Snyder to farmers: Michigan is a leader, not a lagger

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder

GRAND RAPIDS — Gov. Rick Snyder addressed Michigan Farm Bureau delegates at the organization’s 97th annual meeting in Grand Rapids.

While road funding may be on the state’s back burner, Snyder told farmers Wednesday to keep their foot on the gas and build on the progress they’ve made during his time in office.

Speaking to Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) members at the organization’s annual meeting in Grand Rapids, Snyder spoke glowingly about the farm community’s support for his administration. He congratulated farmers for their “tremendous contributions in creating jobs, contributions to the state’s quality of life and the opportunities you’ve created.”

Again stressing the importance of Farm Bureau’s policy book, which he readily pulled from his jacket pocket, Snyder said Farm Bureau policy makers have been a guiding light for him from the start of his first campaign for governor.

“I look to you to help give me guidance in terms of important issues to work on,” he said, holding the policy book high. “I’m just waiting for the new edition.”

By the end of the week, when new policies are finalized to guide Michigan Farm Bureau through 2017, Snyder hopes to retain farmer support for his three key agricultural goals and opportunities.

First, he said, is research and development.

“We have the opportunity to do more,” he said. “I know you have challenges in crops, dealing with pests and disease and prices, and one of the best ways to address crop prices is to…do more value-added processing.

“This is one of our biggest opportunities. We should find ways to put more resources into growing that as a traditional area of Michigan and I would appreciate your support. Those ideas need to come from you. The government is not competent to decide what those things are. We need your direction to hear what they are and create an environment (where the state can be) a supportive partner.”

Secondly, Snyder said all facets of the state need to “keep their foot on the gas” to promote and export its products.

Speaking about MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams’ recent trade mission to China, Snyder said the building blocks are in place.

“We make things, we grow things and we come up with ideas,” he said. “And not just for Michiganders. We create wealth by doing that with the rest of the world, and the more we can progress and spread our ideas, we make it easier and better to add additional value-added opportunities.”

Thirdly, rural Michigan needs improved infrastructure. And even though roads are not on top of the priority list, the road to better broadband service is climbing.

“If you have internet connectivity and broadband, you can do business anywhere in the world,” he said. “I visited a cherry orchard that does business online all the time, but if the internet is down, it messes up business.”

Other technology, too, helps farmers more than most people realize.

“I visited a robotic dairy farm where they can bring up information for each cow on their cell phone,” he said. “Isn’t that kind of cool?”

While “cool” was one of the previous administration’s initiatives, Snyder’s vision goes deeper than signs at city limits. He wants farmers to get on board with his Project Rising Tide initiative with a view toward the next 30 to 50 years.

“We’ve done a lot of work in urban areas,” he said. “Detroit is the comeback city. But it’s not just about urban centers. I care about every community in Michigan. I met with 10 small cities in 10 regions of the state to ask how we can help them help themselves to success. We’re going to focus on academic development, community development and talent development. The goal is for communities to graduate and then help other communities the same way (state government) helped them.”

When those communities see a brighter future, Snyder said, an even brighter future will be built—a future that shows that Michigan is “not a lagger, we’re a leader in the world.”

And despite the challenges of the present, Snyder told farmers he’s committed to success for the state well beyond his administration.

“I am fired up to continue being your governor,” he said. “It’s a passion for me. “Let’s work together to make Michigan a great state, and make it even better.”

Leave a Reply