Proposed policy resolutions approved by delegates at the county annual meeting

View the resolutions below that were approved at the county annual and submitted to the state policy development committee to be considered at the Michigan Farm Bureau annual meeting. 

Contact the county office for information about the Policy Development process

042-BROADBANDEthanol is a renewable, domestically produced fuel. Not only does ethanol production support farmers by providing a market for corn, it supports the U.S. economy and reduces the impact of international supply disruptions which adds to our nation’s energy security. Ethanol is also a cleaner burning fuel. The American Cancer Society supports higher blends of ethanol because these fuels have reduced carcinogenic substances in their emissions. Unfortunately, the production and availability of higher blends of ethanol-based fuels faces multiple barriers including oil companies and the petroleum industry’s virtual monopoly on the nation’s fuel supply. The petroleum industry is responsible for much of the negative information presented to consumers about ethanol-based fuels. Often, the EPA is responsible for blocking markets for ethanol. However, the EPA has recently changed its position on the restrictions to using E-15 during the peak summer driving season. E-15 may now be used year-round. In light of these points, Clinton County Farm Bureau supports • The use of higher blends of ethanol including E-15, and • Breaking down market obstructions placed by competitors, the EPA, and ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials).
418-Fiscal PolicyInefficiency and wasteful spending are chronic problems within the federal government. One small wasteful and inefficient program that can be easily eliminated is the minting of the U.S. penny. In today’s economy, nothing can be purchased with a single penny. The sole use of the penny is to make change. They cannot be used in vending machines, toll booths, or even parking meters. Consumers literally throw them away in the “take a penny, leave a penny” trays next to convenience store cash registers. What’s more, it costs more to produce a penny thn it is actually worth: costing about $0.017 (1.7 cents) to produce. While the coins are reusable, being used thousands of times during their circulation lifetimes, they must actually be circulated in order to achieve this efficiency. As mentioned above, however, pennies often do not circulate as intended, lying in penny trays in stores or piling up in ash trays and coin toss jars in homes across the country. Also, it is environmentally unsound to produce pennies. Several modern countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have discontinues pennies from their currencies. Through their examples it can be seen that removing pennies from circulation does not cause prices to increase. The U.S. halfpenny was discontinued in 1857, when it had more value (14 cents in 2015 dollars) than the penny does today. Therefore, Clinton County Farm Bureau supports the phasing out of the penny from U.S. currency.
044-STATE ENERGY POLICY A 2019 Executive Decision by Governor Whitmer and MDARD Director granted permission to develop solar energy systems on farmland enrolled in the Farmland Development Rights Program under the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act (PA 116) of 1974, as amended. Landowners are divided as to whether this use of PA 116 lands should or should not be allowed. Solar energy generation is a new and developing technology and there are many unknowns regarding its efficacy, efficiency and lifespan. The technology and economics of solar energy generation have been rapidly improving over the last couple decades. Solar energy is now feasible at the commercial and utility scale. Homeowners and farmers alike can benefit from the cost efficiencies that have evolved with the advancement of solar technology. It is significant that the cost of electricity generated from solar panels has dropped by nearly 75% since 2009, and is expected to fall 66% further by 2040, according to Michigan State University Extension. Another key driver is that computed prices for solar energy generation are looking more favorable for farmers and agri-businesses. Perceptions and attitudes in Michigan indicate that solar (and wind) can reduce operating costs for electrical, heating and cooling utilities, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions to protect the state’s natural environment and U.S. climate. Michigan has proven to have adequate solar resources, that are renewable, seasonal and infinite, to justify installing feasible solar systems in appropriately planned and zoned locations. In Clinton County, the Board of Commissioners adopted an amendment in June 2017 to their County Zoning Ordinance which addresses solar energy and it is expected that more solar development proposals may soon be in the works. It is conceivable that new energy generation technologies that depend on a land base as a resource will continue to emerge, speaking to the importance of developing good policy that protects this land resource and will stand the test of time. Since the 2019 executive decision to allow for solar arrays on PA 116 land, a policy has been developed establishing expectations and responsibilities in carrying out the development, maintenance and decommissioning of solar energy arrays that are installed on property enrolled in PA 116. Policy 44 State Energy Policy which states: • We encourage utilization of brownfield, public property, Michigan Dept. of Transportation rights-of-ways and other marginal lands, as well as industrial, residential and agricultural buildings, to reduce easements across farms for renewable energy projects and to protect prime farmland. We oppose: • Adding renewable energy equipment values to farm property tax assessments or personal property for taxation purposes when used by the landowner. In addition, Clinton County Farm Bureau supports: • Full disclosure of chemical and electronic components of solar panels and equipment, making the landowner aware of any potential hazards if the solar equipment should malfunction or break, and the potential for environmental contamination to the farm ground below, upon contracting, future assigns and decommissioning of the solar panels. • State or federal incentives and/or allowances for solar energy project companies to build arrays on brownfields, rooftops, parking lots and/or other marginalized lands. • Innovative applied research from Michigan State University and others that develop feasible, cost-effective battery storage technologies for both on-farm and off-farm electric energy battery storage from solar energy. • Net-metering or inflow/outflow billing mechanism that enables producers to sell excess power generated on farms back to utilities at an equitable rate. • Sound land use planning local units of government should both develop a plan for solar energy and adopt a reasonable zoning ordinance/building code that allows solar panels. • Pasturing of sheep to control weeds, and inclusion of pollinator plants to encourage natural pollinators. • The ability to put PA 116 contracts on hold during the commission of the solar farm and that the contracts will resume following decommissioning of the solar farm. • Giving solar farms the same consideration as Natural Resource Conservation Service programs in retaining base acres with the USDA Farm Service Agency after the decommissioning of the solar farm. • The current administrative policy for “allowing commercial solar panel development on PA 116 lands”. Clinton County FB opposes: • Legislating into state statute any policy such as the “2019 MDARD Policy for Allowing Commercial Solar Panel Development on PA 116” into the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act or any other public act, but support the current administrative policy for “allowing commercial solar panel development on PA 116 lands”. • The building of energy generating developments where no nearby electricity infrastructure exists, creating the need to build large, new transmission lines, and/or sub-stations.
