Energy a Top Concern for Michigan’s Farmers

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Governor Snyder recently recognized agriculture’s importance by proclaiming March Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan. With over 50,000 farms in our state, the agriculture industry contributes $91 billion to Michigan’s economy every year and is responsible for 923,000 jobs—22 percent of the state’s employment.  Michigan’s agriculture is second only to California in terms of diversity, and we lead the nation in growing 17 commodities such as dry beans and red tart cherries.

Last month, the Michigan Farm Bureau held its annual Lansing Legislative Seminar, and energy surfaced as a major priority.  During Governor Rick Snyder’s address to the farmers, the group of about 300 took a real-time survey and singled out “energy supply and cost” as their biggest concern by a significant margin. 

Watch the Governor’s remarks.  Around the 12-minute mark, the audience is asked to respond to the question, “Which of the following is most concerning to your farm?”  An overwhelming 43 percent of respondents singled out energy supply and cost as their greatest concern. 

Just before the 14-minute mark, the Governor discusses his thoughts on rolling out a comprehensive energy policy that would extend through 2025.  In December, he held a roundtable outlining his core priorities:  adaptability, reliability, affordability, and environmental protection.  Learn more about the Governor’s views on energy.

Michigan’s Future: Agriculture & Energy

These survey results reinforce the important role smart energy policies will play in Michigan’s future and in shaping a healthy agricultural industry. “Our industry depends on affordable and reliable electricity to power our businesses and enable us to expand and compete in the global economy,” Dean Letter of the Michigan Milk Producers Association explained during a recent “Ag Report” aired on Detroit’s WJR 760.

Many farming operations, such as processing fruits and vegetables, require a great deal of reliable, affordable electricity.

Local Energy for Local Farmers

Contributing to farmers’ energy worries is the challenge of delivering reliable, affordable energy to the rural areas. That’s why a comprehensive energy policy needs to encourage investment in energy infrastructure in rural communities. 

By supporting local energy, our lawmakers can help Michigan’s in-state energy providers meet the challenge.  However, if the electricity market is deregulated as is currently being considered in Lansing, out-of-state energy providers will likely not be looking to invest in Michigan’s hard-to-reach communities.  Instead, they will most likely focus on Michigan’s more densely populated areas.  That’s another reason it’s critical to keep Michigan on the right track by opposing electric deregulation