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MI Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development Approves Grants to Popz Beez and Byron Center Meats to Expand Production, Improve Facilities, and Create New Jobs

LANSING, Mich. Today, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Program (FAIP) grants to Popz Beez for $55,000 and Byron Center Meats for $70,000. These funds will enable the companies to enhance local supply chains, generate new economic opportunities for farmers and food-based businesses, and create new good-paying jobs locally. 

"Local food and agriculture is the heartbeat of many communities all across Michigan. The Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration is committed to investing in agriculture and small businesses like Popz Beez and Byron Center Meats across the state," said Tim Boring, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. "These investments go directly to making products in Michigan, creating new good-paying jobs locally, and boosting area economies." 

Popz Beez, based in Oakland County, was founded in 2014 by Preston Zale. The company expanded in 2015 by offering extraction and mentoring services to other beekeepers in the area. Over the past eight years, it has added equipment and hives to the apiary business. 

The company helps local beekeepers by renting commercial kitchen facilities and secured wholesale food licenses under MDARD supervision.

The $55,000 FAIP grant allows Popz Beez to construct a honey extraction and bottling facility. The new facility will allow local beekeepers and Popz Beez to increase their honey processing from 4,000 pounds of honey to 10,000 pounds in the first year. The completion of this project will provide opportunities for not only Popz Beez but also 10 honey producers from Oakland, Lapeer, and Genesee counties. The new facility will allow small beekeepers the ability to process in a licensed facility giving them greater ability to sell their products and to profit from their small- to medium-sized beekeeping operations. The project will create five new jobs.

"I am thankful to the great people at MDARD and for the opportunity to help local beekeepers get their honey to market,"  says Preston Zale, owner of Popz Beez. "With this new kitchen and equipment, we can save beekeepers time and money and allow them to produce even more sweet Michigan honey."

Byron Center Meats is a family-owned meat processing plant that has provided quality processed meats for the past 78 years in Michigan. They specialize in partnering with local livestock producers to custom process their meats to meet the growing demand for locally sourced proteins. They also expand markets for direct-to-consumer home freezers, farmers' markets, on-farm stores, restaurants, and online farm stores.

With the $70,000 in FAIP funding from MDARD, Byron Center Meats will construct a new cold storage facility. The new facility will provide a central place for aging carcasses, increase hanging carcass capacity by 35 percent, and process capacity by 25 percent, creating four new jobs. Byron Center Meats increased capacity will provide more opportunities to livestock producers within Michigan.

"We are excited to partner with MDARD through this FAIP funding to build a cold storage facility for hanging beef carcasses. We are blessed to work with thousands of Michigan livestock producers and partner together to grow their businesses and serve their customers by getting more products to market,"  said Steve and Laura Sytsma, Owners of Byron Center Meats.

FAIP plays a crucial role in our state's economic development. It is specifically designed to provide financial support for projects that expand food and agriculture processing, thereby fostering growth in the industry and bolstering Michigan's economy. The selection of projects is based on their potential to impact the overall agriculture industry, as well as food and agriculture growth and investment in the state.

For more information about MDARD grants, visit


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