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84 Local Farms and Processors Reap $3.2 Million in Agriculture Grants

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Last week, a total of 177 farms and 159 food processors were awarded $15 million in Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants to mitigate risks of the COVID-19 virus across the state’s food production industry, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced. Additionally, 124 small farms of less than 10 employees received $567,000 in grants for COVID-19 risk mitigation through the MEDC Small Farm Safety Grants. 

“Michigan’s food and agriculture sector has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, and through the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant program, we were able to provide some relief to our farmers and food processors across the state while ensuring the safety of our agricultural workforce and food production,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This program puts federal funding to work for Michigan’s farms and builds on additional COVID-19 relief efforts led by MEDC and MDARD to create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery.” 

About the Agricultural Programs

Approved in July, the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant program allocated $15 million of federal CARES Act funding to provide much-needed funding to Michigan’s agricultural processors and farms’ COVID-19 mitigation efforts in support of this critical industry in the state. Awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants helped to retain 26,003 jobs with 26 percent of grants being awarded in geographically disadvantaged areas. Total Agricultural Safety Grants were divided between agricultural processors and farms with 10 or more employees as follows:

  • $10 million in grants to 159 processors statewide.
  • $5 million in grants to 177 farms statewide.

“When Michigan was hit with one crisis after another, and when there were some troubling trends in food and agriculture nationally, we worked to ensure that Michigan’s food supply chain was safe and secure,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “And we all understood this could not be done if our essential workers became ill or felt unsafe in the workplace. We’re incredibly thankful for the work of Governor Whitmer and our partners at MEDC and GreenStone not only for executing this program, but also for doing it quickly when Michigan businesses and residents needed it the most.” 

As a result of high demand for the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant program, and a clear need to help small farms mitigate risks of the COVID-19 virus in their operation, MEDC launched the MEDC Small Farm Safety Grant program on July 21, 2020. MEDC Small Farm Safety Grants were available to farms with less than 10 employees to fund COVID-19 mitigation costs. 

Applications for both programs were processed by East Lansing-based GreenStone Farm Credit Services, one of America’s largest rural lenders, including 31 branches in Michigan. GreenStone has a 100-year track record providing financial services to the agricultural industry – including short, intermediate and long-term loans, equipment and building leases, life insurance, crop insurance, accounting and tax services. GreenStone completed initial screenings of all applications and supporting documentation and recommended applications to MEDC for final approval and disbursements of the grants awarded.  

The Local Harvest

Locally, 47 farms and 20 processors received Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants totaling $3.1 million in support. An estimated 5,687 workers were impacted. With respect to small farms, an additional 17 local business were awarded grants adding up to $91,000 and helping to retain 81 jobs. With Southwest Michigan producing almost one-third of Michigan’s total agriculture sales, it comes as no surprise that our local producers received such strong support from the state, and we’re grateful as the sector employs 19,000 locally,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO and senior partner of local economic regional Southwest Michigan First. “And I can’t let the opportunity pass by to encourage everyone to support local during this fall harvest. There is no better time in Michigan than now to treat yourself and your family right by getting the freshest ingredients for your cooking and entertaining direct from a Southwest Michigan farm.”

A full list of awardees for both programs is available at michiganbusiness.org/agsafety with local recipients named below. 

Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Recipients

Business Name Grant Amount Municipality County Projected Employees Operation
A & B Costanza Farms LLC $50,000 Sodus Berrien 158 Farming
Aaron Molter $13,000 Benton Harbor Berrien 13 Farming
Adkin’s Blue Ribbon Packing Company, Inc. $148,000 South Haven Van Buren 100 Processing
Allan Overhiser $16,000 South Haven Van Buren 16 Farming
B & T Partnership $10,000 Vicksburg Kalamazoo 10 Farming
Berrybrook Enterprises $34,000 Dowagiac Cass 34 Farming
Clemens Food Group, LLC $200,000 Coldwater Branch 1,175 Processing
Coloma Frozen Foods LLC $50,000 Coloma Berrien 63 Processing
Corey Lake Orchards Operations LLC $20,000 Three Rivers St. Joseph 20 Farming
Cornerstone Ag Holdings, LLC $50,000 South Haven Van Buren 75 Farming
DeGroot, Inc. $46,000 Coloma Berrien 46 Farming
Flamm Pickle & Packing Co. Inc. $21,000 Eau Claire Berrien 21 Processing
Fresh Solution Farms LLC $49,000 White Pigeon St. Joseph 49 Processing
Gary F Bartley $42,000 Dowagiac Cass 42 Farming
GLCC Co. $24,000 Paw Van Buren 26 Processing
Golden Plain Farms, Inc. $50,000 Hartford Van Buren 133 Farming
Gravity Vineyards and Winery, LLC $30,000 Baroda Berrien 30 Farming
Green Gardens Farm, LLC $10,000 Battle Creek Calhoun 10 Farming
Halbert Dairy Farm LLC $39,000 Battle Creek Calhoun 39 Farming
Hamlin Farms $53,000 South Haven Van Buren 118 Processing
Harold Hamlin $47,000 South Haven Van Buren 85 Farming
Harris Blueberries LLC $50,000 Bloomingdale Van Buren 15 Farming
Hawkeye Farms, LLC $10,000 St. Joseph Berrien 37 Farming
Heritage Blueberries LLC $32,000 Bangor Van Buren 0 Farming
Hidden Drive Greenhouse, Inc. $11,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 11 Farming
Jason Thomas $17,000 Grand Junction Van Buren 4 Farming
Jeff Scherer Farms LLC $50,000 Bloomingdale Van Buren 50 Farming
Joe Leduc $200,000 Paw Van Buren 206 Processing
Jon Brian Hinkelman $10,000 Watervliet Berrien 12 Farming
Jubilee Blueberry Farms, LLC $50,000 Grand Junction Van Buren 9 Farming
Kalamazoo Specialty Plants, LLC $50,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 56 Farming
Kellogg Company $200,000 Battle Creek Calhoun 1,080 Processing
Kuehnle Farms LLC $50,000 Hartford Van Buren 90 Farming
Lake Michigan Berry LLC $20,000 South Haven Van Buren 20 Farming
Larry Dean Westrate $29,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 25 Farming
Lehmans Orchard LLC $12,000 Niles Berrien 12 Processing
Leitz Farms LLC $50,000 Sodus Berrien 225 Farming
Lemon Creek Fruit Farm $11,000 Berrien Springs Berrien 11 Farming
Lemon Creek Winery, Ltd. $19,000 Berrien Springs Berrien 19 Processing
Lynn Mayer’s Great Lakes Glads, Inc. $50,000 Bronson Branch 118 Farming
Meachum Family Farms LLC $37,000 Hartford Van Buren 85 Farming
New Day Berry Farms LLC $35,000 South Haven Van Buren 25 Farming
Oxley Bros. Farm LLC $14,000 Lawton Van Buren 14 Farming
Packers Canning Company, Inc. $111,000 Lawton Van Buren 100 Processing
Pero Family Farms Food Company, LLC $87,000 Benton Harbor Berrien 87 Processing
Piedt Farms, LLC $50,000 Eau Claire Berrien 67 Farming
Pineview Greenhouses Inc. $40,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 40 Farming
Plants Unlimited Inc. $34,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 34 Farming
Post Gardens of Battle Creek Inc. $19,000 Battle Creek Calhoun 19 Farming
Rajzer Farms LLC $43,000 Decatur Van Buren 43 Farming
Ronald F. Richter $15,000 Decatur Van Buren 23 Farming
Russell P. Costanza $50,000 Sodus Berrien 141 Farming
SBFI, Inc. $163,000 Grand Junction Van Buren 150 Processing
Schilling Family Farms, LLC $40,000 Saint Joseph Berrien 95 Farming
Snackwerks of Michigan, LLC $24,000 Battle Creek Calhoun 24 Processing
Sparks Cedarlee Farm LLC $23,000 Cassopolis Cass 23 Farming
Sportel Greenhouses, LLC $26,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 25 Farming
Stan Ouding Bedding Plants, Inc. $10,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 18 Farming
Streek’s Greenhouse $21,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 21 Farming
TCB Food Processing LLC $14,000 Bangor Van Buren 15 Processing
The Bainbridge Beverage Company $21,000 Coloma Berrien 21 Processing
The Mennel Milling Company of Michigan $16,000 Dowagiac Cass 18 Processing
True Blue Processing, Inc. $51,000 Grand Junction Van Buren 59 Processing
Wahmhoff Farms LLC $21,000 Gobles Van Buren 41 Farming
Walther Farms LLC $50,000 Three Rivers St. Joseph 50 Farming
Wenke Greenhouses Inc. $125,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 120 Processing
Williams Farms LLC $50,000 Benton Harbor Berrien 66 Farming
TOTALS $3,113,000     5,687  

MEDC Small Farm Safety Grant Recipients

Business Name Grant Amount City County Jobs Retained
Armando Arellano $9,000 Covert Van Buren 3
Bryan Cronenwett $9,000 Lawton Van Buren 9
Carlson Farms $9,000 Lawton Van Buren 9
Double Eagle Farms II $4,000 Marshall Calhoun 4
Douglas Tree Farm $5,000 Bloomingdale Van Buren 2
Earth First Farms LLC $2,000 Berrien Center Berrien 2
Epple Family Farms, LLC $4,000 Watervliet Berrien 4
Gregg Micheal Stevens $4,000 Sturgis St. Joseph 4
Harvest Best Farms LLC $2,000 Eau Claire Berrien 2
J & A Koebel Farm LLC $5,000 Three Oaks Berrien 5
Jay Brian Jollay $6,000 Coloma Berrien 6
Kalamazoo Nature Center Inc. $2,000 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 1
Moss Funnel Farms $9,000 Bangor Van Buren 9
Paul Thelen $5,000 Berrien Springs Berrien 5
Roedger Bros. Farms LLC $8,000 Covert Van Buren 8
Sauer Orchards, LLC $7,000 Bloomingdale Van Buren 7
The Tradewind Co. LLC $1,000 Portage Kalamazoo 1
TOTALS $91,000     81

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