Difficult political environment in Lansing leaves farmers concerned

Michigan’s largest agricultural organization says they’re concerned about what direction the state’s legislature will take on some environmental bills still in committee. 

Legislative counsel Ben Tirrell tells Brownfield elections earlier this month have led to the Michigan state House being evenly split with two seats empty until a special election next year.

“They went ahead and adjourned for the year very early, the earliest they’ve adjourned in 50 years,” he explains.  “And so, it’ll be very interesting now that there is a tie going into the New Year, what will happen. That’s very uncertain at this point.”

Bills left on the table include increasing Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy oversight panels and giving that agency additional water quality authority, two issues Farm Bureau has lobbied against.

“This is not the way to do this,” he says.  “We need more transparency in our regulatory framework, not less. And then if we’re going to take away oversight, we should not be getting additional authority as well—so a lot of things to watch.”

Tirrell says bills increasing environmental regulations on pesticides and labor requirements are also still open for consideration next year and could negatively impact farmers.

Brownfield interviewed Tirrell during the Michigan Farm Bureau’s State Annual Meeting.

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