Lapeer County supporting food and agriculture 2018

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

Vet to Vet / Farmer to Farmer Mentoring

A collaboration between Michigan State University Extension Educator, Phil Kaatz, and Lapeer County Department of Veterans' Affairs director, Ed Ronders, was developed to provide United States Veterans a chance to learn more about opportunities in agriculture from other farmer veterans who are full-time farmers actively involved in agriculture. The program called, "Vet to Vet / Farmer to Farmer Mentoring" was developed to provide underserved audiences (veterans) a chance to network with other veterans and provide feedback on what types of careers are locally available in agriculture.

Agriculture continues to expand in Michigan and this expanding agricultural industry is attracting more veterans who are returning from active duty. We recognized the need for more programs that focus on assisting veterans who are transitioning to agricultural careers. Local veteran farmers are volunteering their time and energy to assist their fellow veterans, mentoring them on what it takes to be successful in farming.

A series of four Lunch and Learn workshops were held at the Silver Grill Restaurant in Imlay City, MI. The workshops had the lunches funded through a grant from United Way of Lapeer County.

Highlights of the workshops included: information on field crops production, dairy production, vegetable production, USDA services and program availability, and a summary of the programs and services available to assist agriculture entrepreneurs and existing businesses through the MSU Product Center.

The participants were veterans of the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the Iraq War. A high level of networking between the participants was an excellent and unexpected outcome for the program.

Many individuals only attended one session and at the completion of the workshops eleven post evaluations were summarized and provided the following information:

  • 91% (n=10) Indicated an increase in knowledge/awareness concerning Veteran opportunities in agriculture after the program conclusion.
  • 100% (n=11) Indicated that their level of satisfaction of the program met or exceeded their level of expectation for the program.

As a result of the program, the knowledge, skills, or attitudes gained would result the following changes in practices:

  • 28% (n=5) Increasing economic activity in ag, food, bio economy and/or natural resources.
  • 11% (n=2) Improving production efficiency
  • 28% (n=5) Business planning
  • 33% (n=6) New job opportunities

Thumb Ag Reviews

The Thumb Ag Reviews are a series of educational programs designed to provide field crops producers with a summary of the latest 2017 research and demonstration trials held in MSU Extensions’ District 10. These sessions were held in four regional locations representing the Thumb of Michigan.

The number of adults that attended these meetings was 135.

Topics included: Corn hybrid trends; N rate studies; phosphorus rate trial; population trends; soybean yield and population trends; a five-year compost trial summary for corn and soybeans; cover crop trials to reduce the largest yield robber for soybeans; a review of 2017 wheat trial results; an evaluation of field crops production profit and loss; and a session for farmers to learn how to recognize the stressors associated with farming.

Participants estimated there would be $129,525 of increased revenues or added savings in 2018. This represented $8.36/acre of increased revenue or added savings.

Restricted Use Pesticide Core Review

Jan-March 2018

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) require persons who apply restricted use pesticides (RUP) to be certified applicators. They must recertify every three years by either taking the necessary exams or by securing 16 recertification credits. The review sessions provides both commercial and private applicators with an overview of the required materials. Participants may be seeking recertification credits or information to help them pass the required exams.

Three RUP Core Review sessions were given prior to MDARD exams for recertification. Each workshop has three hours of education that qualify for three RUP recertification credits.

Clean Sweep/Household Hazardous Waste Collection

The Lapeer County Commission, Lapeer County Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and all Lapeer County municipalities have formed a unique partnership to collect unwanted pesticides and household hazardous waste products that would otherwise go into area landfills.

The Lapeer Commission and the Lapeer County municipalities (townships, cities, villages) committed $10,000 each to pay for the disposal of the unwanted materials. MDARD supplies a grant for unwanted pesticides to Tuscola, Lapeer, Sanilac, and Huron Counties and reimburses each county for all pesticides and the corresponding labor and freight associated with the collection.

My role in this has been to procure and manage the funds necessary for this initiative. I coordinate the planning, promotional materials, and promotion of the event. One of the primary parts of this initiative is to write a local news article that provides citizens with information about how unused products that end up in our landfills contaminate our groundwater and drinking water supplies. I am also responsible for the management of the materials collection by securing pesticide disposal vendors and volunteers to assist in the collection.

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