farming

Taylor Wizner

Five years ago, hops were in high demand in Michigan, and more and more farmers started experimenting with the crop. 

However, as beer tastes changed and breweries went looking for the next new thing, many northern Michigan hop farmers have been unable to make ends meet. This year, more than a dozen hop fields throughout the region sit idle as their owners wait for prices to rise or decide to close farms for good.

Today on Stateside, dairy farms face an uncertain future in Michigan. We speak to a sixth-generation farmer, a pair of cheesemakers in Northern Michigan, and more about the obstacles farmers face and how they are adapting.

Wikimedia Commons

Record rainfall this year has hit northern Michigan crops hard, and now farmers Up North are getting some help from the federal and state governments.

Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

Fruit growers in northern Michigan are battling crop diseases this summer caused by heavy rain and humidity.

Adam Ingrao, founder of Heroes to Hives, checks on some beehives owned by Michigan State University, in Traverse City.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

When military veterans leave the service, many of them struggle with their return to civilian life. Adam Ingrao was no different.


Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Dozens of school districts across the state will put bond proposals to voters next month. They are asking residents to pay for improvements in schools, but in some small communities in northern Michigan, a tax hike for your schools can be a tough sell.

China is America's biggest soybean customer, to the tune of $14 billion last year. 

Michigan is a major soybean producer, which means farmers in the state are on the front line of this brewing trade war.

Ever since the arrival of Europeans to Michigan, farming has been a key economic component for our state. However, without the life’s work of a Michigander from South Haven, farms in Michigan and across the nation might evolved quite differently.

Mark Harvey, State Archivist at the Michigan History Center, joined Stateside to discuss the life of pioneering botanist and horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey, how his “agrarian ideology” of advanced technology was received at the time, and how he’s remembered today.

Michigan has held one wolf hunt. That was in 2013, when 22 wolves were killed in the Upper Peninsula.

The next year, a federal judge put wolves back on the endangered species list.

Since then, lawmakers from Michigan, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin, have tried to tack on riders to various bills in Congress that would "de-list" the wolves. These moves are backed by farmers who say wolves are preying on their livestock.

But now, a new study indicates those farmers may be contributing to that predation problem. How? By not burying their dead cows.

One of President Trump’s key campaign promises was to rewrite the North American Free Trade Act to be a better deal with the United States, or he promised to scrap the trade pact with Canada and Mexico.

Talks are happening right now to renegotiate the trade deal, and Jamie Clover Adams wants to make sure that Michigan agriculture is protected, no matter what happens to NAFTA.

In Stateside’s series of conversations with young farmers in Michigan, some of the farmers we've talked to are working on their families' farms, carrying on a tradition that has spanned generations.

Azeezah Ford is a young farmer taking a different path. Ford grew up in Detroit, and early next year she'll begin full-time farm work in Benzie County in northern Michigan.

It’s been a pretty rotten year for the farmers who grow timothy hay, a Michigan crop that's not very familiar to most.

Timothy hay is an important feed for horses, cattle and small animals, like pet bunnies and guinea pigs, among others.

Some of the best timothy hay comes from the eastern Upper Peninsula, but farmers there are enduring a season that will go into the record books for all the wrong reasons.

It’s an ancient way of life under 21st century economic pressures.

According to the state’s numbers, the food and agriculture industry pumps $101 billion into Michigan’s economy each year. It employs some 923,000 people. That’s nearly a quarter of Michigan’s workforce.

So, what does the next generation of farmers think about the future of agriculture in our state?

We've Got Issues: U.S. cherry juice ad campaign a big success ... for Turkey

May 22, 2017
Aaron Selbig

Tart cherry growers in northern Michigan are hoping the Trump administration can help them get a leg up in the juice market.

In this all-too-fast-paced era we live in, it's comforting to see something that's managed to stick around for 225 years – the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

What Massachusetts schoolteacher and bookseller Robert B. Thomas started in 1792 is still with us. The 2017 edition is now out.

There's an ancient variety of squash that was largely forgotten about. But it’s been rediscovered.

Tribes around the Great Lakes region are sharing the seeds of this squash with each other and with small farmers.

Sarah Hofman-Graham works at Eighth Day Farm in Holland, Michigan. She invited me to a dinner party featuring a soup made from an ancient squash. The soup tasted sweet and mild.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, found that continuous exposure to very low doses of the herbicide Roundup might be linked to liver and kidney damage.

The researchers looked at how genes changed in rats that were given a commercial Roundup formulation containing 0.1 parts per billion of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) over a two-year period.

Summer interns learn life lessons on the farm

Jul 29, 2015

One evening, while my husband and I were talking with a young couple who manage a Community Supported Agriculture business, we wandered onto the topic of summer interns. Because of the couple’s urban location, their CSA drew workers from the local college who were eager to build raised beds and weed beets.

Aaron Selbig

If you’ve picked up a box of fresh strawberries recently from a local grocery store, there’s a good chance they were handpicked by a migrant farm worker.

The workers have been coming up from their homes in Mexico or Texas for generations. But in recent years, local farmers have noticed there are fewer workers coming to northern Michigan. They’re saying the problem is likely to get much worse.

Steve Bardenhagen grew up on his family’s farm in Leelanau County.

Show off your bulbs

Oct 15, 2014
Peter Payette

There’s a garlic show this weekend near Traverse City. It will include a “best in show” award and there will be an auction.

Northern Michigan is not a garlic-growing region, but the cousin of the onion is important to chefs, who will judge the entries.

“What a beautiful fall day.”

Normally you won’t think anything of a tweet like this. But when that tweet comes at the end of July, it’s a little disconcerting.  

With the temperatures over the past few weeks dipping into the 50s, it’s hard not to think about the bigger consequences.

The Union of Concerned Scientists recently said if climate trends continue, Michigan agriculture will be harmed. That’s a big issue when you consider that agriculture is the state’s second largest industry, and agri-food and agri-energy businesses make up more than 20% of the state’s workforce.

Philip Robertson is a professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Michigan State University. He joined us today to talk about how climate change could affect the future of farming in Michigan.

Jim Byrum was also with us to share what it means from the business side of agriculture. Byrum is the President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

*Listen to the full interview above.

The nation’s tart cherry growers are on track to grow about as many tart cherries as they can sell this year. That’s good news for an industry that often grows too much fruit and sometimes restricts sales to keep supply in balance with demand.

Estimates for 2014 project growers producing about 260 million pounds of tart cherries. Most of that, about 180 million pounds, will come from Michigan.   

The executive director of the Cherry Industry Administrative Board, Perry Hedin, says that’s an average to large crop.

With winter finally behind us, hopefully fruit farmers all over Michigan are getting an idea of what the snow, ice and cold has done to orchards, vineyards and fields.

Knowing that the early spring warm-up of 2012 was devastating to most of Michigan's fruit-growers, we wondered if the rough winter has them just as worried now as they were two years ago.

Ken Nye of the Michigan Farm Bureau joined us.

Listen to the full interview above.

The face of farming in America, and here in Michigan, is changing.

More and more often, that farmer raising crops or tending to a dairy herd is a woman.

As women move from a supporting role to a starring role on Michigan farms, how is this changing agriculture?

Sue Raker is the owner and operator of Cloverland Apiary and Farm on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

And Wynne Wright is a professor in community sustainability and sociology at Michigan State University. They both joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The farm bill has about $57 billion for conservation.

Director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition Todd Ambs says a lot of people don't realize the farm bill is where we find the largest source of conservation money from the federal government.

"That’s because there are so many activities that happen on the land that bring us our food, that if done improperly can have a very adverse impact on the soil and also to surrounding waterways," he says.

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