096-HIGHWAYS AND FUNDING96 Highway Improvements and Maintenance Lines 1-9Michigan Farm Bureau recognizes the importance of the state and local road network to agriculture. Investment in infrastructure such as highways and airports, can be directly linked to growth in business and economy. Improving Michigan transportation system will create jobs, attract business and strengthen our economy. We believe state and local road agencies should be adequately funded so they are able to properly fund routine maintenance and ensure safe and efficient roadways to all motorists. Michigan roads and bridges are in woeful condition due to the lack of adequate funding over decades. The state’s roads are in poor condition which is causing expense to drivers due to car damage, time it takes to get from place to place, goes against the Pure Michigan plan to bring tourism into Michigan, international trade crossing Michigan and costs farmers and businesses extra money. These conditions could keep companies out of Michigan. An efficient transportation system is vital to successful commerce. Annually, $520 billion in goods are shipped throughout Michigan, 78 percent of which are carried by trucks. A well-designed and highly accessible network of roads is more attractive for businesses to locate and expand. Numerous companies cite reliable access to the Interstate highway system and other major routes as a major factor in their choice. According to the national rankings from the 2016 Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems, published by the Reason Foundation, Michigan is nationally ranked 35th worst in congested roads in urbanized area, 40th worst in rural interstate conditions and 41st worst in urban interstate conditions. Consider this data published in 2015 by The Road Information Program (TRIP): Our roads and infrastructure have been falling apart over many years because of the lack of adequate funding. Some communities have chosen to pay taxes to fix local road. Therefore, Clinton County Farm Bureau supports: • Policy #96 – Line 3 – after “highways, delete “and airports” • New and renewable funding to solve this decades old problem. This funding source will be indexed for inflation. • An independent study on infrastructure. • Requiring all vehicles that use public roads to pay a fee of some kind.
097-IMPLEMENTS OF HUSBANDRYPolicy 97 Highways Lines 14 – 18: • User taxes when new revenue is needed for roads and bridges. New revenues for roads and bridges shall go through the PA 51 formula. Such taxes must be in line with maintenance costs and should be consistent with neighboring states. And Lines 20 – 26: A one percent increase in the State’s general sales tax dedicated directly for road funding. As an alternative option, we support diverting 100 percent of the state sales tax collected on motor fuels to the PA 51 formula to provide additional road funding, and the use of a 1 percent increase in the general sales tax to offset the loss of revenue.
038-AGRISCIENCE, FOOD AND NATURAL RESOURCES EDUCATION AND THE FFA ORGANIZATIONResources Education & The FFA Organization Training and educating youth that may be interested in pursuing careers in agriculture is vital to Michigans agriculture industry. Many careers exist within the industry through multiple educational choices; however, youth must be exposed at some level to the options available to them before and during the process of making career decisions. Junior high/middle school and high school Agriscience, Food and Natural Resources Education programs and FFA chapters provide these opportunities for many students across the state. Unfortunately, there is a growing shortage of properly certified and trained educators to staff existing or start new programs in Michigan schools. One reason for this shortage is that current agriscience educators are leaving the field for more lucrative work within the ag industry. While certain added-cost funding is available to school districts from various sources, these funds are dwindling and are meant to address additional costs associated with agriscience programs such as equipment and materials and do not provide for additional salary options to teachers. In the meantime, school district labor contracts for educators and the salaries that are negotiated therein cannot compete with salaries available to highly qualified people in the greater agriculture industry. PROPOSAL: Clinton County Farm Bureau proposes that the Michigan Farm Bureau continue to promote the increase of added-cost funding to public schools for agriscience education. Clinton County Farm Bureau also encourages Michigan Farm Bureau to promote additional programs within the agriculture industry that incentivize people to become agriscience educators and FFA advisors. These programs might include, among others, scholarships and grants made available by companies within the industry that provide student loan payoffs and/or direct college funding to students in exchange for a certain length of time the student must teach an agriscience program and/or work as an FFA advisor in a Michigan junior high/middle school or high school. Clinton County Farm Bureau encourages Michigan State University to add more full-time staff dedicated to strengthening their AFNRE program with an emphasis on certifying and supporting AFNR teachers, and encourage Michigan State University to add staff to actively recruit students for the certification program in agriculture education and to build a Masters Degree program in the area of agriculture education.
