Help Keep Animals Cool and Safe as Temperatures Rise

Help Keep Animals Cool and Safe as Temperatures Rise

bob new header
For immediate release: June 17, 2024
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

MDARD Reminds Owners to Help Keep Their Animals Cool and Safe as Temperatures Rise

Feeling hot? Chances are your animals are too

LANSING, MI—As temperatures rise into the 90s in many parts of the state, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding owners on some of the best ways to keep animals cool and safe.

“When temperatures rise, keeping animals cool and hydrated is essential to their overall health,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. “While it is important to recognize the signs of heat stress in animals, it is even more critical to prevent this stress from occurring. Michiganders can follow six easy steps to help keep animals cool and safe.”

Keep animals safe from the heat by following these tips:

  • Let it Flow: Provide unlimited cool, clean, fresh water

Just like people, animals can quickly get parched in hot temperatures. No matter the species, animals should have access to unlimited cool, clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration. Also, if out in public, bring along some hydration options for your animal and avoid using shared/communal water bowls.

  • Know Their Limits: An animal’s ability to tolerate heat varies

An animal’s age, breed, type of coat, and health history can all play a role in their ability to tolerate the heat. Keep an eye on them for signs of heat stress—like increased panting or drooling and being more lethargic. If they are showing these signs, it is time to immediately move them to a cooler area.

Also, consider talking to your veterinarian. They will have a greater knowledge of your animal(s) and be able to give more specific guidance on how to best handle them in hot weather.

  • Happy Paws: Test surfaces to make sure they won’t burn paws

Surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and sand can really heat up in the sun, which can burn paws—or at least make a walk very uncomfortable. To test if a surface is too hot, touch it with the palm of your hand. If it is too hot for you, consider taking a different route that is mostly grass or waiting until the evening when everything has had a chance to cool.

  • Look Before They Splash: Avoid harmful algal blooms (HABs) in bodies of water

HABs form due to a rapid growth of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, which are naturally found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. To prevent illness in animals, keep them out of areas with scums or discolored water, rinse them off after contact with any lake water, and bring clean, fresh water for them to drink. If an animal becomes sick after contact with a suspected HAB, call your veterinarian right away.

Also, animal illness due to HABs is reportable to MDARD. To report cases, submit a Reportable Disease Form or call 800-292-3939. In addition, to report any suspicious looking algae, please email [email protected].

  • Get in Gear: Parked vehicles are not places to park pets

Even when temperatures feel more moderate, vehicles can heat up very quickly, creating dangerous conditions for the animals left inside. Leaving windows cracked open and/or parking in the shade do little to improve the situation. In these conditions, it is best to leave pets at home when you need to go out and about.

  • A Place to Chill: Make sure animals have a place to cool down

Animals know when they are too hot and will usually try to find a place where they can cool down. Make sure they have access to shade, fans, misters, pools, cooling mats, and/or air-conditioned spaces to help them stay comfortable.

Following these tips can help keep your animals cool and comfortable through any heat wave. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health either now or throughout the summer months, please talk to your veterinarian.


Public Input for 2024 Development Fund Grant

Public Input for 2024 Development Fund Grant


bob new header
For immediate release: June 13, 2024
Media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
Program contact: Tracey Barnes, 517-388-4540

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Announces Public Input for 2024 Rural Development Fund Grant Guidelines

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) today announced a public input opportunity for the Rural Development Fund Grant Program. To ensure effective program priorities, MDARD is asking for public input by emailing your comments to [email protected] by 5 p.m. on July 13, 2024.

The grant funds, established by Public Act 411 of 2012, are aimed to promote the sustainability of land-based industries including food and agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas production, and tourism. Currently established priorities include infrastructure development, workforce training, business development, and rural capacity building that benefits rural communities.

“The Rural Development Grant Program focuses on supporting the rural communities and businesses within Michigan by encouraging the promotion of sustainable industry practices,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “This grant program allows many communities to establish stronger businesses and create more opportunity within their communities.”

Eligible counties include those with a population no greater than 70,000 residents or micropolitan statistical areas. Preference was given to projects in Marquette County. All interested parties may visit for more information on Rural Development Fund grants and to review the 2024 guidelines.

All public comments may be submitted to [email protected] until July 13, 2024, at 5 p.m. with the subject line of Rural Development Public Comment. The input received will be presented to the Rural Development Fund Board, as they develop the 2025 program guidelines.

