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?

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. It is estimated that Michigan’s local food system wages and business owner income represents 17.7% of Michigan’s total food sales.

What does Michigan need in order to develop, train and maintain a workforce that can supply and sustain the market for local and regional food?

In order to answer this, we need to better understand the demand for workers and the training needed to prepare successful employees.

We will study the Michigan food system where food is grown, processed, distributed, sold, and consumed in Michigan markets, to ask:

  • What types of food system jobs are in Michigan and what do they pay?
  • What education and training needs do employers in Michigan’s food system have?
  • What are the gaps in existing training programs?

Final reports will be publicly available. They will include recommendations for:

  • Actionable responses to emerging trends
  • Job vacancies and skill shortages (now and in the future)
  • Gaps in education and training programs, curriculum, credentials, and pathways


The research will seek new information and review existing information from employers, workers, educators, training providers, and other stakeholders in Michigan’s local and regional food system.

In April and May of 2019, the assessment team will:

  • Review existing research and background documents of regional, state, and national scale
  • Collect and analyze labor market data on employment, demand, projected growth, median wages, and worker demographics
  • Survey employers about employee and skill shortages, as well as current and future demand
  • Interview stakeholders about current and future mix of jobs, potential career pathways, and education and training needs, availability and gaps


We need your help! If you are an employer, worker, education or training provider, or your work is otherwise connected to this research, please contact us at MiFoodWorkforce@skilledwork.org.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Share relevant reports or information that has already been collected through your work.
  • Share the survey with businesses and employers in your networks and associations, and encourage them to participate.
  • Participate in a stakeholder interview if you have information, ideas, and insights to share regarding the employment, education, and training needs facing the Michigan local/regional food system.

For any of the above, contact Jeannine La Prad, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, at MiFoodWorkforce@skilledwork.org.

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
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