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Proposed Policy


Local Resolutions


Septage Waste

St. Clair County has a need to develop a system for disposing of septic waste. We support St. Clair County Official's efforts to work with local enterprise to help to provide cost-effective and environmentally safe solutions, such as but not limited to the Smith Creek disposal project.

Storm Water/Drainage

If storm water makes no distinction between county drains, road drains or natural farm drains, and the handling of storm water is the responsibility of two basic government entities, namely the County Drain Commissioner and the County Road Commission, and the three drainage systems are as one when it comes to handling storm water, then they should be viewed as one system. To provide for a more efficient system of handling storm water we urge the County Road Commission and the County Drain Commissioner to act as one body managing a unified drainage system for the county. We urge the County Road Commission and the County Drain Commissioner, although recognizing the distinction within a watershed which handles storm water in a cooperative and joint manner, to use the resources of both commissions to provide a satisfactory and sound system for the handling of storm water.

Farm Market and Ag Tourism

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports value added agricultural production in St. Clair County. Value added farm products help both farmers and the local economy. Value added products allow the farmer/producer to share in a higher percentage of the final goods value. Farm markets and ag tourism are important parts of value-added products. While farmers run these entities as a business it is important that they are still recognized as a sector of agriculture. For that reason they should have all the same privileges that are afforded to agriculture. These endeavors all use local products and keep money and jobs in the local economy.

County Master Plan

The St. Clair County Farm Bureau continues to supports the goals of the County's Master Plan to preserve community character through the provision of diverse demands for residential living. We urge the townships within the county to adopt and recognize these designations laid out within the county master plan. Additionally, as the County moves forward with the review of the County Master Plan, the Farm Bureau encourages continued pursuit of goals to preserve the unique agricultural character of St. Clair County in its rural areas.

Farmland Preservation

Prime farmland in St. Clair County continues to be threatened by unplanned development and urban sprawl making farmland protection vital to the future of the production of agriculture in St. Clair County.

St. Clair County Farm Bureau therefore supports the following:

1. Full support of the St. Clair County Farmland Preservation Board as established by the St. Clair County Farmland Preservation Ordinance adopted in 2004.

2. Adoption of resolutions by St. Clair County Townships supporting the County Ordinance.

3. Funding of county farmland preservation programs through both public and private sources.

4. We urge the Michigan State Farm Bureau Board to continue their efforts to have a dedicated source of funds from the State of Michigan to supply the state agriculture preservation board with annual sums of revenue to be able to award grants to participating counties and townships so as to allow a meaningful farmland preservation effort to be built within the State of Michigan.

County Drains

The county drain system is an essential part of the infrastructure and economy in St. Clair and surrounding counties. Efficient and timely maintenance and repair of this public resource is important for supporting property values and productivity in agriculture and other industries.

The office of the County Drain Commissioner is an elected position with a large budget and staff because maintaining the county drain system requires work and affects all property owners.

The county needs aggressive leadership and hard work to improve the drainage system. Without this we are mortgaging this county's economic future.

Therefore we support:

• Educating the public on how the Drain Commissioner is elected

• Informing the public of the responsibilities of the Drain Commissioner

• Prompt action on petitions at the Drain Commission office.

• A Drain Commission office that will work to improve drains.

• Retaining the name of Drain Commissioner, not changing it to Office of Water Resource Management

Goodells County Park - Agriculture Heritage

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports activities at the Goodells County Park which display past and present agriculture in St. Clair County. The county park presently has buildings and farm equipment representing the county's agricultural past as well as land available for working demonstrations of past farming techniques. We encourage the county board to support and protect this valuable asset and include its protection in the County Park Master Plan.


State Resolutions


MAEAP

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports the MAEAP program (Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program). We support its voluntary, incentive based methods for keeping the environment clean and safe. MAEAP sets high standards for farmers and achieves results by rewarding good environmental practices. MAEAP is a win/win solution for both farmers and the environment and we strongly support it. We also encourage other local and county governments to adopt a resolution similar to that adopted by the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners that encourages farmers to participate in the MAEAP program and to recognize MAEAP verified farms.

