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WWMT: Despite harsh winter, farmers hopeful for successful season

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Paw Paw, March 17, 2019 | comments
Despite harsh winter, farmers hopeful for successful season
March 17, 2019

PAW PAW, Mich. — Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, hosted a roundtable discussion with local agriculture leaders and farmers Friday.

Farmers and agriculture leaders said they're ready for the 2019 season. Upton said some farmers are worried though because of harsh winters and the impact it could have on West Michigan.

"We had this terrible winter. It was particularly hard on our crops, our trees, grapes, etc. because of that deep cold. Our peaches were pretty hard hit and may take them out of production for a year and obviously certain production of grapes," he said.

Upton said the true impact of the winter wouldn't be seen until crops began budding.

Larry Walton, with the Farm Bureau Board of Directors, said some dairy farmers are struggling and tariffs are a concern, but he said hog and poultry numbers are up in West Michigan because of a new hog processing facility in Coldwater.

"Right now, I think the industry is pretty mature and stable. We do see some blips up and down. Without being a philosopher I think there's a tremendous opportunity for vegetable production. I don't think we've tapped into it yet. We can get down Interstate 80 in Indiana. We can hit a lot of the East Coast and West Coast and we've got a of of water supplies," Walton said.

The Farm Bureau said there's more than 30 crops raised in West Michigan, which is a number Walton said he hopes would grow.

"I think the future of West Michigan agriculture is extremely bright. Simply because of the diversity we have in West Michigan," said Walton.

Both Walton and Upton said farmers are chomping at the bit to start farming but they hope for good conditions.

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