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Snyder Issues Call for Civility

by Jerry Goshert

Published: Friday, December 8, 2017

Gov. Rick Snyder wants to help Michigan farmers capture more value-added opportunities and preserve a valuable export agreement with Canada and Mexico, but, in an address to Michigan farmers last week, he also called for a return to civility among our national leaders.

"We're the greatest country in the world, but you cannot maintain the greatest-country-in-the-world status if you can't get along with yourself," Snyder said last Tuesday at the Michigan Farm Bureau Convention in Grand Rapids. "The single biggest threat we have is not some outside party. It's not some other country. It's us."

Observing the growing political rancor in Washington, D.C., Snyder said of the in-fighting, "It's not right."

In his seven years as Michigan's governor, Snyder has championed what he calls "relentless positive action." He said when people in government service work together for the common good, they can accomplish great things.

He pointed to recent successes that have helped Michigan get back on its feet after the Great Recession of 2009.

In economic terms, Michigan now ranks first among the Great Lakes states, and sixth nationally, for private job creation, after placing 50th just a few years ago, the governor said.

Michigan also leads all Great Lakes states in personal income growth, and ranks seventh nationally.

And Snyder says young workers are starting to return to Michigan. The number of people age 25-34 years old, he said, is growing faster than the national average.

"Michigan is back," Snyder said.

Addressing a farm audience, he added, "I need you to stand up and be ambassadors for our state."

Snyder said he is proud that Michigan is the second most diverse agricultural state in the nation. Agriculture has been part of that comeback story, he said. During the past year, Michigan has welcomed new processing operations for pork and dairy. One of his goals during the final year of his administration is to focus on value-added processing, which expands opportunities for farmers.

"I appreciate, in some ways, your industry has become more challenging," Snyder said. "I know prices can be difficult, in dairy and other areas. It's a more challenging environment than it was."

The governor also wants to expand exports of Michigan farm products. He personally has traveled to Europe and China over the past year to explore new trade relationships, but he has concerns the U.S. will pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would be devastating to Michigan farmers.

Michigan ranks first among U.S. states in trade volume with Canada, and is the No. 3 trading partner with Mexico.

Snyder said negotiators must fashion a "win-win" agreement.

"I believe we can improve NAFTA," Snyder said. "It's been around a long time, and there are some issues relating to dairy that are important." He added, "Let's improve it, not break it."

During his final year in office, Snyder also wants to focus on developing talent in the workforce (focusing on credentials, not just degrees), investing in infrastructure and improving fiscal responsibility. He believes paying off long-term debt should be a top priority.

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