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 email@example.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.