To support the diversity of Michigan agriculture, there also needs to be a robust agricultural processing sector and opportunities for farms to pursue value-added initiatives. Having a robust processing sector can help insulate the food system from market shocks, support the consumption of local food, and help decrease food insecurity.
There are several regulations that can govern agricultural processing and on-farm value-added initiatives. One is groundwater discharge permitting, managed by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. This permit covers wastewater from agricultural processing that is land applied, or otherwise put in/on the ground. Food safety regulations and private sector requirements around food safety can also be a large factor when it comes to food processing. Some agricultural processing sectors have been impacted by regulatory burden and consolidation, which has impacted farmers’ access to timely and available processing and competition in the market.
Thoughts to Consider
What barriers to entry exist for additional food processing or on-farm value-added initiatives?
What is impacting current agricultural processors’ ability to remain competitive and in business?
What support is needed to ensure the longevity of current processors?