Michigan 2019-20 SARE State Plan of Work

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
State Coordinators:
Dr. Dean Baas
Michigan State University Extension
Dr. Adam Ingrao
Michigan Food and Farming Systems


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, feed management, grazing management, manure management
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, cropping systems, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: grant making, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, chemical control, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: dryland farming, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Dr. Dean G. Baas, Educator – Sustainable Agriculture, Michigan State University

    (MSU) Extension (MSUE), is the State Coordinator for Michigan. Sarah Hanks has

    served the Michigan SARE leadership team as Program Assistant since 2016. Sarah will

    be leaving MSU fall of 2018 for a job opportunity at the University of Kentucky. We

    anticipate replacing her position with another program assistant or state co-coordinator to

    support the MI SARE PDP. The Michigan SARE State Sustainable Agriculture PDP

    program is coordinated through MSUE. Dean has office locations in the St. Joseph

    County MSUE office in Centreville, MI and at the MSU W.K. Kellogg Biological Station

    (KBS) in Hickory Corners, MI. Dean’s position is partially funded by SARE. He

    provides overall SARE leadership and coordination with MSU, MSUE, MSU

    BioAgResearch and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

    Michigan is home to more than 300 commodities: with national rankings in the top 5

    in production in over 35 different crops ranging from hay to carrots to dry kidney beans.

    7th in the nation for maple syrup and milk and 8th in egg production and potatoes. This

    diversity is only second to California. Michigan agriculture takes place on 9.9 million

    acres across the state, averaging 193 acres per farm, with approximately 52,000 farms. In

    the North Central region of SARE Michigan stands out as the most diverse.

    We believed the impact of the SARE PDP program could be increased by changing

    our strategy from the past plans of work by identifying a few cross-cutting sustainable

    agriculture initiatives that would serve more sectors and commodities. To this end, during

    the previous planning period we identified and interviewed a large number of

    stakeholders across the diversity of agriculture and geography in Michigan. Two major

    sustainable issues emerged from the interviews and they were of equal importance. They


    1. Increasing pressure from insects, diseases and weeds. This was either the first

    or second issue identified by over 50% of the respondents. This issue crossed

    commodities including fruits, vegetables and row-crops. There is a general

    consensus that resistance to chemical controls is developing across the spectrum

    of agricultural pests and that current integrated pest management (IPM) practices

    are not incorporating natural and sustainable methods to combat this threat to

    sustaining economic productivity. There are environmental sustainability

    concerns due to overuse of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. Pollinator

    protection is also cited as an on-going concern. Social sustainability of synthetic

    control, perception of farms and future loss or limits on these methods due to

    regulation were also cited. There is an opportunity to bridge the gap between

    organic and conventional IPM. Sustainable practices including cover crops,

    diversity, habitat for natural predators/pollinators and soil health are viewed as

    tools that need to be re-introduced as part of the solution.

    2. Sustainability of small/beginning farmers and the local food system. This

    was also the first or second issue identified by over 50% of the respondents.

    While this was an overarching issue, many facets were identified as contributing

    to this concern. Some of these include equitable access to programs, land access,

    limited financing options, declining CSA memberships, slowing growth in

    farmer markets, changing consumer choices (locally produced food in large

    stores), barriers to the wholesale market, resources for beginning farmers (in

    particular underserved audiences), food/community sovereignty and the need for

    small scale mechanization. There are many organizations working in this arena

    in Michigan including Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), Michigan

    Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA), MSU Department of Community

    Sustainability, MSU Student Organic Farm and local foods networks in major

    cities such as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Lansing. We believe the SARE

    PDP program should have a role both as a facilitator in the discussions and a

    supplier/supporter of educational programs in collaboration with the partners and

    organizations that are currently working closely with the local food system and

    its stakeholders.

    We and the Michigan SARE Advisory Council believe the SARE PDP program in

    Michigan can be a major driver for increasing the sustainability of agriculture by

    continuing to focus our resources in these two areas. We propose to continue this work

    with partners and stakeholders to identify strategies and programs whereby the Michigan

    SARE PDP can address these issues. These issues are broad-based and not limited to

    certain geographic areas or locales. Addressing these issues also supports our efforts to

    have a greater impact and elevate the presence of SARE in Michigan.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Professional Development Initiatives

    The 2019 – 2020 Michigan professional development initiatives will be focused in three

    areas, two as identified through the process detailed in the background and stakeholder

    involvement sections and one to provide a modest level of support for other sustainable

    agriculture requests that have merit. The initiatives are:

    1. Sustainable integrated pest management (40% of resources)

    2. Sustainability of beginning/small farms and local foods (40% of resources)

    a. Including support for the NCR-SARE regional training 2019-20. We will plan

    to send several representatives of our state to a regional professional

    development event organized by NCR-SARE on beginning farmers and ranchers,

    to be offered during calendar year 2019. Educators who are given support from

    our state SARE funds to travel to this regional training will be asked to come back

    to our state and serve on the planning team for our state training for beginning

    farmers and ranchers. During the two-year plan of work period, we will also offer

    additional SARE-funded travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant

    support to further educational programming than increases the sustainability and

    success of beginning farmers and ranchers.

