Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this month reversed a policy from the Snyder administration that blocked commercial solar energy projects on property enrolled in the state’s farmland preservation program.

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LANSING — Michigan lawmakers are allocating $15 million to a low-interest loan program to help farmers wrestling with crop losses associated with historic rainfall this spring.

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GRAND RAPIDS — In the restaurant business, nothing can mess up a night like the broiler breaking down just before the dinner hour on a busy weekend. Or the ice machine in the bar going down. Or the walk-in cooler or freezer failing. Or the kitchen ventilation system malfunctioning. Those are situations that Daniel Estrada and Joe Gallagher believe their startup company can help to fix and avoid.

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According to Nielsen data supplied by the United States Association of Cider Makers, the cider beverage category continues to expand, with off-premise sales up 9.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018 versus the prior year. Customers also are buying local: Regional cider sales are growing four times as fast as national cider brands.

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After producing mead commercially for the past year, Alto-based Grims Bee LLC plans to expand and open its first consumer-facing store and tasting room in nearby Middleville.

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ALPINE TOWNSHIP — Dunneback Fruit Farm LLC aims to offer customers something new in addition to the fruits and vegetables grown at the multi-generational family farm. The business will use fruits, hops and other products from the farming operation to make beer, wine and cider and serve them in an on-site tasting room at 3025 6 Mile Road NW.

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As more generations become exposed over time to the craft beer industry, brewers will face new opportunities to find growth and challenges to their existing business models. Add in a healthy dose of regulatory uncertainty and shifting market dynamics that could easily catch breweries off guard financially if they scaled up too large, too soon and it’s easy to see that the craft brewing industry remains in a state of constant flux.

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In the hyper-competitive craft beer industry in which growth has started to level off in recent years, Old Nation Brewing Co. proves the exception to the rule. The Williamston-based brewery has garnered a name for itself with its M-43 brand, a popular New England-style hazy India Pale Ale that carries a suggested retail price of $13.99 per four-pack of 16-ounce cans.

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Although Michigan has earned a spot among the nation’s top producers of hops after a growth spurt in the last five years, 2018 served as a moment of reckoning for the state’s growers, whose overall acreage declined. The state remains the fourth-largest cultivator of hops, although still lags well behind the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., where almost 96 percent of the nearly 58,000 acres of hops are grown in the country.

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Michigan is “a natural fit” for industrial hemp production, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday as the state launched an industrial hemp pilot program for the 2019 planting season. The new program allows for the growth, cultivation and marketing of Michigan grown industrial hemp.

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