Category Archives: Economy

Blue Ribbon group attempts to improve Michigan gaming

The Blue Ribbon Advisory Group is the newest regulatory body created by the DNR to protect and improve Michigan’s public gaming areas.

The group will examine hunting grounds and suggest ways to improve the habitat, and hunters’ overall experience.

Russ Mason is a spokesman for the DNR. He says the effort is more important than some people may realize

“And it’s important for people to recognize that these aren’t just acres that are sittin’ there. These are acres that are critical for the timber industry, the mining industry. These aren’t just a bunch of trees on public land. These are really valuable assets that we need to think about and care for in a very deliberate fashion, and move forward. Because they are, perhaps the catalyst for Michigan’s economic recovery.”

Mason says the group is going to have a lot to consider

“The U.P and the Northern Lower 40 acres of land per man, woman and child. Southern Michigan we’re essentially .04 acres. There are counties in Southern Michigan without a square inch of public hunting land. That needs to be different if we want Michiganders to care about the one thing that makes Michigan special in my view, and that’s their natural resources. ”

Mason says the Group is expected to wrap up its work within 18 months.

Curbing CAFO antibiotic use

This is where Carey sends his cows that are either sick or injured.

This is where Carey sends his cows that are either sick or injured.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO, create countless pounds of manure daily.

This refuse, or rather what’s in it, is becoming a hotly contested issue between scientists and CAFO supporters. Continue reading

Senate panel votes to scrap prevailing wage

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A state Senate committee has adopted a Republican proposal to scrap prevailing union wage requirements on publicly funded construction projects. Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta tells us the bills now go to the Senate floor. Continue reading

Can CAFO’s keep up with regulations?

Matt Carey standing next to his MAEPE Certification

Matt Carey standing next to his MAEPE Certification


Michigan’s lower peninsula is home to more than two-hundred CAFO’s – or Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Opponents call them factory farms. They keep food prices down, but at what cost.

Matt Carey is the owner of Carey’s Pioneer Farms, the farmstead has been in Matt’s family for three generations and he said passing it on isn’t necessarily going to be easy.

“Like I said, it’s real important for us that we grow an operation that our kids might want to take over. It’s something you have to have a passion for though. You don’t just do it because your Dad wants you to or whatever. You have to have a passion to do it, ‘cus it’s a lot of work and sweat, and a lot of hours you don’t plan on workin’.”

Carey also said it’s a lot of money you don’t plan on spending. His farm is subject to regulations from the state and federal level. Many of the regulations are meant to keep byproducts of the farm away from clean water.

The byproducts could be anything from excess nutrient runoff, to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Carey's $200,000 manure storage facility

Carey’s $200,000 manure storage facility

Carey said the renovations to keep his farm up to regulation are costly, and they take a long time to yield positive results. Carey tried to justify a long time manure storage facility he said they needed just to stay open.

“That’s one of the most expensive projects I’ve ever spent in my life for somethin’ like that. There’s over 200-thousand in engineering costs and cement, just to store manure in. When you take that much money and put it into a manure storage what is the payback for that? There is a payback for that, but it’s not that much. Not compared to what was just thrown into it.”

Although costly for farmers, some believe the regulations in place are not enough to protect Michigan’s environment, or it’s residents.

Dr. Murray Borello is a scientist at Alma College, he said CAFO’s are not a sustainable future for Michigan agriculture.

“We’re not doing anything cutting edge. In fact, the scientific community is like ‘Yea okay we know this, it’s just one more piece of data, one more study that shows what hundreds of studies are already showing.’ The environment is impaired as a result of inadequacy of these regulations to protect the environment.”

In a study conducted by Borello in 2008, he found CAFO’s that operated within regulations still violated Michigan water quality laws. Therefore, he said, even if the farms were up to snuff, they were still a detriment to the environment.

Not everyone is convinced by Borello’s work however. Laura Campbell is the manager of the Agricultural Ecology Department at the Michigan Farm Bureau. She said more rigorous testing needs to be done before she buys into what Borello believes.

“I, yes, I have read his work. And have actually had several conversations with Mr. Borello. Uhm, having read his research I don’t think that his answers are definitive. Uhm, thats not to say that, ya know, I’m trying, that I would absolutely deny his findings. But I think that his findings are inconclusive from what he claims the result from them is.”

Borello said getting farms to take part in studies is extremely difficult. That makes the science behind the issue slow-going.

A group of cattle on Carey's  farm

A group of cattle on Carey’s farm

“I have tried to work with CAFO’s. I think we could get a great study on how to make these things more sustainable, I would love to work towards that. I’m not here to bash anybody, I wanna make the situation better. And you can’t do that when you’re fighting, you can only do it when you collaborate.”

As Borello says, the problem lies in the disconnect between farmer, and scientist.

Matt Carey attempted to get to the heart of the problem when he said,

“My whole problem is, I just wanna farm. Ya know, I don’t wanna have to do all this extra, we were doing all this extra stuff. We just weren’t documenting it before we were forced to document it. Ya know, we were doing, we’ve been doing soil testing since 1990, so it’s been a crucial part of our operation and the cash crop to be soil tested. Now they just say it’s gotta be done every three years which we already always done.”

Farmers like Carey want to create CAFO’s that are sustainable, and can be passed on to the next generation. In order to do that they have to comply with a litany of regulations.

Scientists like Borello want to ensure the regulations are stringent enough to protect Michigan’s waterways.

These goals are not mutually exclusive, and working together could shorten the journey to their solution.

Democrats hint at income tax ballot drive in 2016

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Some Democrats are hinting that a ballot campaign could be in the works to bring the graduated income tax to Michigan. State Representative Jim Townsend says he’d like to see a petition drive to put a question on the 2016 ballot to amend the state constitution. Continue reading

Getting to the bottom of rising national student loan debt

College Students
The school year winding down means graduation ceremonies are around the corner.

Whether graduating students are leaving college, or getting ready to attend, one thing on many students’ minds is student loans. Continue reading

State Senate to consider prevailing wage repeal next week

The state Senate will move forward with legislation to end prevailing wage requirements in Michigan. The state and many communities require that workers on publicly-funded construction projects get union-level pay and benefits. Continue reading

Insurance panel OKs auto no-fault overhaul with rate rollback

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A state House committee has approved some big changes to Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law. It would set new limits on what hospitals could charge insurance companies. It would also guarantee a two-year rate rollback of at least 100 dollars per vehicle. Continue reading

State’s jobless rate drops to 5.6 percent

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Michigan’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.6%. That decline in the monthly rate is mostly due to fewer people in the workforce competing for jobs. But the rate is down two points from where it was a year ago. And that is because more people are working. Continue reading

State trail usage survey reveals thousands of annual users

trail users 2Michigan’s recreational trails have been feeling the love. A community forum is planned in Petoskey to discuss survey results that show the usage of some northern Michigan trails.

The Top of Michigan Trails Council and Emmet County commissioned the study last summer. Continue reading

U.S. Geological Survey awards $9.7 million to build new invasive species lab

Anyone who fishes the Great Lakes are probably familiar with pesky aquatic invasive species, things like sea lamprey and certain gobies.

Now, officials with the U.S. Geological Survey say they are granting $9.7 million to build a new invasive species laboratory in Presque Isle county.

The construction contract has been awarded to an Alpena county company, Crittenden. The work there will focus on how to repel and remove invasives from the Great Lakes. Continue reading