Ionia County supporting food and agriculture 2017

When you support MSU Extension, you help participants learn profitable and efficient business and production practices.

Michigan agriculture continues to be a growing segment of the state’s economy. The production of commercial food and nonfood agricultural operations are growing rapidly. The number of households raising a portion of their own food and raising livestock or gardening for pleasure or relaxation continues to increase. When you support MSU Extension, you help participants learn profitable and efficient and sustainable business and production practices.

Supporting Food and Agriculture on the Farm

MSU Extension Educator Kevin Gould visits farms in Ionia County to review issues producers face in the Beef Industry. In particular, grazing systems. On a visit to a new beef producer with the National Resource Conservation Service District Conservationist to evaluate his grazing system plan, several key recommendations were made in the fencing, forage establishment and paddock layout to fit with his production and management plan. Key changes from the original NRCS recommendations were accepted into the plan helping this operation get moving much faster and with minimal challenges.

In order to meet the needs of our agriculture industry, MSUE educators are here to do onsite visits, provide factual resource information and guidance to advance their business. MSU Extension is a resource that farmers can count on.

Educators from across the state are available depending on the expertise needed. Tina Conklin, MSUE Food Processing Educator, was called upon by an Ionia county federally inspected red meat establishment wanting to include bacon and ham to their federally inspected products – these are in a Heat-Treated, Not-Fully-Cooked HACCP category. The establishment currently produced bacon and ham products for custom exempt products, but felt that producing their own bacon and ham under federal inspection would increase sales and provide more opportunity to other markets for them.

Tina and other MSU Extension colleagues worked with the establishment to create an acceptable HACCP plan for Heat-Treated, Not-Fully-Cooked meats. The plan could then be submitted to the USDA for approval and implementation based on the current procedures used for the custom exempt process used for bacon and ham. The USDA Inspection program personnel approved the plan and allowed the processor to begin running the bacon and hams under federal inspection.

Adding federally inspected products to this client’s operation saw immediate impacts. Their pre-Christmas orders doubled from the previous year and they were able to add two additional employees in their retail area.

Support for MSU Extension helps to provide research-based, unbiased education and training that is relevant and practical for Ionia County farm owners, managers and employees. Various trainings, reviews and updates are offered throughout the programming year and utilize MSU Extension experts from a variety of disciplines.

On-site training to meet annual requirements

MSU Extension Dairy Educator, Faith Cullens collaborated with fellow Educators, Marianne Buza, Phil Durst and Martin Mangual to provide farm owners, managers and employees training in the safe handling of animals in a low-stress environment. The training was done in English and Spanish. The Dairy Animal Handling Workshop covered positive handling techniques as well as the affects of negative handling. It discussed dairy cattle blind spots, hearing, herd mentality and the affects of fear on milk production.0

Another workshop focused on down cows. The workshop explored planning, prevention and action steps when faced with down cows. Understanding the causes and effects can help farmers prevent loss of animals and production. This training promotes good stockmanship and again, was offered in English and Spanish.

Improving Soybean Production Efficiency and Profitability

MSU Senior Extension Educator, Mike Staton, conducted SMaRT (Soybean Management and Research Technologies) Educational Programs and Follow-up Evaluations. Participants learned how various management practices and products impacted soybean yields and income in the on-farm research trials. They also learned about herbicide resistant weeds and soybean cyst nematodes.

On-farm research projects continue to provide valuable information and assist our farmers in the management of their farms. Some of the results from the 2017 follow-up evaluations showed:

  • 100% of the respondents gained new knowledge by participating in the program.
  • 78% said that they utilized the information they learned at the programs on their farms in 2017.
  • Thirty-three (33) producers said they actually earned additional money in 2017 by implementing the new information they learned at the programs.
  • The average amount of additional income realized by the implementing the new information was $7.84 per acre. Because the new information was implemented on 11,353 acres, the actual financial impact of the programs was $88,995 in 2017 alone.

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