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Of the more than 53,000 farms in Michigan
40% of the farms remain at less than 50 acres
74% are earning less than $25,000 gross sales annually
net income from operations averages $13,585 per farm. This requires
over 40% of Michigan’s farm families to spend 200 days or
more per year working off the farm.
If current trends continue, by 2040 Michigan will
lose 71% of its farms between 50 and 500 acres. This is nearly 50%
of Michigan’s farms. This loss is not just farms, but also
farmland, farmers, skills and infrastructure necessary for long
term food production capability.
As of 2002, Michigan farms represented 2.5% of the
nation’s farms, while our diversity of products remains second
only to California. Connecting farmers and their communities to
the resources that assist them to grow their businesses through
sustainable agricultural initiatives will increase the number of
farms and farm profitability. This will also stimulate the creation
of new jobs and new businesses throughout the community.
Spending just $10 per week on local food in your community
would keep over $37 million circulating within Michigan.
As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases
through implementation of sustainable agricultural initiatives,
selling farmland for development becomes less likely. This landscape
will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When
you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about
preserving the agricultural landscape.
In the modern industrial agricultural system, product varieties
are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and produce
a tough skin that is able to withstand harvesting equipment, survive
packing and shipping, and provide a long shelf life in the store.
Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet
these rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in
the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of
varieties to provide a long season of harvest and many heirloom
varieties that are passed along to the next generation.
Healthier Food + Healthier People = Healthier Communities
Food grown in local communities was probably picked within the past
day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce
trucked or flown in from California or Chili is much older.
Several studies have shown that the average distance
food travels from “farm to plate” is 1,500 miles, causing
sugars to turn into starches, plant cell shrinkage, and loss of
Michigan is in the midst of an obesity epidemic with 62% of adults
and 12% of high school students considered overweight according
to medical statistics.
In 2003, obesity related medical costs in Michigan
totaled $2.9 billion and statistics indicated the majority of people
become overweight due to inadequate physical activity and poor diet.
Community-based food systems encourage healthy lifestyles
by making fresh and flavorful local products more accessible to
Healthier citizens also means reduced