With more than $506 million in agricultural products produced annually, Ottawa County in Michigan has a strong agricultural economy. Yet farms are at risk — between 2012 and 2017, Ottawa County lost 8% of its farmed acreage and 17% of its farms.
Ottawa County leaders and the Ottawa County Farm Bureau are trying to address the issue at the Redefining Farmland Preservation event Nov. 8 at Spring Meadow Nursery near Grand Haven, Mich.
The event will focus on deploying new strategies to support the agriculture industry into the future and stemming the loss of farms and farmland. Data also will be presented on what drives these decisions, and experts will be on hand to discuss policy.
"Even with all of the amazing innovation and technological advancements in agriculture, growing our food will always be reliant upon having adequate land available for farming, as well as operators who have the knowledge and risk tolerance that farming demands," says Becky Huttenga, Ottawa County economic development coordinator. "On Nov. 8, we get a chance to hear from and talk to the state and national experts on farmland protection policy, the data that drives it, and the economic outlook for farming."
Guest speakers will include:
- Cris Coffin, senior policy analyst for the American Farmland Trust and the director for the National Agricultural Land Network
- Marlo Johnson, agriculture statistics director for the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service for the Great Lakes
- Dr. Paul Isely, Grand Valley State University, associate dean, Seidman College of Business
A complimentary brunch sponsored by McShane & Bowie PLC will be catered by Sonder Eatery of Hudsonville, Mich., a restaurant that prioritizes using locally sourced products.
Brunch and registration begin at 8:30 a.m. and speakers begin at 9 a.m. The event will wrap up with an optional tour of host Spring Meadow Nursery’s business, beginning at noon.
Spring Meadow is a legend in the nursery industry, garnering more than 400 patents throughout a nearly 40-year history in plant propagation. This event is a rare chance to tour this innovative 34-acre facility.