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Agriculture major player in economy

According to the Michigan Farm Bureau, the state employs 923,000 Michiganders in agriculture, food processing, and related businesses.

That represents 22% of Michigan’s workforce.

And 95% of the state’s 51,600 farms are family-owned.

That combined structure contributes over $101 billion to the state’s economy.

The Bureau revealed that, after California, Michigan ranks number two in the production of 300 various commodities. That, in part, is based upon the state’s diverse micro climates. In addition, Michigan ranks as number four in the nation in operating farmers markets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals Northeast Michigan’s four-county region — Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, and Presque Isle counties – has a total of 1,167 operating farms comprised of 213,456 acres. The annual dollar farming contribution for the region is over $66 million.

That Northeast Michigan farming acreage equates to the entire size of New York City (197,760 acres) and a good portion of Detroit (88,832 acres.)

In valuing the farming region’s value by acre, the USDA has Lake States real estate value at $4,900, cropland value at $4,760, and pasture value at $2,080. Compared to the USDA’s six other Lower 48 state regions, those values fall into the nation’s top two.

Beyond crop and seed farming, livestock and poultry, nurseries, floriculture, and Christmas trees, are other professions and services intricately involved with the region’s agriculture. That includes faming implements and tools, fuel, building construction, veterinary medicine, insurance, legal, seasonal labor, agritourism, county fairs, wood products, food retailers and manufacturers, and farmers markets. In addition are the growth industries of hemp, wine, and microbrewery.

USDA research indicates that, within the four-county region, milk and dairy products, poultry and eggs, hogs, grains, hay, soybeans, dry beans, peas, and other crops are the leading products. In addition, strawberries and potatoes are significant and well-recognized regional products.

North, in neighboring Cheboygan County, are over 200 acres of cranberry bogs. That, too,

is a growing industry established in the mid-1990s.

Farmers’ tenacity to achieve and face numerous challenges is amazing.

Indeed, the agri-profession has and will continue to be a major factor in Northeast Michigan.

Jeffrey D. Brasie is a retired health care CEO and frequently writes historic feature stories and op-eds. He is a former Alpena County resident and resides in suburban Detroit.

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