Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) member-developed policy supports strategic investments in the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) with funding priorities including food safety, regulatory program oversight, animal and plant disease protection, producer security, integrity of agricultural products, market access inspections, statistics and information, and industry and trade advocacy.
These priorities guide the organization’s position and decision-making as we advocate for funding during the annual state budget process or one-time supplemental funding proposals.
MDARD is getting a 20% funding boost from the state budget, which includes more than $187 million for the department. The budget passed by the Legislature on July 1 now awaits Gov. Whitmer’s final approval.
Farm Bureau’s budget priorities were met by maintaining current program funding levels including ongoing funding for the Michigan Animal Agriculture Alliance and conservation districts. Read more: https://bit.ly/AgBudgetUpdateJuly22.
MFB is also supporting Senate Bill 885, sponsored by Sen. Roger Victory, to provide supplemental funding toward improving Michigan’s food security and investing in rural communities. As introduced, the bill would provide $1.4 billion for various new and existing programs, but the scope of the bill will likely before more focused as the legislative session progresses. The proposal contains three categories: food security; rural development; and education, workforce and talent development. MFB and more than 30 other farm, food and agribusiness organizations support the funding of the items detailed below. In mid-June, these organization called on the Legislature to act on the funding opportunity. Read more: https://bit.ly/SB885FloorLetter.
In relation to Senate Bill 885, the general budget approved by the Legislature included $50 million for food & agriculture economic development and another $53 million for MSU to create new, state-of-the-art greenhouse and dairy teaching and research facilities. MFB applauds this budget addition and looks forward to collaborating with Senator Victory to update the legislation and advocate for passage of the remaining items outlined below.
The legislation seeks grants allotted to:
- Bovine TB mitigation on beef and dairy farms,
- Farmers market investment in utilities, technology, infrastructure, and other equipment
- Food distribution security and stability to support growth in processing and distribution services.
- Food banks, and community and faith-based organizations to purchase fresh produce, dairy, meat, and seafood products.
- Supporting stability and expansion of protein processor plants and storage facilities.
- The pandemic exposed flaws in our overstretched food supply chain.
- This proposal prioritizes local growing, processing, and distribution for food products which secures our food supply chain by shortening the time and physical distance from farm to retail and consumption.
- The proposal reduces logistics and regionalizes food processing, which will help combat rising food costs due to inflation.
The legislation seeks funds for:
- Infrastructure grants to support agriculturally beneficial projects including water, wastewater, natural gas, biodigesters, electric, bridges, railways, and harbors/ports.
- Rural development broadband grants to help communities that did not receive enough federal funding to complete a full-scale installation.
- Sustainability infrastructure grants to help farms pursue Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program verification or adopt other proven best practices.
- Upper Peninsula State Fair support to partially offset lost revenue from COVID-19 shutdowns.
- Statewide fair grants to partially offset lost revenue from COVID-19 shutdowns and for infrastructure support.
- Michigan’s rural communities have historically received little state-funded economic development support.
- This proposal will help remove roadblocks that have historically limited the expansion of our rural industries by providing them access to high-quality and high-capacity infrastructure and utilities.
Education, Workforce and Talent Development
The legislation sees funding for:
- Agriculture labor housing grants to support the building of housing units for seasonal and year-round employees.
- Technical grants to support training and educational costs for current and new agricultural employees and managers.
- Establish the Michigan Center for Agricultural Innovation, a public-private partnership to tackle issues facing all sectors of Michigan’s agriculture industry.
- Training workers, supporting research, and attracting new generations of students to pursue careers in agriculture are critical parts to providing Michigan families with affordable food.