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Ag Leaders of MI Urge Legislature to Build Bridge
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A coalition of Michigan agricultural leaders today voiced strong support for the Detroit River International Crossing and the agreement negotiated by Gov. Rick Snyder with the Canadian Government and the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Source: Michigan Agri-Business Association

Agricultural Leaders of Michigan Urge Legislature: Build New Detroit-Canada Bridge, Grow Agriculture Jobs

LANSING – A coalition of Michigan agricultural leaders today voiced strong support for the Detroit River International Crossing and the agreement negotiated by Gov. Rick Snyder with the Canadian Government and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Agriculture employs one in four Michigan citizens and without the Detroit River International Crossing, agricultural businesses and the many local jobs we create could be put at risk," said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, which represents more than 400 Michigan agricultural businesses. "Michigan agriculture depends on open, reliable access to domestic and international markets if we are to compete in today’s global economy and continue creating good-paying jobs back home."

"As Michigan’s largest commodity, milk and dairy depend on good transportation networks to get to markets in Canada and beyond," said Ken Nobis, president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association, which represents approximately 1,400 family owned dairy farms. "Our export opportunities have grown significantly in the past year and access to international markets starts with our ability to cross the U.S. Canadian border."

"Michigan potatoes are fast filling snack bowls across the country, and we are a national leader in the potato sector because of good access to markets," said Ben Kudwa, legislative director of the Potato Growers of Michigan Inc. "The DRIC will help potato farmers and processors in Michigan continue to be successful, and that translates to investments and jobs in Michigan."

"The key to Michigan agriculture’s continued success is reliable access to markets and with Canada representing Michigan’s largest single trading partner, the DRIC is vital to strengthening Michigan’s economy and protecting and creating local jobs," said Dave Armstrong, CEO of East Lansing-based GreenStone Farm Credit Services, the nation’s sixth largest association in the Farm Credit System. "DRIC will significantly improve Michigan’s international border crossings and by extension, Michigan agriculture’s reach into markets far beyond our borders. That will bring real opportunities to all sectors of Michigan agriculture, from agri-businesses to food processors to family farms."

"Michigan poultry provides everything from eggs for McMuffins to turkey for sandwiches and chicken broilers for family dinners, and a new international crossing can help poultry businesses grow even more," said George House, executive director of the Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Inc. "DRIC will be a real asset to Michigan agriculture’s future growth."

In his State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder urged the Legislature to fast-track construction of the DRIC. In addition to the new governor, other supporters of the DRIC include Michigan’s auto sector, manufacturers, small businesses, chambers of commerce, elected officials from both sides of the aisle, organized labor and many more.

Snyder also announced that the DRIC will be built using $500 million in funds from Canada, and approval of the project would bring in an additional $2 billion in federal U.S. funds to improve roads and bridges in local communities across Michigan. Without this arrangement, Michigan would not have access to that $2 billion.

According to federal and state data, Michigan sells nearly $500 million in agricultural products to Canada every year, and total Michigan agricultural exports in 2009 were around $1.7 billion. Agricultural exports help boost farm prices and income, while directly supporting nearly 20,000 Michigan jobs. Half of all daily trade between the United States and Canada travels through the Ontario-Michigan border, and nearly 60 percent of all of Michigan’s exports go to or through Canada.

CONTACTS:

  • Dave Armstrong, President and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services: (517) 318-2290
  • Ken Nobis, President of the Michigan Milk Producers Association: (248) 474-6672
  • George House, Executive Director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Inc.: (616) 676-5593
  • Ben Kudwa, Legislative Director, Potato Growers of Michigan: (517) 669-8377
  • Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association: (517) 336-0223