By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-Bob Cadeau called it a chain reaction.
“The area tree trimers stopped working, then the customer calls slowed way down—it all ground to a halt,” said Cadeau, owner of the Michigan Timber Shack, 2076 E. Seymour Lake Road. “It was a tough time.”
Cadeau along with thousands of other small agriculture businesses were reeling earlier this year due to the coronavirus shut down. The small township business, started about five years ago and mills rough lumber to be used for furniture, kitchen countertops or fireplace mantels along with other useful custom items. With the lack of a steady timber supply sales declined and some financial assistance was needed.
The coronavirus was also costly for business to help keep employees working and on the job health safety.
“It helped out,” he said. “The extra funds came along at a great time.
The Michigan Timber Shack along with Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm LLC and The Polk Around Farm LLC also received grants. The local ag businesses were among 124 small farms of less than 10 employees that received part of $567,000 in grants for COVID-19 risk mitigation through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Small Farm Safety Grants.
Approved in July, the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant program allocated a total of $15 million of federal CARES Act funding to provide much-needed funding to Michigan’s agricultural processors and farms’ COVID-19 mitigation efforts in support of this critical industry in the state.
Awarded on a first come, first serve basis the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants helped to retain 26,003 jobs with 26 percent of grants being awarded in geographically disadvantaged areas. Funds can be used to cover testing costs, personal protection equipment, facility needs and more to help mitigate the risks of COVID-19.
“This grant has been a big blessing to help offset the other expenses and losses we have experienced this year because of COVID-19,” said Catherine Genovese, owner of Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm who received an MEDC Small Farm Safety Grant. “It will ensure that we have necessary PPE going into our busiest season, including masks, wipes and plexiglass screens to ensure the safety of both our employees and our clients.”