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Stateside: What got cut in state budget shift; fruit thieves hit farmers; robots in the art museum

An apple tree close up
Thieves stole 7,000 pounds of apples from Matt Spicer's apple orchard in Fenton.

Today on Stateside, Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently used a rare budget maneuver to shift funds around within state agencies. We take a look at the winners and losers of those shifts. Plus, a conversation about the economic potential of industrial hemp after the first legal harvest of the crop since 1937.    

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

The winners and losers in Whitmer’s state agency budget shifts 

Stateside’s conversation with Kristyn Peck and Zach Gorchow

  • The Republican-led Michigan Legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer disagree about a rarely-used budget maneuver recently used by the governor. Whitmer used the State Administrative Board to move funds around within state agencies. That gave a funding boost to some programs, while cutting budgets for others. Now, there seems to be a stalemate between the governor and Republican lawmakers about passing supplemental bills to make up for the cuts. 
  • Kristyn Peck is the CEO of the West Michigan Partnership for Children, which oversees a pilot program for improving foster care outcomes in Kent County. It was one of the programs that lost funding. Peck broke down what her program does, how Whitmer’s funding shifts have affected it, and what the program's closure would mean for kids in foster care in West Michigan. 
  • Zach Gorchow is editor of Gongwer News Service. He explained why the governor shifted funds within agencies, and talked about the political barriers to finding a compromise to restore funding. 

Fenton orchard stunned after 7,000 pounds of apples disappear

Stateside’s conversation with Matt Spicer

  • Thieves have been stealing crops from farms in Michigan. They’ve hit two apple orchards and a pumpkin patch in the last few weeks. Matt Spicer is an owner and harvest manager at Spicer Orchards in Fenton. Spicer told us about the apple theft that took place at his farm, how much the lost harvest is worth, and what that financial blow will mean for his orchard this year.

Can a robot help you enjoy art? UM art museum is hoping so.

Stateside’s conversation with John Turner and Ruikun Luo

  • Imagine you’re in a museum, looking at a piece of art. A robot strikes up a conversation with you about the art, trying to spark your interest. Sound far fetched? Maybe not. The University of Michigan Museum of Art and the university’s Robotics Institute are working together to develop a robot that can act naturally with visitors and initiate interactive conversations about art.
  • John Turner is senior manager of museum technology at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and Ruikun Luo is a Ph.D. candidate from the university's Robotics Institute. They broke down how the robot would approach museum visitors, the difficulties in designing a robot for a busy gallery space, and when they expect to have a robot in action at the museum.

Hemp farmers and processors work out kinks during first legal harvest in more than 80 years

Stateside’s conversation with Dave Crabill

  • It’s been illegal for farmers in the United States to grow hemp since before World War II. But thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress has now lifted that restriction. Hemp grower Dave Crabill is vice president of iHemp Michigan. He explained what hemp is used for, the challenges that come with processing it, and why he thinks it has the potential to be a profitable crop for Michigan farmers. 

Fishtown shanties in Leland to be moved for foundation repair

Click above to hear reporting from Interlochen Public Radio’s Noelle Riley

  • Fishtown in Leland continues to struggle with high water levels. Buildings — called “shanties” — are at risk of being washed away this winter. Now, the Fishtown Preservation Society is rushing to move the shanties from their original location so the rotting foundations can be rebuilt. Interlochen Public Radio’s Noelle Riley brought us this story.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated how many pounds of apples were stolen from Spicer Orchards. The error has been corrected above. 

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