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MDARD director reflects on a 'most challenging year' in new podcast

For immediate release: December 30, 2020
Media contact: Jessy Sielski, 517-331-1151

LANSING, MI - Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell recently sat down to reflect on what he describes as “one of the most challenging years of our lifetime” in a new “Fresh from the Field” podcast.

“At MDARD, it’s our job to help pave the way for Michigan’s food and ag industry, no matter what challenges are put in front of us,” said McDowell. “Well, 2020 tested us like no other. It was likely one of the most challenging years of our lifetime.”

From the very beginning of the pandemic, McDowell explains, MDARD demonstrated its adaptability and creative problem-solving skills to help meet the anticipated — and unanticipated — needs of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry, as well as the consumers it helps to protect.

“During the first few weeks of the pandemic, we established new safety protocols and transitioned nearly one hundred percent of our staff to remote workstations to ensure we were online and continuing to meet the needs of the industry,” he said. “And over the past year, our dedicated and talented staff have used every resource available to help farmers, processors, and retailers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”

McDowell catalogues many departmental achievements made over the past year. In the end, he gives all the credit to MDARD’s dedicated staff, stakeholders across the state, and all the essential workers who kept things moving during the most difficult times: “The leadership, determination, and adaptability that Michiganders showed this past year will help our great state emerge from this crisis stronger, smarter, and better prepared for the future.”

MDARD’s “Fresh from the Field” podcast series offers insights into some of the state’s hottest topics in food and agriculture, as well as other issues the department is addressing on behalf of Michigan’s consumers and industry stakeholders. It can be found on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube. Recent topics have included mosquito control, food safety, and emergency preparedness.

And in case you missed it, here are some other recent topics MDARD covered in its popular podcast series, including some in Spanish:

Holiday Cooking Safety with Kevin Sehlmeyer, State Fire Marshal

All about Michigan Christmas Trees with Amy Start and Mike Bryan

Trees for Troops – Peacock Road Family Farm

Worker Protection Standard: Spanish Podcast – Growers (YouTube Video)

Worker Protection Standard: Spanish Podcast – Workers (YouTube Video)

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