Green legislation a boost for agriculture jobs

LANSING-In 2011, Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, sponsored Senate Bill 144 to include agricultural processing in the state’s economic development focus. At committee hearings on the bill, he used a store-bought pound of bacon to demonstrate the need for the legislation. It eventually became law as Public Act 22 of 2011 and now appears to be bringing home the bacon, literally.

Clemens Food Group, a food processing firm based out of Hatfield, Pa., announced plans on Tuesday to build a $255-million pork processing plant in Coldwater, Mich. The plant will process hogs from Michigan and surrounding states into finished pork products and directly employ 810 workers.

“This announcement represents the return of pork processing to Michigan and the beginning of substantial growth in the entire agriculture processing industry,” Green said. “It is an exciting day for Michigan workers and Michigan agriculture.”

The last pork processing plant located in the state, owned by Thorn Apple Valley, was closed in 1998 with a loss of 1,000 jobs. Under PA 22’s agriculture provision, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) secured the Clemens project in Michigan over an alternative location in Ohio.

In addition to creating jobs, the plant will allow Michigan’s pork producers to have their hogs processed in the state, reducing related transport costs.

“With the completion of the new plant, Michigan hogs will be processed by Michigan workers into products sold to consumers, including bacon, and that is something we can be proud of,” said Green. “This development also sends the message to other job creators in the processing industry that Michigan’s door is open to business and I believe we will see more projects like this in the future.”