Food/Agribusiness

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The state has tightened environmental restrictions on Michigan’s largest livestock farms. 

LANSING — The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association and the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development have announced a partnership that will enable restaurants to sell food and pantry items that currently can be sold only by grocery and retail stores.

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the first two cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and declared a state of emergency on March 11, Lisa Wideman knew Meals on Wheels Western Michigan would be forced to adapt to a new reality. 

Michigan’s food and agriculture industries and related workers are considered as “essential critical infrastructure” to ensure continued food security across the state under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home executive order. 

HOLLAND —  Coppercraft Distillery is joining a number of distilleries in the state with plans to produce hand sanitizer. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Garage Bar & Grill plans to give away 100 free carry-out meals to workers affected by recent layoffs. 

The federal regulatory body that oversees the alcohol industry has cleared the way for U.S. distilleries to begin producing hand sanitizer. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Long Road Distillers LLC has laid off 50 employees — almost its entire workforce — following a state order limiting bars and restaurants to take-out and delivery business.

West Michigan brewery owners are reeling this morning over news that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will issue an order later today to temporarily close bars, restaurants and other venues over concerns related to coronavirus. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Restaurants and breweries across West Michigan are taking precautions to protect employees and patrons from coronavirus. 

Following a request from Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the U.S. Government Accountability Office will investigate the integrity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture aid to farmers affected by the U.S. trade war with China. 

A bill introduced in the state Legislature would change how beer festivals operate in Michigan.

New laws aim to bring parity to the state’s alcoholic beverage sector. 

Gary Schuler never expected to jump into the industrial hemp industry, but he  finds himself now pitching the plant’s potential and its milled-down byproduct for new uses.

Indiana agricultural land manager Ceres Farms LLC is suing Amtrak over blocked access to farmland in Niles, Mich. 

SHELBY — Family-owned fruit processor Peterson Farms Inc. is expanding its operations in Oceana County, north of Muskegon. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Atwater Brewery, a Detroit-based brewery with a satellite taproom in Grand Rapids, has been acquired by Chicago-based Molson Coors Beverage Co., one of the largest international brewing conglomerates. 

West Michigan’s farmers will be wading through the confluence of negatives brought on last year ranging from extreme weather, volatile commodity prices and trade wars well into 2020. 

LANSING — Neogen Corp. announced its second international acquisition in a week with a deal for Italy-based Diessechem S.R.L., a distributor of food and feed safety diagnostic products. 

While craft beverage industry insiders expect more deals ahead nationally in 2020, the market in Michigan may be poised to level off. 

GRAND RAPIDS — An established West Michigan brewery whose products are available on shelves statewide is taking a novel approach to getting its newest brand out to market. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Comstock Park-based Speciation Artisan Ales LLC plans to open a new taproom along the burgeoning Wealthy Street corridor in Grand Rapids. 

Companies working in the marijuana industry are expecting a busy year in 2020, as more licensed businesses open and additional communities begin regulating recreational operations. 

News that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement appears to be headed toward ratification comes as a positive for farmers across the country and especially in Michigan. 

Alcoholic beverage producers that want to market their products beyond their home markets are facing many tough realities as competition continues to ratchet up and as consumers’ preferences shift in often unexpected ways (see: hard seltzer). For its part, regional cider maker Vander Mill LLC continues to expand its markets geographically as it makes sense and with the right wholesale partners, said co-founder Paul Vander Heide. To start the new year, the company is focused on commissioning a new large-scale apple press with the aim of improving product quality and margin.

After a deposition leaked in the racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co., the brewery again made national headlines when Graci Harkema, its diversity and inclusion director, publicly resigned after less than a year in the position. Founders went on to settle the lawsuit, although the case has remained a topic of conversation in the craft beer industry. Meanwhile, Harkema has started her own business, Graci LLC, to focus on sharing diversity and inclusion best practices within the adult beverage industry.

Dairy producers are struggling to make ends meet, and many dairy farmers have lost money for months or even several years straight. Jem-Lot Dairy’s Stephanie Schafer, who is also a district director with the Michigan Farm Bureau, said the situation is largely the result of low milk prices. Her farm keeps 300 dairy cows in Clinton County. 

Bell’s Brewery Inc. founder Larry Bell sees another two years of turmoil ahead for the craft brewing industry, particularly as growth continues to level off and as more owners opt to take “a boatload of money” and sell their companies. As Bell’s Brewery looks ahead to celebrating its 35th year in business in 2020, the company continues to remind customers that it remains a quality and fiercely independent option amid a growing number of products now part of multinational conglomerates. 

Egg producer Herbruck Poultry Ranch Inc. will pay $93,000 to settle a disability harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

As Pabst Brewing Co. broadens its reach beyond the iconic Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, the global drinks company is increasingly leveraging its relationship with New Holland Brewing Co. to break into new categories.

GRAND RAPIDS — Organic food delivery service Doorganics LLC has been acquired by venture capital-backed GrubMarket Inc. of San Francisco, Calif.

Order delays and technology glitches for one of the authorized liquor distributors in Michigan have craft distilleries calling for changes to the state’s Prohibition-era distribution system. 

For every dollar that Americans spent on yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner meals, growers and ranchers received just 12.1 cents — even less than their average slice of the pie throughout the year.

GRAND RAPIDS — Cedar Springs Brewing Co. will join the bustling craft beverage scene on Bridge Street with a new satellite taproom and brewery. 

GRAND RAPIDS — After more than three and a half years in business, Gray Skies Distillery LLC has rebranded as Eastern Kille Distillery, effective immediately, to coincide with the first statewide launch of the company’s bourbon. 

Michael Klumpp did not know what to expect when he ventured into the world of industrial hemp, but the farmer soon realized growing a viable crop was only half the battle.

Traditional, outdoor agriculture is profoundly dependent on climate, but high-tech indoor farms that grow premium, hyper-local produce for consumers year round may be commercially viable in the future.

WYOMING — Gordon Food Service Inc. hopes to expand into Indiana with a proposed new distribution center. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Conklin-based Pux Cider hopes to open its first tasting room in early 2020 in Grand Rapids’ Midtown neighborhood. 

SAWYER — A Southwest Michigan brewery is expanding with a new location in Indiana in partnership with a SpartanNash Co.-owned grocery store. 

LANSING — Medical marijuana provider Green Peak Innovations LLC closed on $10 million in mezzanine financing to support expansion in Michigan and elsewhere.

GRAND RAPIDS — After five years in operation tucked away in a nondescript office building along U.S. 131, mead maker Arktos LLC plans to move to a new location along Grand Rapids’ bustling Bridge Street corridor. 

KALAMAZOO — In the four years since Kalamazoo Valley Community College launched its sustainable brewing program, it could use student-made beers for tastings and instructional purposes, but not offer it for sale in its on-campus full-service restaurant. 

Agricultural land values have remained relatively stable throughout most regions in Michigan, even though many farmers continue to face serious headwinds. 

As the hunt for PFAS contamination has expanded into crops and livestock, it has revealed new food safety concerns related to the limited state-led testing system and lax federal standards. 

Despite a historically cold spring, a year-over-year decline in acreage and new outbreaks of pests, some local growers of hops are reporting record-breaking harvests. 

Working under the hot summer sun, Ricardo Martinez and Yolanda Garrido concentrated on meeting their quota. They lost track of the hours, but bucket-by-bucket, seven days a week, they picked blueberries at a farm in Southwest Michigan. 

After operating its brewing facility in a 700-square-foot space since 2017, the owners of Arvon Brewing Co. in Grandville say they are ready to grow the business.