|For immediate release: September 28, 2023
MDARD media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
MDARD Laboratory Highlights ‘Food Safety Education Month’ by Testing Cantaloupes for Salmonella
LANSING, MI – September is National Food Safety Education and Awareness Month, and employees at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) William C. Geagley Laboratory are showcasing how they protect Michigander’s food supply and public health from foodborne illness.
Routinely, MDARD food inspectors bring in a variety of food samples to Geagley’s Food Safety Microbiology Laboratory for testing to make sure the food we eat is safe. In past years, Michigan has seen outbreaks of salmonella in cantaloupes. Through microbiological testing and whole genome sequencing, cantaloupes can be tested to ensure a proactive food safety environment.
“Our Geagley Laboratory ranks as one of the nation’s top chemistry pesticide and food safety laboratories and serves as one of the most important consumer protection watchdogs in Michigan,” said Craig VanBuren, Laboratory Division Director. “Work is being done around the clock within our labs to ensure we’re protecting Michigan’s food supply and the public health of Michiganders.”
Watch the process of how MDARD tests for salmonella: Testing for Salmonella in Melons – YouTube
Protecting the food supply, reducing the risk of foodborne illness, and responding to foodborne illness outbreaks are high priority efforts for MDARD, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state’s local health departments, and federal agency partners.
For more information on how to prevent foodborne illness or how to report suspected cases of foodborne illness, visit www.foodsafety.gov.
|For immediate release: August 29, 2023
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
MDARD Encourages Owners to Help Keep Their Animals Safe this Labor Day Holiday
Keep animals happy and healthy as they enjoy the last days of summer fun
LANSING, MI—As Michiganders prepare to celebrate the last days of summer, this Labor Day holiday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) would like to remind owners of some of the best ways to keep their animals healthy and safe.
“When making any holiday plans, it is important not to overlook the needs of our animals,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “From ensuring that they are fully vaccinated to making sure they are cool and comfortable when the heat index is high or the air quality is poor, there are many precautions owners can take to keep their animals safe this Labor Day.”
Keep animals safe this holiday by following these six easy tips:
Vaccinations are central to animals’ preventative care as the vaccines can protect animals against common diseases, such as rabies and distemper. Contact your veterinarian to ensure your animals’ vaccinations are complete and/or to schedule an appointment.
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.
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.
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.
With all the summer fun and outdoor activities, it can be easy for animals to sneak away and become lost. Make sure they have identification tags and/or microchips that are up to date with your current contact information, ensuring a better chance they can be returned home.
These tips can help keep your animals safe and healthy throughout the holiday. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health now or throughout the year, please talk to your veterinarian.
|For immediate release: August 28, 2023
Media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
DBIA program contact: Shelby Anderson, 608-262-8015
Dairy Business Builder Grant Now Accepting Applications Until October 19, 2023
Michigan dairy farms and processors are encouraged to apply
LANSING, Mich. – Last year the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) launched its Dairy Business Builder Grant opportunity with eligibility for Michigan companies with MDARD joining the federal DBIA program in September of 2022. This grant aims to encourage small- to medium-sized dairy farmers, entrepreneurs, and processors in the Midwest pursue projects such as dairy farm diversification, on-farm processing, value-added product creation, and efforts to market dairy products for export.
“Our state’s farms and food processers are creating quintessential “Made in Michigan” products every day. The DBIA program supports our dairy industry by providing additional funding availability for our dairy farmers and processors to help them increase and streamline their processing,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “Michigan’s dairy industry is an important part of our state’s economic engine, and these opportunities further our investments in our rural and agricultural communities.”
Since its creation of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the DBIA has administered technical assistance and over $7.5 million in grant funding to dairy businesses throughout the Midwest. 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. Selected businesses include Dairy Distillery Alliance in Constantine, Charlevoix Cheese Company, Furniture City Creamery in Grand Rapids, Saltless Sea Creamery in Traverse City, Semifreddo LLC in Hart, Thistle Dew Creamery in Vassar, and VernDale Products Inc. in Detroit. Previous award recipients can be found here.
A “Helpful Hints” webinar for the Dairy Business Builder Grant was recorded on August 22, 2023 and is available on their website. Applications for the grant will be accepted until October 18, 2023 at 6pm EDT. Applications will then be reviewed, and award announcements will be made in December.
|For immediate release: July 12, 2023
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
Consumer Advisory: MDARD Reminds Michiganders to be Vigilant when Purchasing a New Pet
LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is urging all Michiganders to be cautious when purchasing new animals, especially dogs. Scammers are using fake Michigan dog breeder licenses to further the ruse that they have credible, legitimate businesses in order to cheat people out of their money.
MDARD recently learned of two cases where individuals were trying to purchase a small breed puppy from an online source. In an attempt to show the validity of their business, the scammers sent these individuals a copy of their supposed Michigan dog breeder license. As part of their own due diligence, these individuals contacted MDARD to confirm Michigan’s licensure of these kennels, revealing the dog breeder license to be a fake.
