At the annual Ag Expo breakfast July 16, Gov. Rick Snyder expressed his confidence in Michigan’s agriculture industry. The first Michigan Agriculture and Food Index (MAFI) was released at the Expo. The index shows that food and agriculture leaders share that confidence. Results from the index came from an MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio survey of 100 members of the Food and Agriculture Roundtable. The roundtable consists of farmers, leaders of agribusiness firms and food processors.
The roundtable and the index are just two elements in our efforts to be more responsive to the needs of our stakeholders and more accountable to decision makers in the way we respond. The Food and Agriculture Roundtable members will be polled twice annually to gauge their perceptions of the business climate for food and agriculture in Michigan. Although we are not suggesting that Michigan State University gets credit for when the index is up or should be blamed when the index is down, we ARE suggesting that the index should help us focus on the issues that might be the cause of a decline in the index and track how our efforts might influence those conditions.
Over the past 8 years, we’ve relied on one figure more than any other to characterize the strength of the food and agriculture industries in the state: the Product Center’s estimate of the total economic impact of the food and agriculture sector. In 2006, the Product Center estimated the total economic impact of the sector at $60.1 billion. In 2009, that impact had grown to $71.3 billion and by 2012, the estimate was up to $91.4 billion. That information will continue to be important – and the fact that this measure has been increasing reflects some of the same patterns that are reflected in the positive outlook this new index has documented. MSU Extension is one of the key funding sources for the work of the Product Center, along with MSU AgBioResearch, and the research coming from the Product Center helps us to better understand the needs of an important industry that we serve.