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Proposed Policy


State Resolutions


Minimizing Potential Nutrient Movement from the Storage and Application of Dried Biosolids

Objective: To minimize potential nutrient movement from the storage and application of dried biosolids on land used for crop production.

• Biosolid land applications are overseen by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

• Biosolids of all consistencies contain nutrients needed in crop production.

• Dried biosolids are being applied to cropland as a nutrient source.

• Dried biosolids are being delivered, and sometimes stored, in close proximity to drainage ditches, including filter strips.

• The potential offsite movement of nutrients is not being considered in the permit process for the storage and application of dried biosolids.

• As producers, we need to follow good management practices to avoid having nutrients from manure or fertilizer enter drainage ditches and ultimately contribute to water quality problems in the western basin of Lake Erie.

Therefore, we recommend the following language be added to MFB Policy #76, Environmental Protection and Authority, as a new bullet under "We support":

• MDEQ, in consultation with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), should review the rules for cropland application of dried biosolids to minimize the risk of offsite movement of nutrients from the storage and/or application of these products.

ADOPTED

Land-applied Biosolids and Food Safety

Objective: To prevent potential human health hazards from the application of biosolids on land directly adjacent to fields growing crops for direct human consumption (fruits and vegetables).

• Biosolid land applications are overseen by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

• Biosolid application practices are intended to protect the environment and public safety. The rules dictate that biosolids should not be applied to land with a high potential for public exposure.

• It has been largely overlooked that applying biosolids to land directly adjacent to fresh food crops (your next meal) has the potential for public exposure.

• Biosolids contain pathogens and/or contaminants not normally found on farms. Pathogens and containments can cause illness if allowed to contact food crops grown for direct human consumption.

• Pathogens and contaminants can be moved away from application sites by wind, water runoff, insects, rodents and wildlife. Even though liquid biosolids are typically injected, there is still the potential for movement from application sites.

• Currently there are set back requirements for homes, schools, golf courses, businesses, wells, ditches and parks, but none for adjacent crops. Biosolids can be applied across a property line from fresh food crops ready for harvest.

• The understanding of food safety practices and hazard prevention practices has increased considerably since the 1990's when the rules for the land application of biosolids were developed (40 CFR part 503 and MI part 24).

Therefore, we recommend the following language be added to MFB Policy #12, Food Safety, as a new bullet after line 39:

• MDEQ, in consultation with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), should review the rules for application of biosolids in close proximity to growing fruit and vegetable crops with the intent of preventing any potential human health hazards.

ADOPTED

Noxious Weeds

With the increase in herbicide tolerance and resistance across many species of weeds, and especially hard to kill weeds such as giant ragweed, marestail, waterhemp, and Palmer Amaranth, it is more important now than ever to make sure that farmers and landowners control these noxious weeds.  Michigan currently has law on the books (Act 451 of 1994), however, this Michigan law is not up-to-date with the current noxious weeds found in our state.  Weeds such as those specifically mentioned above are very hard to control and produce high numbers of seeds when allowed to reach maturity.  Often times we see these weeds being out of control on vacant lots or tracts of land that have been purchased and are awaiting development.

Therefore, we recommend the following language be added to MFB Policy #31, Plants, Pests and Disease, line 59, under "We support":

• Swift action by our state legislature to update and revise Act 451 of 1994 to more accurately reflect the current noxious weed species.

• Periodic review of this law by our legislature to ensure that the current list of noxious weeds remains up-to-date.

• Encouraging local governments to take measures to keep these noxious weeks controlled.  We would recommend that local governments utilize their current blight officers to see that these weeds are controlled as best possible.

ADOPTED

Broadband (District-Wide Resolution)

Replacement for current MFB policy #44, Broadband:

Broadband internet is defined as access that is faster than dial-up internet.  In sparsely populated, rocky, hilly or tree-covered terrain where fiber broadband connections are not feasible, a less expensive alternative is fixed wireless signals from towers.

Rural access to broadband internet service is a major factor that impacts the ability of rural Michigan residents to compete and participate in the economy.  It is an important issue for business, agriculture, and academic purposes for rural students.  It affects property values when families with children won't even consider living in a rural area without broadband access.  It's a quality of life issue with a tangible economic impact.  Recently, Governor Snyder's 21st Century Infrastructure Commission identified broadband access as one of the top infrastructure priorities.

