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A family’s farming tradition up against 21st century pressures

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Courtesy of Mark Mathe
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Farmer Mark Mathe and his family

It’s an ancient way of life under 21st century economic pressures.

According to the state’s numbers, the food and agriculture industry pumps $101 billion into Michigan’s economy each year. It employs some 923,000 people. That’s nearly a quarter of Michigan’s workforce.

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Credit Courtesy of Mark Mathe
Mark Mathe said his daughter is already picking up on her family's farming tradition. Playing with baby lambs and feeding calves is "one of her favorite things."

So, what does the next generation of farmers think about the future of agriculture in our state?

Mark Mathe runs a small dairy and cattle farm in Ida. He’s also the vice president and young farmer committee chair of the Monroe County Farm Bureau.

Mathe said a perfect day on the farm means “just sitting on a tractor, heading down the field – just thinking about, you know, working that ground.”

“It’s that connection to the land,” he said, “being able to have that connection. Just knowing that you’re continuing that tradition of your family and your forefathers, that they did that same thing. And you want to be able to give that next generation that same feeling – take care of the land, take care of the water.”

Listen above to hear Mathe explain what farming looks like in his life, where the challenges lie, and what agricultural jobs are available now – he said between 50,000 and 60,000 jobs go unfilled each year.

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