2018-03-18 / Editorial

Spring awaits local ag-business sector

Tuesday marks the first day of spring, good news to the ag-business community in Lapeer County and across the state as producers are eager to get back out onto their fields to start another grow season.

On Tuesday, Michigan agricultural leaders celebrated “Great Lakes, Great Farms and Great Food” at the 14th annual Ag Day at the Capitol. Lt. Governor Brian Calley joined Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gordon Wenk and Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski to celebrate Michigan’s food and agriculture sector. A highlight of Food and Agriculture Month, the event was designed to put the diversity of Michigan agriculture into perspective for legislators.

Prior to a midday showcase under the capitol dome, Future Farmers of America members and food and farming representatives delivered baskets of Michiganproduced edibles and informational material to the offices of state legislators and other government officials.

Receiving special recognition during the event were MFB board member Brigette Leach and Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau President Kelly Leach. The mother-daughter duo is featured in the 2018 Michigan Agriculture magazine’s cover story, honoring women in the industry. Brigette and Kelly own and operate their family’s multigenerational farm.

In a show of gratitude for another female ag leader, Jamie Clover Adams was commended for her dedication and service after recently stepping down as Michigan Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Development director to accept a new position with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

“Jamie has been instrumental in strengthening the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, fostering trade partnerships and increasing agricultural processing opportunities,” said Bednarski.

Michigan’s food and agriculture industry contributes $101.2 billion annually to the state’s economy, and we’re the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation. There’s no doubt that agriculture is one of the state’s shining stars, and its future has never been brighter.

We’re encouraged by the interest in ag-business by local students who attend the Lapeer County Education and Technology Center enrolled in ag science curriculum. They’re the future of agriculture in Lapeer County.

Tuesday’s Food and Ag Day event in Lansing featured 29 commodity organizations representing everything from apples and cherries, to nursery plants, dairy products and more.

From production to processing to retail, Michigan’s ag industry provides 923,000 jobs — that represents about 22 percent of the state’s employment — while also exporting about one-third of its agricultural commodities each year, creating nearly $2.8 billion in revenue.

Michigan has nearly 10 million acres of farmland and more than 50,000 farms. Michigan ranks third in the nation for farmers markets, and the state is the largest producer asparagus, tart cherries, cucumbers, squash, Niagara grapes, and three varieties of dry beans.

In 2017, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, there were 1,317 farms in Lapeer County. Countywide, the market value of products sold was a staggering $124 million — a 64-percent increase since 2007. Yet it could be better, and that’s the hope for the summer of 2018.

Spring is a season of optimism on the farm. There’s the promise of a new crop and a new growing season. You can practically smell the hope in the freshly worked soil during the early spring months. It’s that way on just about every farm and an important part of the incredible resilience farmers have.

Not only is March a great time to thank our farmers, it’s also a time to look at the industry’s abundant business and career opportunities. From technology-based careers to microbiologists to having your own foodbased company, the possibilities are limitless.

We salute our community’s ag sector this spring. Have a bountiful season.

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