081-OIL, GAS, AND MINERAL RIGHTSNRCS must have Wetland Conservation Determinations and Appeals completed and finalized to the producers in a timely matter, within one year or less. When a year has passed with no determination, the producer may continue to move forward with their plans.
043-RENEWABLE AND BIOMASS PRODUCTSWe encourage Michigan internet providers to take advantage of the available federal government loans and grants. 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. The failure of public policy to address this critical need must be addressed as a common good just as access to electricity and phone services was implemented decades ago. Access to high speed internet connection is an increasingly important issue for business, agriculture and academic purposed for rural students as the disparity of access grows. The State of Michigan should address a comprehensive policy for the provision of universal broadband access that is not only statewide but encourages national coverage that is equitable in cost and quality in both rural and urban settings. Until equal high-speed internet becomes a reality in Michigan, the State should offer substantial tax credits to businesses and families in underserved areas. We urge 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. We encourage Michigan Farm Bureau to explore the feasibility of offering discounted high speed internet as a member benefit. Furthermore, we request that the Michigan Farm Bureau propose support of this issue nation-wide to the American Farm Bureau Policy committee to be added to the infrastructure section of Farm Bureau Policies as access to high speed access at an affordable cost should be available to all Americans in both rural and urban settings.
151-Farm MachineryHISTORY: With the integration of technology with modern farm equipment, many equipment manufacturers have utilized advanced computers to control and diagnose farm equipment. It has come into question whether farmers have the right to change or utilize the information in this proprietary software. Even though they purchased the machine, they may or may not have purchased the right to the software. Often times, an individual farmer is unable to purchase the software, as it is only made available to the manufacture's licensed dealership. This has made repairing equipment easier in some cases but increasingly difficult in others. The question is how do farmers keep utilizing the latest technology but still able to repair the equipment in the event of a malfunction. In the 80s and 90s, the auto industry struggled with multiple computer proprietary software, making it impossible to diagnose a vehicle outside of the manufacturer. The auto industry standardized communication of On Board Diagnostics (OBD) in 1988 and it became mandatory in 1996. PROPOSAL Clinton County Farm Bureau proposes the use of a standard communication format for all farm equipment with diagnostic capability to be made available to the public,similar in nature to the auto industry.
359-Organic StandardsThe National Organic Program (NOP) develops the rules & regulations for the production, handling, labeling, and enforcement of all USDA organic products. This process, referred to as rulemaking, involves input from the National Organic Standards Board (a Federal Advisory Committee made up of fifteen members of the public) and the public. The NOP also maintains a handbook that includes guidance, instructions, policy memos, and other documents that communicate the organic standards. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a Federal Advisory Board made up of 15 dedicated public volunteers from across the organic community. Established by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the NOSB considers and makes recommendations on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products. The NOSB also has special responsibilities related to the national list of prohibited and allowed substances. Each NOSB member is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a five-year term. USDA publishes a call for nominations each spring, and newly appointed members begin service in January of the following year. NOSB members include: four who own or operate an organic farming operation; two who own or operate an organic handling operation; one who owns or operates a retail establishment with significant trade in organic products; three with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation; three who represent public interest or consumer interest groups; one with expertise in the fields of toxicology, ecology, or biochemistry; and one who is a USDA accredited certifying agent. The NOSB generally meets twice per year at a public meeting to discuss the items on its work agenda, vote on proposals, and make recommendations to the Secretary. AMS and the NOSB value transparency and invite public input via advance written and in-person oral comments. All meetings are free and open to the public. If an NOSB proposal receives a decisive vote (2/3 majority) by Board members in favor of the proposed motion, it becomes a recommendation to the USDA, and is provided to the Secretary through the AMS National Organic Program. PROPOSAL: Clinton County Farm Bureau proposes changing the makeup of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to allow for two classifications of farmers on the NOSB board. The four farmer members would be split into two classifications of farming operations; the first classification would be an owner of a farm operation that is grossing greater than or equal to one million dollars in annual sales and another classification of a farm owner grossing less than one million dollars annually. We propose that each classification would be represented by two of the four farmer votes on the NOSB.
402-EnergyClinton County FB reaffirms AFBF Policy 402-Energy which states: We support: • Solar energy generation as a component of the nation’s energy portfolio; • Establishment of state standards for commercial solar energy conversion systems that protect private property rights and allow for reasonable development of projects; • Ensuring adequate funds are in place for decommissioning; and • Allowing landowners the option of terminating a solar lease agreement if solar panels fail to produce energy for a period longer than 12 consecutive months.