United to advocate professionalism, integrity and growth for Michigan's green industry

MNLA E-Training, Project Plant

Putting the Mission into Perspective

MDA’s mission it to protect, promote, and preserve the food, agricultural, environmental, and economic interests of the people of Michigan.  Some of the top priorities include: ensuring food safety and security; animal and plant health and protection; environmental stewardship; a viable agricultural economy; consumer protection; and homeland security – and each one impacts us all in some way each and every day: (www.mi.gov/documents/mda/MDAoverview_221683_7.pdf).

To understand what Michigan agriculture looks like it’s important to have a little background as to what exactly we are protecting, promoting, and preserving.  As you can see from some of the general facts about Michigan’s agriculture for 2007 listed below, it impacts a substantial part of the state’s economy and population (www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1572-7775--,00.html):

Michigan agriculture contributes $71.3 billion annually to the state’s economy, making it the second largest industry.  Production agriculture, food processing, and related businesses employ more than one million Michigan residents.
•    Michigan’s agricultural economy expanded at a rate of more than five times faster than the general economy (11.9 percent versus 2 percent) between 2006 and 2007 and continues, making agriculture a cornerstone to diversifying Michigan’s economy in the future.
•    Michigan produces over 200 commodities on a commercial basis, making the state second only to California in agricultural diversity.
•    The state leads the nation in the production of 19 commodities including tart cherries, blueberries, three kinds of dry beans (black, cranberry and small red), 13 floriculture products (including flowering hanging baskets, geraniums, petunias and impatiens), and cucumbers for pickles.  Michigan also ranks in the top 10 for 30 other commodities.
•    Field crops (corn, dry beans, soybeans, sugarbeets, hay, wheat) are the largest segment of Michigan agriculture, according to production valued at more than $1.3 billion annually.  They are followed by the dairy industry valued at $1 billion annually and the floriculture and nursery industry at about $609 million annually.
•    Michigan exports about one-third of its agricultural commodities each year. Michigan ranks 5th and 8th respectively for national exports of fruits and vegetables.  Michigan’s agricultural exports generated more than $1.2 billion and supported 12,788 jobs in 2007, according to USDA.

By focusing on the brief synopsis of our inspection and phytosanitary work below you will get a better idea of the magnitude of the nursery related work done by PPPM inspection staff every year:

•    A total of 1,583 nurseries were inspected for the FY 2010 licensing year compared to 1,530 for FY 2009 and 4,200 nursery dealer licenses issued. 

•    4,107 Federal Phytosanitary Certificates and 73 Federal Re-export Certificates were issued for FY 2010.  This represents a significant increase over the FY 2009 figure (3,300 Federal Phytosanitary Certificates).  PPPM staff issued and monitored 239 Compliance Agreements (gypsy moth, Japanese beetle, pine shoot beetle, and black stem rust), 157 state phytosanitary certificates, and 462 Certificates of Quarantine Compliance were issued in FY 2010.

•    PPPM staff inspected 9,595 acres of Christmas trees for compliance with federal gypsy moth and pine shoot beetle quarantines, which is a 2,108 acre increase than the previous fiscal year.  MDA inspectors also certified 30,000 acres of seed corn fields in 2010. 

PPPM inspectors are also actively involved in a host of sampling and survey programs in an effort to look for, and eradicate, the threat of any new exotic pests and diseases.  For example, this past summer PPPM conducted a major statewide sampling survey for blueberry scorch virus, resulting in two new detections and work towards eradication.  We have an ongoing plum pox virus sampling effort, a hemlock woolly adelgid survey and eradication effort, emerald ash borer survey and detection work in the U.P., as well as numerous other smaller scale surveys.  In addition to nursery related activities, PPPM inspectors are also responsible for sampling feeds and fertilizers, performing bulk storage inspections, and inspecting feed mills and elevators for compliance with sanitation and BSE requirements.

PPPM inspectors are challenged with doing more work with fewer staff and less general fund money to support our efforts.  On the positive side, we have a great resource in our plant industry partners.  We are going to need to rely on this partnership with our nursery growers, dealers, and landscapers more and more as we move forward. 

Our partners are going to be asked to be more involved in the process.  As general fund dollars and human resources continue to dwindle, growers will need to become more educated not only in terms of Michigan’s plant regulations, but also in the plant regulations of those other states and countries where they wish to do business.  Our partners will need to work closely with their individual inspectors to determine what type and how many inspections, and what type of phytosanitary paperwork each firm may require.

By law, and in an effort to create a level playing field, if you are a grower you must be inspected and have a nursery grower’s license in order to sell your plant material.  If you are a nursery dealer you must have a nursery dealer’s license in order to sell plant material, and you must obtain your plant material from a licensed and inspected supplier.  If you are a landscaper selling and planting plant material, you need to be licensed, and if you are growing plant material, you will also need an inspection.

It is critical that you understand other states may have different phytosanitary requirements than those required for Michigan, and therefore, if you are shipping plant material to another state you may be required to have different inspections and paperwork than would otherwise be required for plant stock remaining in Michigan.  Also, if you are importing plant material from another state or country, be aware that you may be required to have certification for that plant material from its place of origin to either import it into Michigan and/or reship it to other states.  If you have any questions about what is required to either import or export plant material to or from other states or countries, please contact PPPM toll-free at 800-292-3939 or your PPPM inspector if you already work with one. 

A good place to gather some basic phytosanitary information regarding domestic exports (to other states) is the National Plant Board website under “Laws and Regulations” (www.nationalplantboard.org/laws/index.html).  This will provide you with a summary of the plant quarantine requirements for each of the states.  Some of these summaries are more up to date than others, but it is a good starting point.

Another way you can assist is to plan ahead for inspections and phytosanitary certificates.  It is no longer realistic to expect an inspector to provide same day service.  Plan ahead and schedule inspections a week or more out, so the inspector can plan accordingly.  We face an ever increasing complexity of regulations and conditions imposed by states and countries that may receive Michigan products.  It can take weeks to collect and analyze samples, acquire additional paperwork, and otherwise answer the questions that will allow the export to take place. 

Michigan has a great agricultural tradition.  While the Mission remains the same, "To protect, promote and preserve the food, agricultural, environmental, and economic interests of the people of Michigan", how we will accomplish this mission in a time of diminishing resources depends greatly on the planning and cooperation of all parties involved.