Michigan Christmas Tree Association to Launch Training Program | Durand

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DURAND – The Durand-based Michigan Christmas Tree Association (MCTA) has received federal funds to fund a training program for new and current Christmas tree growers.

Earlier this week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced $ 1.29 million in Specialty Crop Block grants, including $ 77,300 to the MCTA .

“We’re super excited about this. I think the training program will really help the Christmas tree industry and hopefully get more people to grow Christmas trees, ”said MCTA Executive Director Amy Start.

MCTA is partnering with Bert Cregg of Michigan State University, associate professor of horticulture and forestry, to develop the training program.

The MCTA will facilitate the grant and the MSU will contribute to the content of the program, she said.

The training program will aim to teach the basics to beginner or novice farmers through videos and in-class sessions. Training can help avoid costly mistakes, such as planting trees in inappropriate places.

“This is going to be very useful for people wanting to start a business or people who have started a logging operation and need to train their staff,” Start said. “We try to get people on the right track from the start. “

There are about 500 forest farms in Michigan, not counting farms that dedicate small areas to tree planting, she said.

The MCTA’s stated mission is to be a voice in the state’s Christmas tree industry on behalf of its members, currently 150. This includes presenting a tree to the Governor, meeting with legislators regarding industry concerns and participation in media opportunities to give MCTA members greater visibility and voice.

The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program offers federal dollars to support the specialty crop industry and food system impacts from COVID-19.

Grants focus on marketing, training, certifications, food safety, pest control, and plant health for specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, nuts, plants and / or flowers .

“Michigan is the country’s leader in the production of many fruits and vegetables and is second in terms of crop diversity after California,” Stabenow said in a press release.

“Our fruits, vegetables and nursery crops are not only a source of great pride, they are essential to the economy of our state.

“This new support is a great victory for Michigan agriculture,” continued the senator. “This will help our farmers maintain their competitive advantage and continue to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to American families. “

The Durand-based MCTA grant was the only one awarded in the region.

Other recipients include the Cherry Marketing Institute in DeWitt ($ 125,000), the Michigan Ag Council in Lansing ($ 125,000), the Michigan Apple Committee in Lansing ($ 125,000) and the Michigan Blueberry Commission in Lansing (125,000 $).

“Michigan’s food industry has been hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19 from farm to fork,” MDARD director Gary McDowell said in a press release.

“These much-needed funds will help our producers and processors continue to innovate and compete for new growth opportunities throughout the food supply chain, both nationally and globally. Michigan has grown up and just tastes better.


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