservation across the state with a focus on Western Lake Erie Basin and Saginaw Bay. 

Specific to the proposed changes to MAEAP, Michigan Farm Bureau continues to engage in dialogue with the department and stakeholders to address concerns. Read the related Michigan Farm News story: Future of MAEAP? Expect technicians to be state employees, per governor’s recommendations

Other areas to note in Whitmer’s recommendation:

  • $50 million for a Housing and Community Development Program to address affordable housing concerns across the state. 

  • The Office of Rural Development was changed to the Office of Rural Prosperity and moved to the Department of Licensing and Economic Opportunity. Whitmer recommends this program receiving $2.5 million for grants to enhance services, partnerships and programming in rural communities. 

Contact: Rebecca Park

MIOSHA Reporting Requirements

House Bill 4011, introduced by Rep. Jerry Neyer (R-Shepherd), would create an automatic reduction in fines and penalties for failure to report injuries or fatalities on "family farms." Farm Bureau supports the legislation that passed the House (93-13) on Feb. 29 and has been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Read more: 'An opportunity to correct a wrong' — Rep. Neyer's farm fatality bill passes House  

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Environmental Oversight

SB 393 and SB 394 introduced by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Keego Harbor) would eliminate the Environmental Science Advisory Board and the Environmental Permit Review Commission​. HB 4824 introduced by Rep. Donovan McKinney (D-Detroit), HB 4825 introduced by Rep. Jen Hill (D-Marquette) and HB 4826 introduced by Rep. Sharon MacDonnell (D-Troy) would eliminate the Environmental Rules Review Committee. Farm Bureau opposes the legislation as our policy supports oversight of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s regulatory authority and specifically supported the 2018 legislation creating the oversight bodies. 

SB 393 and SB 394 passed the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation on Feb. 22 and await a vote on the House floor. HB 4824-4826 were signed into law by Gov. Whitmer on Feb. 27.

Read more: Loss of environmental oversight boards looming

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Rob Anderson headshot

Rob Anderson

Manager, Government Relations
517-679-5343 [email protected]