Birds eye view of a tractor cultivating fields of grass. Photo by Loren King from Pixabay.

Policy Memo: Michigan Farmers of Color and the Future of Sustainable Food Systems​

September 30, 2020 - ​ <>, <>, <>

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Executive Summary

Historically, racial and ethnic disparities in agriculture and the food system experienced by farmers of color (FoC) in the United States and in Michigan stem from an exploitative and racialized agricultural system in which white people have primarily benefited and profited. Sustainable agriculture with a strong orientation toward racial justice can serve as a medium for building more racial equity and transforming our racialized food system. Such a medium ensures that the resources to participate and contribute to a sustainable food system are accessible to everyone, not just those with significant power and resources. Although the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is in the initial phases of developing a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan, there is currently no specific plan to support and target FoC. While there are several programs performing this work from grassroot organizations, civic groups, extension services, and others, there is no comprehensive statewide effort to create support systems for FoC in Michigan. To address this issue, we recommend the creation of an incentivized farm program as a way to address agrarian racial and ethnic disparities experienced by FoC and advance an equitable and just sustainable food system within the state of Michigan.


Carr, K. N., García Polanco, V., & Tyler, S. (2020). Michigan farmers of color and the future of sustainable food systems​. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 17(1). 

Corresponding Author

Kimberly N. Carr, 


sustainable food systems; agrarian racial and ethnic disparities; sustainability; farmers of color; agriculture; Michigan


The authors would like to acknowledge Jennifer Silveri, Director of Operations, Michigan Food and Farming Systems, Dr. Michael O'Rourke, Director, MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity, Rich Pirog, Director, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and Dr. Stephanie Vasko, Managing Director, MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity, and members of MSU Scicomm for their feedback and support.


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