Marquette, MI – March 28, 2019 – Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke to Michigan Farm Bureau members this morning as the final meeting for this Washington Legislative Seminar. With her own personal investment into Michigan, including a house-divided situation between U of M and MSU, Stabenow has written the Farm Bill to represent our Great Lakes State on every single page.
At the end of 2018, Stabenow completed the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill helps in times of uncertainty, with better crop insurance that even covers specialty crops like Hops. Michigan is an extremely diverse state when it comes to crops. The state is the 2nd most nationwide, 2nd to California with every 1 out of 4 jobs in Michigan being related to agricultural. Numerous other topics were also on the agenda for today’s meeting including talk of Michigan’s dairy industry. Stabenow said there is a new dairy “margin coverage program” underway with 1 billion dollars dedicated to the industry. She encouraged people to sign up for the program because by time everything is set up, there will be 5 times the benefit there were with the last dairy program.
Taking a look at the Beginning Farmer Program, Debbie Stabenow stated that this would remain a part of the Farm Bill funding. Veterans were worked in to the bill as Michigan has the largest chapter of farming veterans in the county.
Later today, Stabenow will attend a budget resolution committee meeting to lay out the big numbers. They will finalize things with Roberts and she will show her support for cutting the amendment made by the White House that proposes 31% cuts to AG or a 9 billion dollar cut of what was just passed by the biggest bipartisan vote ever.
Stabenow also spoke on the cherry industry talking about cherry juice, the Duty Free status repeal, and trade enforcement plans for cherries. There was also a focus on protecting urban farming, which has been quickly developing in areas like Detroit and surrounding towns.
To wrap things up for Stabenow’s portion of the meeting, she turned her focus to conservation programs and immigration. Prior to the updated Farm Bill, the approved conversation programs buried farmers in paperwork. Changes have been made to fix the slowness that surrounded the paperwork process. Now people just need to use the program to find out if the changes were effective! Immigration is a top priority, but labor is tightening among Michigan farmers. Stabenow is in favor of a agricultural jobs bipartisan bill. She wants to work with colleagues and the white house to change the discussion adding the economy in with a better legal system to attack illegal immigration. Stabenow requested Farm Bureau’s help on this to be loud and voice opinions!
Senator Gary Peters also spoke during the meeting. He has spent 4 years in the Senate and heads up border security and immigration. Peters pointed out that if Michigan were a country, we would be the 2nd largest exporter to Canada. We need to keep our borders safe, including the northern border. Peters is working to above border snags so trade and commerce can get safely across the border, especially perishable crops or the “just in time delivery” of auto parts. Gary Peters understands we need markets and exports. We need capital to run businesses and we need labor. He is focusing on all of that during his time in the Senate as well as serving on the commerce committe to focus on improving funding for boardband access in rural areas. Peters said, “There is no question of having rural access to high speed broadband. This is also important to farmers, just as important as access to electricity.”
With a chance to talk to representatives in Congress and the Senate, plus a trip the Embassy of Ireland, our Farm Bureau representatives head back to Michigan today with even more drive toward the mission and new information!