Michigan’s Food and Agriculture

Governor Whitmer has proclaimed March as Michigan Food and Agriculture Month to honor and celebrate Michigan’s farmers and diverse products. Our state’s unique climate and abundance of water has provided the ideal conditions to grow and process some of the nation’s finest agricultural products. As a $105 billion industry, food and agriculture provides more than 800,000 jobs, which accounts for 17% of our state’s employment. Encompassing nearly 10 million acres of farmland, Michigan has more than 300 commodities and is the second most diverse agriculture state in the U.S.
Spring begins in March, which begins the farming cycle. Soil is tilled and prepped while anticipation for a productive season grows. Did you know not all crops are harvested in the fall? Broccoli, cabbage, asparagus and some greens and herbs can all be grown and harvested April through May. Other crops such as beans and squash have the longest seasons, ensuring fresh produce is available during a seven-month span. Meanwhile, peas, cherries and blueberries have the shortest picking season. Thanks to huge advancements in controlled-atmosphere storage technology, a combination of more than 33 different crops gives us fresh produce year-round. Included in this combo are apples. Apples are one of the most valuable fruit crops and surpass one billion pounds annually.
The booming craft beer industry, along with an established wine industry, has led to a boom in agritourism. What is agritourism? It’s using your agriculture industry to drive tourism. Wineries have always been an attraction, but with the explosion of craft breweries and increased hop production, Michigan is now a craft beer destination. Toss in cider mills, farmers markets, petting zoos and roadside stands and you have more than a few stops on your road trip, regardless of the season. From asparagus picking in the spring, strawberry picking in June and pumpkin picking and corn mazes in the fall, there’s always something to enjoy.        
Below are some fun Michigan food and agriculture facts you may not have known.
  • Michigan produces more chesnuts than any other state. 
  • Christmas trees are the third most produced crop.
  • Cucumbers for pickling are also highly produced.
  • Michigan leads the nation in growing begonias, Easter lilies, geraniums, hostas, impatiens and petunias.
  • A large portion of McDonald’s Happy Meal apples come from Michigan.
Food processing is manufacturing! Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) has a long history of assisting food processors to meet their goals. All Lean or process improvement strategies we’ve implemented with traditional manufacturers can be applied in a food processing environment. Our statewide reach allows us to conveniently assist any of the several thousand manufacturers and food processors across the state. Contact us to see how we can help your business grow today!
In addition, our Proud to Manufacture in Michigan (PTMIM) program consists of nearly 60 food processors, many of which we’ve already worked with. Members of this free program have seen increases in exposure and traffic to their own websites since many statewide inquiries have come through our main website. Start networking and gain publicity by joining the free program here.
MEET OUR EXPERT: John Spillson, Lean Business Advisor
Spillson_J-web.jpgSince joining The Center in 2014, John Spillson has worked to mentor manufacturers on Lean and Leadership strategies as well as provide expert support to food processors. His experience in operating his own business has given him knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. John provides a variety of Leadership training to manufacturing clients, including Supervisor Skills and Manufacturing Skills Development, and assists with conducting The Center’s Technology Opportunity Assessments.
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Categories: Food Processing, Innovation, Lean Principles, Manufacturing, Other