Michigan agriculture

Environment & Science
5:35 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Michigan's maple syrup farming is sweet for the economy

A maple tree is tapped for syrup.
Credit mi-maplesyrup.com

The first farm crop to be harvested in Michigan is ready. 

Michigan ranks number five in maple syrup production each year, and according to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, that sweet syrup helps pump nearly $2.5 million into Michigan's economy each year.

But there are plenty of maple trees in Michigan that are not being tapped. So we wondered, if we have all these trees, why aren't more people making maple syrup?

Michael Farrell's book is called The Sugar Makers Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees.

Farrell joins us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Environment & Science
2:34 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Network aims to boost Michigan-produced food

A farm in southeast Michigan.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

LANSING – A new network aims to connect farmers, food processors, and food service directors as part of an effort to increase the amount of Michigan-produced food served in institutions.

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the nonprofit Ecology Center environmental group on Thursday announced the launch of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network.

Organizers want schools, child care centers, hospitals, colleges and universities to get 20 percent of their food products from Michigan growers, producers and processors by 2020. The Center for Regional Food Systems says food service directors have expressed interest in the idea.

The Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center is working with Michigan hospitals on the effort. A campaign called "Cultivate Michigan" aims to help institutions reach the goal.

Agriculture
7:20 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Record lows to record highs: Michigan fruit growers’ incredible comeback story

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

It’s been a couple of roller coaster years for the state’s fruit growers.

Michigan apple growers had the most dramatic ride. 80-degree weather in March 2012, followed by multiple freezes caused total crop failure that fall, the worst since 1945.

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Stateside
4:47 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Without a new Farm Bill, dairy prices might soar

Milk prices could get up to $7 a gallon without a new Farm Bill.
jschumacher Morguefile

Farms are in the spotlight on Capitol Hill these days. Or, more to the point, the lack of a new Farm Bill.

The old Farm Bill expired October 1st.

A new Farm Bill is more than two years overdue. And so far, congressional leaders have not been inclined to consider passing yet another short-term extension.

Leaders of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees met today, trying to work out differences between their respective bills as they face a deadline of January 1st.

Without a new Farm Bill by that date, trips to the grocery store may bring on serious "sticker shock," especially when you push your cart along the dairy aisle.

Joining us once again to look at the Farm Bill and what might happen if Congress can't pass a new one was Ryan Findlay. He's with the National Legislative Council for the Michigan Farm Bureau. And he was joined by David Schweikhardt, professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
9:58 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Michigan apple growers changing orchards, adding technology to boost production

Apples rejected by the machine roll down a line. Many of these apples will be rescanned.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In West Michigan, it’s apple harvest time. That may conjure up images of picturesque orchards and old-fashioned fun. But modern technologies are playing a bigger role in the business side of the apple harvest.

Right now it’s crunch time for growers like Rob Steffens. He’s got 280 acres of apple trees in Sparta; a part of West Michigan’s fertile “fruit ridge” northwest of Grand Rapids. 

Apple orchards are changing

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Stateside
5:07 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

How has this summer treated Michigan farmers?

This was taken at the Allendale Farmers Market summer 2008.
user tami.vroma Flickr

The end of summer is at hand and we wanted to find out how the year treated Michigan farmers so far.

They were slammed in 2012 by a cold, wet spring and a hot, dry summer.

Earlier this summer we spoke with Macomb Township farmer Ken DeCock to see how things were going for him and got mixed reviews. So we wanted to check in with him to get an end-of-summer view.

He joined us today from Boyka's Farm Market in Macomb Township. Tree fruit specialist William Shane with the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center also joined us.

Listen to the full interview above.

Opinion
9:35 am
Thu July 18, 2013

The Farm Bill: What Michigan stands to gain

Lessenberry commentary for 7/18/2013

If I were young, single, and wanted to score, my guess is that I wouldn’t go to some hot place and say -- “have you been following what’s going on with the farm bill?”

No. Well, the farm bill may not sound too sexy, but it is, especially perhaps for Michigan. My guess is that few people have been following the farm bill wars. Those politically aware may know the U.S. Senate passed one version of the bill, the House another.

This sort of thing happens all the time, and then a conference committee, really a compromise committee, haggles and then puts something together both houses then pass.

Except that today’s is a rigidly polarized world. Democrats control the Senate, Republicans the House. After an earlier attempt failed, the Republicans passed an ideologically driven bill which completely eliminated funds for what in Washington jargon is called SNAP -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Most of us know this simply as food stamps.

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Politics & Culture
6:04 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

All this week, we've been digging into the causes, and perhaps solutions, to the financial troubles facing our schools. As Michigan Radio has been reporting, some 50 public school districts across our state are facing deep deficits. And, for the first time in Ann Arbor history, the school district may have to lay off 50 teachers.

Today we focused on teacher salaries. Just what should determine teacher pay in Michigan?

And, Daniel Howes talked with us about the business community in Detroit.

Read more
Stateside
5:15 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Preventative agricultural technology: a farmer's best friend

This was taken at the Allendale Farmers Market summer 2008. The Allendale Farmer's market is open for business Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 am - 4 pm. This is only during the summer which is from about the 2nd week of June to the last Friday in October.
user tami.vroma Flickr

An interview with Don Armock of River Ridge Produce.

All over Michigan farmers are keeping fingers tightly crossed and their eyes fixed on the weather forecast. 

Most Michigan farmers are struggling to recover from 2012, the worst growing season in our state in more than 50 years. That combination of extremely warm weather in March, followed by a hard freeze in April, and then a hot summer full of drought crushed farmers, especially fruit farmers.

