Leaders of 34 farming, food and agribusiness organizations called on state lawmakers to invest in a resilient agricultural economy in Michigan.
In a letter to members of the Michigan House and Senate on Monday, agricultural leaders — including MFB, the Michigan Agri-Business Association (MABA), and GreenStone Farm Credit Services — noted federal relief funds and a state General Fund surplus provide a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to strengthen and grow Michigan agriculture.
“Your constituents and our Michigan communities statewide continue to face hardships caused by supply chain issues and empty grocery store shelves, with shortages and delays everywhere,” the leaders wrote.
“The situation we are experiencing has been building for decades, and only further compounded by the pandemic. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to — together —make a transformational difference for Michigan consumers through support of advancements within the food and agriculture system.”
The leaders identified targeted investments across several priority areas including rural infrastructure; agricultural worker housing; worker certification; food security and distribution; protein processing and beyond.
“Michigan farmers are some of the best in the world at feeding our families, protecting our environment, boosting our economy and creating good jobs,” said MFB President Carl Bednarski, a Tuscola County sugar beet farmer.
“We need to support and enhance their efforts, and those of critical partners like rural agricultural businesses, processors, food retailers and distributors who work together to help get healthy food to tables around the world.”
Through the appropriations process, Michigan is poised to spend billions of dollars on one-time projects — which the letter urges lawmakers to ensure are innovative and deliberate.
“Our agriculture industry continues to navigate a labor crisis and historic supply chain challenges,” said Chuck Lippstreu, President of the MABA.
“We are calling on lawmakers to seize this historic opportunity to invest in modern rural infrastructure, get skilled workers back on the job and position our Michigan agriculture industry for success. We simply can’t afford not to act.”
The letter outlines multiple appropriations requests and calls on lawmakers to support action on them in the coming weeks.
“Michigan agriculture is known for our innovation and our entrepreneurial spirit, but new investment is critically needed to maximize our success,” said Dave Armstrong, President and CEO of GreenStone FCS.
“As our state leaders allocate substantial new, one-time investments to spark economic opportunity across Michigan, our message is clear: Keep Michigan agriculture growing.”