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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A Decatur couple has pleaded guilty in federal court to multi-million dollar fraud charges involving their operation of one of Southwest Michigan’s largest corporate farms.

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Succession planning can be an emotionally-charged family affair for businesses in any industry. That’s especially true for all sizes of family-owned farms, which make up more than 97 percent of the industry nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Graci Harkema wants to break the craft beer industry’s bearded white male stereotype. In January, she became diversity and inclusion director at Founders Brewing Co., where she’s working to give employees opportunities to “be their authentic selves and achieve their goals.” Her hire followed a pair of controversies at Founders.

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When Chico, Calif.-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. put out the “bat signal” seeking help to support victims of last year’s catastrophic Camp Fire in northern California, the Michigan craft brewing industry set into motion. Their rallying point: Resilience Butte County Proud IPA. Sierra Nevada created the beer as a fundraiser, pledging to donate 100 percent of its profits from the sale of the product to the Camp Fire Relief Fund. The 10th-largest U.S. brewery then shared the recipe online and encouraged breweries all over the country to participate.

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The founding couple whose initials gave ELK Brewing LLC its name are no longer with the company.

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LITCHFIELD — Proposed commercial-scale maltster Independent Barley & Malt Inc. has signed an exclusive supplier agreement with Maumee, Ohio-based The Andersons Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Litchfield-based Independent Barley & Malt will use The Andersons (Nasdaq: ANDE) to source, supply, deliver and store the malting barley it will use in its operations.

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GRAND RAPIDS — A federal judge has ordered the financially-embattled Boersen Farms Inc., related entity Boersen Farms AG LLC, and its owners to pay nearly $14.9 million to Tennessee-based Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC for unpaid debts.

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A federal agency has charged Michigan’s largest egg producer with harassing a line worker and then retaliating against her for reporting the behavior.

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Discussions about global warming often concern what could happen in the future, but West Michigan fruit growers are adapting to changes in the climate that have already been happening for decades. Jeff VanderWerff, a fourth-generation grower at Sparta-based VanderWerff Farms LLC, said he and his brother, Joe VanderWerff, spend more time than they care to admit watching changing climate patterns.

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