The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development is getting a 20% funding boost from the recently approved state budget, which includes more than $187 million for the department. The budget awaits Gov. Whitmer’s final approval.
Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski applauded House and Senate leaders for finalizing a budget that he says meets the organization’s funding priorities and sets the stage to further strengthen the state’s food supply and rural economy.
“We’re pleased to see $50 million dedicated to economic development that helps the food and agriculture sector improve supply chain, infrastructure and workforce processes impacted by the pandemic,” Bednarski said.
The $50 million includes $12 million for upgrades to Detroit’s popular Eastern Market. Another $53 million will go to MSU, the state’s land grant university, to create new, state-of-the-art greenhouse and dairy teaching and research facilities.
While there’s much to celebrate in the budget, Bednarski said there’s more work to be done through Senate Bill 885, a supplemental funding proposal sponsored by Senator Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville).
“While some of the initiatives within Senate Bill 885 were wholly or partly addressed in the budget, we want to see the legislation revisited when the House and Senate return this fall.”
MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park explained what that might look like, saying the legislation remains a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“Michigan Farm Bureau is among a group of food and agriculture partners supporting Senate Bill 885,” Park said. “With the budget complete, our groups will need to collaborate with Senator Victory to update the legislation and advocate for its passage to fund more initiatives that address rural infrastructure; agricultural worker housing; worker certification; food security and distribution; protein processing and beyond.
Park said there’s approximately $7 billion in federal stimulus dollars waiting to be allocated through legislation like Senate Bill 885.
Other noteworthy items within the 2022-23 budget for agriculture includes:
- $3 million for the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture
- $3 million for local conservation district operations
- $3.5 million for the Office of Rural Development created by Gov. Whitmer in 2021
- $1.6 million for food and agriculture preparedness, readiness, and response programs
- $1 million for a Buy Michigan campaign to promote Michigan grown and raised products
- $900,000 for the Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program
- $200,000 in assistance for privately owned cervid facilities to fulfill required testing for chronic wasting disease and bovine TB
- $500,000 for the county fair grant program