Four food and agriculture projects in Michigan are getting a boost from the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. The department recently approved $350,000 in Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants. The projects will help expand and grow companies in the processed fruit, dairy and juice operations, as well as supporting the growth of the seed corn supply chain that will lead to more efficient agricultural operations.
“These projects represent the amazing diversity of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry leading to investment and opportunities for rural and urban communities,” says Gordon Wenk, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “The Food and Agriculture Investment Fund provides key support to growing food and ag companies, who transform these dollars into area jobs and supply chain efficiencies.”
The companies receiving grants:
• Peterson Farms Inc. of Shelby will receive a $150,000 performance-based grant to expand its fruit processing operations with the installation of an individual quick frozen (IQF) tunnel focused on the frozen processing requirements of its growers’ tart cherries, sweet cherries, blueberries and peaches. The project will require a $5.8 million investment and lead to the creation of 30 to 35 new jobs. This additional IQF processing capacity enables Peterson Farms to process greater volumes of high-quality fruit products produced by its over 850 growers, 550 of which are in the state of Michigan. With Peterson Farms’ enhanced processing capability, growers should have greater options to deliver their processing fruit products.
• VernDale Products Inc. of Detroit will receive a $100,000 performance-based grant for building renovations necessary to continue its growth and expansion. VernDale Products is a family-owned business located in Detroit since 1958 that manufactures roller dried milk powder and is the largest roller milk production facility dedicated to serving the confectionary industry in North America. The project will require an investment of $933,500 for the renovation of its Lyndon Street plant, allowing the company to seek Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification. The project is expected to lead to the creation of 10 new jobs.
• Drought of Berkley will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant to assist with continued growth, as the company relocates its operations to a new 15,000-square-foot building in Berkley that will serve as its new juice processing facility. The overall project will require a $640,000 investment and lead to the creation of 15 new jobs. The initial project includes building renovations, site improvement and some equipment. Drought is one of Michigan’s leading cold-pressed juice manufacturers, and the all-female owned business has grown to six retail locations over the past eight years. Drought sources about 70% of its fruits and vegetables from a variety of Michigan farmers and plans to use high-pressure processing to expand distribution nationally.
• Excel Ag Solutions of Sturgis will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant to create a full-service, turnkey seed production facility. The project requires a capital investment of $3 million and will lead to the creation of six new jobs. The operation will provide new services including seed corn cleaning, sizing, treatment, bagging, warehousing and distribution in a renovated warehouse in Sturgis.
“The Food and Agriculture Investment Program is designed to help accelerate the growth of Michigan’s food and agriculture companies like these,” says Peter Anastor, director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “The projects highlight both the diversity of our food and agriculture industry, as well as the opportunities available for growth for both well-established and new companies.”
The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.