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MDARD Recognizes Accomplishments Focused on Protecting Public & Animal Health, Increasing Economic Development & Emergency Response in 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Over the last year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has taken exceptional actions that furthered Michigan’s robust food and agricultural industry and economy. 

“I’m incredibly proud of the hard-working MDARD employees who make a difference daily. This year especially showed our hard work, dedication, and commitment to Michigan’s food and agricultural industry,” said Director McDowell. “We’re increasing economic development, protecting public and animal health, and embracing innovation that allows more accessible and consistent interactions with Michiganders. Michigan is truly a powerhouse in agriculture, and MDARD will continue to be a big part of that success.”

The following are MDARD’s top ten accomplishments for 2022 that moved Michigan forward: 

Driving Economic Development

MDARD and the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development supported investment in under-represented minority-owned and veteran-owned food businesses approving $780,000 in Food and Agriculture Investment Program grant funding in 2022. Of the businesses funded, 41% were minority-owned, 35% woman-owned and 12% veteran-owned food and agriculture businesses. Of the total 431 jobs created across all grantees, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses created 189 new jobs.

Protecting Public Health

Produce Safety Inspectors identified a threat to public health due to illegal application of untreated human waste on a produce field taking action to prevent people from getting sick. An immediate seizure was placed on produce still on-farm, notified the public of the potential risk, and verified products were removed from sale at retail locations.
The Lab Division successfully verified a method to detect Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli in agricultural or surface waters used to grow fresh produce and can carry human pathogens potentially contaminating food products. This method allows for the testing of these waters that may be used on fresh produce helping protect food safety and public health.
Protected human and animal health by making all formulations of the insecticide methomyl a restricted use pesticide. MDARD has investigated dozens of incidents of intentional misuse of methomyl-based fly bait. This stronger regulatory control has helped ensure only trained and certified pesticide applicators have access to this chemical, helping limit misuse and protecting the safety of both humans and animals.


Emergency Response

The Animal Industry Division initiated an Incident Management Team to protect domestic flocks around the state from highly pathogenic avian influenza, ensure the viability of Michigan’s poultry industry and safeguard public health. The IMT continues to answer sick bird calls, conduct disease investigations, and take swift action to minimize the virus’ impact. To date, the team responded to 21 infected flocks across 13 different counties spanning both peninsulas.
Animal Industry Division worked in close partnership with the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to protect Michigan dogs by investigating claims of a “mysterious canine parvovirus-like illness.” Together, the organizations facilitated additional sampling and testing needed to determine the illness was actually canine parvovirus alleviating public panic.  
MDARD regularly tests its ability to respond to emergencies to improving surge capacity, leadership, and management skills. This year’s sessions had 382 unique participants, a 27% increase from 2019. Participants practiced just-in-time training, learned safety issues, and collected samples supporting MDARD’s food and feed safety, animal health, environmental and consumer protection mission.


Multiple divisions and programs in MDARD continued their successful upgrade of our online licensing and field-based inspection systems to allow for; easier and more consistent customer interactions, more efficient inspection activities, and development of a reliable data warehouse allowing for department-wide program review and evaluation.

Environmental Protection

Responded to the first confirmed population of spotted lanternfly in Michigan. In collaboration with Oakland County officials, the Pesticide and Plant Pest Management staff surveyed and treated the impacted area and continue to work to contain the spread of this invasive species.


The Milk River Intercounty Drain Drainage Board (Macomb & Wayne counties chaired by MDARD) completed a $45 million rehabilitation project to its 60-year-old combined sewer overflow retention and treatment basin pump station addressing stormwater and sanitary waste flow from over 30,000 residents including all commercial properties, several miles of I-94, and the cities of Grosse Pte Woods, Harper Woods and St. Clair Shores and managing approximately 1.5 billion gallons through pumping or temporary storage. The facility, with a combined pumping capacity of 1 million gallons per minute, successfully prevented basement flooding, and lead to improved Lake St. Clair water quality.