Valuing Michigan's Local Food System


May 21, 2014 - Steve Miller, John Mann, <>, <>, <> & <>

The MSU Center for Economic Analysis and CRFS have created a brief on the economic impact of local food in Michigan. This analysis examines the value of Michigan's agricultural food products from the farm through processing, retailing, and to the consumer.

Communities across the U.S. and within Michigan are increasingly interested in developing local food systems as a strategy for local economic development and growth. Such strategies to build local food systems is consistent with Governor Snyder’s “Economic Gardening” strategy where the economic development policy emphasis is on developing enabling infrastructure to support locally grown businesses. Supporting local food systems as an economic development strategy has logical merit in Michigan, as the MSU Product Center estimates that some 930,000 Michigan jobs were tied to the agricultural sector in 2012.

There may be other considerations beside economic growth for supporting local food systems. First, environmental concerns of modern global food systems has called into question the environmental sustainability of existing food systems that promote monocultural growing practices and vast shipping distances. Second, local food systems contribute to the sociological constructs that define a region through food, culture and community. Third, local food systems may be more transparent to consumers and contribute to what some researchers call democratization of food systems, where consumers have more control over the process and consumption of what they eat.

In 2011, Michigan farms generated about $9.03 billion in agri‐food commodities. About $5.0 billion was exported. Of the remaining $4.0 billion about $2.5 billion went to processors for further processing. Processed foods that are exported are removed from the analysis. The findings suggest that Michigan’s local food system, from farm to plate, supports 18,627 jobs along the agri‐food value chain. Unprocessed foods make up the largest share. These jobs are supported with over $680 million in wages and proprietors’ income. This represents about 17.7 percent of Michigan’s total food consumption sales.



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