Over Eight million in new agriculture R and D funds approved | Budget | Agriculture funding | Michigan Farm News

$8.4 million in new agriculture R&D funds approved

Category: Livestock, Fruits & Vegetables, Politics

by Nicole Sevrey

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“This year’s budget is a prime example of what good we can accomplish together for Michigan’s food and fiber production and processing.”

The state’s agriculture department will receive an almost 20 percent increase within the 2017-18 budget passed by the Michigan Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Snyder. Most notably, it includes a new $8.4 million line item dedicated to agriculture industry research and development.

Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski said adequate funding for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is essential for farmers to continue providing safe, affordable and high-quality products consumers expect and deserve.

“Farmers perform a challenging balancing act as we juggle weather, input costs, conservation efforts, food safety requirements, and more,” Bednarski said. “And there’s also a strong drive to be innovative, efficient and more cost effective.”

“To accomplish industry growth, we must continue collaborating with our education and research institutions, commodity organizations and state agencies,” he said. “This year’s budget is a prime example of what good we can accomplish together for Michigan’s food and fiber production and processing.”

Michigan Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureau members advocated for the new $8.4 million agriculture industry research and development line item that includes:

$3.2 million for the state’s fruit and vegetable lab, and three new mobile laboratories.

The one-of-a-kind Michigan lab plays a key role in teaching and research to address food safety, security and quality issues. Funds will be used to modernize MSU’s campus-based facility and build three mobile learning labs focused on value-added food processing.

At an agriculture appropriations committee hearing earlier this year, College of Agriculture of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Dr. Ron Hendrick, spoke about how the lab can prepare students for nearly half of agricultural jobs that involve food processing.

“By creating three mobile food processing labs and staffing them with highly qualified teaching faculty, we can offer hands-on experience to students throughout the state. This will…prepare our students, both on campus and at partner community colleges, for jobs with any of the more than 2,200 food processors that call Michigan home.”

$2.5 million for the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA).

Resulting from eight industry groups joining forces with MSU Extension and AgBio Research in 2014, the M-AAA aims to address ever-changing production practices and consumer demands through research and outreach. The one-time funds will be used to continue growing the program’s size and scope.

Also earlier this year, MSU AgBio Research Director Doug Buhler lauded the alliance’s accomplishments since its formation. “Previous projections suggest that Michigan could grow its overall animal agriculture economy from $5.7 billion to more than $8.1 billion by 2025,” he said.

$1.5 million for the state’s tree fruit commission.

Representing apple, cherry, peach and plum growers, the commission is making infrastructure investments at the state’s four fruit research stations.

Historically funded with state dollars, the projects are now financed by the commission’s annual grower assessment implemented in 2016.

However, with a funding gap created over the past decade, the one-time funds will help bring the stations’ equipment replacement and facility maintenance projects up to speed in order to keep conducting valuable pest prevention and other priority research.

$1.2 million for agriculture industry workforce development initiatives.

The one-time funds will be used for workforce development initiatives supporting food processing, education and agriculture technology.

Learn more about MFB’s member-developed policy on MDARD funding priorities on our website.