Appeals court rules utility poles as forestry crop, not farming

Farmers are getting out for planting around the state. And some in Michigan are planting a new crop; utility poles.

Educators with the Michigan State University Extension Office said they recently started growing utility pole crops in northern Michigan.

They said this new crop is great, but, they say, in some areas, farmers are running into problems with neighbors who don’t like the crop.

Kurt Schindler is with the MSU Extension Office. He said these neighbors took the case to the state court of appeals.

He said the township wanted to prohibit the crop production, so they took their case to the state court of appeals.

“And the reason why, is the local organization NIMBY Inc was upset because utility poles are a portrait or vertical orientation and they’re trying to sell their landscape for purposes of attracting tourists as a horizontal landscape,” Schindler said.

Schindler said group wanted to draw in tourism to the area -and says the crop landscape wouldn’t be inviting to tourists.

“We’ve had a Michigan Court of Appeals case which has ruled that growing utility poles is a forestry product and thus not subject to the protections under the right to farm act. And in Joe Rural Township, there was an opposition group,” Schindler said.

He said the crop is resistant to acorn woodpeckers.

The regulations take effect, Today, April 1.