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on February 05, 2014 at 12:55 PM, updated March 13, 2014 at 12:13 PM
LANSING, MI — Asked for their thoughts, hundreds of people generated more than 800 pages of comments, most in opposition to suggested changes in the state's Right to Farm act that would take away state protection currently afforded small and hobby livestock farmers.
"With very few exceptions, the comments oppose the proposed changes ... and show broad support for the idea that everyone has the right to participate in agriculture and grow their own food, wherever they happen to live. My hope is that MDARD and the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development will recognize that small scale agriculture is a legitimate effort that already has the support of Michigan citizens, and deserves the support of them - our state agricultural agency and agricultural commission," Banka said.
But among the 800 pages of comments that urge continued protection to small farms is a letter of support for the changes from Michigan Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm advocacy group, which bills itself as " Michigan's voice of agriculture."
David G. Cox, general counsel for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, argues, among other points, that the the proposed change "violates the Governor's directive to the department to develop an urban agriculture policy that enhances and promotes urban agriculture."
"I think there is a great irony that President Obama will be coming to Michigan on Friday to sign the Farm Bill to celebrate federal agricultural policies," Banka said, "at a time when so many small farmers in Michigan are protesting state level agricultural policies that keep us from participating in growing food locally, where we live."