agriculture | Michigan Radio
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agriculture

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

2019 has been a challenging year for Michigan farmers, and weather has only been part of the problem.

Tariff disputes and unsettled trade deals have disrupted international markets for Michigan’s agri-business. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico in January. Also, China is proposing cutting tariffs in preparation for a partial deal in its trade dispute with the U.S. 

A snow-covered farm
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, this year’s multiple weather-related curveballs have spelled out an uncertain future for some of Michigan’s corn farmers. Plus, we hear from a Michigander whose future depends on the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on the fate of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We know that burning fossil fuels releases a lot of greenhouse gases. But there are other human-caused sources that contribute to climate change. As Lester Graham with the Environment Report found, one of them is how farmers plant crops.

Dave Crabill using a tool to remove the flower from a hemp stalk
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In 2018, the U.S. Congress lifted a pre-World War II restriction that made it illegal for farmers to grow industrial hemp—a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than .3% THC.

More than 500 Michigan farmers are licensed to grow the crop. This year, they farmed around 30,000 acres of hemp.

cbd oil
Tinnakorn / Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, the potential of the cannabis compound CBD as a treatment for people with chronic pain. Plus, a study out of North Carolina State University breaks down why the tax incentives states use to lure businesses might not be paying off.

a postcard featuring an old steamer ship from Chicago
Public Domain

Today on Stateside, the latest on the road funding dispute between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leadership in the Michigan Legislature. Plus, while some retirees might be getting ready to head to Florida for the winter, one Florida couple recently uprooted their life to move to Michigan to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Five years ago, hops were in high demand in Michigan, and more and more farmers started experimenting with the crop. 

A combine on a soybean farm
Laurie Isley

Between the ongoing trade war with China and one of the wettest springs to date, this year has brought major challenges for Michigan’s farmers and growers.

Laurie Isley owns Sunrise Farms in Lenawee County, where she and her husband grow corn and soybeans on a thousand acres. She’s also the president of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

red tractor sitting on a green field with trees in background
Matthew T Rader / Unsplash

 

 

Climate change is affecting the world in a lot of ways. The planet is warming, more rain is falling. There are colder winters, and warmer summers. And all of this is having a profound effect on agriculture.

Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock

U.S. and Mexican officials are still trying to find a solution to avoid President Donald Trump’s threatened tariffs. Trump says a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico is in retaliation for migrants crossing the border into the U.S.

Joe Cramer is the executive director of the Michigan Bean Commission. He says after the U.S., Mexico is the bean industry’s biggest trading partner.

flickr.com/ubookworm / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Michigan asparagus farmers hope to see higher prices before the crop is harvested later this spring.

Asparagus prices have been affected by imports of the vegetable in recent years.

“Right now we’re just watching the market,” says John Bakker of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. “Who knows, the market could be super by the time that we get into the harvest in May, but we don’t know at this time.”

a sample of poison wallpaper - it's light green with blue stripes and floral decoration
Courtesy of Michigan History Center

Today on Stateside, despite an upward economic trend in Michigan, nearly half of households in the state are struggling to afford basic necessities. Plus, it’s (finally) spring! We hear about the cultural significance of this transition for different cultural groups across the state.

Ben LaCross of Leelenau Fruit Company prunes young cherry trees.
MAX JOHNSTON / INTERLOCHEN PUBLIC RADIO

For the past decade, Americans have been buying tart cherries from Turkey for cheap. Tart cherry farmers in Michigan say that’s hurting their bottom line. Now they’re hoping a new bill in Washington will balance the scales.


Killer viruses could help Michigan cherry farmers

Mar 19, 2019
The smooth, rosy trunk of a cherry tree is marked with big, oozing dead areas, called cankers.
George Sundin / Michigan State University

Bacterial canker is a devastating tree disease that affects sweet cherry orchards around the country. There is currently no good way to treat it, but some Michigan scientists are trying to harness bacteria-killing viruses to control it.

A graph shows annual average temperature values for the State of Michigan from 1895 through 2018. The graph varies widely from year to year but shows a general upward trend.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

New Year, new data. Climate change continues to affect the mitten state. Here are four places you should keep watching for it.

flickr.com/stankus / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

About 600 Michigan farms will be getting a survey to fill out in the coming months. The survey comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Survey questions will cover things such as farm expenses, income and assets. John Miyares works for the USDA in East Lansing, and leads the survey team.