It's something that hits all of us, because agriculture is the second biggest industry in Michigan. Agriculture pumps 37 billion dollars into the state's economy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Preventative agricultural technology is giving farmers some creative weapons in their battle to save their crops from Mother Nature. 

Don Armock of River Ridge Produce is one of these farmers. He joined us in the studio to talk about the 2013 growing season.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:33 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Will 2013 be a better year for Michigan farmers?

Lower numbers of migrant workers may return to Michigan
Craig Camp flickr

Last year disaster struck Michigan farms throughout the state.

Early heat waves, low rainfall and a scorching summer resulted in non-existent crops and many worried farmers wondering what 2013 would bring.

Now, the Michigan agriculture industry may also face a shortage of migrant workers.  

If the crops come back this year, why wouldn't the labor return as well?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Craig Anderson, who manages the Agricultural Labor and Safety Services program for the Michigan Farm Bureau.

He was joined by David Smeltzer, the owner of Per Clin Orchards in Bear Lake.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
3:16 pm
Sat February 16, 2013

Michigan organic farmers want better access to federal farm subsidy money

Environmental and organic farming groups want a change in the way federal agriculture subsidies are handed out.

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Environment & Science
4:28 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Stateside: Scientists draft a National Climate Assessment

Emily Fox Michigan Radio

Professor Rosina Bierbaum spoke about Michigan's changing climate.

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

More than 240 scientists contributed to a new draft report of the National Climate Assessment. The report addresses the country’s changing climate and is the third federal climate review since 2000.

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Environment & Science
4:23 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Stateside: Stabenow addresses farm bill, stresses its urgency

Senator Debbie Stabenow is pushing for a new farm bill that would invest heavily in local food systems.

Senator Stabenow spoke with Cyndy about the farm bill.

Senator Debbie Stabenow is asking Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Stabenow spoke to the Michigan Agri-Business Association at its annual conference in Lansing earlier this morning.

Stabenow, who spoke today with Stateside, was confident the bill would pass.

“It will, because our farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a five-year farm bill and consumers need to know what their choices are and our farm bill includes more investments in local food systems. When we look at the deficit we have today, we need to find ways to cut spending. We did that in our farm bill. We saved $24 billion dollars and will move agriculture toward the future,” she said.

One of the bill’s interests, said Stabenow, is preserving the quality of the Great Lakes.

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Politics & Government
12:09 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Stabenow urges Michigan agri-business leaders to push Congress on new farm bill

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Senator Debbie Stabenow is asking Michigan leaders in agriculture to push Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Stabenow spoke to the Michigan Agri-Business Association at its annual conference in Lansing Tuesday.

Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. She vowed not to compromise on policies important to Michigan farmers as lawmakers write a new bill.

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Health
4:33 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Stateside: The great grape state

Michigan's wine industry is revealing its bounties to the country.
user farlane flickr

Christopher Cook talks about Michigan's wine industry.

Michigan is the fourth-largest grape producing state.

This is good news for wine lovers.

According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, there are 101 commercial wineries producing more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually.

Christopher Cook, Chief Restaurant Critic and Wine Writer for Hour Magazine, spoke with Zoe Clark about the state’s growing industry.

“When our auto industry was in so much trouble, the wine industry was beginning to boom. In the past decade it has come the distance and has now reached a point in quality and size where it is being recognized across the country,” said Cook.

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Agriculture
1:45 pm
Sun April 15, 2012

Frost wipes out juice grapes in SW Michigan

user rkramer62 Flickr

A devastating frost has wiped out grapes grown for juice in southwestern Michigan. John Jasper, a surveyor for Welch's Foods, tells TV station ABC57 that he went through hundreds of acres before even finding a live bud. He estimates more than 10,000 acres were destroyed Thursday, mostly in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

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agriculture
6:58 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

MSU report shows agriculture contributed $91.4 billion to Michigan economy

Apples from an orchard in Ottawa County.
dailyinvention Creative Commons

A new Michigan State University study shows Michigan’s agriculture industry has grown dramatically throughout the recession.

Agriculture contributed a little more than $91.4 billion to Michigan’s economy in 2010. The economic impact of farming, food processing and the supply chain is twice as much as it was in 2004.

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agriculture
6:30 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Michigan asparagus farmers need workers to harvest early crop

Michigan asparagus
Lake Express Creative Commons

Michigan’s asparagus season has started early because of the warmer than usual weather this spring. But farmers are worried they don’t have enough workers to harvest the crop.

“Being a former migrant worker I can tell you that in the past Michigan has had a wealth of workers coming to Michigan. It was destination state,” Belen Ledezma said. She’s the Director of Migrant, Immigrant and Seasonal Worker Services for the Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency. 

Ledezma says the huge crop diversity in Michigan means migrant workers have a variety of jobs to choose from throughout the year. But this year farmers are struggling to find enough workers to harvest. “I think we’re starting to recognize that the same labor pool that we’re used to is no longer coming to Michigan,” Ledezma said.

Ledezma says the state is trying to help farmers recruit local workers to harvest asparagus. Her agency will host a job fair in southwest Michigan on Thursday in hopes of filling more than 220 immediate openings on asparagus farms.

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Agriculture
11:02 pm
Tue September 6, 2011

Michigan apple growers expecting a great crop this year

Apples from an orchard in Ottawa County.
dailyinvention creative commons

Not only will there be way more Michigan apples this year, they’ll probably be bigger and better looking too.

According to estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture, Michigan apple growers are likely to produce 26.1 million bushels this season. The 5 year average is 19.5 million bushels. Only Washington and New York state grow more.

Denise Donohue is the Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee.

“This is the 5th year on the rollercoaster for Michigan. It’s been an up and down thing for the last three years in particular.”

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