Small fruit production risk management resources to preserve your berry farm’s sustainability and employment

MSU Extension is pleased to offer a Small Fruit Production Risk Management Resources and Tools training session series starting March 6 and continuing until April 17.

Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) are inviting blueberry, raspberry and strawberry growers to attend a new program developed to assist them with resources and tools to find alternatives to production risks associated to climate change, invasive insect pests and market uncertainties. One of the major tools that will be discussed is using high tunnels and resources available to implement this strategy to deal with climate change issues. Also discussed will be removing and replanting fields affected with blueberry stem gall wasp with support from USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS).

For the past five years, Michigan’s small blueberry growers have suffered extensive economic losses due to winter, summer droughts, invasive insect pests and new environmental and food safety legislations. In addition, depressed market conditions and foreign competition are making Michigan’s blueberry growers less competitive. Small and minority growers are the most affected, as their economic livelihood is at risk. To preserve farm’s sustainability and employment, growers need new technology and assistance, knowledge, skills and new tools to manage those production risks.

To assist the Michigan small fruit industry to deal with those issues, we developed a new training program, Small Fruit Production Risk Management Resources and Tools, that provides information and resources to manage those production risks. This training attempts to deliver the much-needed support through a curriculum-based training program. Our goal is to assist at least 80 small fruit growers through a seven-week training program (four-hour session once a week) from March 6 to April 17, 2020. We are inviting growers to take advantage of this training opportunity and be better prepared to find alternatives to maintain your farm’s sustainability and employment.

This training program will deliver knowledge and assistance to deal with:

  • Financial and risk management, including acquiring/managing agricultural cre
  • Managing production risks associated with climate change, including winter and summer drought.
  • Managing current, new invasive insect pests and secondary pest outbreaks, including cranberry fruitworm, cherry fruitworm, spotted wing Drosophila and blueberry stem gall wasp.
  • Environmental issues, including pollinator protection from pesticide exposure, the Food Quality Protection Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act.

For a complete description of the training program, see the brochure. There you will find the training dates and content of each session. There is also a brochure in Spanish for those with limited domain of English. The first session has been scheduled for March 6 at the MSU Trevor Nichols Research Center in Fennville, Michigan. Training sessions will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Training locations will vary depending on the main topic discussed during that particular session.

In addition to providing assistance and information to deal with those production risk issues, the program offers RUPs for attending some of the training sessions. Twelve RUPs will be awarded to participants. However, to access these 12 RUPs, growers need to register for the entire program.

We try to make this training opportunity available to all our small fruit industry, especially to small limited resources and minority growers. Thus, for those growers with langue barriers, this training will be bilingual, English/Spanish, and one-on-one assistance upon request.

There is a $30 recuperation fee for the entire seven-week training program. This registration fee covers handouts and refreshments.

We will provide a reduced number of scholarships for those unable to cover the registration fee. However, those unable to cover the $30 fee still need to register online by March 4.

Online registration is required to calculate the exact number of handouts and refreshments.

Please register online at: Small Fruit Production Risk Management Resources and Tools.

Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Ottawa County Extension at 616-994-4580 by March 4.

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