TEA Party lobbies for ag jobsPublished 9:19pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — Cass County 912 TEA Party Patriots lobbied the state House Agriculture Committee chairman Tuesday night for a new farming strategy.
As articulated by Mark Jamrog of Edwardsburg, he proposes working through major implement manufacturers to establish small manufacturing facilities turning out their parts so southwest Michigan can create new jobs and “take the high road,” instead of trying to poach positions from surrounding states.
Equipment parts Jamrog is talking about have been outsourced.
Another potential job source would be processing.
“All the crops we grow in this state are processed somewhere,” Rep. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, said. “That’s another way we could make a lot of money, but you’re talking about the equipment for that processing as well, which comes from overseas suppliers. The governor needs to hear this.”
Jamrog said, “The deal with processing is it’s a big footprint, but it’s very technical, with a lot of engineers. We don’t have a lot of technical people. Over 85 percent of us down here are high school graduates. I’m not interested in going to Indiana or Illinois and robbing their jobs, but I am interested in going to Mexico or China and going to John Deere and asking what Michigan has to do to get you to start thinking about your supply chain here in Michigan.”
Jamrog stressed there is urgency.
“We’re not bleeding people down here, we’re spurting, and we need to do something. Forty percent of our people between the ages of 30 and 44 left the 6th congressional District in the last 10 years.”
Daley acknowledged Lansing has been more focused on opening export markets for agricultural products than on growing jobs here.
Daley reported that AGCO, which owns Massey-Ferguson and the old Allis Chalmers, conglomerated into one, just moved its tractor manufacturing over 100 horsepower back to the States.
“In our area, we have a German company that makes nothing but bolts for the automobile industry, and I said, ‘Why aren’t you doing this for the agricultural industry?’ They said they’re working toward it,” Daley said.
“The overhead cost of building things overseas,” Jamrog said, “the back and forth, quality problems and losing people who are sick of spending their lives on airplanes, this is something Michigan could sell. All the major assembly plants are within 200 miles of here. We could build it in the morning, ship it in the afternoon and all the inventory in the pipeline goes away.”
It being the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the 912 TEA Party, which takes its name from the national unity the day after tragic terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, remembered the victims.
Daley, from Lapeer County, is a fourth-generation centennial farm owner and one of a few active farmers in the Michigan Legislature, which he was elected to in 2008 after 24 years in township government. He and Debbie, his wife of 31 years who teaches school, have three grown children.