Extension Agriculture & Agribusiness in Michigan


June 16, 2022 - Author:

Key Programming Impacts

Michigan State University Extension educators work with farms of all sizes helping to positively impact individual farming operations. When those individual operations do well, their success helps to fuel state and local economies. Annually, Michigan’s food and agriculture industry contributes more than $100 billion to Michigan’s economy.

  • 4,799 visits to farm business beginning farmer resources
  • $104.7 billion annual impact of food and agriculture on Michigan's economy
  • 300 commodities Michigan ranks second in the nation in crop diversity due to its unique climate, topography and impact of the Great Lakes. 
  • 5,000 views of weekly farm stress management online sessions.
  • 91% participants increased their abilities to implement new and better methods for responding to accidents.

Reaching People Where They Are

Michigan is agriculturally diverse both in what we produce and who produces it. Through our efforts to reach farmers at every level and size of production wherever they may be, MSU Extension has gone beyond traditional methods of working with farmers. We understand that some farmers may not be able to meet in person either due to distance or timing of an educational offering, so we have incorporated a vast array of online learning and digital informational opportunities to meet people where they are and when they have the time to consume information integral to their success.

Beginning Farmer Education

The Beginning Farmers Developing and Educating Managers and New Decision-makers (DEMaND) series features a vast array of online tools and classes that offer a fresh look at farm business management. The program is designed to help the next generation of farm operators learn about financial and business management strategies that help them develop into managers and decision-makers on the farm. Knowing the financial position and overall performance of a farm business is important to its future success.

Farm Stress Management

Taking care of crops and animals is hard on farmers. Caring for personal health and wellness in this high-stress profession is often overlooked but is as critical as caring for the farm business. Agricultural professionals and their families face unique stressors and mental health challenges and often have limited access to mental health services. MSU Extension is a national leader in addressing farm stress and related mental health issues by providing farm business financial analysis to farms, connecting farmers and their families with teletherapy programs, workshops, webinars and digital materials offering self-paced or interactive options.

Animal Industry Preparedness

By providing leadership for Michigan’s preparedness efforts, MSU Extension finds solutions for high-risk issues that affect the animal agriculture industry.

MSU Extension's Emergency Response to Accidents Involving Livestock (ERAIL)

Programs focus on the safety of first responders and the public traveling Michigan roads and highways. ERAIL trains first responders, animal haulers and others how to properly respond when animals are involved in a traffic accident, provides access to equipment that will aid in the accident response and creates a network of trained responders throughout the state. To avoid supply chain disruption for processing units during the threat of a foreign animal disease outbreak, MSU Extension assists farmers with completing preparedness efforts such as providing farmers with ongoing quality assurance programs that allow farmers to maintain market access and by partnering with industry organizations and government agencies that will help to quickly identify, contain and reduce the spread of foreign animal diseases.

Field Crops Virtual Breakfast

Offerings like our Field Crops Virtual Breakfast meetings attract participants throughout the state, country and even the world. Every Thursday during the growing season, farmers can access timely, in-season crop and weather information from MSU Extension field crops specialists and educators. Each week features a topic followed by a weather summary and forecast. Topic areas are loosely established at the beginning of the series based on historical trends. However, the Virtual Breakfast series is flexible, fluid and able to adapt when issues arise due to unforeseen growing conditions. Following the presentations, participants interact with specialists and educators in a question and answer period. This innovative approach using technology provides growers the opportunity to participate in a live webinar via their computer, laptop or cell phone. Each session is recorded, closed-captioned and available for viewing online.

  • 16,000 people reached through virtual breakfast.

Community Gardens and Food Pantries

Community gardens tended by MSU Extension Master Gardeners helped to increase fresh produce donations to food pantries, getting fresh food to those who need it most by partnering with MSU Extension community nutrition instructors who deliver SNAP-Ed nutrition and physical activity programming to help adults, families and children. These efforts helped recipients fight obesity by learning about nutrition and healthy foods, increasing daily physical activity and reducing food insecurity.

  • 3,200 pounds of food donated.
A bee sitting on a flower.
MSU Extension


Bees are essential pollinators of many crops and are important for achieving pollination and maximum crop yields. However, honey bee colonies are experiencing staggering losses. An increase of acceptable habitats, along with promoting best practices for colony management, will help bolster the honey bee population in Michigan. MSU Extension works to build resources and provide information that supports pollinators and the development of pollinator habitats through programming and education for beekeepers and growers of all sizes. From using land developed for solar energy to support bee populations to assisting local beekeepers with establishing healthy colonies, these programs have helped change perceptions and attitudes toward bees and beekeeping.

Heroes to Hives

(H2H) is a free program that provides beginning beekeeping education to U.S. Veterans, Active Duty Military Personnel, National Guard Members and Reservists, as well as their eligible dependents. The H2H online course covers many beekeeping topics through pre-recorded lecture and instructional videos, articles and quizzes.

  • 10,500 participants in pollinator program education. 

Biological Control in the Greenhouse

Biological control is a pest management strategy that makes use of living organisms to protect agricultural crops from damage due to insects and disease. Thrips have long been recognized as one of the most persistent and challenging greenhouse pests to manage. Previously, thrip control programming focused on training growers how to manage thrips with biological control agents. A frequent issue is the need to suppress additional pests without causing disruption to other management efforts. MSU Extension focused on a more nuanced aspect of thrips biological control by developing a four-part series of live weekly webcasts on greenhouse biological control. Bug Bites! was designed to foster intermediate-level discussions geared toward floriculture production systems in an accessible format, placing special emphasis on integrating biopesticides, entomopathogenic nematodes, and supplemental nutrition products.

  • 186 registrants participated from 31 countries, 24 U.S. states, and 16 Michigan counties

CONTACT: Ron Bates, Director, MSU Extension Agriculture and Agribusiness, batesr@msu.edu


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at anrcommunications@anr.msu.edu.