Oct 23, 2014
Farm Bill funds labor survey

USDA recently announced that, through authorizations of the 2014 Farm Bill, it would invest nearly $118 million dollars to support America’s specialty crop producers.

Following that announcement, Gov. Rick Snyder, along with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Clover Adams, announced Michigan will receive $1.9 million from USDA to create, enhance and expand the specialty crop industry across the state.

“This funding demonstrates the importance and value of the specialty crop industry in Michigan,” Clover Adams said. “It allows the grantees to further expand the marketing, research and education of these crops that are so vital to our state’s economy.”

Grants for various commodity groups around the state will bring much needed resources to the vegetable industry, to aid in areas such as harvest efficiency, worker safety, labor, research, strategies for advancing disease control in processing carrots, reducing postharvest storage loss of potatoes by identifying production practices and genetic characteristics that predispose the potato for storage loss, and lastly utilizing educational techniques to further the understanding that potatoes are a healthy, delicious and inexpensive source of a myriad of needed elements in a diet, according to Michigan Farm Bureau.

Among the grants, the Michigan Vegetable Council attained funding to have USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service survey the state’s vegetable industry, in order to gain data that ascertains the experiences of growers and their responses to the labor shortage, as well as their immediate and longer-term plans if the shortages continue. The labor-intensive sector of the industry hasn’t had up-to-date statistics in more than two years, so the survey, set to go out in early January, will be timely, according to MFB.

“That’s the best time to do it, mainly because vegetable farmers will be able to allocate ample time to fill it out in its entirety,” said Kevin Robson, an MFB horticulture specialist. “Most vegetable growers, along with all of the specialty crop commodity groups, understand the importance of this survey, and they encourage every grower to respond with a completed survey as soon as they get it in the mail.”

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