Governor Snyder Visits 2013 Ag Expo at Michigan State University

By Josh Paciorek | July 16, 2013

When most people think of Michigan’s “Big Three,” they think of Ford, GM and Chrysler. At the 2013 Ag Expo on Tuesday, Governor Rick Snyder suggested looking at another Big Three in Michigan -- the state’s three largest industries. And at $90 billion per year, agriculture is on that list.

“In the old days it was always about the auto companies,” Snyder said. “But the ‘Big Three’ to me are autos and manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. You’re one of the Big Three. In particular, you were one of the Big Three that carried us through the darker days of the last decade. When most industries were going down, agriculture was our shining star.”

The Ag Expo, which takes place on Michigan State University’s campus, is the state’s largest outdoor farm show with 250 exhibitors, 15,000 attendees and dozens of educational programs. The MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension have partnered to host the three-day event from July 16 to July 18. 

The 34th annual expo will showcase the latest in agricultural technology and the success of the state’s agriculture industry. Governor Snyder says it’s one that we should be proud of.

“We’re a place that makes things here in Michigan. Made in Michigan needs to be something special. That’s what we’ve done. That’s how we became a great state,” Snyder said. “Agriculture plays a critical role in our future, in terms of the number of people working with you, the people you support, the people you feed. We have exciting opportunities.”

At the breakfast, the governor spoke with farmers, MSU faculty and staff, and other industry leaders about his vision for the agricultural industry in Michigan. He stressed the importance of developing talent for the agriculture industry, encouraging more and more students to study agriculture.

“One of the things we need to really work hard on is making sure we have the right inflow of talent,” Snyder said. “We need more young people going into agriculture, in my view. We need the general public to understand how exciting a career in agriculture can be.”

Want to learn more about how important the agriculture industry is in Michigan? Check out these facts:

  • In Michigan, 923,000 people are in jobs related to agriculture, and 618,000-- about 22% of the state’s workforce--are directly employed by the industry.
  • The agriculture industry has seen a growth of $20 billion since 2009.
  • Field crops account for almost $6 billion in economic activity in the state, with livestock and dairy accounting for another $4.75 billion.
  • Corn is Michigan’s largest single crop with sales around $1.3 billion.
  • Michigan’s farms account for $13 billion in economic activity.
  • Fruit production and related industries account for $758.4 million in economic activity in Michigan.
  • Michigan is the largest producer of blueberries and cherries in the U.S.
  • The state has 300 agricultural commodities, second only to California.
  • Michigan is home to the third largest number of farmers markets.
  • Michigan has 54,900 farms and 10 million acres of farmland.
  • Food processing creates 130,000 jobs and $25 billion in economic activity in the state, good for 19th in the nation.
  • There are nearly 1900 licensed food processors in Michigan.

Author Josh Paciorek is a member of Governor Rick Snyder’s internship program.