MDARD Recognizes Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

MDARD Recognizes Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

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For immediate release: February 27, 2024
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

MDARD Recognizes Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

MDARD values the importance of spay/neuter for Michigan’s registered animal shelters and the communities they serve

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) proudly recognizes Spay/Neuter Awareness Month—a month dedicated to highlighting the importance and benefits of this procedure. For Michigan animal shelters, spaying and neutering animals is vital for controlling the population of unwanted pets and making more pets ready for adoption into their fur-ever homes.

“Spaying and neutering animals is required of Michigan’s registered animal shelters,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. “Dogs, cats, and ferrets have to be spayed or neutered as part of the adoption process, which helps protect against overpopulation. Thanks to the generosity of Michigan taxpayers, MDARD helps to support spaying and neutering programs at local animal shelters through Animal Welfare Fund grants, leading to a lasting impact in the communities served by these shelters.”

Grants through Michigan’s Animal Welfare Fund help shelters get animals into their forever homes by financing the spay/neuter and vaccination of those animals. This funding also provides for other animal care projects and services in a shelter’s local area. All Michiganders can help to protect shelter animals and improve their care by checking the Animal Welfare Fund’s box on Form 4642, Voluntary Contributions Schedule, on their state tax returns. More contributions will lead to more shelters having the resources and funding they need to keep pace with the demands of their communities.

“Spaying and neutering is important because we want to decrease the amount of strays,” said Shawn Donovan, Supervisor at the City of Taylor Animal Shelter. “It’s a big help to us and the community that when we do adopt that they are spayed and neutered. It’s a disservice when they are not because it contributes to a growing population of stray dogs and cats.”

“I think it is very important to donate to the Animal Welfare Fund because there are so many animals in need,” said Jodi Schrader, Director and Founder of Saved by Zade. “Throughout the entire state of Michigan, we try to help, but there are so many shelters that are in need of assisting the animals in their area. So, donations would be helpful throughout the state to help any places that are applying.”

To learn more about the importance of spaying and neutering animals, please watch:

For more information about the Animal Welfare Fund, please visit

Help Stop Invasive Species During Awareness Week

Help Stop Invasive Species During Awareness Week

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For immediate release: February 26, 2024
Program contact: Susannah Iott, 517-420-0473
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Help Stop Invasive Species during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

LANSING – National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) is an international annual event held February 26 through March 3, 2024, looking to raise awareness about invasive species, the threat they pose, and what can do together to prevent their spread. In support of NISAW, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is encouraging all Michiganders to do their part to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Invasive species are plants, animals, insects, and pathogens not native to an area and can cause serious harm to the environment, economy, agriculture, or public health. These pests often are fast growing, reproduce rapidly, and have few predators or natural controls in their new environments.

“Our department works tirelessly to prevent the spread of these pests, but getting everyone involved in prevention and detection is key to the fight against invasive species,” said Steve Carlson, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director.

Here are some ways to help limit the spread of invasive species:

  • Buy heat-treated firewood or buy wood where you burn it to avoid transporting insects or tree diseases that may be hitchhiking untreated wood.
  • When returning from international travel, declare food, plants and other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure these items are pest-free.
  • Avoid buying seeds or plants online from unknown vendors.
  • After enjoying the outdoors, inspect and clean shoes, clothing, gear and vehicles to assure they are pest and seed free.

“Each year, invasive pests destroy up to 40 percent of food crops around the world and cause billions of dollars in production and trade losses,” added Carlson. “Additionally, the changing climate and increasing loss of biodiversity are made worse when invasive species alter our natural ecosystems.”

Check out MDARD’s Buggin’ Out video series to learn more about invasive pests posing a threat to plants and agriculture in Michigan. Report signs of invasive plant pests and diseases to MDARD through the Michigan Invasive Species website or at 800-292-3939.

Super Bowl Snacks, Don’t Fumble on Food Safety!

Super Bowl Snacks, Don’t Fumble on Food Safety!

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For immediate release: February 8, 2024
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-242-2575 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

When Serving up Super Bowl Snacks, Don’t Fumble on Food Safety!

Play it Safe and Keep it Local for Game Day

LANSING, MI – As Michiganders gear up to watch the big game this Sunday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) reminds party hosts to play it safe when handling and serving Super Bowl snacks. And, when planning your menu for game day, make sure your game plan includes Michigan food and agriculture ingredients.

“There are two ways to host a winning Super Bowl watch party,” said MDARD Food Safety and Animal Health Bureau Director Tim Slawinski. “First, take a few easy steps to prevent foodborne illness and keep your family and guests healthy; and second, feature Michigan grown and processed foods for a winning menu.”

Game on!

Here are a few tips to play it safe on game day:

  • Play a clean game.

