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Michigan deepens investment in value-added agriculture industry

by Carolyn Orr ~ November 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
With its 1,800 dairy farms across the state, Michigan produces a lot of milk (fifth among U.S. states), but even with all of this economic activity, Michigan Sen. Mike Green sees the potential for more.
How much additional sales and revenue could be generated, for example, by adding greater value to Michigan’s homegrown milk — by diversifying or expanding the state’s dairy sector so that more buttermilk powder is being made or condensed milk is being produced for ice cream and baked goods?
The state’s new budget reflects this vision of adding more value to Michigan’s agriculture products. It includes a $4.7 million grant program for mid-sized food and agriculture processing facilities. 
According to Green, many agriculture-based operations simply have not qualified for existing state programs designed to encourage business expansion. The reason: They don’t create enough jobs. Michigan’s new grant program aims to fill that gap. 
While some processing facilities may be small in size (and employment numbers), they still can have a considerable economic impact because of the value they add to locally made products.
Research contracted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development showed that the processing of Michigan’s farm products into value-added consumer items could increase their value over farm-gate sales by at least 53 percent. 
Michigan’s new budget and its $4.7 million worth of grants expand on a pilot program initiated by the Legislature in 2016. Three projects were funded under this pilot program, including help for a dairy processor to expand and produce nonfat dry milk, butter and condensed milk. The success of the pilot program led to legislative passage of this year’s $4.7 million program, Green says.
Other examples from the Midwest of state investments in value-added agriculture include:

 

Article written by Carolyn Orr, staff liaison to the Midwestern Legislative Conference Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.