Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced U.S. Department of Agriculture efforts to partner with Michigan State University to conduct research that will help enhance the competitiveness of Michigan's fruit and vegetable industry. The fruits and vegetables industry is a major economic driver in Michigan, as Michigan fruits and vegetables rank as the second most diverse in the country. They are also a cornerstone of Michigan's agriculture sector - which is the state's second largest industry and supports one out of every four jobs in the state.
"Fruit and vegetable production represents a bright spot in our economy," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "This new effort will bolster Michigan State's research efforts to support new innovations in the industry. By helping to remove barriers for industry growth and competitiveness, new research lays the groundwork for creating new agriculture jobs."
Chairwoman Stabenow has been the leading advocate for fruit and vegetable growers in the U.S. Senate. In 2008, she successfully secured the first ever fruit and vegetable title in a Farm Bill (which is passed every several years to set the nation's agriculture policy), helping to level the playing field for Michigan growers with farmers in other parts of the country.
According to the USDA, the newly announced efforts will assist MSU in developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops like apples, cherries, blueberries, peaches and strawberries (among others), which are major staples of Michigan's agriculture industry. The projects will address creating more innovative and efficient production systems, pest and disease control and effective crop management.
The efforts are administered by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). More information can be found at its website by visiting www.nifa.usda.gov.