Last night I had the privilege of representing our Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) members, alongside Vice President Andy Hagenow, at Governor Rick Snyder’s eighth and final state of the state address.
Governor Snyder did a great job telling Michigan’s comeback story, and celebrating our successes. He’s promising to bring the same “relentless positive action” to his final year of service.
Reflecting on Michigan’s reinvention, the Governor shared facts and figures proving our communities and families are in a drastically better place than 2010:
I’m also encouraged to see many of the Governor’s remaining priorities align well with our grass-roots policy and complement the work of our county Farm Bureaus.
Governor Snyder’s mention of the food and agriculture industry was brief, but it highlighted our best work—maintaining our status as a $100 billion economic powerhouse. He also recognized the wine and hard cider sector for their impressive growth, jumping from $300 million in 2005 to $5.4 billion in 2017. We’re encouraged by these success stories and believe we need to continue focusing on food and agriculture processing innovations and expansions.
The Governor announced he’ll roll out five new infrastructure and environment initiatives next week. While we don’t know specifics, I’ve outlined the items we have policy on:
In addition, the Governor plans to request additional funds to improve the state’s roads and bridges, an effort to build on the $1.2 million transportation funding package supported by MFB in 2015.
I was also pleased to hear the Governor say 2018 will mark the groundbreaking for the new Gordie Howe International Bridge. With Canada as Michigan’s leading trade partner, the bridge is vital to our agricultural industry.
I’m appreciative of the Governor’s continued work on education and talent development. The fact that farms and agribusinesses need qualified, skilled labor hasn’t changed.
He talked about the Career Pathways Alliance, a public-private partnership that Michigan Farm Bureau is proud to be a member of. The alliance—and MFB—is supporting the five-bill package that, among other things, increases career and technical education promotion. We hope the Legislature completes the Governor’s request to approve the bills in short order.
In February, the Governor will also roll out what the “Marshall Plan for Talent” that’s expected to focus on addressing the growing shortage of information technology workers. With IT becoming more integrated into agriculture by the second, this will be a plan to follow closely.
I urge you to remain engaged with your state representatives and senators on issues important the state’s food and agriculture industry and Farm Bureau policy. There’s tremendous potential for what we can accomplish together leading up to the 2018 election. Thank you for continuing to be the voice of agriculture.