Picture of Michigan State University marker on campus
Michigan State University

Today on Stateside, we talk with a Southfield rabbi about the recent attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 congregants dead. Plus, a conversation with a leading expert on sexual assault prevention who is working to help Michigan State University better respond to sexual violence on campus following the Larry Nassar abuse scandal.

Trillium Wood Farm co-founder holding a piglet.
Elise Thorp

For years, sisters Allie and Elise Thorp defended animal rights by practicing strict vegetarianism and supporting activist organizations like PETA. But after deciding to reintroduce meat into their diets, the two discovered an unexpected way to promote animal welfare: raising livestock.

United Soybean Board / Flickr

Today on Stateside, we hear from a Michigan soybean farmer on how President Trump's escalating trade war with China is projected to affect the state's agriculture producers. Plus, Stateside's education commentator Matinga Ragatz weighs in on the teacher shortage crisis facing Michigan schools. 

milk
Guy Montag / Creative Commons

There’s a new $555 million dairy processing plant planned for St. Johns, north of Lansing.

The Lansing State Journal reports economic development types were calling it:

“A huge deal not only for the region but for the state overall," and "a new level of ag tech production that’s going to enormously impact the entire dairy ecosystem of the whole state.”

Christopher Wolf is a professor in the Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics department at Michigan State University. He joined Stateside to give us some insight into the new facility.

Field of corn
Flickr/Vampire Bear

 


Farmers are expressing frustration over the fedearl government’s unclear policies on ethanol. 

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised corn growers he would support increased use of corn ethanol in fuel.

But in recent days, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has been criticized for his handling of renewable fuel standards, which requires oil refineries mix renewable fuels such as ethanol with gasoline.

Ox driven plow in Mozambique
Tillers International

 


When it comes to solving 21st century problems — say food insecurity in developing countries — everything old is new again.

That's the message of Tillers International, a nonprofit based in Kalamazoo County. The organization is taking 18th century agricultural technology and working with engineers and the Amish community to redesign plows and tools for African farmers.

Field of corn
Flickr/Vampire Bear

 


Globally, climate change is going to cause serious upheaval. But the kinds of changes will vary from place to place. That means there are likely to be both winners and losers in a changing climate.  

As science refines its predictions about the impact of climate change, it's getting easier to see who will end up in each column. 

Bruno Basso is a Michigan State University Foundation Professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. He spoke with Stateside about his new study on climate change and crop growth in the Midwest.

A canning line for cider made at Vander Mills LLC
Courtesy of Paul Vander Heide

 

If you just focus on the craft brews and the wines made in Michigan, then you're missing a growing part of the Michigan beverage scene – cider.

Cider Week GR is happening now to May 19 in Grand Rapids. The city is also hosting the annual Great Lakes Cider and Perry Competition – the largest competition of its kind in the world, says Paul Vander Heide.

Sharon / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Have you seen any stink bugs in your house? Over the last few years, the brown marmorated stink bug has invaded the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. The invasive species is more than just a nuisance. It’s a threat to crops, too.

Amy Irish-Brown, a senior educator at Michigan State University Extension, and Jim Engelsma, president of J. Engelsma Orchards, Inc., joined Stateside to discuss the characteristics of stinkbugs that make them so difficult to monitor, control, and predict.

stvcr / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

Michigan's dairy cows are doing their job like rock stars. 

 

They're pumping out milk — so much milk, in fact, that Michigan is among the top milk-producing states in the country. 

corn in a box
Maia C / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The United States was once considered an agricultural nation, but these days, most people are two or three generations away from the farm. Fewer than two percent of Americans live on farms, and many don’t understand where their food comes from, how it’s grown, or how it’s processed.

A new effort at Michigan State University is trying to change that. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is leading an initiative called Food @ MSU.

Brian Harris / Facebook

The Next Idea

Since mankind first began growing crops, the farmer's enemies have been drought, wind, wild temperature swings: curve balls served up by Mother Nature.

Brian Harris is turning out an array of green produce, protected from the elements, in a converted freight container that sits near downtown Grand Rapids.

He calls this a “hydroponic vertical micro-farm,” officially named Green Collar Farms.

KIT JOHNSON / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested ten workers at a farm labor camp near Hart, Michigan. The undocumented immigrants were harvesting crops at a farm.

“The nine men have been taken to a detention facility in Youngstown, OH, which is about 480 miles from where they were picked up,” said Susan Reed, managing attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. “The one woman we believe was taken to the Calhoun County jail.”

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Ken Nobis is a dairy farmer in central Michigan, and right now he’s worried about where South Koreans are going to get their cheese.

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