As the Michigan Senate wrapped up two bills designed to protect underground utilities from damage by excavators, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) members were digging into policy to protect themselves within the proposed regulations.
Two bills, SB-1083 and SB-1084, which passed the Senate Nov. 29 and now rest in the hands of the House Energy and Technology Committee, would provide new regulatory standards to protect underground utilities.
Casually known as the “MISS DIG” bills, the legislation requires farmers to call the MISS DIG Call Center and have underground utility lines marked before tillage work can lawfully be done. Introduced in April by Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek), the bills don’t account for farmers’ concerns, according to Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel Matt Smego.
Those concerns were obvious as Farm Bureau members forged policies that will guide the organization’s activities through the coming year. Almost 500 county Farm Bureau delegates, in Grand Rapids for MFB’s 93rd State Annual Meeting, approved policy that supports “regulations to protect both the farmer and the utility from accidents which could cause injury to an individual or interruption of service to a community.”
Smego said the two Senate bills have been improved from their original form, but need additional work and can’t be supported by Farm Bureau in their present form.
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