Proos: New Law Allows Residents to Taste, Buy Local Wines at Michigan Farmers Market

WineWNDU-TV

Sen. John Proos is reminding residents and wine connoisseurs that new laws now allow small winemakers to offer tastings and sell wine at Michigan farmers markets.

“Winemaking is a thriving industry in Southwest Michigan that employs thousands of residents, and this year our local communities can now support startup winemakers at the local farmers market,” said Proos, who co-sponsored the reform. “I have long been a strong supporter of Michigan’s farmers markets because they directly connect consumers with local growers and producers. Now, residents can have this same connection with our local startup winemakers.”

Senate Bill 79, now Public Act 100 of 2013, enables winemakers who produce up to 5,000 gallons of wine per year to purchase a new farmers market permit.

The new law also adds small winemakers who hold a farmers market permit and are selling their wine at a farmers market to the list of individuals who can sell wine at retail.

“Southwest Michigan’s position along Lake Michigan and our climate makes the region ideal for producing a wide variety of unique and flavorful wines,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Allowing small-volume area winemakers to reach new customers is about promoting a growing industry and encouraging small business entrepreneurship in Michigan, which is vital to long-term economic growth.

“Michigan has more than 100 wineries offering a taste of Pure Michigan, and our wine and grape industries also contribute more than $800 million annually to the state’s economy.”

Proos has a list of local farmers markets on his Senate website at SenatorJohnProos.com and under “Find a Farmers Market Near You.”

Residents can also find a farmers market anywhere in Michigan by using an online tool on the Michigan Farmers Market Association page. Visit www.mifma.org and click on “Find a Farmers Market.”

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Proos Tours Cassopolis’ Ag-Science Program

Cassopolis Ag ScienceWSJM – Radio

Jason Scott Reporting

After introducing Senate Bill 66, which would help more schools bring technology-based learning to classrooms and promote career-based learning, state Senator John Proos was in Cassopolis this week to tour an Ag-Science program. Cassopolis Public Schools this year opened an Ag-Science program at the redesigned Red Brick School. The program allows students to spend half of the school day earning English, math, computer and elective credits in an agriculture-based curriculum. Proos says programs like these “provide educational experiences that help schools to meet the needs of every student.” The Cassopolis FFA program continues to be a force as it will send two state championship teams to Louisville, Kentucky to compete on the national stage.

Tele-Town Hall a Resounding Success

Proos on the PhoneI recently held the latest in a series of “tele-town hall” meetings to discuss our accomplishments and to hear from residents about their priorities. It was a resounding success with more than 7,800 residents participating.

I strongly believe that listening to the hardworking people of Southwest Michigan is vital and irreplaceable to being a good public servant.

During the meeting, thousands of families and job providers were able to hear what we have been doing and express their viewpoints.

In addition to having 14 people ask me live questions, everyone was able to give their opinion on a series of important issues facing Michigan.

While the reforms we made are resulting in an improving Michigan economy and reduced unemployment, pocketbook issues continue to be the top priority for Southwest Michigan.

When asked what issue is most important to them and their families, 49 percent of residents cited that more needs to be done to match students’ skills sets with jobs that are in demand. I could not agree more, which is why I will continue to stress the importance of career and technical training. In fact, only 37 percent of participants believed that their children or grandchildren had access to career and technical training.

I was encouraged that 79 percent of participants said they intended to visit an agri-tourism location this fall. As an agri-tourist, you can enjoy Southwest Michigan with family and friends, while also supporting local businesses and the entire community.

Thank you to everyone who called in and listened or asked a question. Your input valuable to me, and I always enjoy hearing your opinions. If you were unable to participate in the tele-town hall and have an insight to share, please contact my office by calling 517-373-6960 or emailing senjproos@senate.michigan.gov.

Program to Give 18,000 Christmas Trees to Military Families

Trees 4 Troops 2012It is the mission of Trees for Troops to give every family of America’s service men and women a wonderful Christmas morning that begins with gathering around an American- growth Christmas tree.

As a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, Trees for Troops will deliver approximately 18,000 Christmas trees this year, with a majority of those going to military families at 62 bases from every branch of the armed services.