DEQ

With all of the new regulations and permits that are facing agriculture, a review board comprised from the various affected entities, should review the new regulations/permits and then give their approval before the DEQ puts the new regulation(s) and/or permits in force.

Roads

Well constructed and maintained roads are vital to the Michigan agriculture industry. Presently construction and maintenance of roads suffer due to the lack of funding tied to a per gallon tax on motor fuels. Decreased fuel consumption due to a slow economy and mandated fuel efficiency standards has reduced funds available to build and maintain roads.

We support finding alternative ways to provide needed funding of roads that does not include tax on agricultural road frontage.

Value-Added Production - Identity Preservation

We support the practice followed by the seed industry to maintain purity or identity preservation. The burden remains with the producer of the specialty crop or identity preserved crop to maintain practices necessary to retain purity (border rows, buffer areas, proper cleaning and handling). Circumstances arising beyond the producer's control, which threatens a crop's identity, can be addressed by developing GAAMPs (Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices) for the production of identity preserved crops.

AgriPac

The Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) Political Action Committee (AgriPac) has asked our local committee to identify candidates for public office who are "Friends of Agriculture." Those candidates who are deemed to be "Friends of Agriculture" should be recognized regardless of whether or not the candidate is facing opposition.

Alternative Energy

St. Clair County Farm Bureau (SCC FB) understands and recognizes the need for agriculture and other industries to lessen their dependencies on fossil fuels. For that reason Farm Bureau supports and urges local and state government to continue to promote and find incentives that help advance the uses and applications of alternative energies and their by-products.

Alternative energies that we support include but are not limited to:

1. Ethanol - also known as grain alcohol, has become a leading alternative energy source in recent history.

2. Biodiesel - which includes the use of soy oil, vegetable oil, animal fats or restaurant grease in place of diesel fuel.

3. Wind Energy

4. Non-Corn Based Ethanol- We encourage funding for research into non-corn based energy. By this we mean, further research into using crops such as switch grass, sugarcane, sugar beets, wheat, along with the by products such as corn stover for the production of ethanol. This is not meant to eliminate corn ethanol, but as a compliment to it.

5. Other Bio-Mass energy source - We support the research into the development of viable use of producing energy by the use of anaerobic digestion, fermentation, distillation, burning of organic materials (pyrolysis) and hydrogasification.

State Wetlands

We are in opposition to the taking of prime farmland for non-agricultural purposes. Therefore be it resolved, we at St. Clair County Farm Bureau oppose the establishment of a county owned wetland bank, for the purpose of mitigating wet lands from one county to another. In addition that would include any prime agricultural land there by removing it forever from agricultural production.

Manufactured Home Communities

The St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports efforts by the State Legislature to ensure a more equitable sharing of the tax burden between all residential properties. This would certainly include reform to current taxation policies assigned to manufactured home communities.

Support for Agri-Tourism

Identification of farms and their agricultural activities as destination points for the public adds value to the farm operation.  We Support agricultural operations as destination points for tourism (agri-tourism).

Extension of Term Limits

Term limits have given the people of Michigan the opportunity to have fresh and new ideas in the state government. We believe that term limits give all the people of the state the best opportunity to serve the people. We also believe that the terms of both the house and the senate should be extended. Currently state representatives are limited to three 2-year terms in the House of Representatives and State Senators are limited to two 4-year terms in the Michigan Senate. St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports extending those limits by one term allowing state representatives to serve four 2-year terms in the House of Representatives and State Senators to serve three 4-year terms in the Michigan Senate.

Appeals Board for Department of Environmental Quality

St. Clair County Farm Bureau would like state lawmakers to create an appeals board for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Currently the only way to appeal their decision is to go to court.

