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Weekly Column: Paging Chicago, Gary, and Milwaukee

Our local economy is unique. It is driven by tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing. It is rare for an area to have all three staples of economic activity in one spot, and Southwest Michigan is fortunate to have them. I am proud to serve as Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, where I play a leading role in protecting the ecology and strengthening the economy of the Great Lakes. Sadly, the summer season is winding down but small businesses and communities along the Lakeshore rely on a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem for everything from sportfishing to beach vacations in Benton Harbor, Holland, Saugatuck, South Haven, and St. Joseph to bring in tourism dollars.

Our community is also known for its ability to grow a variety of specialty crops. I have worked to help family farmers by introducing the Protecting America’s Orchardists and Nursery Tree Growers Act. This bipartisan bill will modernize an outdated program and make it easier for farmers to utilize should they be negatively impacted by a natural disaster, disease, or infestation. Additionally, I am leading a bipartisan effort to stop the Biden Administration from more than doubling agricultural visa fees as well as imposing a new $600 fee to process the deluge of asylum border claims. These fees will devastate local farmers.

Last week, I led a bipartisan letter to Governor Whitmer regarding a misguided determination from the EPA that will hurt manufacturing in Berrien County.  It has been widely acknowledged, including by the State of Michigan, that pollution generated from upwind states are the dominant source of higher ozone pollutant levels being observed in Allegan, Berrien, and Muskegon Counties. I believe the EPA’s focus should be on the geographic source of the pollutants whether it be Chicago, Gary, or Milwaukee, not Berrien County. I hope the Governor will join our effort to stand up for our Lakeshore communities and local manufacturers.

If you need assistance navigating a federal agency, please contact my office in Holland at (616) 251-6741, my office in Portage at (269) 569-8595, or my office in Washington at (202) 225-4401.

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