For more information on this and other MDARD grants, visit

$55,000 in Grants for Horticulture Research in Michigan

$55,000 in Grants for Horticulture Research in Michigan

bob new header
For immediate release: May 13, 2024
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
Program contact: Andria McCubbin, 517-599-5748

MDARD Awards Nearly $55,000 in Grants for Horticulture Research in Michigan

Funding invests in projects to support sustainable agriculture practices, support the growth of the state’s horticulture industry

LANSING – Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDARD) announced the three recipients of the 2024 Horticulture Fund Grant designed to support Michigan’s approximately $1.4 billion nursery and ornamental horticulture industry.

“These grants are another way MDARD is making investments in supporting sustainable agriculture, healthier communities, and cultivating resilience to our changing world,” said MDARD Director Dr. Tim Boring. “Research is a fundamental part to ensuring the long-term success of Michigan’s nursey and ornamental horticulture industry.”

The department received seven proposals. Of those, MDARD awarded the three following projects, totaling a $54,953 investment:

  • Rodney Fernandez, Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University
    • Ensuring water security through the reduction of nitrogen and pesticides in agricultural wastewater.
  • Debalina Saha, Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University
    • Comparing the effects of organic versus synthetic herbicides for liverwort control and the effect on nursery production.
  • Younsuk Dong, Assistant Professor, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University
    • Improving irrigation management in Christmas tree production through loT-based sensor monitoring technology and irrigation scheduling.

Selected grant projects must fall under one of three categories:

  • Applied Research: Crop management systems that enhance industry profitability while being environmentally and socially responsible and provide long-term benefits to Michigan’s nursery and ornamental horticulture industry.
  • Basic Research: Research generating knowledge that can be used to address contemporary problems and/or enable the future development and implementation of improved techniques or processes.
  • Outreach/Training/Demonstration: Activities focused on assisting Michigan’s nursery and ornamental horticultural industries.

The proposals were evaluated by the Horticulture Fund Advisory Committee through a competitive process.

For additional information about MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division, visit

Guidance on creating tick-safe zones around the home

Guidance on creating tick-safe zones around the home

bob new header
For immediate release: May 6, 2024
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
Program contact: Emily Pochubay, 517-231-8723

MDARD offers guidance on creating tick-safe zones around the home

LANSING. – As warmer weather approaches, so does the increased risk of tick encounters, posing potential health threats to people and pets enjoying outdoor activities. That’s why the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) offers advice on how to create tick-safe zones around your home.

There are over 20 known tick species in Michigan. Most often, they survive by feeding on wildlife. Several species of ticks are known to bite people and pets; and the insects may harbor dangerous bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Not all ticks carry diseases, but tick-related diseases (including Lyme disease) do occur in Michigan and can be serious or fatal if not properly diagnosed and treated.

“Using insect repellents while outdoors and checking for ticks after being outdoors are common ways to prevent tick bites on people and pets, but other strategies can help reduce ticks around your homes without using pesticides,” said Steve Carlson, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. “Integrated pest management, commonly referred to as IPM, uses multiple, systematic methods to minimize the impact of pests on people and property, while safeguarding the environment.”

Here are some simple IPM techniques to help reduce tick populations around your home:

  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-foot-wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns, wooded areas, patios, and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Maintain short grass in lawns and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack wood neatly in a dry area to discourage rodents that ticks feed on.
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees. If possible, place these items in a sunny location.

If you do choose to use pesticides, follow these safety tips:

  • Always follow label directions and wear the personal protective equipment specified on the label.
  • Store pesticides in their original containers with proper labels.
  • Keep pesticides locked up and out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Use the amount specified on the label. Using additional product will not be more effective and may harm you, your pets, and/or the environment.
  • Wash clothes that have been in contact with pesticides separately.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using a pesticide, including insect repellents.
  • Use the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to find a repellent product that is right for you.

If you are interested in hiring a pesticide applicator to manage pests for you, choose a firm licensed by MDARD. Licensed firms meet the necessary education and experience requirements and employ pesticide applicators who have passed MDARD’s proficiency examinations. Their training and experience will help prevent accidental pesticide misuse that could harm people, pets, livestock, and the environment.

