Michigan farm Michigan agriculture encompasses a true cornucopia of commodities, including dry beans, red tart cherries, blueberries, cucumbers for pickles, floriculture products, beef, Christmas trees and dairy products, just to name a few. The Great Lakes State’s food and agriculture industry is worth a whopping $101.2 billion, and Michigan consistently ranks in the top 10 in the nation for more than 51 different commodities. To keep those crops and livestock thriving on more than 51,600 farms covering 9.94 million acres of land across the state, Michigan farmers have to focus on the environment. As the original conservationists, farmers understand the importance of conserving natural resources to keep them efficient in business, protect their livelihood, and preserve land for future generations of Michigan farmers. Michigan farmers focus on preservation of natural resources in the areas of irrigation and water use, soil health and conservation, storage of pesticides and fertilizers to protect groundwater, and more, as well as conservation methods, such as no-till farming and the use of cover crops and terraces. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is supporting farmers in their efforts through several programs to give them aid and recognition. The Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program preserves farmland for agricultural purposes and offers tax relief to farmers. The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program helps farms of all sizes proactively and voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. Michigan’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program helps protect the environment and wildlife, offering farmers and landowners financial incentives for engaging in conservation practices.

Without the efforts put forth by the state’s farmers and those involved in the industry to protect the gifts from Mother Nature, the industry’s success would be jeopardized. Thankfully, conservation is a priority for Michigan farmers, leaving the land as good or better than they found it, ultimately preserving the future of Michigan agriculture. Travel IN: Farm to Fork Tour in Noble County

See Also:  Michigan's Top 10 Agricultural Products

Picked to Perfection

Springtime in Michigan means warmer weather, sunny skies and fresh strawberries. The Great Lakes State is home to numerous U-pick farms and farmers markets offering the sweet berry and lots more fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year. According to the Michigan Farmers Market Association, the state has grown in the number of markets from 90 in 2001 to over 300 in 2015. In 2012, Michigan had a total of 440 strawberry farms, and several of them offer U-pick services to consumers. This activity allows kids of all ages to experience fun on the farm and handpick their own fresh fruit. Michigan strawberries are usually available for picking in June and July, but call the farm first before traveling long distances. For more information on U-pick farms and farmers markets across the state, visit michiganfarmfun.com. Michigan agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC]

A Helping Hand

For new farmers, starting out can be tough – especially if they’re not inheriting the family farm. The Tilian Farm Development Center in Ann Arbor is helping farm entrepreneurs establish roots with their incubator program, designed for those with some agricultural experience who are ready to start their own farms. Through the program, beginning farmers can lease various plots of land at Tilian Farm, ranging in size, and share equipment, knowledge, storage, community resources, business planning and more with other farmers in the program while growing their crop. Many farmers in the program start with produce and herbs, which they sell at a local farmers market or through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. There’s also a field for livestock and an apiary. The average term for farmers in the program is three years, but can range from one to five. For more information and to learn how to apply, visit tiliancenterorg.startlogic.com.

See Also:  Michigan's Farm to School Connection

Blue-Ribbon Worthy

As the original environmentalists, Michigan farmers understand the importance of sustainability and natural resource conservation. Three Michigan farms, including Crooked Creek North LLC in Branch County, Irish Family Farms LLC in Saginaw County and JGDM McConnachie LLC in Sanilac County, were recently awarded grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Announced in August 2015, all 264 projects across the U.S. – Michigan farms included – are expected to generate and/or save enough energy to power more than 13,600 homes for a year. Crooked Creek North and JGDM McConnachie were awarded grants for solar power installations, while Irish Family Farms plans to use the grant for an energy-efficient grain dryer. Learn more about the program and how to apply for a REAP grant at rd.usda.gov. Cider. Background.

Autumn Sips

A visit to the Great Lakes State in autumn not only brings colorful leaves and crisp weather, but also a refreshing glass of fresh-pressed apple cider. With more than 100 cider mills spread across the state, Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop is put to good use in September and October. Apple varieties, including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, gala and honeycrisp, are all used to make the sweet drink, and many cider mills allow visitors to watch the cider being made. Located near Ann Arbor, Historic Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest working mill in Michigan, keeping a 120-year-old tradition of using an oak rack press and blending up to five different varieties for each pressing. Read more about the historic Dexter Cider Mill and others in the state at michigan.org.



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