“The short memories of voters is what keeps our politicians in office.” ― Will Rogers.
Hopefully, most of you know by now that Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPac committee has endorsed Tudor Dixon in her bid to become the next governor of Michigan. While some have questioned that endorsement, rest assured that decision wasn’t made in a vacuum.
It was the result of a County Farm Bureau grassroots process, followed by one-on-one conversations with the MFB AgriPac committee and the MFB Board of Directors and a review of her stances on farm-focused policy concerns, including state regulations, energy and education.
Throughout that process, Dixon’s common-sense approach to running state government and supporting the growth of Michigan’s agricultural industry was readily apparent.
Her career in the manufacturing industry has provided her first-hand experience with many of the same challenges facing the state’s agricultural industry as a result of the current Lansing bureaucracy that operates in a heavy-handed “gotcha” mentality.
Most importantly, Dixon has gone out of her way to meet with farmers and processors across the state to see their work and hear their challenges and frustrations. Consistently, she has advocated for a customer service-based government approach that doesn’t view agriculture as the enemy, but instead as a vital segment to grow Michigan’s economy.
That’s in stark contrast to the current administration, which has an indisputable track record of championing burdensome regulations and countless arbitrary COVID-related executive orders throughout the pandemic, including more than 180 orders from the Governor’s office.
The decision to close down the state’s greenhouse industry, for example, in the early stages of COVID without considering precautionary steps advocated by the industry to protect individuals while still allowing business to continue operating was just the start.
That executive order was parlayed with countless additional mandates affecting essential farm workers with a specific focus on seasonal workers during peak harvest times of Michigan specialty crops, including blueberries and apples.
It eventually required a ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court that the governor’s office lacked the power to issue those executive orders without consent from the Legislature, and that the executive orders were no longer legal since they lacked any basis under Michigan law.
On the regulatory front, the state’s lead environmental agency, Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE, has been tone-deaf in listening to Michigan livestock producers in developing a new and overly burdensome National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Despite the state’s livestock industry providing countless hours of realistic, science-based testimony and recommendations to update NPDES permit requirements, EGLE has forged ahead with additional requirements so excessive, in fact, that 165 farms in the livestock industry have resorted to seeking legal action through a lawsuit that has been tied up in a three-year legal battle with no end in sight.
Similarly, numerous multi-million-dollar methane digester projects currently under construction on many Michigan livestock farms are being stone-walled on the regulatory front by EGLE in providing solid answers and direction on permit requirements for operation, particularly “community-based” facilities designed to treat and capture methane from a number of farms at one location.
We’ve also witnessed similar heavy-handed tactics from MIOSHA in enforcing regulations and fines meant for large corporations on family farms. In the last three years, two Michigan farm families who experienced a fatality and the devastating loss of a family member while working on their farms were cited and fined for not notifying the state soon enough.
Adding insult to injury, subsequent legislation approved by state legislators to prevent that from ever occurring again was vetoed by the governor.
For Michigan agriculture to truly flourish, we need a state government that is willing to listen, but more importantly, demonstrate a consistent willingness to follow through with actions that support and incentivize investments within the state.
Under the current administration, we have not seen the level of growth and investment experienced in the four years prior to 2019 under the Snyder administration, including:
- The Clemons Food Group Pork Processing plant in Coldwater, $256 million investment, 830 jobs.
- Zeeland Farm Service’s soybean processing plant in Ithaca, $129 million investment, 75 jobs.
- Continental Dairy and Fairlife dairy plant processing expansion in Coopersville, $173 million investment, 52 new jobs.
- Foremost Dairy processing plant in Greenville, $58 million investment, 35 jobs
- Spartan Michigan LLC Cheese plant and Proliant Dairy Ingredients in St. Johns, $550 million investment, 300 jobs.
Remember, too, these projects were funded and based on private-sector investments, not federally-funded COVID relief programs bought and paid for by your tax dollars.
In the remaining months leading up to the November general election, I encourage you to become actively involved in supporting Tudor Dixon’s campaign and her common-sense approach of state agencies working together to create consistent policies that remove unnecessary and burdensome regulations.
This organization’s endorsement isn’t based on current polling results or short-lived campaign rhetoric. It’s based on accountability, performance and results that matter to our industry, our farms and our family’s future.