Michigan Small Farm Council
January 7, 2014
Greetings, MSFC members.
As many of you know, the new year started with an announcement by MDARD that there will be an opportunity to provide Public Comments on the Proposed 2014 GAAMPs on January 22nd.
MDARD will compile all comments received during the meeting and via email, and will send them to each of the GAAMPs committees for review. The committees will consider the comments, and will then prepare final drafts for review by the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. If the five members of the Agriculture Commission approve them, the proposed changes will become a functional part of the GAAMPs later in 2014.
The MSFC has a particular interest in the proposed changes to the GAAMPs for Site Selection and Odor Control for Livestock Production Facilities. The Site Selection GAAMPs have never applied to most members of the MSFC, because "Livestock Production Facilities" are defined by MDARD as having 50 animal units or more, which greatly exceeds the number of animals held by most small farms in Michigan. In the proposed changes, MDARD defines a new term, Livestock Facility, as one with any number of animals - including a single animal; by taking this step, MDARD for the first time brings small farm operations under the control of the Site Selection GAAMPs. And then in a second step, MDARD creates a new class of sites - Category 4 sites - that are not ever acceptable sites for Livestock Facilities. Category 4 sites are defined by MDARD as those sites that are exclusively zoned for residential use.
Thus the proposed changes first bring operations as small as a single animal under the control of the Site Selection GAAMPs, and then uses the new Category 4 definition to exclude those operations from RTF protection in residential areas.
Here is what you can do:
1. Engage in a discussion with other MSFC members about this latest effort by MDARD to restrict agricultural rights. A discussion forum exclusively for MSFC members has been created here.
2. Voice your concerns with other members of the MSFC at the Public Comment Period, which begins at 9 am on January 22nd in Dimondale. Details here.
3. Send written comments by 5 pm on January 22nd to WilcoxR2@michigan.gov.
4. Attend Agriculture Commission meetings on January 14th or February 12th to speak directly to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. Meeting details for Ag Commission meetings are here.
A great deal is at stake here, and I hope each of you will appeal to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture for continued Right to Farm protection for small farmers in Michigan.
Wendy Lockwood Banka
President, Michigan Small Farm Council