Regulation changes a concern for blueberry growers

Local blueberry farmers are waiting to see how some proposed regulations, that could impact both the environment and production of the fruit, shake out.
Alex Doty
Mar 28, 2014

“Right now, we haven’t gotten anything back from the DEQ,” local blueberry farmer Dave Reenders said. “The DEQ is waiting on a decision by the EPA if they’ll accept the law the governor signed … last July.”

This law, state Public Act 98 of 2013, changed a number of wetland-related issues in Michigan, and in part it proposed a general permitting process for blueberry growers. The act was part of a compromise between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and farming interests on issues that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency thought were inconsistent with portions of the Clean Water Act.

In this new proposed permitting process, a few of the rules that would impact blueberry farmers include:

- No converting of wetland
- Minimal drainage
- Minimal earth moving
- Using excavated soil to backfill trenches

The reason wetland regulations could impact blueberry growers is because of the type of soil that is optimal for growth of the fruit.

“Good, ideal blueberry growing soil is hydric soil,” Reenders explained. “It’s soil that holds moisture, so that would be soil that would often be wetland.”

Right now, blueberry farmers are taking a wait-and-see approach to the possible requirements.

To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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