Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s recent budget proposal included significant changes to state dairy inspection and regulation. In an effort to lower deficits and reduce the state’s budget, Governor Snyder proposed turning over state run inspection agencies to private sector industry representatives licensed by the state. The proposal is expected to save over half a million dollars.
The plan isn’t without precedence. Over half of Michigan’s dairy farms already receive regulated industry inspection. The Governor hopes to expand that plan, citing Pennsylvania and New York, both of which rely on industry inspection, as good examples of the efficacy of the proposal.
Sheila Burkhardt, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Milk Producers Association, acknowledged the ultimate responsibility of state governments in regulating and inspecting food products, but also understood the significant budget crises faced by many states in the midst of the current recession.
Others remain critical of the proposal. Local unions claim they received no notice from the government, and Paul Thompson, vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 517M, expressed a fundamental distrust of industry regulations, stating “When the state in the past has tried to contract out… sooner or later problems crop up.” Other local residence stressed the government’s responsibility in protecting the quality of food.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer