Friday, October 23, 2009

Please Excuse the Commercial Interruption

We've become aware the Michigan's governor intends to line-item veto MSUE and MAES out of existence in her quest to balance the budget. While we are in favor of balanced budgets, and realize that Michigan has a very serious problem, we do not want to see these invaluable programs cut. So I've taken the liberty of putting these talking points up on my blog so that I can (hopefully) point some twitter traffic here. For those of you who come here for cute lamb photos and news from Shady Side Farm, don't worry. We'll be back to our regular programming soon. I hope. Just another day in the life of a farmer--fending off government attacks on our livelihood...

MSU Extension and Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station Impacts

The $64 million in state funding for MAES and MSUE leverages $148 million in contracts and grants and similar funds and generated a total economic impact $1.062 billion. These two funding lines generate $2.33 for every $1 provided by the state.

• MAES and MSUE funds make up 70 percent of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources budget. Eliminating those funds would essentially shut down the nation’s first college dedicated to teaching agricultural science.

• MAES and MSUE are being singled out and treated differently than the rest of higher education. Eliminating their funding means MSU is taking a much larger cut than any other university in Michigan.

• The Bioenergy Research Center, through the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies and MAES, involves 36 scientists and $900,000 in monthly research expenditures at MSU. Without MSUE and MAES funding, it is highly unlikely the grant will be renewed.

• MSUE and MAES educators help develop businesses that will replace or reformulate current petroleum-based products, using sustainable, plant-based materials. Their loss delivers a serious blow to Michigan’s chances of becoming the “green” energy state.

• The agri-food sector is a $71.3 billion industry in Michigan—our second largest. It employs more than a million residents, representing a quarter of the state’s workforce—almost 20 percent of the state’s economic engine. If the Michigan agri-food industry appeared on the Fortune 500 list, it would rank 55th. MSUE and MAES serve as the industry’s research and development arm. Without them, the agri-food sector’s growth and viability will be in serious jeopardy.

• A new law allowing small distilleries to market and sell their products on-site is expected to bolster the state’s sagging economy by providing new markets for Michigan-grown agricultural crops and creating new jobs. The law is based on 11 years of research by Kris Berglund, MAES scientist and university distinguished professor of forestry and chemical engineering. Micro-distilleries are expected to add more than $400 million to Michigan’s economy and create about 1,400 new jobs.

• The MSU Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources is funded by MAES & MSUE and provides statewide support that links business owners with MSU. In 2007 the center was responsible for total capital formation of $2.85 million and retaining or creating nearly 140 jobs. The Product Center will cease to operation without funding from MAES and MSUE.

• Nearly 234,000 Michigan children and nine percent of its adults have asthma. MAES is studying chronic respiratory diseases caused by air pollutants, resulting in better protection for the public, especially those most sensitive to the effects of air pollution. All MAES-funded research projects will face possible elimination without funding from MAES and MSUE.

• An MSU-led initiative received an $18 million grant to kick off the National Children’s Study (NCS) in Wayne County. Scientists hope this project will give them a better understanding of how children’s genes and environments interact to affect their health and development. MSUE is helping researchers find 1,000 participant families in Wayne County for 2010. Thanks to an additional $57 million investment in the NCS by the National Institutes of Health, Lenawee and Grand Traverse counties will be added in 2011, and Macomb and Genesee counties will be added in 2012—if funds for MSUE/MAES continue.

MSUE is Washtenaw County’s only provider of pre-purchase homebuyer education, which has been shown to be the most effective foreclosure prevention intervention. During 2008, MSUE housing counselors met with 160 clients and helped 47 of them avoid foreclosure. These efforts saved $9.2 million worth of primary residencies and retained an estimated $200,000 in tax revenues.

• Of the 537 people who attended MSU Extension-sponsored foreclosure prevention or counseling seminars in Macomb County in 2008, 148 were able to avoid foreclosure, which saved $3.2 million for homeowners, neighbors and local government.

• MSU recently won a grant of nearly $2 million to host the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. This regional center is charged with strengthening the land-grant system’s ability to build rural community capacity, create vibrant and sustainable economies, and cultivate inclusive governance. It will be jointly administered by MSUE, MAES and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources through a grant from the USDA—if funding still exists.

• MSUE 4-H Youth Development—serving 236,000 youth and 27,000 adult volunteers—would no longer be available in Michigan without funding for MSUE.

• The 27,400 4-H adult volunteers donate an average of 10 hours per month to the 4-H program, valued at more than $66.5 million annually. (Value of volunteer time per hour: $20.25 according to Independent Sector)

• In 2008, Washtenaw MSUE provided business-planning services to 102 clients. Thirty-three of these clients launched new ventures or expanded existing businesses. Estimated gross revenue of business planning clients is $1,084,000. It is estimated that 115 jobs were created or retained as a result of this work.

• The direct cost of child abuse and neglect in Michigan is estimated at nearly $19,000 per child. Sanilac County’s 0-3 Healthy Families program prevents child abuse and neglect in families with three or more high-risk factors, potentially saving the county and state $830,990. That’s a 985 percent return on the cost of the original program grant. MSUE has similar programs in many Michigan counties, all of which would cease to exist if MSUE funding is eliminated.

• MSUE’s Youth Farm Stand projects resulted in a 70 percent increase in children eating fruits and vegetables and a 62 percent increase in children choosing healthier snacks. These outcomes directly address Michigan's crisis-level youth obesity issue.

• The state’s investment of $3,672,530 in Michigan’s EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Program) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) saved Michigan families $29,490,416 in food expenditures and healthcare costs—and improved participating families’ nutrient intake. In other words, every $1 invested in these nutrition education programs saves the state $8.03 (2002 Iowa State University study).

• MSU is assisting Detroit-based Hacienda Mexican Foods with market research to expand its product lines and sales volume. The business, which employs approximately 80 workers, produces corn chips and distributes a broad line of authentic Mexican food products. Research findings have resulted in the development of authentic Mexican cheeses, a bottled water product and the establishment of a new food retail outlet on Livernois Ave. These three ventures will add a projected $500,000 in gross income through sales of Hacienda products.

Contact information for the governor is:

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm

P.O. Box 30013

Lansing, Michigan 48909

PHONE: (517) 373-3400

PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services

FAX:(517) 335-6863

Online Comments :,1607,7-168-21995-65331--,00.html


  1. I will be contacting her again, she listened last time there were budget cuts and we wrote....

  2. Thank you, Karen! At least we have to try...


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