The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) International Marketing Program annually recognizes a leading food and agriculture exporter through its ‘Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year’ award to a deserving Michigan food or agriculture company. This special honor can bring further success, signaling to international buyers a company’s quality and commitment to exporting.

Companies of all sizes are encouraged to apply. To be eligible for the award, a company's products must be over 50 percent grown, processed or manufactured in Michigan. Companies with headquarters in other states, but production facilities in Michigan, are invited to apply on the basis of their Michigan-made exports.

Previous winners include: Zeeland Farm Services, Walters Gardens Inc., Zeeland; Honee Bear Canning, Lawton; Cooperative Elevator Company, Pigeon; Cherry Central, Traverse City; and Michigan Apple Committee, DeWitt.

Overall, Michigan ranks 18th in agricultural exports nationally.  The state’s top five export markets are Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, and South Korea. Additionally, the top agricultural exports were soybeans, corn, dairy, and fresh/processed vegetables.

International markets continue to be a growing source of business for Michigan’s food and agricultural companies. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures show a steady increase in Michigan’s overall food and agricultural exports with exports reaching $3.2 billion and 22,000 jobs in 2012, an increase of 3.4 percent in economic activity from the prior year.  Export figures are approaching a level that has almost doubled since 2010, in line with Governor Rick Snyder’s goal to double agricultural exports by 2015 to $3.5 billion.

Behind this increase in export sales are many food and agricultural companies who have increased production and overcome obstacles to enter new markets and grow their business overseas. USDA estimates that for every $1 generated in agricultural exports translates into another $1.29 in economic activity, meaning Michigan’s total agriculture exports of $3.2 billion has a local impact of an additional $4.18 billion.

If your company has experienced export success during 2013, consider applying for this award. Applications are due March 12, 2014. For more information visit MDARD’s International Marketing Program, or contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers at or at 517-284-5738.  A copy of the application can be downloaded by clicking here!

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