Michigan Agriculture’s State Budget Wins

11/9/2017

Michigan State Capitol. Credit MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (view larger image)

Michigan State Capitol. Credit MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

By: Andrea King Collier, Freelance Journalist and Author

 

This article is based on a report provided to the Michigan Local Food Council Network by Jean Doss of Capitol Services.

 

Agriculture saw gains in the Michigan fiscal year 2017-2018 budget over the summer. The Legislature passed a new budget that includes a 20 percent increase in funding for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).  The budget brings more funding for emergency management, food safety, animal health and disease response, and infrastructure in the state. There are increases in resources for the state’s fruit and vegetable industry and value-added agriculture. The budget also includes $8.4 million in new agriculture research and development resources.

Some of the gains directly relevant to Good Food Charter goals and priorities are:  

 

The 10 Cents a Meal Pilot Gets a Boost

The 10 Cents a Meal pilot program provides support for the purchase of locally-grown produce for school meals. The fiscal year 2016-2017 budget included $250,000 for the program, and the approved 2017-2018 budget increases funding for the pilot by $125,000, raising the total allocation to $375,000. The increase will allow 10 Cents a Meal to expand to a third prosperity region (Region 9), which includes Washtenaw, Monroe, Jackson and Hillsdale counties. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the program will assist 32 school districts in getting an additional 10 cents per meal.

 

Putting More Food on Tables

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) got support for The Heat and Eat Program that puts food on the table for children, seniors and people living with disabilities, in the new budget. The increase translates to an average of $75 more dollars for 338,000 Michigan families.

 

Creating More Robust Economic Markets for Michigan

While farming and food production continue to grow in the state, the new budget will give the sector a boost, by adding an additional full-time employee and $408,500 in added dollars to promote Michigan food processing and products in competitive worldwide markets.

 

Increasing Research Dollars

Michigan Agricultural Industry Research and Development will be able to expand its reach thanks to $2.5 million allocated to an animal agriculture initiative, $3.2 million for fruit and vegetable campus/mobile labs, $1.2 million for fruit and vegetable campus/mobile labs workforce development initiative and $1.5 million for a tree fruit commission. The budget also includes $305,600 in restricted funds for farmland preservation efforts.

 

New Opportunities for Agriculture Investment

The final budget also added $2 million for FY17-18 for a newly configured food and agriculture investment program. The new program can use funds for grants, loans or loan guarantees, infrastructure development, other economic assistance, program administration and export assistance and promotion.

 

Boosting Farmers Market Technology

The budget also includes a one-time allocation through DHHS for farmers market wireless equipment. The funding will help more Michigan farmers markets use wireless technology to accept Bridge cards for payment and make spending more convenient for consumer.  

 

Commitment to Food as an Investment

The increases in the budget send a message that the state sees the importance of economic opportunities in growing and production around fresh food. And through pilots and expansion of funding, legislators are willing and ready to build a more robust Michigan economy through good food, strong businesses, and innovative agricultural research.  For more information on the FY17-18 budget go to: http://www.michigan.gov/mdard.