Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board
P.O. Box 550, 12800 Escanaba Drive, Suite A
DeWitt, Michigan 48820
Phone (517) 669-4250 Fax (517) 669-4251
Email :

April 20, 2013

Program Referendum
The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board (MAAB) operates the PA232 program known as the Michigan Asparagus Industry Development Program (MAIDP), now in existence for 35 consecutive years. By statute the MAIDP program is subject to a producer referendum every fifth year of operation. The director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) has determined that the referendum (VOTE) for the continuation of the Michigan Asparagus Industry Development Program (MAIDP) will be held from April 15 - 26, 2013. The MDA mails, receives, verifies and tabulates the ballots so please watch for those to arrive shortly.

Each producer of asparagus that had a value at first point of sale of more than $800 in any one of the last three calendar years should be receiving a ballot. Processors, Fresh Packers, and Growers (with farm market or direct to consumer sales) report to MAAB pounds delivered or sold and submit the assessment fee. We will be sending out a copy of your reported sales to aid in your ballot preparation. This information is compiled in our office therefore, if you have any questions about the pounds that you have produced in any of these years please contact Betty in the MAAB office at (517) 669-4250 or John Bakker at (231) 923-6725.

We realize that with field work upon us that it is easy to push the mail aside so we urge you to fill out your ballot and mail it back to MDA when it arrives.

Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board Members
The MAAB board is appointed by the Governor and is responsible for the hiring of an Executive Director, all programming and budget development.

Following are the current board members and staff of MAAB:

Vic Shank - Dowagiac (Chairman) Ken Oomen - Hart (Vice Chairman)
Sarah Greiner - Hart (Sec. / Treasurer) Eric Herrygers - Hart
Tom Oomen - Hart Ryan Walsworth - Mears
Harold Goodell - Dowagiac Dwight Fuehring - Mears
Kyle Weber - Watervliet

Staff: John Bakker - Executive Director Betty Elder - Executive Assistant
MDA Representative: Isaiah Wunsch

Please feel free to contact the board or staff concerning any questions relating to the programs.

MAAB Appointments and Meetings
All MAAB meetings are open to the public and the public is welcome! If you would like to be placed on the mailing list notifying you of meeting times and locations please call the office at (517) 669-4250.

MAAB Activities
The MAAB is entrusted with the allocation of your assessment dollars and they take that responsibility very seriously. Each year the budget is scrutinized and funding decisions are made based on weighing both short and long term priorities while focusing on the sustainability and profitability of the Michigan asparagus industry. In the past twelve months MAAB has concentrated its efforts in four major areas: Marketing, Education, Governmental Affairs, and Research. Following are a few highlights.

Marketing efforts focused primarily on radio promotion of fresh asparagus. These radio spots were timed for the mid-May peak production period and reminded consumers that "locally grown" asparagus was now available for a limited time. For the second year the theme: "Michigan Asparagus, It's the best you'll eat all year!" was used. The promotion program was hugely successful again this year resulting in record high, season long returns for fresh asparagus with many fresh growers receiving over $1.00 per lb. The board believes that dollars invested in fresh market promotion benefit both fresh and processed growers. Each pound delivered for fresh is one less pound entering the processed market thus creating an improved market environment for producers selling into the processing market.

Educational activities center on consumer awareness of the product, including health benefits, recipes, fresh market season and abnormal weather events affecting the crop. Last year's March heat wave presented numerous opportunities to utilize television, radio and print to talk about our asparagus crop.

Other educational activity is focused on legislator and regulator communication. Numerous contacts were made with local, state and federal legislators regarding issues affecting the crop and we hosted the 2012 EPA Michigan tour.

Efforts in Governmental Affairs slowed this past year with the huge focus on the 2012 fall elections. With the elections now behind us we are intently watching two major issues with: comprehensive immigration control and newly proposed food safety regulations. Although many hurdles remain, I'm still optimistic that we may finally end up with a harvest workforce that is stable, affordable and legal.

MAAB funds Research programs in Michigan by transferring money to the Michigan Asparagus Research Committee. These dollars are then used to leverage processor and packer contributions and state and federal grants. These combined dollars fund variety trials at the industry's own research facility and MSU scientists working on weed, insect and disease control as well as irrigation and replant suppression. A complete book on research results are published annually and are available by calling the office at (517) 669-4250.

Vilmorin Hybrid Asparagus Seed We have learned that some late harvest NJ 1025, NJ 1113 and Mondeo may be available by planting time. If you are still in need of seed call (231) 923-6725.

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