CLEAN WATER ACTION, PROGRESS MICHIGAN & SIERRA CLUB
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anne Woiwode 517-484-2373
Cyndi Roper 517-490-1394
David Holtz 313-300-4454
LANSING – Citizens and environmental groups, including a Michigan farmer who won the world’s top environmental prize last year, today criticized Rick Snyder for taking a backwards and dangerous approach to policing big agricultural polluters that will put Michigan at risk.
“Rick Snyder’s agricultural plan unveiled this week would roll back Michigan agriculture to the bad old days of dangerous de-regulation that put both Michigan’s natural resources and the future of Michigan agriculture at risk,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Director. “There is little to nothing in this plan to support Snyder’s claims that he would protect Michigan’s Great Lakes environment.”
“At a time when we need to do more to protect our lakes, rivers and streams for future generations of Michigan families, Rick Snyder wants to turn back time and open the door to more pollution,” said Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action Michigan Director. “Cutting back on enforcing pollution laws is not how Michigan citizens want to see their state reinvented.”
In a white paper available on his website, Snyder ignores the dangerous underfunding of key staff, including inspectors, who protect Michigan families from pollution and contaminated food while approving Michigan products for market. Snyder instead supports voluntary industry-run inspection programs, even as he admits in his own paper that budget cuts to the inspection team have caused economic losses to Michigan producers: “According to Dennis Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, one shipper ‘has lost $143,000 in export sales so far this year because state inspectors were not available.‘” (www.rickformichigan.com)
Cuts to inspections also come at a time of food-borne disease outbreaks nationwide from peanut butter producers in the southeast to, more recently, egg producers in Iowa.
“As a Michigan farmer, I see firsthand the progress Michigan agriculture has made in recent years, from sustainable small farms to large family agriculture businesses that are playing by the rules and doing the right thing to protect our Great Lakes and groundwater,” said Lynn Henning, a Sierra Club member and winner of the Goldman Prize, considered the Nobel for the environmental sector. “We want Michigan agriculture to continue succeeding, feeding people and creating local jobs. Rick Snyder’s plan will protect bad actors in agriculture who will hurt all of us in Michigan agriculture.”
Snyder also focuses only on massive agriculture operations, while ignoring smaller local family-run operations that provide niche markets for small farmers and contribute to the local economy. Snyder’s support for the Right to Farm Act also undermines the state’s ability to protect families and natural resources from agricultural polluters.
While Michigan is striking a balance between agriculture and environmental issues in recent years, with both sides frequently collaborating on common issues, Snyder’s agriculture policies would undo many of these advances. Reminiscent of the Engler Administration of the 1990s, Snyder’s policies would undermine water and air quality laws meant to protect people and natural resources by handing over accountability to third-parties with no enforcement powers.
“Rick Snyder’s irresponsible total-hands-off approach to business – including agriculture – will set back Michigan’s economy and put our recovery in danger,” said David Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Rick Snyder’s plan robs Michigan of the tools that have helped make our agriculture sector one of the most successful in the nation, including gutting vital inspections programs that keep our food safe, protect our water and land, and make Michigan products competitive in a global marketplace. Rick Snyder’s lose-lose plan will hurt Michigan’s economy and our Great Lakes.”