Report On Michigan Agriculture Presented To Rotary
March 18, 2014
By: Stephen Kent
Ray Van Driessche
Tuesday's speaker was Ray Van Driessche, Vice President for government and public affair at Michigan Sugar Company and Chairman of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Council. He presented a short video titled "Maximum Yield, The importance of agribusiness to Bay County's Economy" and followed that up with comments and answers to questions.
Most Rotarians knew that agriculture is an important part of the Bay County economy, but they may not have realized that it is the second largest industry in Michigan, employing 1 in 4 workers and generating an annual economic impact of $92 billion. There are 51,000 farms and ten million acres devoted to agriculture. Most of those farms are family operations. Michigan is number 1 in the nation for a number of crops and in the top 3 for many more.
Van Driessche addressed environmental concerns by talking about conservation farming. Most farms incorporate filter strips around fields to provide a buffer between crops and drainage ditches. Where farmers once plowed fields, today they use deep-till methods to reach ten or more inches below the surface. "We have four plows for sale on our farm and we can't sell them because nobody uses plows anymore", he said.
Technology has had a major impact on farming. One example being targeted, variable rate application of fertilizer and chemicals where GPS units identify exact positions on the ground and, combined with satellite mapping and other techniques, tell the farmer the exact appilcation needed for each crop and field. This trend is growing as tech-savvy young farmers embrace the new technology.
When asked how our region compares with the rest of the state, Van Driessche said that the Saginaw Valley is known as the bread belt of the mid-west. We have some of the best agricultural land in the nation. Cash crop production leads the state from the west end of Midland County out to the tip of the thumb.
The educational system is expanding it's offerings of ag related courses. The industry encourages young people to get a broad education then leave the farm for a few years to gain experience in the world. When they return to the farm they bring that experience with them.
CLUB NEWS and ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Club Board
met prior to the regular meeting today. President Lee reported on approval of a new member and read the name of Andrew Tracey.
The District Conference
is slated for May 2 and 3 in Saginaw. The club will continue the tradition of paying half of the registration fee for anyone requesting that reimbursement. Members are encouraged to attend since the Conference is so close.
The recent Saginaw Spirit Hockey game ticket sales generated $250 for the club. Those funds will be split between the district water project and our Adopt-A-Village efforts.
The Community Grant process is being restarted and the committee will report back soon with procedures.
The board received a report from the un-official Paul Harris Statue working group. The topic was discussed in some depth and the board voted to contribute $5,000 from the Foundation for the project. Other clubs and individuals will be invited to participate. The Foundation will advance funds against outside pledges to facilitate installation of the statue.
The background information on the project is available in the members section of the club web site. Go to
and log in to view the information.
concert is on the calendar and coming up on Thursday April 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the State Theatre. Andrea Hales is now selling program ads. The club hopes that every Rotarian will participate in some way. The theme is "Sticks and Stones: It's Only Rock and Roll". President Lee urges all Rotarians to buy a ticket and bring a friend and consider becoming a patron.
More information is on the club web site
Tim Holsworth announced that Covenant Health Care will again be the title sponsor for the Club Golf Tournament in June.
Remember that the second Vocational Day
us scheduled for the 25th at the Country Club.
The club will meet off site on April 22
. Member Greg Rosecranz
has arranged for the Bay City Players
to host the club's luncheon and give a tour of the changes at the theater. Rotary helped underwrite this work as part of the last major projects funding.
The Centennial Committee has set the goal of EVERY MEMBER achieving Paul Harris Fellow
status during the Centennial Year. There are matching points available that allow a member to receive their first Paul Harris level at a fraction of the normal $1,000 contribution.
Rotary Club of Bay City
View Centennial Year Celebrations Schedule
July 2014-June 2015
Vocational Day 2 Next Week
Meet at the COUNTRY CLUB
- March 25, 2014 - 12:00
DATES TO REMEMBER
March 25, 2014: Vocational Days at the Country Club.
March 25 meeting will be at the Country Club.
Thursday April 10 at the State Theater.
This year's theme: "Sticks and Stones... It's Only Rock and Roll".
Rotary Golf Outing
- Monday, June 16, 2014
- Bay City Country Club.
(See the official schedule at
March 25, 2014: Assistance beyond applying for scholarships.
, Program Director for the Great Lakes College Resource Center through the Bay Area Community Foundation, will highlight the many ways the Center may assist high school students preparing for higher education.
***NOTE - Nov 25th OFF-SITE MEETING AT BAY CITY COUNTRY CLUB
March 25, 2014: Michigan Weather Update.
The club's own Eric Jylha
will discuss recent Michigan weather and seasonal/historic averages as winter comes to a close.
April 22, 2014: Bay City Players Off Site Meeting
The Bay City Players will highlight improvements to their facility made possible by grants from the Rotary Club of Bay City, as well as give an overview of their operation and specific activities/improvements relevant to their upcoming 100th anniversary.
April 29, 2014: S.O.S. - Save Our Shoreline
Save our Shoreline is a non-profit, grass roots organization of property owners and others committed to the preservation of riparian rights along Michigan's 3288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline. Ernie Krygier, president of S.O.S., will provide a history.
Current and past DISTRICT DISPATCH
newsletters are available on the District site shown in the LINKS section below.
Rotary Bay City on Facebook!
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Remember! Check attendance sheets at the front desk.