Michigan's agricultural sector has the potential to grow significantly in the coming years, and infrastructure will be challenged to keep up, according to a new report released by the Michigan Agri-Business Association.
The report, titled "Project 2025," predicts that crop yields will continue growing as a result of technological advances in seed and crop management, and overall production will grow as acreage available for farming increases. As production increases, Michigan will face infrastructure challenges that could limit growth, threaten existing investments and restrict Michigan's ability to compete in the global economy.
"Agriculture is Michigan's second largest industry, and it's going to continue to grow," says Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. "That growth is going to put pressure on Michigan's aging infrastructure. For agriculture to continue growing and creating jobs, it is crucial that Michigan adopt policies that build the infrastructure we need to access new information, new technology and new markets quickly."
The report details MABA's policy recommendations for dealing with these challenges, which include:
Maintaining a separate and well-funded Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Eliminating the punitive Michigan personal property tax
Creating a comprehensive transportation revenue stream to support highways, roads, bridged, rail maintenance and port development
Addressing water transportation needs by creating a state-wide Port Authority, resolving ballast water discharge issues to allow freight movement from Michigan's ports and seeking federal funds to dredge commercial ports regularly
Creating incentives for bio-based electricity generation and reasonable power purchase agreements for renewable electricity providers
Expanding utility choice for business and residential customers from 10 percent to at least 40 percent
Creating innovative programs to get young people interested in careers in agriculture
Read the full report.