Visiting with local farmers

Agriculture’s impact on our daily lives is profound. Michigan is home to more than 52,000 farms and roughly 95 percent of them are family owned and operated.

I was recently able to tour two of these family farms in Iosco County. I toured Bellville Acres Farm in Whittemore with owners Terry and Joyce Bellville and Sonya Novotny from the Northeast Michigan Farm Bureau. The Bellvilles have been farming since 1966. They currently farm corn, wheat and soybeans on about 750 acres themselves and rent out a little more than 300 acres.

I also toured Curry Farms in Tawas City with owners Karen, Mark and Jim Curry; and Russ Nelkie and Terry Bellville of the Iosco County Farm Bureau. Curry Farms is a dairy farm, and they currently have 210 cows with 180 of them being milked at any one time and 30 of them resting.

It was a great time to talk with local farmers about the issues they are facing in Michigan.

Our farmers are the heart and soul of a food and agriculture industry that contributes more than $101 billion annually to Michigan’s economy and employs nearly 1 million workers — about a quarter of the state’s workforce.

Michigan agriculture is critical to our state and country. Our unique climate, nutrient-rich soil and access to clean water makes Michigan a great place to grow one of the nation’s most diverse set of crops and produce.

I encourage area residents to help support local agriculture by visiting a local farmers market and buying Michigan-grown products.