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E-M:/ For farmers, a direct sell

But state wants more rules as consumers seek fresher food
Agritourism is emerging as a serious industry across the state, especially in southeastern Michigan, where city and suburban residents are flocking to local farms in rising numbers for experiences that range from cutting your own Christmas tree to wine tastings to corn mazes. But a hodgepodge of local laws governing agritourism has the state ready to step in and regulate the industry, to cut down confusion and ease growing tension between farmers and local leaders, many of whom favor stronger safety measures in the name of protecting the public.

The number of farmers across Michigan moving to direct selling has increased so much that the Michigan Department of Agriculture recently formed a task force to examine what kind of regulation is needed to balance farmers' needs with those of local government.

"Our work in the task force is a response to a change in the agriculture industry, where many farmers are direct-marketing their products. There are many questions about what operations are governed by local rules and which are governed by state and federal law," said Jim Johnson of the Department of Agriculture.


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