MDARD Director excited for what new state funding brings to food and ag

The Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says next year’s budget will make meaningful investments into the state’s agricultural sector.

Tim Boring tells Brownfield there will be a focus on resiliency and diversity.

“And looking at that as steps to mitigate climate change, but also building a better agricultural system here, stronger economies, stronger supply chains addressing some of our nutrient loss issues within doing those sorts of things,” he says.

Boring says he expects new food and agriculture supply chain investments to fund automation that will help food processing and others in the supply chain overcome labor issues.

“Making things more efficient, and it’s recognizing and building a system too that values people working within agriculture,” he says.  “It’s a fantastic industry to be a part of and it’s in our best interest as a state economy to continue growing that.”

He says USDA’s Climate Smart Commodity program lays the foundation for what future program areas could look like.  Michigan was awarded more than $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds from the USDA Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program.

“Secretary Vilsack has talked frequently about his desire to see additional revenue streams generated in areas that we value,” Boring shares.  “So if we truly value carbon sequestration and nutrient retention and improved water holding capacity, and some of these things are in the social best interest of our stakeholders, then that needs to be reflected somehow in the value chain.”

The department’s fiscal year 2024 budget was approved at a near-record $168.6 million and includes about ten new project areas.

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