Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, Thursday wrote Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, echoing Michigan Farm Bureau’s request that the governor issue a statement clarifying that the sale of plants used for home gardening is allowed under the current coronavirus state of emergency.
“As with allowing low-income families to have groceries delivered or picked up outside instead of having to go into the store, this is also a matter of common sense,” Glenn said. “Allowing people to buy plants they can take home to grow their own food should mean fewer people making trips to the grocery store, which I know the governor will agree helps keep us all safer.”
Glenn, an associate member of Michigan Farm Bureau for twenty years, pointed to an alert Farm Bureau sent its members this week urging them to contact the governor, in which the organization said that under Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, “while farms are allowed to grow plants for food or ornamental purposes, there isn’t a clear and consistent interpretation of their ability to sell these same plants.”
Farm Bureau said clarifying that the sale of such plants is allowed “would be consistent with states like Ohio, Illinois, New York and North Carolina.”
“We also believe enabling Michiganders to garden and cultivate food products provides mental health benefits and serves as a stress-coping mechanism during this time of uncertainty,” Farm Bureau wrote, pledging that “should they be granted the ability to operate, the industry is committed to following (Centers for Disease Control) social distancing recommendations and implementing alternative sales and service practices to better protect employees and customers.”
Farm Bureau also pointed to the negative economic impact of not allowing consumers to purchase plants to produce their own food, saying if plant growers “miss their primary window of opportunity to sell plant products, including many that are perishable, growers and their employees could face an entire year without income. This critical agriculture sector represents an estimated retail value upwards of $700 million and 9,000-plus employees, so there’s much at stake for these families and business owners.”
Glenn Wednesday wrote Whitmer with another proposal to reduce the number of people physically going into grocery stores to make necessary purchases.
She urged the governor to help low-income families safely purchase groceries by allowing thousands of families that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to use SNAP to cover the cost of fees some stores charge for home delivery or curbside pickup of groceries. Without the change, SNAP participants are forced to physically go into grocery stores to purchase food, increasing the risk to themselves and other shoppers.
She urged Whitmer to “quickly take advantage of available options to help our state’s most vulnerable residents feed their families in a way that keeps all of us safer.
Glenn recommended the governor take the following actions:
• Apply to the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include Michigan in the FNS Online Purchasing Pilot Program.
• Apply for a temporary SNAP waiver that would allow SNAP beneficiaries to pay for all home delivery services and curbside pick-up with their SNAP benefits as long as the governor’s “stay home” order is in effect.
“I’m confident Gov. Whitmer will take every step possible to help families most in need get food and groceries in a way that’s at least risk to themselves and the public,” Glenn said. “To reduce the number of people in grocery stores, it makes just as much sense to encourage people to buy plants to grow their own food.”