Aaron M. Phelps

Aaron M. Phelps

Varnum LLP

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Growing Michigan - Second Quarter 2014

For decades, the Environmental Protection Agency has been charged with administering the United States Clean Water Act. One question that has bedeviled farmers, business owners and individuals – as well as judges and lawyers...more

6/5/2014 - Clean Water Act DOL Employer Liability Issues EPA Farm Bill Farms FDA FSMA Ghost Workers Jurisdiction REAP USDA Waters of the United States

EPA Proposes to Expand Its Own Jurisdiction

For decades, the Environmental Protection Agency has been charged with administering the United States Clean Water Act. One question that has bedeviled farmers, business owners and individuals – as well as judges and lawyers...more

6/3/2014 - Clean Water Act EPA Farm Bureau Federal Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Public Comment Water Waters of the United States

Settlement Between U.S. Department of Labor and Blueberry Growers Vacated

In 2012, the Department of Labor accused Oregon blueberry growers of employing "ghost workers" resulting in minimum wage violations. The DOL then issued what is known as a "hot goods order"...more

6/2/2014 - Consent Agreements DOL Ghost Workers Minimum Wage Wage and Hour Wages

Commission of Agriculture Approves Revised GAAMP’s Limiting Scope of Right to Farm Act

For over a year, the Michigan Ag Commission has considered expanding the scope of the "site selection" GAAMPs in order to bring even small livestock facilities within its scope. The site selection GAAMPs have traditionally...more

5/27/2014 - Farms Livestock Protocol Public Policy

USDA Offering Funding For Energy Efficiency Improvements

USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is providing funding for rural small business owners and farmers to make energy efficiency improvements or to install energy systems and is currently accepting applications for...more

5/22/2014 - Energy Efficiency Energy Policy Funding REAP Rural Development USDA

FDA Draws Criticism With Proposed FSMA Animal Feed Rule And Breweries

FDA's chief food safety inspector, Michael Taylor, recently stated that the agency has "no intention" of preventing breweries from giving spent beer grains to farmers for cattle feed. The FDA's proposed rule would have...more

5/19/2014 - Animal Food Breweries Farm Animals FDA FSMA Wine & Alcohol

U.S. Agricultural Export Markets Expanded Through 2014 Farm Bill Programs

Funding made available from the 2014 Farm Act has allowed the USDA to establish programs to assist in the growth of commercial export markets. The USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently granted funding to more...more

5/14/2014 - Farm Bill Federal Funding Funding USDA

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

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