Michigan Beverage Container Deposit Law

Michigan's highly successful and accepted bottle law has proven itself over the years.

The ten-cent deposit and return for bottles of carbonated beverages has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the litter on our roads and farmlands.

Trends change, consumption of non-carbonated beverages has dramatically increased.

Therefore we support expanding the Michigan container deposit law to include non-carbonated beverages, iced teas, juices, sport drinks, and bottled water but excluding dairy product containers.

Agricultural Property Taxes

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports lowering a farmer's property taxes to $5 per acre if his land were in an agriculture district. Township boards will set up agricultural districts. The farmer would have to enter into a multi-year contract to receive the tax credit. This bill would help preserve farmland and give farmers a break on property taxes.

Resolution in support of the Conservation Technical Assistance Initiative and the Engineering Technical Assistance Program of the USDA/NRCS

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Agriculture, and the Michigan Conservation Districts have entered into a collaborative conservation agreement to provide technical assistance through the Conservation Technical Assistance Initiative and the Engineering Technical Assistance program to implement conservation practices that are part of approved federal farm bill contracts on farm land in Michigan.

This agreement has been successful in addressing existing resource concerns on farm land and in so doing has reduced the amount of time practices wait after approval of funding before being designed and implemented. This agreement has brought over $3.8 Million federal dollars into Michigan through June 30, 2007.

This agreement cannot continue without the continuation of funding by the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service of Michigan and Michigan Department of Agriculture.

The Conservation Districts implementing the agreement need to provide a stable base for the grants with adequate facilities and staffing and there have been proposals to eliminate funding for Michigan Conservation Districts for the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

The St. Clair County Farm Bureau urges the Governor and the Legislature to continue the funding for the Michigan Depart of Agriculture's portion of the agreement and to fully restore the budgeted funding for Michigan's Conservation Districts in order to fulfill their responsibilities under the agreement.

Finally, the St. Clair County Farm Bureau urges the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Michigan to continue their support for this agreement.

Michigan Department of Agriculture

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports the concept and funding of Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) independent from DEQ & DNR. We therefore support efforts of MDA to carry out important programs such as Right to Farm, GAAMPS, MAEAP, Food Safety, Animal Health, and others. It is important for MDA to receive funding for continued implementation of these programs that help protect farmers, commodities, and consumers.

Extension & Educational Services

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports agriculture, one of the few growing industries in Michigan, and one that contributes to the local and state economy. Advancement in agriculture is highly dependent on cutting edge research and education as it relates to various parts of the agriculture industry.

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports research and educational efforts by Michigan State University (MSU) including MSU Extension. It is important for programs such as these to maintain local and state funding so they can continue to deliver programming and research results to farmers.

NRCS/Conservation Districts Contribution Agreements

The Farm Bureau urges the reinstatement of the NRCS/MDA Contribution Agreement Program which provided funding for individual Conservation Districts enabling the districts to assist the local NRCS conservationists in implementing Farm Bill programs.


National Resolutions


Re-Introduction of the Production of Hemp

We, the St. Clair County Farm Bureau, support the re-introduction of industrial hemp for production in the United States. Thus affording the farming community with an added-value crop.

Eminent Domain

The St. Clair County Farm Bureau believes that private property rights are fundamental to a free society. The use of eminent domain by the government to take individual's and companies' private property should not be for the benefit of a private property owner or non-governmental entity.

Downer Animals and the Food Supply

We at the St. Clair County Farm Bureau support using science based criteria to determine if an animal poses a risk to the food supply. Prohibiting animals from entering the food supply simply because the animal is injured does not make the animal unfit for human consumption. The USDA must change its current criteria for determining if an animal can join the food supply.

Sugar

The U.S. sweetener industry serves as an important alternative value-added commodity for farmers, a reliable supply of sugar for American consumers, and a generator of more than 140,000 jobs and $10 billion in economic activity.

