Representatives of Michigan State University, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) and Michigan Milk Producers Association testified before the House and Senate agriculture appropriations subcommittees this week to advocate for more stable funding of the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA).
“We would like it (M-AAA) to be a more permanent item like Project GREEEN,” said MSU’s George Smith, associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The M-AAA is our priority … and we’re requesting $2.5 million in recurring funding to support the program.”
The program has received one-time allocations in recent years, unlike Project GREEEN, its 20-year-old plant-based counterpart, which receives approximately $5 million annually within the state budget.
Smith emphasized that both M-AAA and Project GREEEN are linked and driven by priorities set annually by animal and plant agriculture stakeholders.
“These programs illustrate strong partnerships between the state of Michigan, MSU and partners in the agriculture industry,” Smith added. “They are part of what makes Michigan agriculture so special.”
Both programs have a strong return on research and outreach investments. Project GREEEN reports a $31.50 return for every $1 invested; M-AAA returns $10 return for every $1.
“Michigan Farm Bureau would like to see the one-time appropriations mantra removed and replaced with an on-going appropriations designation,” said MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park. “We’d also like to see the budget increased from the current $2 million to something a little closer to the $5 million figure Michigan’s livestock industry originally requested.”
The groups also voiced appreciation for the previous $3.2 million investment in 2018 for renovations to MSU’s on-campus fruit and vegetable processing lab and the ability to build three mobile learning labs. Both projects are aimed at providing more modern teaching, learning and research space.
While the funding request for M-AAA was not included in Gov. Whitmer’s initial budget recommendation, the Legislature can include it in its proposal if it chooses. Still in the early stages of the budget process, the agriculture appropriations subcommittees will provide their proposal to the primary appropriations committees in the coming weeks before being considered by the full House and Senate.