MGGC Board President Chris Schwartz and Executive Director Jared Rodriguez will testify before the Michigan Commission of Agriculture & Rural Development on January 31, 2024. Chris and Jared will present the impact of the greenhouse grower industry in Michigan, highlight areas of concern and ask for the Commission to adopt a resolution calling for the research and development of Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS), specifically for the greenhouse grower industry.
There are growing concerns within the Michigan grower and regulator communities that there’s a significant lack of guidance in industry operations best practices and principles. MGGC has become aware of increased complaints (noise, smell, traffic, light) from local units of government, which is ultimately funneled to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. Without GAAMPS, Department officials have little to stand on when enforcing “right to farm” measures nor providing complaint guidance on local government inquiries. MGGC will be instrumental in the research and development of GAAMPS for Michigan, while focusing on best practices from around the world.
If you would like to attend the meeting in-person or virtually, please see the information below.
Michigan Commission of Agriculture & Rural Development Meeting
Wednesday, January 31, 2024 10:30a EST MSUFCU Headquarters #2 – 3899 Coolidge Rd, East Lansing,MI 48823 *Option to join via remote technology: Dial by telephone:1-248-509-0316, Conf. ID:976 540 72# Meeting information can be found here: www.michigan.gov/mdard/about/boards/agcommission
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2023 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing a new crop insurance program designed for agricultural producers who use controlled environments in their operations. The new Controlled Environment program from USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is specifically for plants grown in fully enclosed controlled environments and provides coverage against plant diseases subject to destruction orders. Available beginning in the 2024 crop year, the Controlled Environment program provides a risk management resource for urban, specialty crop, and organic producers who often use controlled environments as a major part of their operations.
“We are always looking to improve and expand the crop insurance resources we offer to agricultural producers, and the new Controlled Environment program will greatly benefit urban, specialty crop, organic and other producers who grow in controlled environments,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “Controlled environment agriculture is a quickly growing sector in the Nation’s food production, and this new option is part of USDA’s broader effort to support urban agriculture and new and better markets for American producers.”
The Controlled Environment program is a dollar plan of insurance, which bases the insured’s guarantee on inventory values reported by the producer, and provides coverage against plant diseases when the plants must be destroyed under a federal or state destruction order.
The Controlled Environment program adds to two other federal insurance products available to nursery and innovative agricultural producers by providing benefits that are not available under the other programs, such as:
Offer coverage for all Controlled Environment plants, including cuttings, seedlings, and tissue culture.
Offer crop insurance coverage through a streamlined application and policy renewal process.
Offer new crop insurance coverage specific to the disease risk to plants in Controlled Environment operations.
Offer insurance for producer-selected plant categories for Controlled Environment that are not in other nursery insurance program.
Allow Controlled Environment operations to have single peril Controlled Environment insurance to be purchased as a standalone policy or in conjunction with other nursery insurance.
The first sales closing date is Dec. 1, 2023.
The Controlled Environment program will be available in select counties in Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
On September 12, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a barrage of proposed rules changes aimed at “increasing worker protections” under the H-2A worker program.
The rules call for: • Expanding workers’ rights to “organize,” which employers would be responsible for providing a list of their workers to labor organizations; • Allow their workers to designate a representative to attend ANY meeting between a worker and employer where discipline may be an outcome; • Employers will have to certify with the DOL that they will bargain in good faith with labor organization or explain why they will not; • Require that an employer may only terminate a workers “for cause”; • Employers will be required to identify and disclose contact information for anyone soliciting H-2A workers on tier behalf and supply the DOL with any agreements/contracts; • Wage rate increases would be immediate; • Require employers to communicate overtime opportunities and any postponed start dates for workers and if not provided an adequate notice of a delayed start date, pay wages for each day of work that is delayed; and • Public disclosure of personal information about farmers and managers.
The timing of further regulation and requirements for employers could not have come at a worse time. Domestic worker shortages in the agricultural industry, costs of transportation, energy and H-2A workers continue to rise at unprecedented rates. The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council will be issuing comments on the DOL proposal.
The USDA is in the process of implementing a new Federal Crop Insurance program designed to provide greenhouse growers an opportunity to insure against losses to destruction orders based on detention of actionable plant disease vectors. The informational session is open to Michigan Greenhouse Growers, Insurance Agents, Extension and Industry Specialists, and the general public.
MGGC has been advocating for crop insurance provisions within the U.S. Farm Bill for years. We continue to press the issue nationally with Senator Stabenow and our federal industry allies. The greenhouse industry has historically remained underinsured compared to other commodities, thus elevating the need for enhancing options, flexibility and affordability in the current offerings of crop insurance.
Please join this informational opportunity hosted by MGGC and DGI Propagators. There will be a presentation outlining the program followed by a Q&A session.
Throughout our 2022 Mini-Forum Meeting Series, the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council alerted and updated members on the impending U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) decision in the Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case which would have jump started a slippery slope for increased water use regulation throughout the United States. We are pleased to report that on May 25, 2023 the USSC unanimously ruled in favor of the Ag industry and private property owners to limit the EPA’s regulation over certain wetlands.
The Sackett v. EPA case stemmed from the EPA’s position that an Idaho couple’s (Michael and Chantell Sackett) newly purchased ¾ acre lot for their future home contained “navigable waters” subject to federal oversight. The USSC’s ruling snapped back at the agency agreeing that the EPA overreached when they attempted to regulate the Sackett’s lot.
The majority opinion, penned by Justice Samuel Alito, highlighted that the Clean Water Act should only apply to wetlands that are directly next to waters connected to navigable waters. Tractor ruts in fields, puddles or ponds will not fall under “Waters of the United States (WOTUS)” rule.
While the ruling is good news for members of the Ag industry, it will force the Biden administration to rewrite of the WOTUS rule, which removed long standing exclusions for small and isolated water features on farms. The WOTUS rule regulates lakes, rivers, streams, and tributaries.
Michigan is one of a few states that have the authority to manage some areas of the Clean Water Act. The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council will monitor the state of Michigan’s response to the ruling and continue to fight for reasonable water use rights, less Federal overreach, and further clarity from the EPA.
We hope you all are doing well and preparing for the quickly approaching holidays. We have one urgent end of year request for your action. As you may be aware, the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (“AEWR”) will increase 12.8% from the current $15.37 hourly figure to $17.34 in 2023. This will have a severe negative effect on many Michigan growers!
We ask that you to contact your member of congress via letter and by phone to urge them to freeze the AEWR at 2022 levels. The information below contains a simple link to send an email message to President Biden and Labor Secretary Walsh voicing your concerns about the AEWR increase. A separate message will go to Congress urging action on an AEWR freeze at 2022 levels. We strongly encourage you to personalize the pre-populated letters with a story of your own.
In addition to the letters, we have attached a list of phone numbers to Congressional offices and ask that you CALL your member of Congress today and explain how this new AEWR is going to impact your greenhouse/operation. It’s very important that Representatives and Senators hear directly from you.
Please feel free to share this with your peers and urge them to take action as well.
Click https://bit.ly/MIAEWR to access the pre-populated letters. You’ll have to begin by entering your contact information and click next to take you to the letter screen. See the phone numbers for the Senators and the Representatives currently in Congress. If you aren’t sure who currently represents you, click here and enter your zip code and address: