March celebrates Michigan’s thriving agribusiness

MEDC Staff

Monday, March 13, 2017

Michigan is the second-most diverse agricultural region in the U.S.

For anyone who has traveled past the farmlands of mid-Michigan, rolling hills of the west side of the mitten and picturesque vineyards of Old Mission peninsula, it’s not surprising to learn the state is the second-most diverse agricultural region in the U.S.

Diversity and productivity are at the heart of Michigan’s thriving agribusiness. 

Both compelling features are celebrated in March, which honors the Michigan’s great agriculture heritage and promising future.

Collectively, the eclectic assemblage of (commodity, dairy, cattle, hog, turkey) farmers, meat processors, wine-makers, microbrewers, and fresh-food enthusiasts provide an impressive mosaic and diverse representation of those behind the state’s promising agribusiness future.

In total, approximately 51,500 farms throughout the state generate more than $100 billion in economic business with Michigan leading the nation in the production of blueberries, cucumbers, squash, tart cherries, four varieties of dry beans, and 12 assortments of flowers.

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC): Ag Summit

The annual PMBC Ag Summit, held in early March, is one of the ways the state of Michigan fosters connections among agribusiness, from the orchards of the Grand Traverse region to the soybean fields of mid-Michigan and the livestock farms in the southwestern part of the state.

The partnership between Pure Michigan Business Connect and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) combines resources and expertise to bring together the many businesses and suppliers in Michigan’s thriving agribusiness community.

Since 2014, nearly 850 agribusinesses have participated, including 250 businesses at this year’s meeting March 9 in Novi. The annual summit has yielded impressive results, including: 

  • Representation of businesses from 67 of the 83 counties in Michigan 
  • $5.32 million in agreements between Michigan buyers and suppliers
  • $3.23 million in facilitated revenue, which is more than 12-to-1 ROI
  • 36 contracts – and counting – from companies across Michigan

In addition, these summits have attracted a diverse range of businesses, including (113) women-owned, (59) minority-owned, (18) veteran-owned, and (2) tribal owned.

Making connections at these summits can make a world of difference. Here are a few success stories from the summit: 

  • Len Gauger of Message Blocks in Ann Arbor has attended several of these summits and has met with over 30 companies. Len has business relationships with many of them that he would have otherwise.
  • Jeff Hohfeldt of Northern Industrial Manufacturing in Harrison Township has been attending the PMBC Ag Summit since 2014. Jeff’s company conducts environmental assessments. Last year, Jeff’s company issued a purchase order to a supplier he met at the summit, Applied Ecosystems Inc.
  • Wunsch Farms of Traverse City is a vertically integrated cherry and apple farm on the Old Mission Peninsula. Wunsch Farms sales grew by 75 percent his year, and a large part of that growth, according to owner Isiah Wunsch, is from contacts made at these summits.
  • Jane Worthing of Genesee Packaging in Flint credits the PMBC program for helping her to build relationships with customers and diversifying the company’s customer base.

Michigan’s agricultural economic development

Here is a sample of the investments and projects that have boosted agribusinesses in the state:

  • ZFS Ithaca is investing up to $123 million and will create 74 full-time jobs at its 435-acre processing site in mid-Michigan. Along with ZFS plant in Zeeland, the facilities will produce soybean meal, hulls and oil. Nearly half of processed soybeans are used in animal feed.
  • Clemens Food Group (Coldwater): 810 jobs and $255.7 million investment
  • Pure Michigan Agriculture Summit (Grand Rapids) attracted 285 companies and led to new sales of nearly $1 million
  • Aruaco (Grayling) announced $325 million private investment and the projected hiring of 250 employees at its new particle-board manufacturing plant
  • Dairy Farmers of America ( Cass City) invested $40 million and created 25 jobs
  • Continental Diary (Coopersville) invested $48.6 million and created 10 jobs
  • Marquette County received a grant to study viability of establishing a USDA meat processing plant in Upper Peninsula

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