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Growing Michigan Agricultural News - Third Quarter 2013

According to a recent state report, the number of migrant and seasonal workers in Michigan has increased 7.3% since 2006. Despite the increase in the number of workers, the Michigan Farm Bureau recently reported that farmers have not been able to find enough help to keep up with the growing industry and their crops. Those involved are blaming the nation's immigration policies, weather patterns, the recession and industry changes. Some farmers have had to leave crops in the field due to the lack of help. 

$3 Million Strategic Growth Initiative Grant Program for Food and Ag Industry 

The Department of Agriculture & Rural Development recently announced a Strategic Growth Initiative grant program to help Michigan's expanding food and agriculture industry. The $3 million grant program, which is a joint venture between the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, "provides an opportunity to leverage business development and growth for Michigan's $91.4 billion food and agriculture industry," per MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. Read more >>

Michigan Tart Cherry Growers Gain Access to Federal Crop Insurance

In response to Michigan's devastating 2012 cherry crop, Senator Debbie Stabenow recently led the charge to gain Michigan tart cherry growers access to purchase federal crop insurance for the first time ever. Insurance was also made available to sweet cherry growers beginning in August 2012. Read more.

Gov. Snyder Travels to China on Trade Mission 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder traveled to China in September for the third time in as many years. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Cover Adams, among others, accompanied Snyder on his trip. According to the Detroit Free Press, Snyder stated that the trade mission centered on exports, tourism and the automotive industry. He also mentioned that China is a growing market for agricultural commodities, in particular for soybeans and blueberries. 

Some members of the Michigan Agri-Business Association and Muskegon officials have been investigating the possibility of a river barge terminal on the east end of Muskegon Lake. Association President Jim Byrum recently presented the idea and feels that Muskegon is an excellent location since it is a deep-water port with nearby railroad and highway connections. The river barge terminal would allow Michigan farmers to be linked to Gulf Coast export opportunities going through Chicago and the Mississippi River barge system. The proposal becomes even more appealing since returning barges could bring materials such as farm equipment, seed or fertilizer back to Michigan ports. The development would need to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping before proceeding.

Right-to-Know Pesticide Legislation Proposed

House Bill 4841 was introduced in June by Michigan State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) that would allow residents to sign up and be notified when a commercial applicator sprays lawn or ornamental pesticides immediately adjacent to their property. Currently, only those individuals with a physician's certification meeting specific criteria are able to register for the state's pesticide notification registry. The Ann Arbor News quoted Irwin as stating that his bill "provides Michigan residents the right to know when their household may be exposed to harmful chemical applied near their property. By providing an opt-in, people are given the freedom to make informed decisions about their health."

 The statutory language appears to be limited to lawn and ornamental pesticides, but could be expanded to agricultural applications in the future.

© 2019 Varnum LLP

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About this Author

Aaron M. Phelps, Varnum, litigation attorney
Partner

For over 15 years, Aaron's practice has been focused on complex commercial and environmental litigation - in Michigan and around the country. Aaron has represented clients in contract and corporate governance disputes, telecommunications and energy matters, health care litigation, and tort actions.

Over the last five years, Aaron has represented over 200 companies in lawsuits against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for ERISA violations. The first trial resulted in a $6 million judgment, and subsequent judgments ranged from $315,000 to over $8 million. Currently...

616-336-6257
Matthew Eugster, Environmental lawyer, Varnum
Partner

MMatt's vast experience includes general environmental law, environmental compliance counseling, transactional due diligence, administrative law, civil and administrative enforcement defense, environmental insurance, Brownfield redevelopment and financing, agricultural law, and energy/alternative energy law. He routinely reviews environmental site assessments, directs remediation projects and has done extensive work with clients involved in the Michigan Baseline Environmental Assessment (BEA) program. Matt is also routinely involved in the negotiation of environmental matters in conjunction with the purchase or sale of large and small business entities and similar transactions, and has experience representing farms and agricultural associations in environmental matters. In addition, he has assisted in the development of various energy and alternative energy projects.

616/336-6821
Kimberly A. Clarke, Varnum, Immigration Lawyer
Partner

Kim focuses her practice on immigration matters, including nonimmigrant petitions, both employment- and family-based permanent residence applications, expatriation and foreign visa issues. She has developed a strong background in the area of worker verification issues and managed clients through internal and agency Form I-9 audits, USICE compliance investigations and civil criminal charges.

In addition, Kim maintains a specialty practice of consultation with agricultural clients and handles various agricultural labor and employment issues such as compliance with...

616-336-6441