Sep 20, 2018
Michigan asparagus operation benefits from state grant

During its regularly scheduled meeting Sept. 19, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for three food and agriculture projects in Michigan. The projects will help grow companies focused on cheese-making, asparagus packing and production, and grain processing as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-added Michigan products.

“Despite being relatively new, our Food and Agriculture Investment Program is already having a significant and positive impact on businesses in every corner of the state,” said Gordon Wenk, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “These modest investments not only help create more jobs in the short term, but they also help food and agriculture businesses position themselves for long-term success. And that’s good for everybody.”

Ridgeview Orchards of Conklin, Michigan, owned by brothers Joe and Al Dietrich, will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant to expand its asparagus packing and production line in Kent City. The project will require a $257,500 investment and will lead to the installation of two new buncher and labeling machines that will make the asparagus packing operations more efficient.

Michigan grows approximately 20 million pounds of asparagus each year and having an efficient supply chain to move the product from the fields to the retailers is key to maintaining a strong and healthy industry in Michigan.   

Other businesses receiving grant support included:

StoneCrest Creamery of Onaway, Michigan, will receive a $40,000 performance-based grant toward the development of an artisan cheese manufacturing facility in a renovated building in Onaway. The project will include processing space as well as a retail operation at the abandoned, historical 1,800 square foot building in the center of downtown. The project requires a $450,000 investment and will lead to the creation of five new jobs. Locally produced milk will be sourced from select suppliers and anticipated cheeses include Colby, Cheddar and Parmesan.    

Maiden Mills of Holland, Michigan, will receive a $10,000 performance-based grant to support a small-scale, sustainable powered grain processing facility in Holland. The investment of $76,000 will provide traditionally milled, high-quality flour and meal products made from Michigan-grown grain to supply bakeries and restaurants in the Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing markets. The facility will produce fine flour, whole wheat flour, corn meal, grits/polenta, and will have a special focus on organic heritage and ancient grains. The operation will be owned by Alisa Crawford, the only Dutch certified miller in the Americas, who will bring her 20 years of experience and professional European training to traditional milling in Michigan. 

“Food and agriculture processing is a diversified business in Michigan, and these three projects are great examples of the support we can give to small companies in order to accelerate their growth,” said Peter Anastor, Director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “We hope these companies continue to grow and establish themselves as key pieces of our food and ag supply chain that will support local, regional and national food companies and consumers.”

The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan. 

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