We urge:

• The Legislatures support of the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission's recommendation of $50 million investment annually to improve broadband access.

• The state of Michigan develop a comprehensive policy for the provision of universal broadband access state-wide that is equitable in cost and quality in both rural and urban settings.

• The Legislature to allow townships to pay for broadband internet with special assessment districts where residents in the district pay for the broadband installation and services provided.

• Public-private partnerships between school districts, colleges, local units of government, businesses and residents to develop some cooperative, alternative funding measures to install fiber networks or towers.

• The continued cooperation between the Michigan Public Service Commission, broadband providers, and groups such as Connect Michigan to expand internet access in rural and underserved areas.

• Internet providers to continue taking advantage of financial subsidies to reach potential rural customers.

We oppose:

• Exclusive franchise rights in special assessment districts.

ADOPTED

Farm and Commercial Vehicles

We recommend the following language be added to MFB Policy #97, Farm and Commercial Vehicles, as an amendment to add line #16:

We support exemption of all farm and Agribusiness vehicles of any size up to legal weight limit per axle from "no through trucks" ordinance and laws.

ADOPTED

Environmental Protection and Authority (District-Wide Resolution)

The state of Michigan has a goal of MAEAP verification for 100% of farms in Michigan. MAEAP verification requires many special use buildings and structures.  These structures are then subject to being included in assessments of the farm for property tax purposes.

Therefore, we recommend the following resolution to be inserted between lines 38-39 to MFB Policy #76, Environmental Protection and Authority:

We encourage the exemption of these structures from being included in assessments on MAEAP verified farms.

ADOPTED

Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management (District-Wide Resolution; Also a National Resolution)

Michigan's Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan is currently in draft form.  This Domestic Action Plan is being developed by the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie.  Reducing phosphorus inputs to the lake is intended to help reduce persistent, intense algal blooms in the western part of Lake Erie, including those that are unsafe for people.

Michigan's draft Domestic Action Plan is one of several plans from surrounding states, the Canadian province of Ontario, and the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.  The final version, along with plans from other Lake Erie Basin states (Indiana, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania), will be integrated into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's comprehensive plan scheduled for release in February 2018.

There are algal blooms occurring in Lake Erie.  The really bad algae blooms contaminate drinking water, harm fish and aquatic life, and prohibit recreation in the area.  Some believe it is as simple as two main causes of the algal blooms, which are (1) wastewater treatment deposits and septic tanks, and (2) nutrient run-off from agriculture.  Their theory is that if the states surrounding Lake Erie can tighten restrictions on wastewater and adopt certain agricultural practices, then Lake Erie can return to a healthy balance of algae, and the blooms will be prevented.

However, the experts are beginning to realize that the causes of algal blooms are actually a complicated mix of many factors and each will require time, money, and research to begin to solve.  We need to confirm what those factors are and to what degree they're impacting the problem, and then figure out the best way to fix them.  The problems and solutions need to be clearly understood before we farmers are told to spend time, money and resources on implementing new practices.

Therefore, we recommend the following language be added to MFB Policy #84, Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management, as a new bullet after line #36 under "We Support":

• The final version of Michigan's Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan should be designed to determine all the causes of algal blooms and come to a clear understanding of the responsible parties.  Michigan's Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan should determine the most effective solutions for all responsible parties, including agriculture, before farmers are directed to spend time, money and resources to implement new practices.

ADOPTED

Herbicide Technology (Also a National Resolution)

Many farmers are running out of options to control herbicide resistant weeds.  New technologies such as Monsanto's Xtend technology and Dow Agroscience's Enlist technology are giving farmers additional tools to help control resistant and highly tolerant weeds.  Proper stewardship of this technology is critical to ensure its efficiency and availability to the marketplace.  Monsanto's Xtend technology is currently commercially available as well as the herbicide companion labels Xtendimax, Fexapan, and Engenia.  Since the commercial release of these companion herbicide products, there have been complaints of off target drift.  While not all of these complaints have been substantiated and since numerous reports also show that some of the complaints are due to use of non-labeled herbicide products, it is vitally important to use this technology as intended and labeled.  However, there are also findings that the herbicide label has been followed and drift is still occurring.

