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Michigan agriculture leader reflects on 46 years in the industry

Russ White | MSU Today
Jim Byrum, Kirk Heinze

Kirk Heinze talks about agriculture with the always knowledgeable, always straightforward and always engaging, Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. Byrum is retiring from his role leading MABA next February. He discusses several key issues affecting the agriculture industry and reflects on 24 years at the helm of MABA and 46 years in the agricultural industry.

“It’s been quite a run, Kirk,” says Byrum. “I think there have been four major changes in the industry while I’ve been involved with the field. I think the most profound change, not just in agriculture but in business and in interpersonal relationships, is communication. The instantaneous nature of everything that happens today. It used to take us three days to establish communications with a European customer. Today, it's instant.”

Byrum talks about the other changes he’s seen: the impact genetics has had on production capacity, a focus on environmentally-friendly practices, and the changing economics of agriculture.

And he explains why, as he says, “consumer perception and consumer demand are what's driving the economy today in agriculture.

“Consumers need to be curious. They need to not accept Facebook at face value. They need to not believe everything on Twitter. And they need to make sure that they do what's best for their own best interest. Consumers need to pay attention to what's happening in the world and what companies are doing.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.

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