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2018 PROJECT R.E.D.
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Support for Agriculture in Macomb County
Of Macomb County’s 306,670 acres of land, 20 percent remains classified as farmland. About 4000 acres presents residents and visitors with a view of homesteads surrounded by woodlands, ponds, pastures for grazing or forage production. Corn, soybean and small grain production comprises the majority of cropland use (over 60 percent) while vegetable production generates over $6.5 million in revenue. Combined with fruit production, over half of this combined revenue is in direct-to-consumer sales, making Macomb the third ranking county in the local food movement, as well one of the top producers of sweet corn and pumpkins. Livestock products such as meat, milk, eggs and fiber are produced on some 136 farms, providing consumers with these local choices as well. During the spring months, sales of annual and perennial flowers, trees, shrubs and sod have made Macomb the sixth ranking producer of these crops. In the fall thousands of families enjoy festivals, tours, wineries, U-Pick, and other Agri-tourism opportunities in celebration of the diverse agriculture in our community. While many consumers enjoy the benefits of these farms, few understand the tremendous challenges inherent in maintaining a livelihood by producing, processing and marketing agricultural products. RESOLUTION: Macomb County Farm Bureau members encourage the Macomb County Executive Office and Board of Commissioners to work with agriculture and related businesses in whatever capacity they can to help mitigate the risks from overly restrictive policy to the growth of the farm and food industries in the county, region and state.
Signage for Direct Farm Marketers
Economic development in Macomb County has become more dependent upon small business and, for many agricultural producers; this is taking the form of direct marketing locally produced agricultural products to the public. The Tourist Oriented Directional Sign (TODS) program provides directional signs to eligible tourist attractions located off the state rural roadway system. The program is administered by Michigan Logos, Inc. under MDOT supervision. The programs have been a benefit to local tourist-related businesses at a reasonable cost. However, these signs are limited to rural state non-freeways outside of incorporated cities or villages. They are not to be located at interchanges on expressways or freeways. RESOLUTION: The Macomb County Farm Bureau recommends that the Macomb County Road Commission partner with state agencies to enable affordable, multiple signage on county roads that directs tourists to local greenhouses, farm markets and other local tourist attractions.
Unlawful Trespassing Due to Residential Development
As the growth and development of Macomb County increases in the rural areas, the impact on adjacent agricultural operations also increases. The added risk of trespassing, crop damage and liability exposure places an undue hardship on these agricultural operations. RESOLUTION: The Macomb County Farm Bureau resolves that when a residential development is proposed bordering on agricultural operations, a fence or landscaped barrier must be required by the local governing body. It will be created at the developer's expense before construction commences.
Farmland and Open Space Preservation
In 2002 the Macomb County Board of Commissioners adopted 28 policy recommendations to help preserve farmland and open space in Macomb County. In partnership with other organizations, agencies and businesses the recommendations focused upon business planning, smart growth tools, education of the non-farming community, assistance to municipalities and lobbying efforts. RESOLUTION: Macomb County Farm Bureau continues to support the policy recommendations of the Board of Commissioners and the County Executive, which urges board members to review and update the recommendations with input from the PDR committee and local farmer representation (organization or interested individual).
Special Purpose Millages
The recent passage of two special county wide millages for the purpose of providing a stable funding source, for the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Zoo, has raised concern over the ever increasing tax burden on agricultural property. RESOLUTION: Macomb County Farm Bureau supports amending the Art Institute Authority Act and the Detroit Zoo Authority Act to exempt non-homestead agricultural property from the assessed millages. Furthermore, Macomb County Farm Bureau supports exempting non-homestead agricultural property from future assessments of a similar nature.
Macomb County Farm Bureau supports public policy that defines farming in a manner that includes both production and marketing. We support the Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices for farms and farm markets to provide guidelines for agricultural tourism or entertainment farming. Definition: Macomb County Farm Bureau believes that when an established agricultural business offers farm related entertainment or products to attract customers for retail sales, this “value-added” enterprise should not constrain or redefine that farming operation. We urge communities throughout the state to support producers who seek to add value to their products by direct marketing, entertainment or food processing. RESOLUTION: Agri-Tourism requires its own generally accepted guidelines.
We believe: Persons representing agriculture interests on councils, commissions, and boards created by counties, cities, villages, and townships shall be involved in commercial production agriculture.
Manure Application Act of 2019
Macomb County Board of Commissioners proposed a ban on manure application to frozen ground. If passed, this legislation would hurt farmer’s ability to spread manure when proper conditions exist and would lead to stock piling, which is against many environmental programs, including MAEAP. RESOLUTION: Macomb County Farm Bureau opposes legislation banning manure applications to frozen ground.