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How will agriculture fare in the few and final House, Senate session days?

Michigan Farm Bureau determines its position on legislative proposals using the organization’s grassroots policy that is annually reviewed and approved by county Farm Bureau members. Image credit: Getty
Date Posted: July 21, 2022

Less than six months remain for members of the 99th Michigan Legislature to influence policy and funding proposals before their time of service concludes. It begs the question: Will items beneficial to the agriculture sector be considered in the less than 30 House and Senate session days left on the legislative calendar?

“With the state budget behind them — which included many good things for Michigan agriculture — legislators have adjourned for most of the summer to focus on campaigning for the primary and general elections,” said Rob Anderson, Michigan Farm Bureau Government Relations Manager.

“While our organization is working hard to elect Friends of Agriculture, we are also keeping our eyes on bills that impact the state’s farmers and will continue advocating for their passage or opposition at every opportunity.”

The following is a sample of bills under consideration, recently introduced, or signed into law:

E15/E85 retail dealer sales

Sponsored by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum), Senate Bill 814 allows a motor fuel retail dealer to claim a refundable income tax credit of $0.05 per gallon of E15 sold and $0.85 per gallon of E85 sold from 2023-2027. Farm Bureau policy supports the legislation that passed the Senate (24-14) on June 30 and was referred to the House Tax Policy Committee. See who voted yes/no.

House Bill 6334, introduced by Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe), creates the same credit and provisions for retail dealers of B5 (biodiesel blend). Farm Bureau supports the legislation that awaits consideration by the House Tax Policy Committee.

Ag marketing program requirements

Introduced by Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway), Senate Bill 1087 repeals the requirement that each commodity marketing program hold a referendum every five years. The checkoff program would continue in perpetuity, or until producers petitioned to terminate the program. The petition would have to be signed by 25% or 200 of the producers affected, whichever is less. At that point the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development director would conduct a referendum, and if 51% or more of those voting assented, the program would be terminated. Farm Bureau is reviewing the legislation and the organization’s policy and has not yet taken a position.

Agriculture innovation

Senate Bill 885, sponsored by Sen. Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville), seeks to leverage federal stimulus funds to address rural infrastructure; agricultural worker housing; worker certification; food security and distribution; protein processing and beyond. Supported by a coalition of agricultural groups, including Farm Bureau, the legislation awaits further consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee. While some initiatives within the legislation were wholly or partly addressed in the 2022-23 budget, the coalition is advocating for the bill to be updated and revisited when the Legislature resumes session.

Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act

Senate Bill 977, introduced by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum), amends the Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act to stipulate that a group with annual assessments of $40,000 or less shall be audited once, instead of twice, between referenda votes. Farm Bureau policy supports the legislation that passed the Senate unanimously on June 15 and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee.

Maple syrup production

Introduced by Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), House Bill 6143 creates a new law preventing local governments from enacting or enforcing ordinances prohibiting a person from tapping and collecting sap from maple trees on their own property. Farm Bureau policy supports the legislation that awaits consideration by the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee.

Financial literacy

House Bill 5190, sponsored by Rep. Diana Farrington (R-Utica), amended the Michigan Merit Curriculum by requiring a 1/2 credit of financial literacy be obtained to receive a diploma. The bill also reduces the foreign language credit requirement from the current two — or one if the student fulfills a career & technical education course — down to 1.5 credits of grade-appropriate foreign language. Farm Bureau policy supported the legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Whitmer on June 16.

Cottage food

Senate Bill 1059, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum), authorizes the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development to enforce packaging requirements of cottage food law changes proposed in House Bills 5671/5704.

House Bills 5671/5704 sponsored by Reps. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover) and Annette Glenn (R-Williams Twp.) respectively, would allow cottage food products to be sold by internet or mail order or be delivered by a third-party food delivery platform. Additionally, the bills increase the maximum annual net sales a cottage food operation can have to $40,000.

Farm Bureau supports all three bills, that are awaiting consideration by the Senate Agriculture Committee. House Bills 5671/5704 passed the House (61-44) on March 23. See who voted yes/no.

Certificates of free sale

Farm Bureau supported a package of seven bills signed into law by Gov. Whitmer on June 30 to codify current practices and fees charged by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development for issuing certificates of free-sale. Often called a “Certificate for Export” or “Certificate to Foreign Governments,” a certificate of free-sale is used as evidence that certain goods, like food items, are legally sold or distributed in the open market and approved by U.S. regulatory authorities.

Drain code

House Bills 6317/6318, introduced by Reps. Julie Calley (R-Portland) Christine Morse (D-Texas Twp.) respectively, make extensive revisions to the drain code, allowing for non-traditional water management projects. Farm Bureau opposes the concept of the bills due to concerns about the proposed process structure. The legislation was referred to the House Local Government Committee.