Snyder continues to stack Ag commission with agribusiness people
Yesterday, MLive reported that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed a new member to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Fred Walcott, who works for Valley View Pork near Allendale, is the newest of the five-member commission, that is exclusively made up of people who work for large agribusiness operations.
Walcott, who works at a 4,000 acre farm, will serve as commissioner along with Bob Kennedy, who is Vice President of Operations for Auburn Bean and Grain. The website for this business reads like a stock market sheet instead of a place where people respect the land and care for the earth.
Also serving on the Ag Commission is Diane Hansen, owner of Hansen Seed Farm and Donald Coe, the managing partner of Black Star Farms. Based on the information at Black Star Farms, it appears to be more of a tourist destination than a farm.
The fifth member of the Michigan Agriculture Commission is Trever Meachum, who is the production manager for High Acres Fruit Farm, a 3,000 acre farm in Van Buren County.
Adding Walcott demonstrates that the Governor is only interested in having the perspectives of people involved in large agribusiness operations. There is no one on the commission that seems committed to organic and sustainable farming practices, or people who are committed to promoting food justice.
Walcott is also part of the Michigan Pork Producers Association, which represents the interests of large factory farming operations, also known as CAFOs, in Michigan.
More importantly, groups like the Michigan Pork Producers Association and the industry groups represented by those on the ag commission, are also actively involved in federal farm policy issues and are engaged in lobbying efforts to continue the massive taxpayer subsidies currently operating through the Federal Farm Bill.
According to the Environmental Working Group, Michigan Farmers received $79,450,000 in federal subsidies for 2011. Looking at the list of farms that did receive massive subsidies, the majority of them are larger agribusiness operations and not smaller farms engaged in Community Supported Agriculture.
This announcement, coming from Snyder, is another blow to those who are part of the local food movement and those who work for food justice.