Agriculture has always had strong roots in Michigan, where our farmers produce everything from asparagus to zucchini. As Michigan continues its economic recovery, agriculture remains a driving force in our economy and provides many good paying, local jobs. I am committed to ensuring our farmers have the resources they need to continue producing the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world.
Immigration & Labor
Without a doubt, the number one issue for our farmers is immigration reform. In order for our farms to effectively produce quality agricultural products in the Sixth District we need to provide a reliable workforce for all farms. That means real immigration reform now.
Understandably, rhetoric and actions from the administration are causing new confusion and fear for people in our community – for both our farmers who depend on migrant labor and for undocumented folks who have lived and worked in our community for years.
I have long supported bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. I am part of a working group here in Congress and I’ve made clear to my colleagues that part of reform must be a guest worker program that is fair and actually works for all concerned – growers, producers, workers, and consumers. The current H-2A visa problem is inflexible, riddled with delays, and needs reform.
2018 Farm Bill
I was immensely pleased with the bipartisan hard work that was put into completing the 2014 Farm Bill as it not only represents a foundation for Farm Policy for the upcoming years, but provides economic certainty to an entire industry across the country.
I am expecting the same process this time around, and I looking forward to hearing from all of you through the process as well as working with Chairman Conaway on a Farm Bill that puts Michigan agricultural issues front and center.
Protecting Local Growers from Higher Operating Costs
I have long supported bipartisan solutions to ensure federal regulations do not interfere with day-to-day farm operations or needlessly raise energy prices and other operating costs for Michigan farmers and ranchers.
Farmers are the best stewards of their own land and it is in their best interest to keep it healthy. I have championed a number of bills that seek to scale back the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) red tape agenda where needed, including legislation to prohibit the regulation of farm dust and another bill to ensure that the EPA and State Department do all they can to make the fumigant methyl-bromide available to farmers in need.
It is critically important to ensure the food we consume is safe. If our food safety standards and procedures are to be effectively implemented, our local farmers must have a voice in the rule-making process. Needless over-regulation where our farmers are already doing the right thing does nothing but endanger U.S. agriculture and harm our economy.
I also know that the proposed Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule would have dire consequences for our Southwest Michigan farmers, our economy, and local jobs. The House passed a bipartisan bill that would stop this rule, protect our farmers, and give local stakeholders a renewed voice on how to move forward. This aggressive expansion of the Clean Water Act will not only affect every farm in our state but also manufacturing sites and businesses across the nation by arbitrarily regulating dry ditches, creek beds, farm ponds, mosaic wetlands and requiring costly and duplicative permits. I was pleased to see the court stay the rule and the new administration say they would review the rule.
Supporting Livestock Health
I helped lead the successful effort to modernize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) review process for new and generic animal drugs. An improved approval process gives Southwest Michigan employers like Zoetis and Perrigo the predictability they need to compete on an equal footing with companies overseas as well as deliver their lifesaving drugs to livestock and poultry producers in a timely manner, keeping our food supply safe and helping our farmers compete globally. This bipartisan animal health legislation (H.R. 1407) was signed into law in June 2013.
Promoting Michigan Agricultural Exports
I have also supported a number of free but fair trade agreements that open vast new markets to U.S. agriculture products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates agricultural exports from Michigan under the recently enacted Korea, Panama, and Columbia free trade agreements will increase by more than $50 million per year upon full implementation.