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MICHIGAN: Dept. Of Agriculture Closes All Regional Offices

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Heidi J., Oct 7, 2009.

  1. Heidi J.

    Heidi J. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    LANSING, Mich. -- In a move to shave off approximately $600,000 from its budget, Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Don Koivisto announced Wednesday the permanent closure of the department’s regional offices.

    Those locations include offices in Detroit, Escanaba, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Saginaw, St. Joseph, and Traverse City and its district office in Marquette.

    MDA will still continue to have field staff working around the state using their homes as an office base. The main difference is customers no longer have a brick and mortar location to go to for service.

    “Budget realities are causing us to look at different ways of doing business,” said Koivisto. “While we anticipate there will be some bumps in the road as we transition to this new business model, MDA will work hard to maintain the high level of customer service we have always provided.”

    Effective Oct. 1, customers calling MDA’s regional and district offices have been redirected to a toll-free number in Lansing: 800-292-3939.

    Additionally, staff are no longer available at those locations.

    MDA’s regional offices provided a variety of services to consumers and industry representatives.

    They served as a base of operations for investigations, product sampling, plant pest and disease eradication.

    In addition to those roles, the locations were used for emergency incident management and response, food-borne illness outbreak response and staff training.


    This can't be good..:dizzy:
  2. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,148

    That's bad news! last year in NJ the State was trying to shut down the Dept. of Ag. but there was enough ground level support to stop it from happening. We still are The Garden State & promote Jersey Fresh!
  3. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I saw this as something that was being considered on a local radio station's web site about a month ago. I drive by the St. Joseph office nearly every day and will be sorry to see it close. With the amount of agriculture in the state and the already small number of regional office, I thought they would find a way around this.

    Not mentioned as a service in the story above is the fact that testing for pesticide applicators and PABL (Pesticide Application Business License) originates at MDA. See you all in Lansing next time it is time to take the test.

    I'll say it: our local office is a good one and I have been lucky to have it so close to home.

    Thanks for posting it Heidi J.
  4. Heidi J.

    Heidi J. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    Yes, I have many of the same concerns. How lenient will they become when it comes to complaints, All the fruits and vegetables grown in Michigan.. the list goes on. We bid against a lot of shady people, now they will just be able to get away with more:nono:

    We have an office in Saginaw, and I have never had an issue with them. We had a complaint a few years ago, and they helped us work through the issue. This really upsets me, and I think it is a huge mistake..JMO
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I don't understand what it is to, "...bid against a lot of shady people,..."
    Also, how many complaints are handled , face to face, more than once?

    DNR seems to operate that way now, to some extent, and their dismay is that they can't be more in control. We have little service from our offices, here in WI, in fact I personally had never benefitted from one, after a number of contacts.

    So I am wondering what we were actually missing in regards to having 'brick and mortar', locations. I would much rather they had staff that could help , via the internet...?!!?? My experience with this beauracracy is less than optimistic...

    "Hi, we're from the gov't, and we're here to help." :)
  6. Heidi J.

    Heidi J. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    We do a lot of vegetation control.. brush spraying, guardrails, Cat tail and such(Garlon/Tordon not just 2-4 D spraying). A few of the people we bid against, are not from Michigan. 1 of them have changed their names several times, because of lawsuits filed against them (dumping, Driving recklessly and causing a crash/spill causing injury). Not small infractions in my book, yet now, because of the cut backs, who will watch after these kind of applicators? Not to mention the cutters that are unlicensed that apply chemicals on a daily basis? Not only am I concerned of these issues as a business person, but also as a resident.

    Where will we take our tests? Where will we lodge our complaints? Or more importantly, how will complaints be handled?

    Unlike you, I have had very positive experiences with the MDA. Back in the early 90"s we had a complaint lodged against us for an applicator spraying trees. The drifts were carrying into the neighbors yard. We were given a warning, because we admitted we were in the wrong. The next time was 2 years ago. We had a complaint lodged because a woman was out walking her bird;) and she could smell our roadside spray from 50 foot off the road and it irritated her. My extremely conscience applicator was upset, and sat down with the investigator, who went over a plan of action with him. The investigator was extremely helpful and eased the fears of my applicator.

    We rely on the MDA to police the pesticide misuse here in Michigan, and closing the offices will limit the ability they have to keep applicators and businesses in line. I am only covering my side of the spectrum when it comes to the MDA. They also handle all the fruits and vegetables grown and shipped into our state along with health and wellness of farm animals. This closure will loosen the hold they have in watching out for our safety and the safety of our children. I hate to think services will become so lax on something that deals with our health and wellness.

    I have applicators that worked for my competitors and have told me the stories of being made to spray in rain and very windy days. While they were caught and fined at the time, what about now..

    Your local Dept. of Agriculture does alot more then just issue pesticide licenses.. They are a definate benefit to us. I have dealt with them over the internet and have had to wait a few days for a response, which I was not happy with. All I was trying to do was get a password for the MDA list, the entire process took 2 weeks :confused:
  7. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Exactly. I had similar experience online with password.
  8. tlg

    tlg LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 651

    We all knew the State was in big trouble. This move is only the beginning of our problems IMO. Ag staff working out of their own homes kinda lacks some formality. What's next pesticide vigilantes enforcing the regulations. Maybe we will all have to carry a big stick in our trucks. No license. Get the stick. The State of Michigan is broke. The system is broke. Look out the sky is falling! I can only imagine what a license will cost for 2010.
  9. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Yes, but we may not need one (kidding).
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I understand everyone's mindset about How things were and that the changes means a loss.
    My contention is - let's get the state 'hot' on service over the net!!! Let FedX deliver soil samples.
    And here is the biggest one -- If a complaint is lodged to the Department -- what difference does it make if the Enforcer comes from home or from a brick and mortar building funded year round by the taxpayers?

    Any large business "needs" internet customer service that is excellent. No excuse not to. Except most customer service people are lazy and rude. That's the real problem right there. Stupid, lazy beaurocrats that have job security!

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