Michigan Sen. Stabenow announces over $2 million for fruit, vegetable growers

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:03 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WNDU) - The USDA is rewarding over $2 million to a specialty project aimed at helping Michigan’s agriculture.

The grant will go to 22 projects, including one showing off Michigan’s bean commission.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow called the project “a big win” as the funding will help keep a competitive edge for farmers in the Wolverine state.

Press Release from the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow:

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced that Michigan will receive $2,153,501 in federal funding to support Michigan specialty crop growers who produce fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, hops, nursery plants, and flowers.

“Michigan leads the nation in the production of many fruits and vegetables and is one of the top states in agricultural diversity. Our fruits, vegetables and nursery crops are not only a source of great pride – they are critical to our state’s economy.” said Senator Stabenow. “This new support is a big win for Michigan agriculture. It will help our farmers keep their competitive edge and continue to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to American families.”

“Michigan’s food and agricultural industry is unique and innovative. We’re home to a wide variety of specialty crops, from asparagus to cherries to onions,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “I deeply appreciate USDA’s continued support for Michigan producers through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These investments will allow for more innovative research and new market opportunities in Michigan’s specialty crop sector.”

“Senator Debbie Stabenow understands agriculture and she knows how each Farm Bill affects our country.  Senator Stabenow is proud of the immense diversity in Michigan Agriculture.  This diversity puts Michigan’s specialty crop growers into the position where they find extreme value in Michigan’s Specialty Crop Block Grants.  The Grants are used for so many marketing and research projects here in Michigan.  Without these Grants, our specialty crop industry would suffer,” said Greg Bird, Executive Director of Michigan Vegetable Council and Michigan Onion Committee.

“Specialty Crop Block Grants allow the Michigan Bean Industry to stretch grower’s assessment dollars by helping fund valuable research that continues to successfully add to the bottom-line of today’s edible bean producers.  This added funding has and continues to produce high yielding, high quality, nutrient dense edible beans that today’s health-conscious families are consuming in many different ways these days.  We are certainly grateful for this program and appreciate the continued support for our industry,” said Joe Cramer, Executive Director of Michigan Bean Commission.

“With the funds, we receive from the Speciality Crop Block Grant, the Michigan Ag Council will be able to further our goal of increasing sales of Michigan-grown food and products. We want to meet consumers where they are, and by placing advertisements on streaming services, we’re able to reach them in their homes, mere feet from their dinner tables, where they’ll hopefully spend time-consuming nutritious and wholesome food grown right here in our state. The Ag Council and our partners appreciate the support of our elected officials to encourage all Michiganders to buy local,” said Noelle Nachreiner Executive Director of Michigan Ag Council.

“The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) is a national research and promotion organization that works on behalf of Michigan, Utah and Wisconsin cherry growers.  Michigan producing 75% of the tart cherry supply for the U.S.  CMI is grateful for the awarded USDA Specialty Crop Grant that they received to enhance the Michigan cherry industry.  These funds leveraged with grower assessments provide an opportunity to expand our mission to showcase Michigan cherries on a national platform.  The partnership with the USDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is a tremendous asset for Michigan cherry growers,” said Julie Gordon, President of Cherry Marketing Institute.

“Michigan’s asparagus and carrot growers are keenly aware of the important information these projects provide that aid in the long-term viability of their farms.  This applied research helps them address new diseases and provides additional management practices and strategies for existing pests and diseases,” said Jamie Clover Adams, Executive Director of Michigan Asparagus and Michigan Carrot.

“The financial resources provided from this grant will help Canton Township plant a variety of apple, pear, peach, kiwi, and nectarine fruit trees, as well as over two dozen blueberry bushes in Preservation Park, which is home to our Farmers Market,” said Canton Township Supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak.  “We appreciate this opportunity for our Leisure Services staff to be able to champion the numerous benefits of these diverse Michigan Specialty Crops through increased education, awareness, and marketing efforts, as well as to help reduce food insecurity in the Canton community by providing access to these healthy locally-grown foods to those in need.”

