FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, June 8, 2013

Congressman Benishek discusses Michigan agriculture at industry event in Gaylord


GAYLORD – Congressman Dan Benishek M.D. (R – Crystal Falls) met with Michigan farmers and agri-businesses about the future of Michigan’s agricultural sector at an event today in Gaylord.

“The agriculture industry is huge for Northern Michigan’s economy,” said Dr. Benishek. “Michigan family farmers and agri-businesses deserve to have their voices heard. Today, I enjoyed hearing from Michigan citizens who are actively involved in agriculture about the effects of new technology and changing climate on Michigan agriculture.”

Congressman Benishek is Michigan’s only member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.

Speakers at the event addressed several issues, including farming further north, longer growing seasons, the effects of climate change and new seed and crop technologies. In addition, panelists discussed growth and trends for various commodities including potatoes, corn, dry beans, dairy, beef, cherries and horticultural crops.

“Michigan’s agriculture sector has been rapidly growing over the past decade and that’s going to continue,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “New seed and crop technology and a changing climate are boosting crop yields and allowing farming to expand further north in the state. One of the major challenges moving forward though is making sure Michigan has a strong transportation and energy infrastructure in place that will allow farmers to realize their growth potential.”

Byrum noted that climate change is a double-edged sword when it comes to agriculture.

“In the short term, warmer temperatures mean increased yields, longer growing season and more land open to farming,” said Byrum. “In the long term, however, these trends could be detrimental to Michigan agriculture. We can expect more extreme weather events like droughts and the early thaw and freeze that wiped out much of Michigan’s cherry crop to become more and more common unless we address climate change.”

Benishek also  updated attendees on agriculture issues being debated in Washington D.C., including the 2013 Farm Bill, calling on Congress to take action to support Michigan’s farmers and agri-businesses so they can continue creating jobs and growing the state’s economy.

Jamie Clover-Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, was also in attendance at the event.