Oct 7, 2020
Michigan’s Stabenow announces initiatives to help state ag interests

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, announced Oct. 7 several initiates to help Michigan agricultural interests.

Included were federal support to help expand five farmers’ markets in northwest Michigan. This investment comes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program in the 2018 Farm Bill, which Stabenow co-authored.

“Farmers’ markets spur economic development in local communities, connect more families with Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables, and create new markets for local farmers,” Stabenow said in a news release. “This is a win-win for families and local food producers, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.”

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan will receive $210,060 to promote five farmers markets in Northwest Michigan and grow their customer base among residents and tourists. The project will enhance the visibility of farmers markets through outreach to customers, training for market managers, and strengthened digital tools to help consumers find nearby farmers markets. This project will also encourage families who receive food assistance to purchase more locally-grown fruits and vegetables by promoting the Double Up Food Bucks program, which doubles the value of food assistance dollars spent on local produce.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to build upon our existing relationships and work in partnership with five local farmers’ markets across northwest Michigan to increase the access to, and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products. As a rural region, our farmers markets are an important part of both our local food system and economy. Using a multi-layered approach to facilitate growth of the market and to increase both visitors and sales will benefit not only the market and the farmers, but residents, visitors and the economy” said Natalie Kasiborski, Deputy Health Officer at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Senator Stabenow secured permanent funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program by including it as part of the new Local Agriculture Market Program. The permanent funds will ensure there are investments available for farmers’ markets for years to come. The 2018 Farm Bill also funds Michigan’s Double Up Bucks program through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program. Senator Stabenow also secured permanent funds for this important program to make fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable for families.

Southwest Michigan, UP receive funding

Stabenow also announced a new $746,480 investment to help build local food economies, create jobs, and improve access to locally grown food in urban and rural communities in southwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. This investment comes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Regional Food Systems Partnerships Program, which Senator Stabenow authored in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“When we produce food here, we create jobs here in Michigan,” Stabenow said. “This is a win-win for families and local food producers who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.”

From restaurant closures, to supply chain disruptions, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected local food economies. Michigan State University will receive $746,480 to strengthen local food systems by connecting food and farm entrepreneurs in Southwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The project will create lasting partnerships between farmers and innovative food businesses to help create jobs and improve access to locally grown food in both rural and urban communities.

“This award from USDA will allow us to create a more cohesive collaboration infrastructure to better support urban and rural communities of need in Michigan. We will expand the reach of the Michigan Good Food Fund to assist local food and farm entrepreneurs who bring healthy and affordable foods into Battle Creek and the Upper Peninsula” said Jamie Rahrig project lead with the MSU Center for Regional Food System and the MSU Product Center.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Senator Stabenow authored the new Regional Food Systems Partnerships Program, which builds regional partnerships between farmers and food entrepreneurs to grow local food economies. Senator Stabenow secured permanent funding for these partnerships by including them as a part of the Local Agriculture Market Program, ensuring these investments will be available for food and farm entrepreneurs for years to come.

 Photo: U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow




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