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E-M:/ Farm Bureau -- "strong opposition to water use permitting"

Title: Farm Bureau -- "strong opposition to water use permitting"
While it will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Farm Bureau, it is worth noting that the MI Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting this week saw several anti-environmental policies adopted or expanded (see release below).  Governor Granholm spoke to the group and her comments, reported by the Farm Bureau at http://www.michiganfarmbureau.com/annual/20041201d.php also talks about a range of issues, from farmland preservation to water use.  

Michigan Farm Bureau 2004 Annual Meeting
Printed: December 4, 2004

MFB policy-makers take stances on water use, other priority issues

For more information, contact Jill Corrin at (517) 230-6038 or the MFB Newsroom at (231) 938-5151.

ACME, Dec. 3, 2004 - Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) policy-makers expressed their strong opposition to water use permitting during the MFB 85th Annual Meeting in Acme. Concluding today, MFB members spent the better part of the week adopting policies on state and national issues that will guide the organization in 2005.

Through the policy process, delegates were quick to recognize the crucial importance of water as a resource, adopting policy stating: "The Great Lakes Basin represents the largest reserve of fresh water in the world. It is a unique resource that should be utilized in a responsible manner and protected for future generations and the future of Michigan agriculture."

At the same time, delegates gave considerable attention to agriculture's many concerns regarding water use.

New language inserted into the organization's existing water use policy resolved to oppose any laws that include water use permitting if they do not provide that "no fees will ever be charged" for agricultural water use, among other provisions.

Delegates also adopted policy that calls for "credible scientific research" for all water use policies. However, they expressed concern over increasing calls for permitting that many feel will harm producers' abilities to operate their farms.

"Consumptive use or simple withdrawal values do not accurately describe agricultural water use," the policy says. "Michigan Farm Bureau will not accept a water management system that does not balance efficient agricultural water use with the amount of water recovered for groundwater recharge from rain falling on farmland.

"Management and regulation of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin does not require water use permitting. Burdensome regulation is not necessary to protect the Great Lakes and could challenge the competitiveness of Michigan farms."

In other action, delegates voted to:

*    Support the removal of abandoned and/or neglected fruit orchards and vineyards because they "harbor diseases and insects."
*    Increase penalties for "individuals who destroy or contaminate agricultural property with the intent to create terror."
*    Encourage "the expansion of junior high/middle school and high school agriscience and natural resources education programs and FFA chapters as vital tools for educating young people" to "enable the future leaders of agriculture to obtain foundational knowledge that will help shape their careers and ultimately promote the sustainability of the agriculture industry."
*    Support MFB's "active role to involve members in air quality education." This new organizational policy urges education for livestock producers regarding the implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency "safe harbor agreement" that provides them with "protection from legal liabilities associated with air emission issues in exchange for a one-time fine and an industry-financed research study to gather air emissions data specific to the industry's production and manure management systems."
*    Support "the development of research and testing that will enhance the adoption of biotechnology products and processes, and address consumer safety and environmental concerns."
*    Support "the creation and effective implementation of both temporary and permanent farmland protection tools."
*    Support the delisting of the Eastern Timber Wolf as an endangered species.
MFB members also expressed concern "about the lack of large animal practitioners in the area of veterinary medicine" and adopted policy supporting measures and incentives to recruit future veterinarians.

In addition, they adopted amended policy on agricultural terrorism that states there is a "fine line between being over-reactive and creating unnecessary regulation versus being acutely aware of agriculture's vulnerability." As such, the policy opposes "additional regulation without consultation of the agricultural community and verification that there is a real safety concern or risk."

Editor's Note: For more information after Dec. 3, contact Jill Corrin, MFB Media Support Services Manager, at (800) 292-2680, ext. 6585.

Tom, Anne, Nate and Pete Woiwode
5088 Powell Road
Okemos, MI 48864