“The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to use 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to target two important issues in Michigan fruit growing, the cost of apple production and sustainability and fungicide resistance in strawberry and raspberry. Apple growers need to know what future costs they will be incurring before they plant an orchard.  Additionally, environmental sustainability is important to all Michigan fruit growers. This grant will measure the carbon captured in an apple orchard and evaluate how this could benefit the industry.  Fungicide resistance is a difficult problem growers face.  Knowing which chemistries are starting to develop resistance helps growers make better management decisions,” said Ben Smith, Executive Secretary of Michigan State Horticultural Society.

Prior to 2008, the federal Farm Bill focused mostly on traditional commodity crops and had no section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. In 2008, Senator Stabenow changed that by authoring the first-ever fruits and vegetables section of a Farm Bill to provide support for specialty crops. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, hops, nursery products and floriculture which are so important to Michigan’s economy. Senator Stabenow has leveraged her position as Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee in subsequent Farm Bills to strengthen support for these crops and make major investments in organic crops and local and regional food systems.

The 22 Michigan projects being announced today are made possible by the funds Senator Stabenow secured in the 2018 Farm Bill. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.  The funds will help growers sell more products, protect crops from pests and diseases, and market products to boost competitiveness.

The 22 grant projects include:

  • Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development’s International Marketing Program - International and Domestic Promotion of Michigan Specialty Crops, $164,508
  • The Charter Township of Canton, Leisure Services Department - Increasing Access to and Consumption of Community Garden Fruit Crops Consumption of Community Garden Fruit Crops Consumption of Community Garden, $19,410
  • Hop Growers of Michigan - Advancing Control and Mitigation Strategies for an Emerging Hop Disease in Michigan, $99,000
  • Michigan Ag Council - Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT Streaming and Digital Advertising Campaign, $100,000
  • Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board (MAAB) - Developing a Sustainable Asparagus Beetle Management Program for the Michigan Asparagus Industry, $97,862
  • Michigan Bean Commission (MBC) - Validation of Improved Dry Bean Varieties, Maturities, and Integrated Weed Management Systems: PHASE II Managing Production for an Evolving Market, $100,000
  • Michigan Bean Commission (MBC) - Enhanced Strategies to Communicate the Value of Michigan Dry Beans: Conventional and Digital Educational Programs to Increase Bean Consumption for Today’s Health Conscious Consumers, $119,600.
  • Michigan Carrot Committee - A Deep-Rooted Problem: Addressing a New Disease in Michigan Carrots, $96,332
  • Michigan State University - Aster Yellows Detection in Leafhoppers to Improve Sustainable Crop Management, $86,742
  • Celery Research Inc. - Determining the Role of the Fusarium Species Associated with Michigan Celery “Meltdown”, $96,271
  • Michigan Cherry Committee - Evaluating the Samba Wasp as a Promising New Biocontrol Agent for Spotted-Wing Drosophila in Michigan, $99,993
  • MCTA - MCTA Website Reboot: Using the Internet to Increase Awareness and Access of Michigan Christmas Tree Farms, $30,900
  • Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council (MGGC) - Using Greenhouse Lighting to Limit Losses from Downy Mildew on Bedding Plant Impatiens, $80,470
  • Michigan Onion Committee - Onion Thrips and Foliar Disease Management in Commercial Onions in Michigan, $97,862
  • Michigan State University - Integrated Volunteer Potato and Colorado Potato Beetle Control for Sustainable Potato Production in Michigan, $100,000
  • Michigan State Horticultural Society - Estimating Financial and Environmental Sustainability of Apple Production in Michigan, $58,246
  • Michigan State Horticultural Society - Assessing and Managing Fungicide Resistance in Strawberry and Raspberry, $99,000
  • USDA-NASS Great Lakes Regional office - Michigan Tree Fruit Industry Survey, $96,486
  • Michigan State University - Pest Risk and Management in HighDensity Apples and Cherries, $99,321
  • Michigan Vegetable Council - Testing New Ways to Monitor and Manage Cucurbit Downy Mildew, $96,486
  • Midwest Nut Producers Council (MNPC) - Development and Dissemination of Practical Methods that Protect Michigan’s Chestnut Yields from Brown Rot, $100,000
  • Riveridge Produce Marketing - Integrating Sweet Cherry Row Covers to Combat Environmental Factors to Increase Production, Expand Retail Markets, $78,577
  • Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development – Funds to administer the Specialty Crop Grant program, $125,482

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