I recently assisted National Guard members and other volunteers at Wahmhoff Tree Farm in Gobles to help pack and ship Christmas trees.

Wahmhoff Farms every year contributes more than 100 trees to the Trees for Troops program, and this year’s trees are heading to families in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Since 2005, Trees for Troops has provided 103,186 Christmas trees to military families and troops, and the success of the program is rooted in the generosity of volunteers and supporters. Each year individuals and businesses, like Wahmhoff Farms and Fedex, who donate trees, coordinate shipping, or make contributions help bring holiday joy to thousands of deserving service men and women and their families.

If you were not able to make it out for Trees for Troops loading day, you can always support the program through a tax-deductible donation. For more information on the program, or to make donation, visit www.treesfortroops.org.

Visitors to the website can also view photos and video of the program and leave a message for the troops.

Berrien County Youth Fair Displays the Talent of our Youth, Builds Character

One of the highlights of summer takes place next week in Berrien Springs.

The talent of young people from across Southwest Michigan will be on display at the Berrien County Youth Fair, running from Aug. 13-18.

The event will include more than 14,000 exhibits ranging from dairy, beef and sheep to home economics and horticulture, presented by more than 2,500 youth from 5 to 20 years old.

These exhibits exemplify the fair’s vision: “Building the character of the community by developing the character of our youth.” As anyone who has displayed at a fair knows, it takes hard work and perseverance to produce a winning entry. And it makes winners out of all those who enter.

For more than six decades, the Berrien County Youth Fair has been honoring these young ladies and gentlemen for their hard work. This year the winners will be rewarded with cash prizes, trophies, savings bonds and gift certificates.

The county fair, one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest, also includes outstanding entertainment. This year the grandstand artists include Arkansas native and country music star Justin Moore and rock singer Bret Michaels.

The fair has consistently fulfilled its purpose of promoting and advancing the interests of agriculture, horticulture, household arts and related fields while instilling character in our young people and building a solid foundation for our future.

I applaud the Berrien County Youth Fair for their wonderful work in Southwest Michigan, and I encourage residents to join me at the fair.

For more information about the fair and to purchase grandstand tickets, please visit www.bcyf.org.

Allow Hunters to Help Farmers Protect Crops from Excess Deer

Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry, yet hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crops are lost each year due to nuisance deer. The problem has been exacerbated over the years as the number of deer has increased.

Farmers and other landowners may soon be able to enlist the help of hunters to protect their crops.

Legislation I sponsored may soon be signed into law to create a “Hunters Helping Landowners” program in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program will help connect farmers experiencing crop losses with potential hunters interested in helping reduce the number of excess deer.

Individuals willing to hunt nuisance deer would submit an application to the DNR and indicate up to two Michigan counties in which they are interested in hunting. Landowners who need additional antlerless deer harvested on their property would contact the DNR and request a list of those who have expressed interest in hunting in their county.

I modeled the program after an Indiana initiative and designed it to complement an earlier reform that gives landowners with significant crop damage more flexibility in managing deer on their property.

My previous reform became law in March, allowing someone with a DNR deer damage shooting permit to include up to 15 authorized shooters to implement the permit.

Southwest Michigan families know about the importance of agriculture to our region and way of life. I worked to enact both of these common-sense measures because they will allow our family farmers to protect their livelihoods and the crops that fuel a multi-billion-dollar industry and support thousands of Michigan jobs.

Proos Nuisance Deer Legislation Goes to the Governor

WSJM- Radio

State Senator John Proos says that he has a plan to help Michigan farmers better protect their crops from nuisance deer. Legislation that he introduced to hook those farmers up with eager hunters is now on its way to Governor Rick Snyder. Under Proos’ bill, farmers looking to rid themselves of those troublesome deer can simply contact the Department of Natural Resources and find out who in their county has signed up to be a special volunteer hunter.

A previous plan from Proos allowed a few extra deer to be shot offseason if they’re found to be a nuisance to farmers. This new legislation organizes the process a bit by letting the DNR match up the farmers with the shooters. Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign it.