Michigan Growers Unite

Michigan Growers Unite

On a warm evening on October 19th, 2004, a group of Michigan greenhouse growers met at the Kellogg Center on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU). The meeting was jointly hosted by the Western Michigan Greenhouse Association and the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association, then under the leadership of Steve Zylstra and Tony Raney, respectively. The meeting was facilitated by Gale Arent, who was the director of stakeholder relations for MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of forming a statewide organization with the responsibility of representing the floriculture grower community on state and national legislative issues and public policy topics. I was privileged to be a member of the group that evening, and the rest is history, so to speak.

The group clearly recognized the need for representation in legislative matters. Zylstra and Raney reported that their organizations were repeatedly drawn into legal issues that they had no resources to deal with. The painful experience of the Ralstonia incident was fresh in everyone’s minds. On a trip to Washington, D.C., Zylstra and Raney were continuously asked, “Who from your organization can we contact back in Michigan?” The answer was nobody. From such beginnings, the idea for the Michigan Floriculture Growers Council (MFGC) was born, and operations officially began in January 2006. Arent became the first executive director and continues in that role.

Approaching the end of its second year in operation, the MFGC has very quickly established itself as a credible voice for greenhouse growers in the state capital of Lansing. Much of the credit for our success goes to Arent, who possesses an impressive combination of floriculture industry knowledge and government savvy that he applies in a very effective, personable manner. Through his efforts, MFGC is known to all the key senators and representatives in the Michigan legislature, as well as to Michigan’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. We have joined forces with the Society of American Florists (SAF), the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA), Michigan Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations on issues of mutual concern and presented our position to key legislators.

We’ve advocated for research funding for MSU horticulture projects. We’ve presented Michigan floriculture as a thriving, growing industry in a state with one of the worst unemployment rates in the country. When another situation like Ralstonia occurs, we can mobilize very quickly to represent the needs of the floriculture community in the state and at the national level, if needed.

The members of the board recognize the role of government in our businesses is not going to get less important with time; having a strong voice for grower interests is essential in today’s business environment. We’re actively involved in issues such as energy conservation, renewable energy, gas drilling, immigration reform, water rights, taxation and regulation of pests, diseases and invasive plants. We’re presenting a case for grower reimbursement for government-mandated plant destruction or quarantine (similar to a program that reimburses farmers for mandated destruction of diseased animals) in the next Farm Bill. We’re supporting and asking for legislation that provides incentive to invest in energy conservation measures and renewable energy technology for our greenhouses.

Working with MSU, we obtained a grant from USDA to identify strategies to reduce greenhouse energy costs and coordinated a series of seminars across the state to provide this information to growers. We are now present at agricultural gatherings throughout the legislative year to promote awareness of the significant size and scope of floriculture in Michigan.

The Michigan Floriculture Growers Council has been supported generously by a sizeable list of founding members, and we continue to add new members. We’ve recently begun our 2008 Membership Campaign and encourage all Michigan growers to join MFGC to add their voices to those of their fellow growers. For more information on the MFGC, please visit www.mifgc.org.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Michigan Growers Unite

Latest Stories
Feature Image Cob 700 (NewLux)

May 29, 2016

Michigan State University Offering Summer Online Course…

The seven-unit course is aimed at greenhouse and ornamental plant growers who want to learn more about the fundamental concepts of how plants respond to light quality, quantity, and duration.

Read More
Sakata Birthday Cake Feature

May 28, 2016

10 Creative Marketing Ideas From 2016 California Spring…

Grower-retailers often look to breeders for ideas on how to increase plant sales with smart marketing plans. The California Spring Trials were filled with great concepts to reach customers.

Read More
Pollinator-friendly perennials are a big hit with eco-concious consumers

May 27, 2016

Which Pollinator Terms Appeal Most To Consumers?

A team from the University of Florida tested several promotional phrases, from the specific ("butterflies" and "bees") to more general.

Read More
Harvest Automation HV 100 Feature

May 27, 2016

Harvest Automation Robot Helps You Move Plants Without …

The Harvest Automation HV-100 robot units use lasers and sensors to handle some of the most labor-intensive tasks in the greenhouse.

Read More
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
IGC App For 2016 Shows

May 26, 2016

IGC Shows Release Free Apps To Help You Plan For Both T…

Free event planning apps for each show are now available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Read More
SBI Rack Scanning feature

May 26, 2016

Take Your Data Management To The Next Level

New developments in software technology allow growers to customize inventory, tracking, and labor performance into systems unique to their greenhouse operations.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Poll…

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnersh…

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
Triathlon BA container shot

May 24, 2016

OHP’s Triathlon Biofungicide Now Listed By The Organic …

Triathlon BA is a broad-spectrum preventative biofungicide that provides control of many foliar and soilborne diseases in ornamentals and herbs.

Read More
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of th…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Coleus Fancy Feathers Pink (Terra Nova Nurseries)

May 23, 2016

Take A Sneak Peek at Terra Nova Nurseries’ New Coleus F…

A brand-new collection of Terra Nova Nurseries coleus varieties called the Fancy Feathers Series is now available to growers for online orders. The series produces narrow, feather-like leaves and offers a mounded habit.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

May 23, 2016

What’s Good For The Environment Is Good For Business [O…

Investing in technology to become more sustainable “always goes hand in hand,” says Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “If it is good for the environment, it normally is good for business over the long term.” That connection was abundantly clear in the responses we received to this year’s Top 100 Growers Survey. VanWingerden points to three investments Metrolina has made as good examples of how technology can reduce an operation’s carbon footprint and pay dividends financially. Its biomass system burns locally sourced waste wood — a renewable resource; its ozone water treatment system cleans irrigation water, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and improving plant quality and precision growing; and electrostatic sprayers reduce water and chemical use, and provide more targeted chemical applications. Other Top 100 Growers have found VanWingerden’s theory to be true, as well. Costa Farms’ investment in solar energy panels on three buildings at its […]

Read More

May 23, 2016

Ian Baldwin Sees Several Garden Trends Developing This …

The garden industry consultant reads the mid-spring tea leaves and sees several trends emerging.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Manhattan’s Urban Garden Center Suffers Second Di…

Two years after a nearby gas explosion destroyed the store in Manhattan's Spanish Harlem, Urban Garden Center had a four-alarm fire that disrupted a popular train route, and the garden retailer is now dealing with an angry community.

Read More
Aerial_view_of_the_Bayer_cross_high_res

May 23, 2016

Bayer Sells Consumer Garden Products Division To French…

The sale to SBM Développement comes just as Bayer AG makes a bid for Monsanto.

Read More
GG Tech Editorial Advisors Feature Image

May 23, 2016

Meet The New Editorial Advisors For Greenhouse Growe…

Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY presents the inaugural members of its Editorial Advisory Board, six pillars of knowledge about greenhouse automation and technology. Get to know each of these gentlemen and what they’ll help bring to each issue.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]