LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is working to develop Upper Michigan.
It comes after Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $10 million budget for MDARD’s new rural development office.
MDARD Director Gary McDowell said Whitmer was offering an additional $30 million to expand rural and agricultural businesses. Although it has not yet been approved, McDowell says the money could benefit food companies and farmers in UP.
“There’s real potential for growth in the Upper Peninsula and it’s primarily in the food sector,” McDowell said. “When you have a food processor, like Trenary Toast or Jilbert [Dairy], which helps our local farmers because it’s their market and they know they have a sustainable and reliable market. So they can produce their products and help our farmers prosper and so our rural communities will prosper.
McDowell adds that MDARD is committed to tackling climate change head-on in the agriculture industry. “With agriculture, we are in a very unique situation because we [don’t have to] just by working with our carbon footprint and reducing the rate of climate change, we can actually be part of the solution,” he said. “We can help reverse climate change.”
McDowell says he plans to travel to Marquette Feb. 18-20 to meet with 38th State District Sen. Ed McBroom and Jilbert Dairy to discuss opportunities for rural and agricultural growth in Upper Michigan.
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