Wash hands immediately before and after handling food. Research shows that 99 percent of people don’t wash their hands correctly. To properly wash your hands, wet your hands with water, lather with soap and scrub for 20 seconds. Rinse your hands and dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Clean and sanitize all cooking surfaces and utensils, especially after handling raw meat. You’ll also need to wash your hands often throughout the game.

  • Don’t mix players from different teams.

Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods like fresh fruits and vegetables by using separate cutting boards and utensils. This will prevent cross-contamination of bacteria and keep your MVPs from getting food poisoning.

  • Have a game plan.

Foods should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Know when you plan to serve the food and set a timer to remind yourself to start packing up leftovers. If you plan on serving food throughout the game, make two portions of each dish. Serve one portion as the game starts and keep another portion in the refrigerator or oven to rotate out after half time.

  • Play zone defense.

No matter the season, bacteria love the temperature Danger Zone — 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C) — and will grow rapidly within 20 minutes if they are in this in that temperature environment for more than 2 hours. Read more about the Danger Zone.

  • The right equipment counts.

Stock up on shallow food containers and make sure you’ve got extra space for them in your refrigerator or freezer. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature when you’re cooking and that leftovers reach 165°F when you reheat them. Here are the recommended internal temperatures for some Super Bowl party favorites:

  • Chicken wings = 165°F (74°C)
  • Burgers and sliders = 160°F (71°C)
  • Chili and other reheated foods = 165°F (74°C)
  • Before halftime take a timeout and insert substitutes into the game, if needed.

Check your food with a food thermometer to make sure hot foods are still hot and cold foods are still cold. Ensure you’re keeping crockpots on the “warm” or “low” setting; and always use a cold source (such as a bowl of ice) below cold foods and check throughout the party to make sure dips and cheeses are still cold. Discard any food that has been out for more than two hours. Bring out fresh portions of food that you’ve been keeping hot or cold.

  • Post-game coverage.

Pack any leftovers in small portions in shallow containers and place the containers into the refrigerator or freezer immediately. When you’re reheating leftovers, make sure they reach 165°F, as measured by a food thermometer.

By following these tips at your Super Bowl gathering, you may be celebrating more than just a team victory – you’ll be celebrating a successful party and healthy, happy friends and family.

Support the Home Team!

MDARD and the Michigan Ag Council teamed up with Michigan farmers represented by the Michigan Beef Industry CommissionMichigan Pork ProducersUnited Dairy Industry of Michigan, and Michigan Sugar Company to bring you some “Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT” recipes for your Super Bowl celebration.

When you think Michigan first, you’re sure to score big, from appetizers and main dishes to desserts and cocktails. Check out these delicious Michigan recipe ideas to kick off your celebration. If you try a recipe, post a picture on social media with the hashtag #MIMade4SuperBowl and show off your Michigan snacks.

“Buying Michigan-grown and processed food products supports our local economy and our hard-working farm families,” said Slawinski. “This Super Bowl Sunday, why not try some recipes using products grown and made here in Michigan? When we all support ‘Team Michigan’ our food and agriculture industries thrive.”

For more information about Michigan’s food and agriculture industry and other recipe ideas, visit

For more food safety tips, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854; email or chat at Ask USDA; or visit

Dairy Business Grant Now Accepting Applications

Dairy Business Grant Now Accepting Applications

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For immediate release: February 6, 2024
Media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
Program contact: Emily Slatter, 608-301-7751

Dairy Business Builder Grant Now Accepting Applications Until April 3, 2024

Michigan dairy farms and processors are encouraged to apply

LANSING, Mich. – The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) is accepting applications for its Dairy Business Builder Grant opportunity with eligibility for Michigan companies. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) joined the federal DBIA program in September 2022. This grant aims to encourage small- to medium-sized dairy farmers, entrepreneurs, and processors in the Midwest to pursue projects such as dairy farm diversification, on-farm processing, value-added product creation, and efforts to market dairy products for export.

“Michigan’s dairy industry provides nutritious foods produced and processed locally while making a significant economic impact across our state,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “The DBIA program will help local businesses within the dairy industry to advance while increasing sustainable practices.”

Since the creation of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the DBIA has administered over $13 million in funding to 129 dairy farms and businesses within the Midwest service area. Reimbursement grants of up to $100,000 each will be awarded to different dairy businesses after a competitive review process.

During previous rounds of funding, six Michigan companies received $2.4 million in grants and recently three more Michigan companies were awarded funding including Protein Pints in Grand Rapids, Cream Cup Dairy in Bear Lake, and Semifreddo, LLC in Hart. Previous award recipients can be found here.

A webinar for the Dairy Business Builder Grant will be held on February 7, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time. Registration for the webinar can be found here. Applications for the grant will be accepted until April 3, 2024. Award announcements will be made in late May 2024.

