MSU Extension Growing Michigan Conference offers long-term view for farmers, Ag professionals

Whether it’s wacky weather or government regulations, agriculture’s changing climate continues to challenge Michigan farmers. That’s why Michigan State University Extension is hosting the Growing Michigan Conference.

There’s no doubt that agriculture plays a vital role in Michigan’s economy. In April 2012, Michigan State University researchers announced that the food and agriculture supply chain shows the industry contributes an estimated $91.4 billion to Michigan’s economy—an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2004 to 2010.

Whether it’s wacky weather or government regulations, agriculture’s changing climate continues to challenge Michigan farmers. That’s why Michigan State University Extension is bringing together farmers and agricultural professionals with interests in various major agricultural commodities to learn more about the changes on the horizon. The Growing Michigan Conference will take place Jan. 24, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Mich.

This one-day conference is jam-packed with timely information from MSU educators and nationally renowned speakers that will help Michigan producers maximize their farms’ potential.

“We are looking forward to having knowledgeable speakers presenting to such a diverse agricultural audience,” said Dale Rozeboom, MSU professor and Extension specialist. “So often we have great speakers at our individual winter commodity meetings. This conference allows people from all ag sectors to come together in one setting, hear the very best speakers and get the latest information on a variety of important topics.”

During the conference, MSU professor and veterinarian Julie Funk will discuss how reemerging food safety issues could affect Michigan agriculture and how improved diagnostics can help producers protect their commodities. A team of MSU specialists will discuss strategic and global perspectives on feed availability, volatile feed costs and price received, variable feed quality, increasing on-farm storage capabilities, exports and a structurally changing global feed industry.

Bernie Erven, of The Ohio State University, will talk about recruiting, hiring and keeping topnotch labor. His presentation will focus on hiring the right candidate to ensure a successful outcome.

Producers can learn how to incorporate and effectively apply precision ag technology to gain efficiencies and increase farm profits during a presentation by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Joe Luck.

Donald Reicosky, soil scientist emeritus at the U.S. Department of Agriculture  Agricultural Research Service will discuss how producers can manage soil to improve infiltration and water-holding capacity. Reicosky’s past research involved describing crop response and water use on conventional tillage and no-till systems with and without irrigation. His more current work focuses on tillage and residue management in cropping systems. 

A round-table discussion will cover the morning session topics; a producer panel at the end of the day will discuss lessons learned from the challenging 2012 growing season. Several Michigan farmers will address management practices they had in place that helped them respond to the variable growing conditions of 2012.

“Producer panels really help to bring the information home to where production takes place,” Rozeboom said. “We’re planning this year to take time in the conference to evaluate how labor, food safety, efficient use of technology, securing animal feeds, and above- and below ground crop management are included in practical strategies for the future. If we stay aware of what is happening and what may be coming, then we will be able to make wise transitions in our farming business plans.”

The conference registration fee is $50 and includes lunch. You can register electronically by visiting, or you can contact Megghan Honke at or 517-353-3175, ext. 229.

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