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Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development #27


We recognize the evolving role of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) in Michigan’s agriculture and food system, as well as supporting rural development.

We support the continued individual existence of MDARD within state government. We challenge MDARD to continue to be proactive, focus on core programs and eliminate redundancies where possible. Program areas of a stronger, more encompassing MDARD might include, but would not be limited to: consumer protection, environmental protection, resource-based economic development programs, aquaculture, privately owned cervidae, commercial fishing and forestry programs.

We have concerns with the lack of expertise and understanding of farming in other state departments. Therefore, we request MDARD be the primary representative of government on our farms. We are opposed to multiple inspections by a variety of jurisdictions.

We encourage MDARD to follow these recommendations when prioritizing their current budget. Regulatory or enforcement program funding should be taken from the General Fund with a limited portion of the cost to be generated from industry fees. We support strategic investments in MDARD with the following funding priorities:

  • Food safety.
  • Oversight of industry regulatory programs.
  • Animal and plant disease protection and agriculture security.
  • Producer protection; integrity of agricultural products.
  • Market access inspections.
  • Statistics and information.
  • Industry and trade advocacy.

We support:

  • Changes to the Bodies of Dead Animals (BODA) Act that make the MDARD Director, or their designee the lead authority in mass carcass disposal and BODA. 
  • Modification of the BODA Act with input from farmers and dead stock haulers to allow any type of legal commercial or cooperative mortality management, and further recommend modifying the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to clarify that animal mortality disposal is not considered in the definition of production site waste. Consideration should be made for inclement weather impacts on animal mortality management and timeframes for disposal.
  • The creation of a study group initiated by MDARD, led by Michigan State University, and which includes representation from agriculture and livestock commodity groups to determine and recommend necessary updates to the BODA Act.
  • Protection of animal health through testing, quarantine and depopulation, if necessary.
  • State funding of all required testing.
  • Plant inspection, testing and quarantine to control disease.
  • State on-farm inspectors pursuing opportunities to protect Michigan farmers from excessive regulations being advanced by federal inspectors.
  • The MDARD abandoned and neglected orchards program and amendments to include other perennial crops. With the involvement of stakeholders and other departments, we support the development of rules to strengthen enforcement provisions of the program, including appropriate funding.
  • Reviews and specific expirations for quarantines or movement restrictions.
  • Indemnification for losses of farm income when agricultural commodities or products are impounded, farms are quarantined, or movement or sales are restricted in the public interest. In determining indemnification, MDARD should consider at least one local appraisal of fair market value.
  • In the case of widespread animal disease outbreaks, indemnification should reflect prices that were current prior to the outbreak.
  • Investigating the feasibility of a livestock insurance fund that might complement existing state and/or federal indemnification programs. The feasibility study should consider loss of livestock and production due to disease outbreak, depredation, funding options, species participation and producer control of the fund.
  • A mechanism for loans or direct compensation for loss of income due to depopulation, quarantine or condemnation of agricultural products.
  • Enforcement of food safety laws, animal identification requirements, and inspection programs in Michigan, focused on working with producers to resolve problems in a timely fashion before the issuance of fines and penalties.
  • An increased use of technology and sampling and a decreased use of inspections to ensure a safe food supply.
  • Photographic evidence taken as part of the inspection process being exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Certifying the accuracy of weights and measures, including moisture testing equipment.
  • Reviewing the point system for Pesticide Applicators Certification to increase efficiency.
  • MDARD’s utilization of state certified third-party privatized contracting and technology for inspections, review and oversight for some programs, including virtual online courses.
  • MDARD working with the Michigan State University (MSU) Pesticide Safety Education program to ensure that training materials for pesticide applicators include appropriate information on proper use, risk, volatility, and application of pesticides and chemicals, especially when near sensitive crops.
  • Online and in-person testing for pesticide applicator licensing.
  • Additional pesticide applicator training for Dicamba based products, only when use or formulation has changed.
  • MDARD meeting with industry representatives prior to regulatory enforcement rule changes.
  • Formation of an industry committee to advise the MDARD director regarding the inclusion of injurious plants on the nuisance plant list. Consideration should be given for a phase-in for any commercial plant species added to the nuisance plant list.
  • Aggressive promotion and the labeling of Michigan-grown products and commend the efforts of MDARD for its leadership in highlighting the importance of the agricultural industry to the state of Michigan.
  • Any block grant funds received under the Federal Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act be distributed to Michigan specialty crop commodity sectors on a pro-rata basis with input from a stakeholder group comprised of representatives from the specialty crop industries. All specialty crop sectors, including the nursery and greenhouse sector, should have the opportunity to receive an equitable portion of block grant funds.
  • An economic development and ag innovation fund that is overseen by ag industry officials designed to support new innovations, economic growth and direct research for agriculture in Michigan. This fund should be accessible to all segments of agriculture.
  • Further development of meat processing and marketing opportunities through joint cooperation between the industry, MDARD, MSU and the Michigan Meat Association.
  • The State returning to a USDA-equivalent state meat inspection for local custom processors as soon as possible to support value-added opportunities. We will support adequate funding for this program.
  • Michigan Farm Bureau working with MDARD to investigate having state inspectors service small scale or portable slaughter facilities in sparsely populated rural areas.
  • MDARD having sole authority to license and regulate all terrestrial and aquatic plants for sale or commercial use.
  • MDARD working more closely with the aquaculture industry to clarify and streamline the process for aquaculture operations to harvest and sell directly to the consumer.

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