Friday, October 8, 2010

Rick Snyder's boilerplate agriculture plan virtually ignores pollution issues: Where is the insightful, original candidate we saw in the spring?

Michigan journalist/blogger Eric Baerren says in his recent column that Republican candidate for governor Rick Snyder’s plan for Michigan agriculture involves loosening regulatory reigns on corporate mega-farms.

Indeed, such farms bear no resemblance to the idyllic family farms that probably service your local farmer’s market. They unleash animal feces and urine in amounts equivalent to a medium sized city – with few of the environmental rules that govern the cities' waste. The result in Michigan too often has been horrific overflows of hormone-laced animal sewage that choke the life out of streams and ponds. Because these disasters often occur in sparsely populated rural areas, they don't get much attention.

The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club has been at the forefront of tracking and detailing these disasters.

Sadly, Snyder’s recently released agriculture plan is filled with boilerplate Republican chatter about reducing red tape, streamlining regulation and how overly zealous inspectors have choked agricultural businesses in Michigan. Other than a couple vague throwaway lines about balancing environmental concerns with economic growth, it includes no acknowledgement of the tremendous challenges of containing and managing the vast amounts of dangerous waste produced by these animal factories.

Most disappointingly, the Snyder document contains none of the nuance and insight that Snyder demonstrated this spring during his excellent performance at an environmental forum for candidates.

I’m looking for reasons to vote for Rick Snyder in November …. I think he’s demonstrated a deeper understanding of the complex issues facing Michigan than has his opponent, Virg Bernero.

But if Snyder is going to abandon his keen insights in favor of letting his positions default into robotic and well-worn partisan grooves, then we’re back to business as usual.

And that would suck.


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