Growing Michigan Agricultural News - Third Quarter 2013
According to a recent state report, the number of migrant and seasonal workers in Michigan has increased 7.3% since 2006. Despite the increase in the number of workers, the Michigan Farm Bureau recently reported that farmers have not been able to find enough help to keep up with the growing industry and their crops. Those involved are blaming the nation's immigration policies, weather patterns, the recession and industry changes. Some farmers have had to leave crops in the field due to the lack of help.
The Department of Agriculture & Rural Development recently announced a Strategic Growth Initiative grant program to help Michigan's expanding food and agriculture industry. The $3 million grant program, which is a joint venture between the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, "provides an opportunity to leverage business development and growth for Michigan's $91.4 billion food and agriculture industry," per MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. Read more >>
In response to Michigan's devastating 2012 cherry crop, Senator Debbie Stabenow recently led the charge to gain Michigan tart cherry growers access to purchase federal crop insurance for the first time ever. Insurance was also made available to sweet cherry growers beginning in August 2012. Read more.
Gov. Snyder Travels to China on Trade Mission
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder traveled to China in September for the third time in as many years. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Cover Adams, among others, accompanied Snyder on his trip. According to the Detroit Free Press, Snyder stated that the trade mission centered on exports, tourism and the automotive industry. He also mentioned that China is a growing market for agricultural commodities, in particular for soybeans and blueberries.
Some members of the Michigan Agri-Business Association and Muskegon officials have been investigating the possibility of a river barge terminal on the east end of Muskegon Lake. Association President Jim Byrum recently presented the idea and feels that Muskegon is an excellent location since it is a deep-water port with nearby railroad and highway connections. The river barge terminal would allow Michigan farmers to be linked to Gulf Coast export opportunities going through Chicago and the Mississippi River barge system. The proposal becomes even more appealing since returning barges could bring materials such as farm equipment, seed or fertilizer back to Michigan ports. The development would need to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping before proceeding.
Right-to-Know Pesticide Legislation Proposed
House Bill 4841 was introduced in June by Michigan State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) that would allow residents to sign up and be notified when a commercial applicator sprays lawn or ornamental pesticides immediately adjacent to their property. Currently, only those individuals with a physician's certification meeting specific criteria are able to register for the state's pesticide notification registry. The Ann Arbor News quoted Irwin as stating that his bill "provides Michigan residents the right to know when their household may be exposed to harmful chemical applied near their property. By providing an opt-in, people are given the freedom to make informed decisions about their health."
The statutory language appears to be limited to lawn and ornamental pesticides, but could be expanded to agricultural applications in the future.