organic farmers

Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

Meet the Gold family. They're modern day homesteaders. 

Their goal is to live as self-sufficiently as possible on their three-acre farm in Ypsilanti. (They often say they use yesterday's knowledge combined with today's technology.)

Two years ago they started the Michigan Folk School. The school promotes traditional folk arts and the preservation of forest and farmland.

To find out why the family started the school, and why they became homesteaders in the first place, listen to this week's Environment Report, right here.

Driverless cars might just be a futurist's dream-no longer. The University of Michigan has announced its plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by the year 2021. We have the details on today's show.

And the temperatures are falling and parts of Michigan have snow on the ground. We asked if winter has already arrived.

Also, the Farm Bill passed last January took an important subsidy away from organic farmers. What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

First on the show, it's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

Farm in rural Michigan
user acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

One of the pressing issues before Congress is the need to pass a new Farm Bill.

A Farm Bill extension was passed last January to give Congress more time to get the final bill passed.

And within that extension was an unhappy surprise for many organic farmers: it no longer contained an annual federal subsidy that helped certified organic farmers cover the cost of getting their operations inspected. That is a key step in being certified organic.

What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

Lee Arboreal owns the Eaters' Guild Farm in Bangor, a farm that is certified organic, and he's on the board of the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance.

Tomm Becker owns Sunseed Farm, just out of Ann Arbor. His farm is not certified, but uses organic practices.

And Vicki Morrone is an Organic Farming Specialist at the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University.

The three of them joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environmental and organic farming groups want a change in the way federal agriculture subsidies are handed out.