Rep. Sharon Tyler: Focusing on Michigan agriculturePublished 9:32pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Protecting our farmers and ensuring quality produce is readily available to Michigan residents is important. Michigan is blessed with more than 56,000 farms, 95 percent of which are family owned and operated. Michigan farmers take great pride in successfully caring for their families, land, livestock and the natural environment.
Michigan also plays a major part in helping the agriculture industry establish an environment for success. Centering our focus on agriculture helps advertise our state as a national food leader and connects Michigan’s reliable produce with its trustworthy farming practices, processing and shipping methods.
Michigan is the second-most agriculturally diverse state in the nation. Expanding agri-business through research development, food processing and transportation can only help move Michigan forward especially in agricultural markets.
It’s this proud agricultural heritage that led me to cosponsor legislation to provide protection for farmers markets. The Farm Market Liability Act limits liability for farmers markets to only the cases where willful misconduct or disregard for the safety of the participant was reported. The act holds those who displayed deliberate acts of wrong doing accountable while still offering an environment where farmers can sell quality goods and produce.
In progressing forward, I am also supporting efforts to update several outdated rules and regulations in an effort to strengthen farming and agriculture practices. The House Agriculture Committee worked with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to help identify and modernize Michigan laws regarding agriculture.
Some rules and regulations identified include the repeal of both the Apple Commission and Cherry Commission regulations, since these commissions no longer exist. The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDARD) threw out unnecessary rules that had been duplicated, such as the Grain Dealers rules.
The Weights & Measures Act that ensured fuel was accurately measured was also repealed. With the implementation of national fuel standards this act was no longer utilized or needed.
The legislation also aligns Michigan with the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for using the Seal of Quality on various products. These necessary repeals will help bring agriculture rules up to speed and streamline Michigan agri-business.
The bills passed the House earlier this month and now head to the Senate for further consideration.
Another bill before the House, House Bill 5130, would amend the Food Law of 2000 to incorporate changes made in the 2009 federal Food Code. This legislation brings Michigan law up to speed with federal food safety changes and requirements.
I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling (888) 373-0078 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.