Proposed policy resolutions approved by delegates at the county annual meeting

View the resolutions below that were approved at the county annual and submitted to the state policy development committee to be considered at the Michigan Farm Bureau annual meeting. 

Contact the county office for information about the Policy Development process

044-State Energy PolicyA 2019 Executive Decision by Governor Whitmer and MDARD Director granted permission to develop solar energy systems on farmland enrolled in the Farmland Development Rights Program under the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act (PA 116) of 1974, as amended. Landowners are divided as to whether this use of PA 116 lands should or should not be allowed. Solar energy generation is a new and developing technology and there are many unknowns regarding its efficacy, efficiency and lifespan. The technology and economics of solar energy generation have been rapidly improving over the last couple decades. Solar energy is now feasible at the commercial and utility scale. Homeowners and farmers alike can benefit from the cost efficiencies that have evolved with the advancement of solar technology. It is significant that the cost of electricity generated from solar panels has dropped by nearly 75% since 2009, and is expected to fall 66% further by 2040, according to Michigan State University Extension. Another key driver is that computed prices for solar energy generation are looking more favorable for farmers and agri-businesses. Perceptions and attitudes in Michigan indicate that solar (and wind) can reduce operating costs for electrical, heating and cooling utilities, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions to protect the state’s natural environment and U.S. climate. Michigan has proven to have adequate solar resources, that are renewable, seasonal and infinite, to justify installing feasible solar systems in appropriately planned and zoned locations. In Clinton County, the Board of Commissioners adopted an amendment in June 2017 to their County Zoning Ordinance which addresses solar energy and it is expected that more solar development proposals may soon be in the works. It is conceivable that new energy generation technologies that depend on a land base as a resource will continue to emerge, speaking to the importance of developing good policy that protects this land resource and will stand the test of time. Since the 2019 executive decision to allow for solar arrays on PA 116 land, a policy has been developed establishing expectations and responsibilities in carrying out the development, maintenance and decommissioning of solar energy arrays that are installed on property enrolled in PA 116. Therefore, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Shiawassee County FB’s reaffirms AFBF Policy 402-Energy which states: We support: • Solar energy generation as a component of the nation’s energy portfolio; • Establishment of state standards for commercial solar energy conversion systems that protect private property rights and allow for reasonable development of projects; • Ensuring adequate funds are in place for decommissioning; and • Allowing landowners the option of terminating a solar lease agreement if solar panels fail to produce energy for a period longer than 12 consecutive months. Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Shiawassee County FB’s also reaffirms Michigan Farm Bureau Policy 44 State Energy Policy which states: • We encourage utilization of brownfield, public property, Michigan Dept. of Transportation rights-of-ways and other marginal lands, as well as industrial, residential and agricultural buildings, to reduce easements across farms for renewable energy projects and to protect prime farmland. We oppose: • Adding renewable energy equipment values to farm property tax assessments or personal property for taxation purposes when used by the landowner. In addition, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Shiawassee County FB’s supports: • Full disclosure of chemical and electronic components of solar panels and equipment, making the landowner aware of any potential hazards if the solar equipment should malfunction or break, and the potential for environmental contamination to the farm ground below, upon contracting, future assigns and decommissioning of the solar panels. • State or federal incentives and/or allowances for solar energy project companies to build arrays on brownfields, rooftops, parking lots and/or other marginalized lands. • Innovative applied research from Michigan State University and others that develop feasible, cost-effective battery storage technologies for both on-farm and off-farm electric energy battery storage from solar energy. • Net-metering or inflow/outflow billing mechanism that enables producers to sell excess power generated on farms back to utilities at an equitable rate. • Sound land use planning – local units of government should both develop a plan for solar energy and adopt a reasonable zoning ordinance/building code that allows solar panels. • Pasturing of sheep to control weeds, and inclusion of pollinator plants to encourage natural pollinators. • The ability to put PA 116 contracts on hold during the commission of the solar farm and that the contracts will resume following decommissioning of the solar farm. • Giving solar farms the same consideration as Natural Resource Conservation Service programs in retaining base acres with the USDA Farm Service Agency after the decommissioning of the solar farm. • The current administrative policy for “allowing commercial solar panel development on PA 116 lands”. Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Shiawassee County FB’s opposes: • Legislating into state statute any policy such as the “2019 MDARD Policy for Allowing Commercial Solar Panel Development on PA 116” into the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act or any other public act, but support the current administrative policy for “allowing commercial solar panel development on PA 116 lands”. • The building of energy generating developments where no nearby electricity infrastructure exists, creating the need to build large, new transmission lines, and/or sub-stations.
042-Biomass/Renewable ProductsEthanol and bio-diesel is a renewable, domestically produced fuel. Not only does ethanol production support farmers by providing a market for corn and soybeans, it supports the U.S. economy and reduces the impact of international supply disruptions which adds to our nation's energy security. Bio Products are a cleaner burning fuels. The American Cancer Society supports higher blends of biofuels because these fuels have reduced carcinogenic substances in their emissions. Unfortunately, the production and availability of higher blends of bio-based fuels faces multiple barriers including oil companies and the petroleum industry's virtual monopoly on the nation's fuel supply. The petroleum industry is responsible for much of the negative information presented to consumers about bio-based fuels. Often, the EPA is responsible for blocking markets for bio based fuels. However, the EPA has recently changed its position on the restrictions to using E-15 during the peak summer driving season. E-15 may now be used year-round. In light of these points, Shiawassee County Farm Bureau supports • The use of higher blends of ethanol including E-15 and bio-diesel, and • Breaking down market obstructions placed by competitors, the EPA, and ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials