Michigan ag leaders discuss industry needs

Ag Leaders of Michigan are stressing the importance of infrastructure investments and workforce development as part of Michigan Food and Agriculture Month and National Ag Day.

During a call with reporters, Michigan Agri-Business Association president Chuck Lippstreu said his members are facing a dual crisis of supply chain and workforce.

“Without enough people in the supply chain, working on supply chain issues and logistics issues, the success of the industry is disrupted,” he shares.  “Certainly, farmers have got serious labor challenges, agribusinesses do too.”

Lippstreu says trained truck drivers are extremely important to the success of the economy and there are not enough of them. He adds the lack of workers at railroads has also created substantial disruption, especially in the grain industry.

President and CEO of the Michigan Milk Producers Association Joe Diglio says the dairy industry needs strong commitments to infrastructure.

“Knowing that milk is a very perishable product, we need to find a home, and making certain that we get it to the market from the areas that it’s being produced at is of the utmost importance,” he says.

Diglio says the cooperative also maintains a focus on supporting communities in need, recently donating more than ten thousand gallons of milk to those affected by a railroad derailment in Northern Ohio.

Michigan Pork Producers Association CEO Mary Kelpinski says her sector is focused on advocating for measures that keep the pork supply chain safe and pigs healthy like the Beagle Brigade and the National Bank of Vaccines.

“We also want consistent funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network of which Michigan State University Diagnostic Lab is part of the funding for that would help those labs conduct surveillance and testing to make sure that we don’t have a foreign animal disease already in this country,” she explains.

Travis Jones, president and CEO of Greenstone Farm Credit Services, says looking to the future, the organization has a program for young, beginning, and small farmers, CultivateGrowth, to provide resources and tools beyond financing to those who want to start farming.

Agricultural Leaders of Michigan is made up of agricultural groups, including those that represent lenders, agri-business as well as milk and pork producers.

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