Therefore, be it resolved: Monroe County Farm Bureau supports the development of new herbicide technologies where feasible.  We encourage all farmers and applicators to be diligent about the application timing and to follow label directions very closely.  We also encourage state agencies to consider a possible Restricted Use Pesticide certification requirement in order to purchase and apply these herbicide products.  We further encourage state and federal agencies to press chemical manufacturers to fully investigate and find solutions to the off target drift where the herbicide was applied according to label requirements.  We also urge seed companies to follow up with growers and hold them responsible if they are found to be using herbicide products that are not labeled for in-crop application.

ADOPTED


National Resolutions


Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management (District-Wide Resolution; Also a State Resolution)

Michigan's Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan is currently in draft form.  This Domestic Action Plan is being developed by the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie.  Reducing phosphorus inputs to the lake is intended to help reduce persistent, intense algal blooms in the western part of Lake Erie, including those that are unsafe for people.

Michigan's draft Domestic Action Plan is one of several plans from surrounding states, the Canadian province of Ontario, and the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.  The final version, along with plans from other Lake Erie Basin states (Indiana, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania), will be integrated into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's comprehensive plan scheduled for release in February 2018.

There are algal blooms occurring in Lake Erie.  The really bad algae blooms contaminate drinking water, harm fish and aquatic life, and prohibit recreation in the area.  Some believe it is as simple as two main causes of the algal blooms, which are (1) wastewater treatment deposits and septic tanks, and (2) nutrient run-off from agriculture.  Their theory is that if the states surrounding Lake Erie can tighten restrictions on wastewater and adopt certain agricultural practices, then Lake Erie can return to a healthy balance of algae, and the blooms will be prevented.

However, the experts are beginning to realize that the causes of algal blooms are actually a complicated mix of many factors and each will require time, money, and research to begin to solve.  We need to confirm what those factors are and to what degree they're impacting the problem, and then figure out the best way to fix them.  The problems and solutions need to be clearly understood before we farmers are told to spend time, money and resources on implementing new practices.

Therefore, we recommend the following language be added to MFB Policy #84, Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management, as a new bullet after line #36 under "We Support":

• The final version of Michigan's Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan should be designed to determine all the causes of algal blooms and come to a clear understanding of the responsible parties.  Michigan's Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan should determine the most effective solutions for all responsible parties, including agriculture, before farmers are directed to spend time, money and resources to implement new practices.

ADOPTED

Herbicide Technology (Also a State Resolution)

Many farmers are running out of options to control herbicide resistant weeds.  New technologies such as Monsanto's Xtend technology and Dow Agroscience's Enlist technology are giving farmers additional tools to help control resistant and highly tolerant weeds.  Proper stewardship of this technology is critical to ensure its efficiency and availability to the marketplace.  Monsanto's Xtend technology is currently commercially available as well as the herbicide companion labels Xtendimax, Fexapan, and Engenia.  Since the commercial release of these companion herbicide products, there have been complaints of off target drift.  While not all of these complaints have been substantiated and since numerous reports also show that some of the complaints are due to use of non-labeled herbicide products, it is vitally important to use this technology as intended and labeled.  However, there are also findings that the herbicide label has been followed and drift is still occurring.

Therefore, be it resolved: Monroe County Farm Bureau supports the development of new herbicide technologies where feasible.  We encourage all farmers and applicators to be diligent about the application timing and to follow label directions very closely.  We also encourage state agencies to consider a possible Restricted Use Pesticide certification requirement in order to purchase and apply these herbicide products.  We further encourage state and federal agencies to press chemical manufacturers to fully investigate and find solutions to the off target drift where the herbicide was applied according to label requirements.  We also urge seed companies to follow up with growers and hold them responsible if they are found to be using herbicide products that are not labeled for in-crop application.

ADOPTED

International Trade Agreements

We commend President Trump in initiating the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Trade is critical to Michigan agriculture.  Nearly one-third of all our production is exported.

Therefore be it resolved, we urge:

• Harmonization be placed on sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

• Phasing out of Tariffs has been beneficial to Agriculture and the consumers in all three countries.  We would ask that any existing tariffs be phased out within this agreement.

• Greater access to the Canadian milk market be afforded to US. Dairy Farmers.

• The Canadian wheat board discontinue manipulation of Canadian wheat prices.

• Congress to continue to support Trade Promotion Authority for the President.

We support Gregg Doud, a former Senate Ag staffer, nomination as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator.  We support Ted McKinney, the current Indiana director of agriculture, nomination as the first Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and International Affairs.  We urge the Senate to put a priority on confirming them.

