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Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award
Each year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) recognizes Michigan's leading exporters in the category of Food and Agriculture products. MDARD does this by awarding a Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year award to a deserving Michigan company. This special honor can bring further success, signaling to international buyers a company's quality and commitment to exporting.
Companies of all sizes are encouraged to apply. The winner of the Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award is selected on the basis of export growth, innovation, and the pursuit of new export markets.
Michigan food and agriculture producers, manufacturers or shippers of good reputation and good standing in the business community, who are aggressively pursuing international markets and increasing export sales, are encouraged to apply.
Products must be over 50 percent grown, processed or manufactured in Michigan. Companies with headquarters in other states but production facilities in Michigan are invited to apply on the basis of their Michigan-made exports. Past recipients of the "Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year" award are eligible to apply five years after their initial award if they have increased their exports or expanded into new markets.
Charlotte-based Citizens LLC Receives '2021 Ag Exporter of the Year Award'
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has awarded Citizens LLC with the "2021 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year Award."
The company, headquartered in the rural community of Charlotte (Eaton County), produces food-grade Natto soybeans and grows 99 percent of its products in Michigan.
"Companies like Citizens LLC are helping Michigan expand its footprint in the global trade arena. Michigan is primed for opportunity for the state's food and ag companies to make their mark internationally," said McDowell. "I'm humbled to be able to support and recognize them as the 2021 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year."
Founded in 1996, Citizens LLC began exporting in 2005. Between 2019 and 2020, the company experienced a more than 4,000 percent growth in export volume with exports accounting for 13 jobs of the company's nearly 50 total employees.
"Citizens LLC provides high quality products to both international and domestic customers. Nattos and other non-GMO soybeans are processed at our world-class facility in Charlotte and travel from rail to ports and destinations around the world," said Bruce Wymer, Vice President of Food Grade Soybeans. "We strive to set the highest standards of quality and to help expand the world's consumption of super foods promoting health and longevity across the world."
The 2021 Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award Winner, Citizens LLC
Pictured: Gary McDowell, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, presents award to Citizens LLC.
Read the full press release about Citizens LLC's award here
Past Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award Recipients
2020 Ag Exporter of the Year Award
"We're so thankful to all of our customers and to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for their help and support as we have sought to grow our export business. The team here at Kamps has worked hard to increase our quality and service as we have expanded our market and are so appreciative for the honor of this award." - Rob Kukowski, General Manager of Kamps Hardwoods
2019 Ag Exporter of the Year Award
"We are honored to be the recipient of the 2019 Ag Exporter of the Year award. As a boy growing up around our operation, I never dreamed SSF would have a worldwide impact on the potato industry. Today I greatly value the customer relationships we have formed and the team we have at SSF, which helps grow some of the best seed potatoes in the world." - Ben Sklarczyk, CEO of Sklarczyk Seed Farm
2018 Ag Exporter of the Year Award
"We are honored to be the recipient of the 2018 Ag Exporter of the Year award. We never dreamed a dentist and a dental hygienist looking for a better alternative for our patients could grow a cottage business into an internationally sought-after brand of candy that provides nutritional benefits and fights tooth decay." - Debra Bruinsma, Co-Founder of Dr. John's Candies
2016 Ag Exporter of the Year Award
"Receiving this award is a reminder of how much Bayside Best Beans has grown - and continues to grow. We are proud of all the member owners who had the dream to make Bayside what it is today and the hard work our employees have put forth to help us achieve this growth. We are honored and excited to be selected as the 2016 Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year." - Bayside Best Beans General Manager Brad Witek
2015 Ag Exporter of the Year Award
"Star of the West is pleased to be recognized with the 2015 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year award. This award is a reflection of the Star's commitment to partner with food producers and processors to provide quality flour, edible soybeans and dry edible bean products to help feed the world." - Star of the West president Arthur Loeffler