The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), in partnership with the Michigan Restaurant Association and Travel Michigan, has launched the Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance. The initiative aims to increase menu offerings of local products at restaurants across the state, boost sales and profitability for Michigan specialty crop producers and promote Michigan as a destination for culinary travel experiences.

The Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with matching funds provided by MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. The project was one of 745 grant recipients selected by USDA in 2009 under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, a program designed to increase the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops.

"We are excited to be a part of this project as many of our members are already actively supporting local producers and offering a unique Michigan experience when people dine," said Rob Gifford, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association, in a statement. "With the coordinated efforts provided through this grant, we will expand these experiences and help make Michigan known as a travel destination, allowing consumers a chance to fully experience the bounty of our great state."