    3. Other sustainable agriculture requests (20% of resources)

    A similar approach and similar resources are proposed for the first two major initiatives listed

    above one. Consisting of the following:

    • Establish initiative training planning committees made up of educators and stakeholders.

    • One workshop/conference per year to train educators about sustainable approaches to

    address the issue.

    • Mini-grant support for event planning, promotion and implementation.

    • Speaker and participant travel support for the events.

    • The events will consist of one or more sustainable agriculture components: education,

    demonstration, facilitated discussion, issue identification and/or network development as

    determined by the initiative planning committee.

    Estimated PDP budget below includes each initiative’s percentage for mini-grant funds, travel

    scholarship funds and program assistant/co-coordinator time. The program assistant/co-coordinator will provide coordination and support to project teams planning and implementing programing for the initiatives.

    Initiative 1: Sustainable integrated pest management (40%)

    Audience: Educators from universities, Extension, NGO’s, non-profits, agencies, commodity

    groups, lead farmers and other stakeholders engaged in IPM research, education and consultation

    in fruits, vegetables and row crops from across Michigan.

    Background: Agricultural leaders identified sustainable integrated pest management as a leading issue related to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of agriculture in Michigan (see Stakeholder Involvement). This issue is universal as a top one or two issue across all commodities. MSU AgBioResearch and Extension surveys support the priority in this area. Examples of pest problems associated with current IPM practices include increases herbicide resistant marestail and palmer amaranth; spotted wing Drosophila, western bean cutworm, spider mites, aphids and soybean cyst, sugarbeet cyst and root knot nematodes; and soybean sudden death syndrome, fusarium and Goss’s wilt. Leaders have expressed renewed interest in sustainable IPM practices to fight these increases. The MSUE Agricultural and Agribusiness Institute Field Crops Team has established a working group on Pest Resistance Issues. Dean is amember and chair of this workgroup. He will leverage this group in support of the SARE sustainable IPM issue.

    Activities: Assess sustainable agriculture professional development training needs and lead the

    development/implementation programs to address issues through the sustainable IPM initiative.


    Initiative 2: Sustainability of beginning/small farms and local foods (40%)

    Audience: Educators from universities, Extension, NGO’s, non-profits, agencies, local food

    groups, urban agriculture, lead small/beginning farmers and other stakeholders engaged in

    research, education and consultation for beginning/small farms and local foods from across


    Background: Agricultural leaders identified the sustainability of beginning/small farms and local

    foods as a leading issue related to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of

    agriculture in Michigan (see Stakeholder Involvement). This issue was a top one or two issue for

    many agricultural leaders inside and outside the local foods leadership. Within this issue area

    there were many contributing factors and a number of established organizations to collaborate

    with on identifying the best use of SARE PDP resources to support sustaining this critical

    segment of agriculture in Michigan. SARE can make its greatest contribution through

    collaboration/facilitation with existing groups. Following up on the interview input from the

    MIFFS report, partner organizations such as MIFFS, MOFFA, MSU Community Sustainability,

    etc. will be utilized to support the sustainability of beginning/small farms and local foods


    Activities: Facilitate discussions, assist issue identification and definition, strengthen networks

    and support the development of collaborative programs to increase the sustainability of

    small/beginning farms and local foods in Michigan.


    Initiative 3: Other sustainable agriculture requests (20%)

    Audience: Extension educators and specialists, NRCS, NGOs, MDA and CDs.

    Background: Mini-grants and travel scholarships can help educators, NRCS, governmental and

    non-governmental organizations develop and deliver professional development programs or

    demonstrations that promote sustainability of rural and urban communities. Additional issues

    identified through the processes above include soil health, climate change/resiliency, labor

    issues, health of farm families, public/regulatory perception of farmers, educating the public

    about farming and concerns over the next generation of farmers. To receive these funds,

    applicants must submit a professional development proposal that addresses agriculture or

    community sustainability. This initiative addresses support for those deserving proposals outside of the two major initiatives

    Activities: Promote mini-grants and travel scholarships for educator programs.



    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.