Dave Pagel, an apple farmer and produce business owner from Berrien Springs, is the AgriPac-endorsed Friend of Agriculture for the 21st Senate District comprised of Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.
Currently the state representative in the 78th House District, Pagel shared in a candidate questionnaire how he’s ready to continue serving his constituents and supporting growth within Michigan’s agriculture industry.
“I feel that I have much more to contribute in public service, especially with my background in agriculture and education,” he said. “My priorities are keeping Michigan’s economy strong with a competitive business climate, supporting family farms, food policy and funding for public schools, and continued work in criminal justice reform.”
With decades worth of family fruit farming experience growing strawberries, cherries peaches, apples and grapes, Pagel now operates his own produce business that stores, packs, markets and ships fruit for Michigan growers. His background gives him the unique ability to empathize with farmers and understand Farm Bureau policy issues such as labor, infrastructure, and career and technical education.
When asked what he considers the biggest issue facing agriculture in his legislative district, labor was top of mind.
“In my district we have many fruit and vegetable operations, and the biggest concern seems to be labor supply,” he said. “This is a national issue, but we can give our voice to the need for a reasonable guest-worker program. We will import workers or food, take your pick.”
Pagel dovetailed that with the need for skilled trades education support.
“Many businesses are ready to grow, but now face a shortage of qualified workers,” he said. “Career and technical education is part of the solution.”
When examining other barriers to Michigan businesses and opportunities for growth, Pagel believes the state needs to provide better funding for both road and broadband infrastructure.
“I believe in the free market…If our state has a competitive tax environment, a good labor supply, a reasonable cost of utilities and good infrastructure, we should be friendly for ag processing expansion.”
Prior to serving in the Legislature, Pagel was Berrien County Commissioner from 2009-2012 and was a member of the local school board from 1993-2006. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in food systems economics and management from Michigan State University.