This year the Michigan Small Farm Council again made a request to be included on the Site Selection GAAMP Committee, because the work of that committee is of great interest to us as it has significantly impeded small farm rights in recent years. As usual, our request was denied.
So this year we tried a new tactic, and wrote letters to each of the eight GAAMPs Committee Chairs to ask that they begin complying with the Michigan Open Meetings Act. The letter we wrote to Dr. Wendy Powers, Chair of the Site Selection GAAMP Committee, is here.
Apparently each of the GAAMPs Committee Chairs deferred to MDARD on this question, and MDARD asserted to them that the GAAMPs Committees are not subject to the Michigan Open Meetings Act. The letter that Brad Deacon wrote to the Chairs of the GAAMPs Committees is here.
We are not attorneys, and can't judge the legal validity of Mr. Deacon's argument. What is clear, however, is that agricultural policy affects everyone who eats. So whether or not the GAAMPs Committees are required by law to be subject to the Open Meetings Act, the GAAMPs Chairs should open the process so the public can understand the work that goes on there, and participate when they have information to contribute.
Meanwhile, the GAAMPs Committees are completely closed to the public, and have no representation from small farm interests. We await with bated breath their proposed changes for 2016.