Michigan’s local and regional food sector is important to the state’s economy. Does Michigan have the workforce to sustain and grow this system?

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Michigan Local and Regional Food System Workforce Assessment

Michigan-grown and processed foods are vital to Michigan’s economy and workforce. Food and agriculture contributes $104.7 billion annually to Michigan’s economy and is the largest portion of the state’s workforce.

Availability of quality jobs is critical to improving Michigan communities and the economy. Over 1 million (29%) of Michigan’s households work to make a living but still have insufficient income to make ends meet.

Over 400,000 people are employed in Michigan's food system. Michigan food system wages, overall, have been rising at a higher average annual rate than other industries in the state.

Local and regional food system development in Michigan has centered on building collaboration infrastructure around the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter, a document that provides a roadmap for health and economic development outcomes.

As this work has progressed, it has become increasingly important to understand the workforce behind local and regional food system and how to ensure that workforce grows and develops.

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems collaborated with Kalamazoo Valley Community College, MSU Extension, and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce to examine the local and regional food system workforce landscape in Michigan.

Our research included:

  • A scan of Michigan’s food system jobs: where we collected and analyzed secondary labor market data to identify local and regional food systems employment; demand; projected growth; median wages; and worker demographics.
  • An employer’s perspective of Michigan’s local and regional food system workforce. This included:
    • Surveying employers to better understand employment and skill shortages and critical factors related to current and future workforce demand, and
    • Interviewing local and regional food system stakeholders to complement the survey data to better understand the current and future mix of jobs, potential career pathways, and availability of and gaps in education and training needs.
  • A scan of education and training opportunities in Michigan’s local and regional food system: an inventory of education and training programs for local and regional food system jobs.

Read the reports:


Assessment Team

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems Rich Pirog, Director
Jude Barry, Assistant Director
Kalamazoo Valley Community College Rachel Bair, Director for Sustainable and Innovative Food Systems
MSU Extension Kaitlin Wojciak, Community Food Systems Educator
Corporation for a Skilled Workforce Jeannine La Prad, Senior Fellow