MICHIGAN FOOD AND FARM SYSTEMS

ARE FOUNDATIONAL TO OUR SECURITY & SUCCESS

Policy written in conjunction with Teri Vanhall.

Michigan produces over 300 different food crops and is second only to California in terms of agricultural diversity. It's also our second-largest industry, adding more than $100 Billion to our Economy annually. The state leads the nation in the production of asparagus; tart cherries; cucumbers; squash; Niagara grapes; and black and cranberry beans. We're also the fourth-largest hop growing state in the nation.

Dana supports Sustainable Agriculture Policies and Programs that improve our health, economy, natural resources, and community resiliency through Regenerative Agriculture.  As COVID-19 has reminded us, a secure and healthy local food supply is of critical importance.  

 

MICHIGAN GOOD FOOD CHARTER

Dana supports The Michigan Good Food Charter, which advocates for policies that strengthen the infrastructure of Michigan's Food System.  This includes increasing sustainability and equity in all parts of the food chain: production, processing, distribution, access, and purchasing.  Local Food Policy Councils, Zoning for Urban Agriculture, Food Hubs, and programs that support local food purchasing for publicly-funded institutions such as schools and hospitals for example, are some of the ways we can ensure a viable and resilient Food System.      

Below are one page "agenda briefs" for each of the Michigan State University's 25 agenda priorities in the Michigan Good Food Charter. Each "➥" will link to the MGFC Priority in detail.

YOUTH

  • School Food➥

    • ​Improve school food environments and reduce school sales of low-nutrient, high-sugar, high-fat and calorie-dense foods through snack and vending machines or competitive food sales.

  • Youth Entrepreneurship➥

    • ​Expand opportunities for youth to develop entrepreneurship skills and learn about career opportunities related to good food that support youth and community economic development.

  • Curriculum➥

    • ​Incorporate good food education into the pre-K - 12 curriculum for all Michigan students.

GOOD FOOD ACCESS

  • Healthy Food Access➥

    • ​Expand and increase innovative methods to bring healthy foods to underserved areas as well as strategies to encourage their consumption.

  • Public Benefits➥

    • Maximize use of current public benefit programs for vulnerable populations, especially children and seniors, and link them with strategies for healthy food access.

  • Grocery Stores➥

    • ​Provide outreach, training and technical assistance to launch new grocery stores and improve existing stores to better serve underserved people in urban and rural areas.

  • Food Access Planning➥

    • ​Use policy and planning strategies to increase access to healthy food in underserved areas

  • "Place to Be"➥

    • ​Establish Michigan as “the place to be” for culturally based good food that is locally grown, processed, prepared and consumed.

FARMS & FARMERS

  • Farmland➥

    • ​Review and seek appropriate revisions to state and local land use policies to preserve farmland and blend protection with farm viability programs.

  • Purchasing Targets➥

    • ​Set targets for state-funded institutions to procure Michigan-grown sustainably produced products.

  • Financing➥

    • ​Direct state agencies to maximize capital access through state-sponsored programs that provide farm financing.

  • Workforce Development➥

    • ​Ensure that all state and higher education business, work force and economic development programs include farming and agriculture in their target audiences for programmatic development, training and technical assistance.

INSTITUTIONS

  • Collective Purchasing➥

    • ​Encourage institutions to use their collective purchasing power to influence the food supply chain to provide healthier food and more foods grown, raised and processed in Michigan.

  • 10 Cent Solution➥

    • ​Implement a reimbursement program to provide an additional 10 cents per school meal, as a supplement to existing school meal funds, in order to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables.

  • Food Safety➥

    • ​Implement a food safety audit cost-share or reimbursement program targeted at small and medium-sized farms and work to ensure that audits are conducted in the context of the farm scale.

  • Farmer Incentives➥

    • ​Provide financial incentives for farmers and for development of food system infrastructure to support institutional local food purchasing programs.

  • FtS Grant Program➥

    • ​Develop a farm-to-institution grant program to provide planning, implementation and kitchen or cafeteria equipment grants to maximize the use of locally grown, raised and processed foods in institutional cafeterias.

FOOD SYSTEM INFRASTRUCTURE 

  • Food Innovation Districts

    • ​Establish food business districts to encourage food businesses to locate in the same area and to support their collaboration.

