What is a green job? There's plenty of talk about high-tech green -- windmills, LED traffic lights, Fuel-efficient car design. Other jobs are more system oriented -- how to get public transit to operate better, or how to encourage people to better insulate their homes. These are the glamor jobs of the green economy. But they are expensive. The are capital intensive and take a long time to pay off. In Michigan you can read about "bipartisan legislation to offer another $200 million in tax breaks to encourage the development of advanced battery technology in Michigan. Granholm signed a law in January offering $335 million in refundable tax credits for developing, manufacturing and assembling the batteries at the heart of next-generation electric vehicles."
That's great and all. But that's half a billion dollars for an industry that doesn't even exist yet and might not end up staying in Michigan. Do we want a repeat of the last 100 years where Michigan led the nation in auto innovation, but then saw those jobs leave the state, and ultimately the country, leaving behind decidedly un-green rotting factories, industrial pollution and laid off workers?
I'm not looking for a state handout, but a bigger acknowledgment and awareness that farming is a green job. We are doing more to help the local economy and the local environment that any battery factory. We are keeping farmland fertile and beautiful. We are feeding our neighbors healthful delicious food. We are living in a small community and keeping our dollars here -- none of our profit goes to shareholders across the Atlantic. And best of all, our job can't leave. We are rooted in place. A strong investment in long-term sustainable farming will continue to help the state in perpetuity. People always need to eat.