We encourage President Trump and the administration to re-engage in the trans-pacific partnership agreement. We would ask that the previous framework be used as a starting point in which to improve from.  Trading with decreased and/or eliminated tariffs benefits consumers in all of the countries participating.

AFBF Policy# 252, International trade

ADOPTED

2018 Farm Bill

A new Farm Bill is scheduled to be acted upon in 2018.

Therefore be it resolved, we urge the following:

• The 2018 farm bill must include a high priority on crop insurance and development of broader range of products to help manage risk.

• More specialty crop and livestock Revenue Insurance products must be developed.

• USDA must refocus on a paperwork reduction format.  Repetitive information on multiple pages has created more paperwork for USDA staff and farm personnel, which also creates more opportunity for errors by USDA FSA and NRCS staff.

• The current price loss coverage (PLC) and agricultural risk coverage (ARC) programs are not effective for all Farms. The level of program support must be raised.

AFBF Policy# 239, National Farm Policy, §7.1

ADOPTED

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

Whereas water quality and nutrient management is the focus in many watersheds throughout the United States.

Whereas Conservation Reserve program (CRP) and Environmental Quality Improvement Programs (EQIP) filter strips are effective tools to managing nutrient runoff.

Whereas the growth of plants and the decaying organic material in filter ships also releases nutrients.

Therefore be it resolved:

• In watersheds of concern or impairment, that the plants grown in filter strips be removed at least once every other year.  The material which is removed may be spread on an adjacent field or may be completely removed for other uses.

• Amend AFBF Policy# 239, National Farm Policy, §7.2.4.5, by changing "The cap on CRP be raised to 32 million Acres."

ADOPTED

Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) Funding

Washington has appropriated over 77 million dollars as of March 2016 to the WLEB, much of which has been spent on grants to Universities and independent groups for studying the algae bloom in Lake Erie.  The dollars appropriated to funding actual agricultural practices, which could have an impact on water quality, are being spent on government procedure, process, and staffing at various agencies.

Funds which are directed to practices to improve water quality are not getting to the land. Farmers are attempting to help mitigate nutrient runoff at great personal expense while those who are just talking about the issue are receiving the funds.

Therefore we be it resolved, we urge AFBF and MFB to continue working to streamline the bureaucratic process and to allocate more of the funding to improving water quality at the farm level.

ADOPTED

Renewable Fuels

As the American consumer places more emphasis on renewable energy, ethanol and biodiesel have become viable alternatives to standard petroleum.  Greenhouse gases (GHGs) is 34% lower from corn ethanol than traditional gasoline.  In 2015, 10% of US vehicle fuel consumption was ethanol and over 96% of US gasoline contains ethanol.  The United States and Brazil produce 85% of the world's ethanol supply and in 2015, 38% of the US supply of corn became ethanol feedstock.  Michigan is the 12th largest ethanol producer in the nation with 5 plants currently in operation, producing 273 million gallons of clean burning ethanol last year.

Michigan is also home to one of two biodiesel facilities for W2Fuel.  Housed in Adrian, MI, the plant upgraded to an enzymatic reactor in 2015 that allows it to use recycled vegetable oils and other waste fats in addition to virgin corn and soy oil.  This increased production by 7 million gallons with a projected yearly production of 17 million gallons of clean-burning fuel called biodiesel.  This is EPA approved to be burned as 100% fuel in on-road and off-road diesel engines or as a blend with petroleum diesel. 

Per a recent UM environmental study, corn can produce 401 gallons/acre of ethanol and soybeans can produce 59 gallons/acre of biodiesel.  Other areas of development include cellulosic switchgrass (1,450 gallons/acre) and increasing interest in algae which can potentially produce 10-300 times more fuel per acre than other crops (5,020 gallons/acre).  Renewable sources of energy are the future of our country and we urge and support the following in order to develop and use these alternatives to oil:

• The retention of Renewable Fuels Standard

• The retention of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program

• Research into better performing engines of all sizes and types that run on renewable fuels, especially small and marine engines

• The public be given choices as to the blend percentage of fuel they wish to put into their vehicle's tank

• The elimination of federal & state subsidies and protection for the traditional petroleum and oil industry to encourage free markets and consumer demand to dictate the type of fuels produced

ADOPTED