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WEST OLIVE, MI – How was your breakfast? Maybe you enjoyed some cereal and sliced fruit. Perhaps you fried up some fresh sausage and eggs. Or maybe you swung by the local coffee shop and let them do the work. Considering Ottawa County’s diverse agriculture, it’s likely a bite of your breakfast came from a local farm.

With more than $506 million in agricultural products produced annually (2017 Ag Census), there is no doubt Ottawa County’s agricultural economy is strong. Yet our farms are at risk— between 2012 and 2017, Ottawa County lost 8% of its farmed acreage and 17% of its farms.

These are just a couple examples of the concerns that Ottawa County leaders and Ottawa County Farm Bureau are proactively trying to address at its Redefining Farmland Preservation event on Friday, November 8, at Spring Meadow Nursery near Grand Haven. Join us as we explore how deploying new strategies to support our agriculture industry into the future can stem the loss of farms and farmland. We’ll also review the data that drives these decisions and discuss policy with experts.

“Even with all of the amazing innovation and technological advancements in agriculture, growing our food will always be reliant upon having adequate land available for farming, as well as operators who have the knowledge and risk tolerance that farming demands,” Ottawa County Economic Development Coordinator Becky Huttenga said. “November 8, we get a chance to hear from, and talk to, the state and national experts on farmland protection policy, the data that drives it, and the economic outlook for farming.

Guest speakers will include:

• Cris Coffin, Senior Policy Analyst for the American Farmland Trust and the Director for the National Agricultural Land Network 

• Marlo Johnson, Agriculture Statistics Director for the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service for the Great Lakes 

• Dr. Paul Isely, Grand Valley State University, Associate Dean, Seidman College of Business 

A complimentary brunch sponsored by McShane & Bowie PLC will be catered by Sonder Eatery of Hudsonville, a restaurant that prioritizes using locally sourced products. Brunch and registration begin at 8:30 a.m. and speakers begin at 9:00 a.m. The event will wrap up with an optional tour of host Spring Meadow Nursery’s business, beginning at noon. Spring Meadow is a legend in the nursery industry, garnering over 400 patents throughout a nearly 40-year history in plant propagation. This event is a rare chance to tour this innovative 34-acre facility. 

The cost is free, but a reservation is required. Visit redefiningfarmlandpreservation.eventbrite.com to register. 

For more information on farmland preservation, visit www.miottawa.org/farmland.

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