Aaron M. Phelps

Aaron M. Phelps

Varnum LLP

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38 Michigan Counties Designated As Primary Natural Disaster Areas By USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 38 counties in Michigan, with three different designations, as primary natural disaster areas due to multiple disasters. Qualified ranchers and farm operators in the...more

2/17/2014 - Agricultural Workers Emergency Response Natural Disasters USDA

Ag Programs Could Gain Higher Funding In 2014

The FY 2014 Omnibus spending bill currently includes $350 million additional funding for agricultural programs compared to 2013. According to the House Appropriations Committee summary concerning agricultural appropriations...more

2/17/2014 - Agricultural Workers Federal Funding

29 Senators Request Propane Shortage Relief From Obama Administration

On Monday, February 7, 2014, a group of bi-partisan senators wrote to President Obama requesting additional federal assistance with the current propane shortage. The letter cites a recent Energy Information Administration...more

2/17/2014

Draft GAPP Public Comments Due February 21, 2014

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are accepting public comments until February 21, 2014 on the 2014 drafts of Michigan's Generally...more

2/14/2014 - GAPP

Michigan Department Of Ag Looks To Limit Scope Of Right To Farm Act

Now: Currently, commercial farms are protected from local regulation, including zoning restrictions. The existing "Site Selection" GAAMPs, which generally require large livestock production facilities to be located in...more

2/3/2014 - Department of Agriculture Farms Right to Farm Act

Growing Michigan - Fourth Quarter 2013

In This Issue: - Proposed EPA Water Rule Could Expand Regulatory Authority Over Streams and Wetlands - USDA Finalizes Import Regulations for "Mad Cow Disease" - Organic Farmers Effected by Farm Bill Extension...more

1/20/2014 - EPA Farm Bill Farms Food Labeling Mad Cow Disease Organic USDA Water

Governor Snyder Signs MISS Dig Legislation

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation into law on November 27, 2013, creating the MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act (Public Acts 173 and 174). The new laws update a forty year old statute...more

12/18/2013 - Infrastructure Safety Precautions

Anti-Disclosure Provision In Farm Bill Being Considered

According to the Associated Press, Congress is considering a provision in the farm bill that would prohibit the government from disclosing information about farmers or their employees. The House version of the bill would...more

12/16/2013 - Disclosure Farm Bill

2013 Corn Crop Production Expected To Set Records

According to the Michigan Ag Connection, Michigan's crop yields are expected to hit record numbers this year for corn. The average corn yield is expected to be a record 156 bushels per acre, in comparison to a yield of 133...more

12/13/2013 - Commodities Farms

Organic Farmers Effected By Farm Bill Extension

The Farm Bill extension that was passed last January to give Congress more time to get the final bill passed no longer contained an annual federal subsidy that helped certified organic farmers cover the cost of getting their...more

12/11/2013 - Farm Bill Farms

USDA Finalizes Import Regulations For “Mad Cow Disease”

In November, the USDA announced a final rule that will align the Agency’s import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”) with international standards. According to a USDA November news...more

12/9/2013 - Food Safety Mad Cow Disease USDA

Proposed EPA Water Rule Could Expand Regulatory Authority Over Streams And Wetlands

A new EPA rule could drastically expand the agency's regulatory authority over streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The agency released a draft report in September titled "Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to...more

12/6/2013 - Clean Water Act EPA Private Property Water Wetlands

Migrant And Seasonal Workers In Short Supply

According to a recent state report, the number of migrant and seasonal workers in Michigan has increased 7.3% since 2006. Despite the increase in the number of workers, the Michigan Farm Bureau recently reported that farmers...more

10/1/2013

$3 Million Dollar Strategic Growth Initiative Grant Program For Food And Ag Industry

The Department of Agriculture & Rural Development recently announced a Strategic Growth Initiative grant program to help Michigan's expanding food and agriculture industry. The $3 million dollar grant program, which is a...more

9/30/2013 - Department of Agriculture Food Manufacturers Rural Development

Michigan Tart Cherry Growers Gain Access To Federal Crop Insurance

In response to Michigan's devastating 2012 cherry crop, Senator Debbie Stabenow recently led the charge to gain Michigan tart cherry growers access to purchase federal crop insurance for the first time ever. Insurance was...more

9/30/2013 - Crop Insurance Farms

Muskegon Considered For Barge Terminal Connecting To Gulf Coast

Some members of the Michigan Agri-Business Association and Muskegon officials have been investigating the possibility of a river barge terminal on the east end of Muskegon Lake. Association President Jim Byrum recently...more

9/25/2013 - Shipping

Proposed Right-To-Know Pesticide Legislation

House Bill 4841 was introduced in June by Michigan State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) that would allow residents to sign up and be notified when a commercial applicator sprays lawn or ornamental pesticides...more

9/23/2013 - Pesticides Proposed Legislation Right To Know

Growing Michigan - Second Quarter 2013

In This Issue: - Monsanto Wins Supreme Court Patent Case Concerning Roundup Ready Soy Beans - Farm Bill Moves Forward But Remains in Doubt - Bridge to Prosperity: New Bridge Between U.S. and Canada Approved -...more

6/20/2013 - Affordable Care Act Bowman v Monsanto Bridges Canada Farm Bill Genetically Engineered Seed Health Insurance Tax Healthcare Monsanto SCOTUS Small Business Wine & Alcohol

Varnum Wins $5.1 Million Judgment Against Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan For Hidden Fees

BCBSM Charges Self-funded Customers Hidden Fees starting in 1994 - Prior to 1994, BCBSM charged its self-funded customers various surcharges and subsidies to prop up its insured lines of business, but those surcharges...more

6/14/2013 - Blue Cross Blue Shield ERISA Fees Insurers Self-Funded Health Plans Settlement

Health Tax Hammers Small Business

A prominent member of the agriculture community wants to see part of the so-called Obamacare health care reform package thrown out, saying it will cause undue hardship on small business owners, notably farmers....more

6/11/2013 - Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Tax Healthcare Premiums Small Business

Farm Bill Moves Forward But Remains In Doubt

Having passed the Senate Ag Committee, the Farm Bill moves to the floor this week with hopes of passage so the Senate can move on to another important issue for agriculture – immigration reform....more

6/10/2013 - Farm Bill Proposed Legislation

Monsanto Wins Supreme Court Patent Case Concerning Roundup Ready Soy Beans

This case involved an Indiana soy bean farmer who, for his first crop of the year, bought Roundup Ready Soy Bean seed from an approved Monsanto dealer. After harvesting that crop, the farmer planned a second, and because of...more

6/7/2013

Bridge To Prosperity: New Bridge Between U.S. And Canada Approved

Michigan farmers are among legions of organizations expressing gratitude now that a new bridge between the U.S. and Canada has been approved by the Obama Administration, setting the stage for a sharp increase in trade between...more

6/5/2013 - Bridges Canada

Growing Michigan - Fourth Quarter 2012

In This Issue: - MISS Dig Bills Pass in Michigan Senate, Stall in House - Farm Bill Still Stalled - Ag Groups Urge Action on Estate Taxes - SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Now Available in Michigan - Michigan...more

12/29/2012 - Disaster Loans Economic Injuries Estate Tax Farm Bill Groundwater Permits SBA Wetlands

MISS Dig Bills Pass In Michigan Senate, Stall In House

Legislation creating a new MISS Dig law passed the Michigan Senate on November 29 in a 26-12 vote, but failed to make it through the House before the 2012 Legislative Session closed on December 13. Supporters plan to...more

12/21/2012 - Excavation Farms Permits

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