Michigan Legislators Impressed by Sklarczyk Tour
June 12, 2013
Michigan legislators got an up-close view of high-tech seed-potato production during a visit to Sklarczyk Seed Farm near Johannesburg on May 10th. Hosts Don and Ben Sklarczyk provided a tour of their greenhouse operation that specializes in intensive growing of minitubers to supply commercial growers not only in Michigan and other states but internationally.
Mike Wenkel, executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, said the visitors included members of the House and Senate agriculture committees and members of the agriculture subcommittees of the House and Senate appropriations committees along with their staff people. Others in the group were representatives from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan State University (MSU).
Tour participants look at various potato seeds getting ready to be sent
out at Sklarczyk Seed Farm. Photo by Matt Hallowell
The main goal, Wenkel said, was to educate key legislators on the modern nature of the Michigan potato industry and its close relationship with MSU regarding the critical research efforts that have helped it become a major factor in the national industry, particularly in serving the snack-food sector. Sponsors of the event were the Commission and Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc., as well as MSU.
The university featured the event in its online publication “MSU Today” and included Don Sklarczyk’s comment that “farming and agriculture [have] seen many changes, but the one thing that has not changed is the need for the potato industry to maintain a very strong alliance with MSU and tap into the research capacity it provides. Without these researchers and the information they provide to the potato industry, we would not survive.”
The MSU article also noted that Rep. Joel Johnson, a Republican from Clare, was “impressed by the Sklarczyk operations” and affirmed the need for MSU research and educational support to strengthen Michigan’s agricultural leadership position.
“It was a very productive visit,” Wenkel said. “It helps that influential legislators see firsthand what the Michigan potato industry is accomplishing in cooperation with Michigan State University.”
Ben Sklarczyk, COO of Sklarczyk Seed Farm, Shows how his company’s potato seeds are grown
in their greenhouse in Johannesburg. Photo by Matt Hallowell
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