Grants to Help Animal Shelters Support Homeless Pets

Grants to Help Animal Shelters Support Homeless Pets

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For immediate release: January 29, 2024
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
Program contact: Pollyanne McKillop, 517-284-5682

MDARD Announces Grants to Help Michigan’s Registered Animal Shelters Better Support Homeless Pets

Taxpayers: Checking the “Animal Welfare Fund” box on your state tax returns helps local shelters meet community needs

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Animal Welfare Fund grants. This year, thanks to Michiganders who check the “Animal Welfare Fund” box on their annual state tax returns, MDARD will distribute $150,000 to 22 registered animal shelters throughout the state to support various animal welfare projects.

“Over the past few years, MDARD has seen a steady increase in not only the number of shelters applying for Animal Welfare Fund grants but also in the amount of funds being requested,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. “The grants make a significant, positive impact on Michigan’s animals and the people who care for them. As Michiganders prepare their state tax returns, please check the box for the fund to continue generously supporting animals awaiting their fur-ever home.”

One hundred percent of the contributions made to the Animal Welfare Fund goes directly to registered Michigan animal shelters to help them better care for local animals and support their broader community. Since 2010, MDARD has distributed more than $1.9 million to over 305 animal shelters.

According to statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, Michigan is home to approximately 2.6 million dogs and 1.8 million cats; and some of these animals are living in one of Michigan’s 209 registered animal shelters, waiting to become someone’s beloved pet.

Grants through Michigan’s Animal Welfare Fund help shelters finance spay/neuter programs, educate others about proper animal care, train staff, and provide the means for maintaining animal health throughout local communities. Collectively, these efforts help shelters to adopt out more animals and promote animal health and welfare in their communities. All of this is made possible by charitable Michiganders checking the fund’s box on Form 4642, Voluntary Contributions Schedule, on their state tax returns.

For this year’s grant cycle, MDARD received 66 applications from organizations across the state, totaling more than $600,000 in requests. Some of the innovative projects selected this year include:

  • Helping to fund training programs for animal control officers to enhance their ability to provide support for their community and conduct welfare investigations.
  • Expanding pet retention initiatives by supplying microchips for shelter and owned animals, along with facilitating access to microchip scanners across the community.
  • Increasing spay and neuter opportunities for underserved communities.

The following animal shelter organizations are receiving 2024 Animal Welfare Fund grants:

Best Pals Animal Rescue $3,000
Calhoun County Animal Shelter $10,000
City of Romulus Animal Control $4,000
City of Taylor Animal Shelter $8,000
Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit $7,000
Gratiot County Animal Control $13,000
Greater Hillsdale Humane Society $5,000
Harbor Humane Society $6,000
Help Orphaned Pets Everywhere (HOPE) Animal Shelter $10,000
Ionia County Animal Control $5,000
Kalamazoo County Animal Services $5,000
Lake County Animal Control $8,000
Lapeer County Animal Control $6,000
Luce County Animal Shelter $4,000
McCloud’s Lake Haven $2,000
Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society $10,000
Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers $10,000
Michigan Humane $3,000
POET Animal Rescue $5,000
Pound Buddies $10,000
Roscommon County Animal Control $6,000
Saved By Zade $10,000

The generosity of Michigan taxpayers makes the beneficial projects, programs, and services provided by these shelters possible. Please keep the good going by continuing to protect local animals and improve their care by checking the Animal Welfare Fund’s box on Form 4642, Voluntary Contributions Schedule, on your state tax returns.

For more information on the Animal Welfare Fund and how to contribute, please visit

Help Stop Invasive Species During Awareness Week

MDARD Announces Grant Opportunities for County Fairs

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For immediate release: January 17, 2024
Program contact: Tracy Ebels, 517-285-8463
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Announces Grant Opportunities for County Fairs

Proposals due by 5 p.m. on March 15, 2024

LANSING, Mich. – Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced the 2024 competitive grant cycle for the County Fair Capital Improvement Grant, the state’s county fairs to make building and other capital improvements to their fairground facilities. Both grant proposals must be received via email by MDARD no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2024.

The capital improvement program provides additional funds for county fair officials to help make needed improvements to their fairground facilities; including but not limited to structural improvements or other renovations to buildings.

The shows and expositions grants provide financial support for awards in the form of premiums or promotional activities of the livestock and commodity expositions, fairs, and festivals.

The submitted grants will go through a competitive grant process and be reviewed by an evaluation committee.

Eligible applicants include fairs that are incorporated under Act 80 of 1855 or county owned and operated fairs operating under Act 11 of 1929 and that have submitted all required year-end reports for the prior three years.

Livestock expositions hosting expos must meet the required number of exhibitors.

For detailed program information, application form, and submission criteria, please visit MDARD – County Fairs Capital Improvement Grants ( or contact Tracy Ebels or 517-285-8463. The proposal must be sent electronically to Tracy Ebels at [email protected].