For additional information about ticks, including how to identify and remove a tick, visit the MDHHS website. Learn more about pesticide safety at

Qualified Forest Program Helps Save on Property Taxes

Qualified Forest Program Helps Save on Property Taxes

bob new header
For immediate release: April 18, 2024
Media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
Program contact: Ben Schram, 517-614-7362

MDARD’s Qualified Forest Program Helps Michiganders Save on Property Taxes & Protects Michigan’s Private Forests

Applications for the 2025 tax year are due by September 3, 2024

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Qualified Forest Program (QFP) announced today that applications to receive the tax exemption for the 2025 tax year are due by Tuesday, September 3, 2024.

MDARD’s Qualified Forest Program is designed to encourage Michigan’s landowners to actively manage their privately-owned forests for commercial harvest, wildlife habitat enhancement, and improvement of other forest resources. The program provides two potential tax benefits for enrolled landowners in exchange for sustainably managing their forests.

“Here in Michigan, we’re focused on protecting our natural resources for future generations. Michigan’s private forestlands are a critical part of those resources, which is why MDARD has the Qualified Forest Program, which encourages sustainable practices with landowners in Michigan,” said Director Tim Boring. “This program provides two possible tax benefits for landowners in exchange for implementing sustainable practices. Protecting our resources is good for businesses, and in Michigan, combating climate change is how we build a strong future for all.”

“Michigan’s Qualified Forest Program ensures the viability of Michigan’s forest products industry and its good paying jobs now and into the future while also protecting drinking water, wildfire and sequestering carbon. It is a good deal for landowners and for Michigan,” said Senator Shink (D-Northfield Twp).  

The two possible benefits which helps save landowners on property taxes are:

  • School Tax Affidavit – Authorizes an exemption from the local school operation millage up to 18 mills of school operating taxes a year. The exemption only applies to land value.
  • Taxable Value Affidavit – Keeps the previous owner’s property taxable value from uncapping on enrolled land after a transfer of ownership.

Requirements to enroll in QFP include parcels of land that are 20 acres or larger, a forest management plan written by a qualified forester, and enrolled landowners must pay an annual fee; public access is not required.  Buildings and structures are allowed but are not eligible for tax exemption.

For parcels of land being enrolled that are less than 40 acres, no less than 80 percent must be stocked with productive forest. For parcels 40 acres or more, at least 50 percent must be stocked with productive forest. A productive forest is a forest capable of producing forest products at a rate of 20 cubic feet per acre per year.

To apply, landowners are required to submit a QFP Application Form, a QFP Stand Summary and Harvest Schedule, a copy of the most recent deed and/or land contract, a copy of the tax bill(s), a $50 application fee, and a forest management plan.

For more information and to get started with the Qualified Forest Program, visit our website or reach out to your local conservation district to connect with a qualified forester.

Public Input for 2024 Development Fund Grant

Tree Fruit Growers Approve Continuation Referendum

bob new header
For immediate release: April 4, 2024
MI Tree Fruit Program contact: Nancy Nyquist, 517-679-4767
MDARD media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Michigan Tree Fruit Growers Approve Continuation Referendum

LANSING – Michigan’s apple, cherry, peach, and plum producers have approved a referendum to continue the Michigan Tree Fruit Research and Development Program.

Established in April 2014, Michigan Tree Fruit Research and Development Program was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan tree fruit industry by supporting the fruit research stations, research and extension programs. The goal for this program is to keep Michigan’s tree fruit industry on the cutting edge of new technology as well as implementation of new research that keep Michigan’s farmers economically viable in the world market into the future.

The program is a public body independent of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. It is comprised of nine tree fruit producers appointed by the Governor. MDARD Director Tim Boring and a person appointed by the Michigan State University Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are non-voting ex-officio members.

The program will continue for an additional five years, beginning April 1, 2024 and ending March 31, 2029. Michigan tree fruit may be assessed at a maximum rate of $2.50 per ton for cherries sold; 4 cents per CWT. for apples sold: $2.00 per ton for peaches sold; and $4.50 per ton for plums sold.

A total of 152 valid ballots were cast in the referendum. 96 producers voted yes (63 percent) representing 294,814,092 pounds of apples, cherries, peaches, and plums (55 percent); and 56 producers voted no (37 percent) representing 239,799,386 pounds of apples, cherries, peaches, and plums (45 percent).

For renewal of the program and its activities, more than 50 percent of the voting producers, representing more than 50 percent of the production of those voting, must have approved it.