LANSING — Michigan Farm Bureau’s Lansing Legislative Seminar has long been a celebration of grassroots advocacy for agricultural awareness in local, state and national governments. The 2022 event, however, brought with it word of the Food Security and Rural Development Supplemental, a legislative package that could deliver one of the largest allocations of agriculture-focused funding the state has seen.
“This is transformational,” said Sen. Roger Victory, who received Michigan Farm Bureau’s Silver Plow Award during the Lansing Legislative Seminar. “This is like what we brought to the forefront … with the auto industry, and we were able to come forward with a billion dollars in 14 days. Now we flip the script. This is an industry, a group of people, an area that has been neglected for at least three decades. It's time to put us in the forefront — to bring those businesses and our farmers to the forefront — and start addressing needs when these dollars are made available.”
Michigan Farm News, Michigan Farm Bureau’s official news publication, first learned of the $1.4 billion Food Security and Rural Development Supplemental, which was introduced Wednesday, Feb. 22 by Sen. Victory as Senate Bill 885, will allocate one-time funds for programs involving food security, education workforce and talent development, and rural development and agriculture infrastructure.
Funds are made available through COVID-19 stimulus relief.
Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski said SB 885 is an investment in all of agriculture.
“This is huge,” Bednarski said. “Agriculture is our second largest industry in the state. So, what can we do not only for agriculture but our rural communities? When we look at infrastructure, supply chain, food processing, labor: There are so many things that this money can help agriculture elevate to that next level.”
According to Rebecca Park, legislative counsel for MFB, money could eventually be distributed through the Office of Rural Development. Included in the funding are, among other items, investments and grants in bovine TB mitigation, farmers markets, food security, protein processors, rural broadband, and ag labor housing.
“Almost anything that you can think of is covered in this proposal,” Park added. “This bill would definitely change agriculture for the better, and it isn’t some flash in the pan. All of ag would be affected.”
While this a good opportunity for agriculture, she said this is the beginning of the budget process. A breakdown of possible investment will be announced later.
“This will make a difference to your operation for generations to come,” Park said. “However, this is just the start of the bill. Our members are encouraged to talk to their legislators about the bill and how it can affect and help them and consumers in their area who experienced empty grocery store shelves for the first time ever.”
This entry was adapted from an original piece first published in Michigan Farm News, Michigan Farm Bureau’s official news publication. To follow the journey of this bill, as well as read up on other news impacting agriculture, visit www.MichiganFarmNews.com and consider subscribing to the Michigan Farm News’ daily e-newsletter here.