Protecting Michigan's Agriculture

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Agriculture is a $71 billion business in Michigan, recognized by many as the second strongest industry in the State.

"There's huge global demand for commodities and for many of those grown here in Michigan. We're looking to build on success of 2010 into 2011," said Dave Armstrong, the CEO of Greenstone Farm Creditors.

All economic ups and downs loudly resonate from farms to fridges.

The dairy industry went through severe economic losses in 2009. 2010 was a year where we kind of got our feet back under us again," said dairy farmer and Michigan Dairy Association President Ken Nobis.

Nobis was at the agricultural conference at the Lansing Center on Tuesday. He says not enough safeguards are in place to protect the industry.

"2011 doesn't look real optimistic for dairy because of the costs to produce milk," said Nobis.

Senator Debbie Stabenow is the new chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee. She spoke at the conference ensuring that she is there to fight for Michigan.

"My job is to help you be successful ---- when to get the government out of the way and when to be a partner," said Stabenow.

Industry experts say, a quarter of all jobs in Michigan are in the agriculture business, which is dependent on all the tractors and trucks on display here, and is why Senator Stabenow says the farm bill is at the top of her agenda.

"This is about jobs and the economy. The farm bill is a jobs bill," said Sen. Stabenow.

The farm bill is a five year federal spending bill for the agriculture industry that expires in 2012. Stabenow says it has great benefit for Michigan but renewing it is without challenges.

"Our biggest challenge is the overall budget and deficit and making sure we're doing our part, making sure we're fiscally responsible," said Stabenow

Stabenow says in the next few weeks she will be holding a hearing on the farm bill to gauge reaction on its effectiveness.


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