Make it easier for blueberry farmers

Local blueberry farmers are seeing blue about possible decisions by the federal Environmental Protection Agency regarding regulations on permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Apr 8, 2014

The EPA is currently reviewing state Public Act 98 of 2013, which changed a number of wetland-related issues in Michigan. In part, it proposed a general permitting process for blueberry growers.

The act was part of a compromise between the state environmental agency and farming interests on issues that the federal agency thought were inconsistent with portions of the federal 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

Right now, blueberry farmers aren’t sure if these regulations will come to pass, as they are awaiting a ruling from the EPA on whether they will be implemented.

Given that blueberry farming is big business for this area, it is unfortunate that government decisions could potentially block this easier permitting process.

It is also disappointing that more regulation and red tape could affect Michigan’s farmers’ decisions moving forward.

Not only do blueberry growers have to rely on moist soil and good weather — something that’s been hit and miss in recent years — they are now subject to increased scrutiny.

We should be making it easier for our hard-working local farmers to do business, not more difficult.

Hopefully, some type of solution emerges and everyone can move forward favorably so that our blueberry farmers can continue to produce and grow without having too many restrictions or question marks hanging over their heads.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Wetlands serve a purpose and draining them to produce blueberries reduces the effectiveness of the wetland.
The wetlands serve as filters and help absorb runoff to reduce sediments from washing down river into the lakes. Remember our drinking water comes from the Lake!
As we have seen lately, with large industrial livestock operations and oil refineries sited on our near our lakes and rivers, if these operations are left to do what they want to do, without regulation, we will not have the drinking water we depend on for long.
If its a choice of profit or "doing the right thing", unless there is a good reason "to do the right thing" what do you think will happen?
You don't have to go far or back too many years in history to see the results of growth at any cost. Recall the issues with PCB's in White Lake, the pollution from paper making in Muskegon, tannery operations in Grand Haven!
I prefer to drink clean water, not water tainted with unregulated chemicals and just in the last two weeks, oil from Chicago.


The alarming environmental and health issues due to years of corporate toxic dumping into White Lake have now been largely corrected, thanks to 30 years of consistent efforts by the EPA....."Considering the historic extent of toxic sediment contamination in White Lake, the removal of the Habitat and Populations impairments confirms that White Lake once again supports healthy natural systems...".

And we mustn't forget the Enbridge Oil spill in the Kalamazoo river - the largest US land-based oil spill ever on record. They've been slow in clean-up efforts, but thanks to the EPA and continuous checks and guidelines, are being kept on track.


Last summer many of the blueberry growers didn't even pick their entire crop due to the low per pound price they were receiving. They just let them fall to the ground. What a waste of a wonderful Michigan product!! Now the growers will probably be compensated by the government somehow for the blueberries that weren't picked.
Who is watching the growers at this time, use of chemicals, dumping waste, worker safety and compensation? If these proposed laws pass I'm sure everything will remain the same.


exactly right, not to mention the farmers kids getting special college grants, food stamps and other forms of gov. aide ie. reduced lunch rate at schools and special tax right offs and yet they waste crops. Have you seen some of these farmers houses?


I assume none of the above eat blueberries?


And the same goes for all the horticulture flower shrub growers who level entire plots of land, suck up the wet lands, increase the chemicals and import illegals.


And the same goes for all the horticulture flower shrub growers who level entire plots of land, suck up the wet lands, increase the chemicals and import illegals.

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