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Michigan Cattlemen discuss potential environmental issues

The Michigan Cattlemen’s Association says environmental issues outside of their control are causing concern.

Policy committee chair Matt Germane, a producer from mid-Michigan, tells Brownfield producers are worried about what proposed standards on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances or PFAS at the state and federal could mean if the ‘forever chemicals’ are found on their farms.

“Condemning their meat is something that may be necessary from a human health standpoint, but it shouldn’t put that individual farmer out of business because there are a lot of upstream businesses that contributed to this problem which should also be involved in the solution,” he shares.

PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals that have been widely used since the 1940s and are called forever chemicals because they break down very slowly over time.

A Michigan beef farm last year was found to be contaminated with PFAS after using biosolids from a wastewater treatment facility as fertilizer.

Meanwhile, President Earl Souva says new permitting for some slaughterhouses and meat processors from the Department of Environment, Energy and the Great Lakes are extremely expensive and could put them out of business.

“Farmers and ranchers and processors—they want to do the right thing,” he says.  “We’re all worried about sustainability, we’re all worried about groundwater contamination, we’re the ones drinking the water.”

Michigan Cattlemen would like to see more reasonable, science-based regulations that work for all parties.  The organization is supportive of the Michigan Meat Association’s current lawsuit with the department which claims the permits overstep authority. Once complete, the wastewater permits are expected to be modeled for others in the food processing industry.

Brownfield interviewed both during the recent Michigan Beef Expo.

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