Mt. Clemens, MI - Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED), Macomb County MSU Extension and the Macomb County Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee will host two workshops to gather public input before building a new strategic agricultural economic development plan.
The plan will contain strategies, policies and programs that can be adopted by the County and its local units of government to promote, enhance and preserve farmland and agricultural production.
“Macomb County’s agricultural industry is an important driver of economic activity, contributing over $78 million to our annual GDP. It is also a significant part of our heritage that provides scenic beauty and a cultural connection to our agrarian history,” said Jeff Schroeder, deputy director, MCPED. “But we have to work together to ensure the long term viability of this sector at all levels of government. It is the intent of this new plan to assist with these efforts.”
The first of the two workshops will be held Thursday, September 29 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Verkuilen Building - MSU Extension Assembly Rooms (21885 Dunham Rd Entrance “E”, Clinton Township). Workshop leaders will discuss Macomb County’s agriculture background and different policy and program options communities can include in their local land use plans and policies targeting agriculture. The second workshop will focus on selecting a set of these elements to be included in the plan and will be held Thursday, October 6 from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. in the same location, with a light dinner served from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Interested individuals are asked to attend both sessions and can pre-register by calling 586-469-6440. Growers, food processors and local stakeholders are especially encouraged to attend.
“We want to hear directly from the people who could benefit from this plan,” Schroeder said. “But we also need people in the room who can help us put recommended elements of this plan in place.”
Once complete, the plan will be presented to the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and provided to participating local farmland preservation communities for their consideration. A final plan will also be included in the County's 2022 Purchase of Farmland Development Rights grant application to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
MCPED has a history of working closely with its farming communities and agriculture-related businesses, as they are important segments of the County’s economy. For instance, Macomb County’s 73,660 acres of active farmland, distributed among 404 working farms, represents 20 percent of the County’s total land mass and annually, the total market value of all products sold is over $78 million. These farms play a significant role in the local food processing industry, as food processors in Macomb purchase just over $26.5 million in agricultural crops every year, and 46.7 percent of this amount comes from local Macomb County farms.
Additionally, since its inception in 2006, MCPED has been an active partner of the Macomb Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee (MAPDRC). The MAPDRC is made up of the six northern townships in the County – Armada, Bruce, Lenox, Ray, Richmond and Washington. In Michigan, Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights is a permanent restriction in the form of a conservation easement placed on the land which is voluntarily entered into by a landowner. This agreement permanently preserves their land for agriculture in exchange for a cash payment for those rights. To date, the MAPDRC has successfully added 213 acres of prime farmland to the county’s 412 acres of preserved agricultural lands.
“In addition to jobs and contributing food and fiber production to society, agriculture preserves our heritage, provides a buffer between our unique landscapes and adds value to the quality of life for County residents,” Schroeder said. "So it’s our goal to preserve and enhance the future of farming here.”
To learn more about this and other MCPED efforts, visit macombbusiness.com.
About Macomb County Planning and Economic Development
The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development supports an environment where businesses prosper and people thrive. Its activities and programs are focused on stimulating the local economy through business retention, expansion and attraction while improving the overall quality of life for residents. The department specializes in providing services to businesses at all stages of development with a concentration on the high-growth industries of aerospace, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, defense and homeland security. For more information, call 586-469-5285 or visit: https://ped.macombgov.org/Ped-Home.