Organization forms to improve economic, environmental conditions for farms
Tom Zimnicki, MEC's agriculture director, joins MiAA's board, the latest in a long history of collaboration
Tuesday marked the launch of an organization aimed at improving the economic and environmental conditions hindering Michigan farms.
Michigan Agriculture Advancement, or MiAA, will advocate for statewide policies and programs that promote farm prosperity, weather resiliency, water quality and rural economies. Michigan Environmental Council will be a strong supporter of its efforts.
MiAA is led by Dr. Tim Boring, a sixth-generation farmer in Stockbridge, a leader in cutting-edge conservation techniques in agriculture and a longtime MEC ally. He currently serves on the state’s agriculture commission and previously served as vice president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.
“Our agricultural systems must strike a better balance between production efficiencies and resiliency,” Boring said. “Farms in Michigan today need more profitable means to grow crops, broader markets to extend rotations and resilient soils to withstand increasingly extreme weather. Enacting these changes positively impacts the economic viability of farms, but just as importantly, addresses many ongoing environmental concerns.”
Boring’s board will include Tom Zimnicki, MEC agriculture program director; Dr. Julie Doll, of Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station; and Dr. Adam Reimer, of National Wildlife Federation.
“Agriculture profitability, clean water and access to healthy food should not be mutually exclusive goals,” said Zimnicki. “I am excited to work with MiAA and Tim to help rethink food production in Michigan in order to improve on farm resiliency and profitability while still maintaining the natural resources Michiganders value and depend on.”
Boring's organization is the latest collaboration with Zimnicki and the other board members, who all promote community-influenced policy that helps Michigan’s farmers find both economic and environmental resiliency.
In February, a joint publication that Boring and Zimnicki contributed focused on link between soil health and water quality was published in BioScience. The report found that conservation practices and models must be more broadly considered, but that improved scientific understandings of soil and water alone cannot enact widespread change in farm fields and the agriculture sector at large. Barriers exist for farmers.
A joint brief in July between what would become MiAA and its board members was, in a way, a response to the BioScience report. It drew upon two years of roundtables where Michigan farmers shared their barriers to adopting conservation practices. The brief, primarily funded by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated that diversity in crops, markets and products and better connections to key stakeholders would make it easier for farmers to protect the health of their communities.
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