“While it is unfortunate that scammers were trying to use fake Michigan dog breeder licenses to deceive consumers, I’m glad the potential buyers contacted MDARD first, and we helped to identify the scam in both instances,” said Dr. Nora Wineland, State Veterinarian. “At MDARD, we are ready to assist Michiganders whenever there are any questions related to our programs.”
“Bringing home a new furry family member is a big decision and those who purchase from breeders should be sure that the breeder is licensed and providing healthy animals,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Adopting a pet from a local shelter is also an option, but wherever animal lovers choose to find their pet, they should adhere to best practices to avoid being a pet scam victim. My office is committed to holding accountable anyone who takes advantage of Michigan residents looking to add a pet to their family.”
While there are many different types of dog kennels, MDARD has oversight over one specific type—large-scale dog breeding kennels. This program registers and inspects dog breeding kennels with more than 15 intact breeding female dogs that have whelped before. This oversight helps to make sure specific standards are met to ensure animals are healthy and receive adequate care. These breeders are required to provide a Pet Health Certificate with each dog or puppy they sell. Currently, there are 14 large-scale dog breeding kennels in Michigan registered and inspected by MDARD.
Both large-scale dog breeding kennels and smaller dog breeding kennels may be licensed and inspected through local levels of government, including townships, cities, and counties. The exact number of these small-scale operations within the state is unknown.
When purchasing a new pet, it is important to complete your own due diligence on the breeder before agreeing to spend/send any money to them. If you have questions related to a large-scale dog breeding kennel or any animal-related facility that appears to be licensed through the State of Michigan, please call MDARD at 800-292-3939.
If you have questions related to small-scale dog breeding kennels, please contact the local unit of government where the seller operates their business.
Beyond looking into the breeder, the Better Business Bureau encourages those looking for a new pet through an online source to follow four key tips:
If you think you may have been in contact with or victimized by one of these scammers, please contact your local police department and report the scam to the Michigan Department of Attorney General. If you think you have provided a payment to a scammer, please contact your banking institution immediately.
Editor’s Note: The included image is an example of the type of fake licensure used in these scams.
|For immediate release: July 3, 2023
MDARD media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
MDE media contact: Marty Ackley, 517-241-7018
Governor Whitmer Proclaims July as Farm to Summer Month
Fresh, local products served to Michigan kids at ‘Meet Up and Eat Up’ sites across the state this summer
Lansing, MI – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared July 2023 as Farm to Summer month to celebrate Michigan’s local food and agriculture products and promoting the use of local, in-season produce at summer feeding sites located at schools and non-profits across the state.
“Farm to Summer provides a great opportunity to add fresh, local Michigan products to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program,” said Governor Whitmer. “Providing nutritious meals to Michigan kids during the summer months will help them succeed in the next school year, and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables supports our farm families and communities – a win/win for Michigan.”
Officially known in Michigan as Summer Food Service Program’s (SFSP) Meet Up and Eat Up, this program provides free, nutritious meals during the summer to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas, where 50 percent or more of the students in the area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.
“The future of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry is in the hands of younger generations, and it’s important for young Michiganders to learn about our local food and agriculture products,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “Summer programs that focus on teaching healthy habits and highlighting Michigan-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, combined with supplying healthy, fresh and nutritious meals to kids, will ensure a bright future for Michigan’s food and agricultural industry.”
Farm to Summer provides an opportunity to increase the purchase and promotion of Michigan products on menus; serve fresh, locally grown produce to children at SFSP Meet Up Eat Up sites; and provide enrichment opportunities to engage children to learn about Michigan agriculture, all during a time when schools are not in session.
Early child care education programs, children, and teens receive many benefits from the SFSP, including fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables, which are in peak production during the summer months. Students learn where Michigan-grown products come from, including local Michigan farms, gardens, and producers. SFSP meal sites help children develop heathy habits through hands-on learning activities and educational opportunities, including gardening and taste-testing of a variety of Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.
“Filling the summer hunger gap is crucial because it sustains children’s health and can reduce any summer learning loss,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Farm to Summer and our Summer Food Service Program connect Michigan children with healthy food choices, how healthy food is grown locally, and benefits their capacity to continue learning through the summer months.”
Michigan is one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the U.S., leading the nation in the production of dry black beans, dry cranberry beans, tart cherries, asparagus, cucumbers, dry navy beans, squash, and dry small red beans, and ranking high in the production of blueberries, summer squash, bell peppers, peaches, carrots, celery, sweet cherries, apples, fresh sweet corn, and many other specialty crops. The state has more than 46,000 farms producing a wide variety of crops on nearly 10 million acres of farmland. Michigan’s food and agriculture system employs over 805,000 people, about 17.2 percent of the state’s workforce. This contributes more than $104.7 billion to the state’s economy annually.
SFSP sponsors can take advantage of Michigan’s growing season and source many locally grown products into their menus. SFSP is encouraging meal sites to celebrate Farm to Summer with special activities during July that highlight fruits and vegetables, fun recipes, and educational and physical activities.
Read the full Michigan Farm to Summer proclamation here.
Resources for SFSP Meet Up and Eat Up Sites: