It’s been a rough year for Michigan farmers on many fronts, whether it be growing conditions or market price, they need help and today the state legislature heard them out.
“It’s a cycle, we’re always going through cycles,” says Representative Julie Alexander of Hanover, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, “It’s too wet, it’s too dry, prices are good, prices are bad.”
It’s not easy being a farmer, never has been. But their work is crucial and today industry leaders testified in front of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.
“I wanted to make sure all the legislators had an opportunity to understand what is happening out there in agriculture in our state,” says Rep. Alexander.
Disease. Invasive species. Trade deals and low market values. And, of course, the weather. The wet spring cut deep into corn and soybeans.
“Nationwide preventative planting was 7.6%,” says Joel Johnson, Michigan State Executive Director of the USDA, “Michigan was 17.3%.”
Farmers are turning to loans and other relief more than ever.
“They’re not worried about safety net programs until we end up with a situation like this,” says Johnson.
If you ask many Michigan farmers they will probably tell you they just want to grow food and not deal with all the politics, but Michigan farmers, like much of the country, are getting hit on both ends. One where it’s hard to grow it and then another where it’s harder to sell it.
“The trade issue is something that’s really front of mind for all of our growers because that’s here and now,” says Phil Korson, President of the Cherry Marketing Institute.
The only commodity invited to speak was the cherry industry. While much focus is on field crops, fruit are being impacted just as much by trade deals and competing markets. They say that is where the government can help.
“Bottom line is, policy matters,” says Korson, “Connecting with our policy makers, at both the state and federal level, is really important.”
“I don’t know if we can solve it,” says Rep. Alexander, “But we as legislators have an obligation to understand what those challenges are for those we serve.”