U.S. sweetener farmers are globally competitive and support a domestic sugar program that operates at no cost to the federal government.

Therefore be it resolved that market liberalization for sugar should be reserved for negotiations in the World Trade Organization, where foreign export subsidies, monopolies, and domestic support programs must be addressed so as not to unfairly disadvantage American producers.

Commodity Disparagement

We recommend passage of disparagement laws that would allow courts to grant relief to those who produce or market any agricultural commodities if they suffer damage as a result of unfounded or false claims that a product isn't fit for human consumption, or that the animals from which the commodity was derived were raised by improper methods.

Natural Gas

The increase in the cost of natural gas is a tremendous burden on the agricultural industry. Current costs are greater in the United States than in most other countries. As a result we are witnessing the termination of nitrogen production in this country and an increase in the importation of nitrogen products and natural gas, which adds to the imbalance of foreign trade and devaluation of the American dollar.

It appears that provisions of the Clean Air Act are responsible for the increase use of natural gas in the production of electricity. Power generating companies are reluctant to invest in coal burning generation plants since they are unsure that the plant will be licensed as compliant with the requirements of the Clean Air Act even utilizing the latest technology in removing pollutants from exhaust.

We recommend that in implementing the provisions of the Clean Air Act, the federal government encourage the use of other fuels, such as oil and coal, as alternatives to natural gas by investment in research leading to technology that will result in emissions as clean as those produced by the burning of natural gas. We also recommend exploration, extraction and pipeline construction be expanded to ensure that domestic supply can meet demand for natural gas.

Indemnification

We support funding to fully indemnify farmers from income loss, livestock loss, facility loss, and loss of use of land resulting from actual and perceived animal health problems.

Climate Change

Climate change, as a result of human activity, is a political reality of the 21st century. This issue is a complex mixture of science and pseudo science, truths and half truths, emotions and intimidations by pressure groups of many persuasions vying to influence public opinion.

That being said, it is also necessary to recognize the importance of agriculture in this area. For that reason we believe that the agricultural community must have a hand in the development of policy, both public and private on this topic.

Animal ID

St. Clair County Farm Bureau supports the goal of an animal ID system. However, the information needs to be kept confidential. Since the government is mandating the system it should pay all costs associated with the system. We further believe that packers should collect the data at slaughter and send all information (grade, dressing percentage, etc.) back to the cattle owner to give the owner an incentive to participate.

MAEAP

St. Clair County Farm Bureau fully supports the MAEAP program and urges all states to develop a similar, private, incentive-based system to protect our environment.

Clean Water Act

We at St. Clair County Farm Bureau do not support expanding the Clean Water Act to cover non-navigable water.

Conservation Stewardship Program

The Conservation Stewardship program is designed to reward farmers for practicing good environmental stewardship during the past number of years and enhance those practices in the future. 

There is currently pressure being brought upon the Unites States to move away from commodity related programs for farmers and therefore it is likely that we will see an increase in environmental stewardship programs.

The current CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) stipulates the producer have control of the land for at least the next 5 crop years. If the land is rented the producer must enter into a contract with the owner giving the producer control over the land for the contract period. 

Therefore be it resolved that the American Farm Bureau work to encourage changes in this program to include those farmers who are practicing good environmental stewardship on the land they cash rent.  Eligibility for the programs should be shown by the producer proving compliance with no 5-year requirement for participation in the program.

Self-Employment Tax

Most farmers are self-employed businessmen. Self-employment taxes of 15.3% are collected on income earned by agriculture producers and other self-employed people. Investment income, for example rent for land, is considered unearned income and therefore not subject to self-employment taxes. However, if a farm partnership rents land from one of the partners, that rental income is considered earned income and the individual is subject to SE. Farm Bureau believes that farmers should be treated the same as other taxpayers and not have to pay self-employment taxes on unearned income from investments like cash rental of land regardless of who pays the rent.