Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Support for West Michigan AgricultureThursday, October 02, 2014
Grand Rapids - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced critical support for West Michigan farmers and producers across the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will award nearly $2 million to support 30 Michigan specialty crop projects throughout the state, which is a direct result of the 2014 Farm Bill's significant investment in locally grown food. These projects include support for apple, asparagus, blueberry, grape, cherry, Christmas tree, potato, floriculture, and nursery growers throughout the region. For a complete list of Michigan projects, please visit USDA's website here.
Chairwoman Stabenow said: "One of my top priorities was making sure the 2014 Farm Bill had major support for the fruits and vegetables we grow in Michigan, which gives families better access to local food options and supports our economy. Today's announcement is great news for Michigan farmers who will have additional tools and resources to help promote and sell their products to consumers, protect their crops from pests and disease, and develop better production practices."
In 2008, Senator Stabenow authored the first ever fruits and vegetables section of a Farm Bill in history that supported so-called "specialty crops" - fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products, and floriculture. Prior to 2008, farm bills focused largely on commodity crops but had no section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. Stabenow's 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama in Michigan earlier this year, strengthens support for specialty crops and makes major investments in organic crops and local and regional food hubs.
Michigan produces a wider diversity of crops than any state but California, including many fruits and vegetables. Michigan is the national leader in the production of over 18 types of crops, and Michigan specialty crop production has increased 33 percent in the last decade. Agriculture is Michigan's second-largest industry.