  • Property Tax

    • ​Amend Michigan’s General Property Tax Act to exempt certain on-farm renewable energy installations.

  • Infrastructure Investment

    • ​Direct $10 million to regional food supply chain infrastructure development investments through the Michigan state planning and development regions or other regional designations.

  • Meat Processing

    • ​Contingent upon further market assessment, establish a state meat and poultry inspection program in cooperation with the federal Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) to spur new meat processing infrastructure.

  • Marketing

    • ​Include Michigan food and agriculture in state marketing efforts, such as the Pure Michigan campaign, to build awareness of the state’s great variety and quality of local food products and farm amenities.

  • Planning and Business Support

    • ​Charge business support entities, such as the 18 Michigan Technical Education Centers, with identifying and supporting the equipment and process engineering needs of farmers and other agri-food entreprises, and ensure that food and agriculture are included in state and local economic development plans.

  • Food Laws

    • ​Examine all of Michigan’s food- and agriculture-related laws and regulations for provisions that create unnecessary transaction costs and regulatory burdens on low risk businesses and ensure that regulations are applied in a way that acknowledges the diversity of production practices.

  • Data Collection

    • ​Develop systems for collecting and sharing production and market data and other data relevant to regional food supply chain development.

FARM TO SCHOOL

Dana Ferguson supports expanding Michigan's 10 Cents a Meal Program to the Federal level with similar implementation in all 50 states, which helps our schools purchase Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables, improve our children's health, support our local farmers, and build a stronger regional economy. Through grant-matching with schools, the program doubles the state's investment, and last year contributed to increased growth for 143 farms in 38 Michigan counties, plus 20 additional businesses such as food hubs, processors, and distributors.  And, our kids were excited to try 93 different fruits, vegetables, and beans, because agricultural lessons were incorporated into Math, Science, and other classes. This is a great way to help ensure The Future of Farming.            

 

For More Information on Michigan's 10 Cents A Meal Program, Please Visit: Matts, C., Kuhlman, A., Parrotte, Z., and Trumbull, E. (2020). 10 Cents a Meal Pilot: 2018-2019 Evaluation Results, Reflections, and Recommendations. Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. Retrieved from Cents a Meal – 10 Cents A Meal Legislative Reports 2016 - 2019.
 

THE FUTURE OF FARMING

Dana supports policies that help ensure a viable future for farming in Michigan. With America's average farmer nearing 60 years old, the next generation of farmers needs to be in position to take the helm.  According to a recent National Young Farmers Farm Bill Survey, major obstacles affecting young farmers include Land Access, Student Loan Debt, Skilled Labor, Health Insurance, and Affordable Housing, among others.     

 

Loss of farmland is another significant issue for the future of farming.  The American Farmland study "Farms Under Threat: The State of the States" reveals that although Michigan has more "Nationally Significant" farmland than California, we are losing over 16,000 acres annually.  Land-use planning, property tax relief, farm-link programs, and state leasing programs are some of the ways we can build a sustainable future for farming.  

 

For More Information on Policies to Sustain The Future of Farming, Please Visit: American Farmland Trust, Farms Under Threat.

 

CLIMATE MITIGATION

Dana supports policy that rewards Carbon Sequestration through Sustainable Agriculture. Living plants and soils managed in ecological farming systems have been shown to be the most cost-effective and practical way of removing excess C02 from the atmosphere. Practices such as organic farming, cover crops, no-till, intensive grazing, composting, and biodiversity can help mitigate the risks of climate change.

 

For More Information on Farming and Climate Mitigation, Please Visit: NSAC Climate Change and Agriculture & Kiss the Ground.

 

HUMAN & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

Dana champions Regenerative Farming Practices that protect our personal and collective health.  By promoting living soils and agro-biodiversity, we can achieve more nutrition per acre, cleaner water, climate adaptation, and better human health.  Given the connections between the soil and the human gut microbiomes, Dana knows the importance of supporting innovative agro-tech initiatives like the Real Food Campaign, which puts the power of bio-nutrient testing into the hands of consumers.

Dana Ferguson understands the many benefits of Sustainable Agriculture, and he's ready to dig in.

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PO Box 414

Negaunee, MI 49866

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