Nesbitt, Wendzel blast EGLE for stifling farmers, souring blueberry harvest, driving up costs of Michigan produce

Nesbitt, Wendzel blast EGLE for stifling farmers, souring blueberry harvest, driving up costs of Michigan produce

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt and state Rep. Pauline Wendzel on Tuesday criticized the Whitmer administration’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) for its overburdensome bureaucracy and unacceptable failure to process timely permits for Michigan’s blueberry growers.

“Unelected bureaucrats at EGLE have stalled for more than a year, refusing to issue required permits or answer for their ongoing negligence,” said Nesbitt, R-Porter Township. “This inaction is hurtful to growers and consumers. Local blueberry farmers and the people of Michigan deserve answers for what seems to be this department’s intent to harm livelihoods and drive up the cost of Michigan produce.”

Nesbitt and Wendzel’s offices have been in contact with EGLE on behalf of Southwest Michigan blueberry growers and say agency officials have contradicted themselves and provided no straight answers on what is delaying or why they’re refusing permitting small family farms to grow our food.

“EGLE has refused to even provide a timeline on when expected actions may be taken,” said Wendzel, R-Bainbridge Township. “Crops don’t wait. Seasons don’t wait. Our farmers’ jobs are difficult enough as they are. This year gave us a warm winter and many crops are already failing. Farmers have a limited timeframe to grow and process crops to feed millions of Americans, and what do Gov. Whitmer’s bureaucrats have to say in response? Deafening silence.”

In addition to the Whitmer administration’s efforts to sideline local farmers, Lansing Democrats have introduced Senate Bill 663 and House Bill 5205 to relinquish the Legislature’s authority and responsibility over rulemaking for farming and food processing. These extreme measures would only further exacerbate delays and permit denials for family farmers and food processors and drive up the already too-high cost of produce and other groceries.

“Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, and Southwest Michigan is one of the top blueberry-producing regions in the country,” Wendzel said. “It’s saddening to see Gov. Whitmer and her Democrats in the Legislature do everything they can to suffocate Michigan farmers with more and more useless red tape. This is unacceptable, and the governor needs to step in and hold these unelected bureaucrats accountable for their refusal to allow Michigan farmers to grow their crops, and Michiganders to purchase quality Michigan produce at a reasonable price.”

Nesbitt said EGLE’s unresponsiveness to local farmers is on par with the Whitmer administration’s continued policies overburdening Michiganders.

“Our governor has made a habit out of advocating for an agenda that picks winners and losers and has even doubled down on bowing to special interests and favored corporations since her party has gained control of the Legislature,” Nesbitt said. “While these short-sighted strategies might work for someone’s personal political ambitions, they are harmful to the prosperity of family farmers, small business owners, everyday hardworking Michiganders, and the future success of our state.”


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