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MDARD Unveils Finding of the 2021 Food and Ag Housing Task Force Report

On Thursday, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell unveiled the 2021 Food and Agriculture Housing Task Force report aimed at helping to alleviate the challenges and impediments to having ample housing for the state’s growing food and agriculture business sector.

“COVID-19 has shone a bright light on the challenges for providing agriculture housing and the critical role our food and ag workers play in preserving our supply chain,” said McDowell. “The Task Force compiled public input, which will be used to help shape the group’s recommendations for food and agriculture housing while balancing the unique needs of each community.”

Created in 2020, the Food and Agriculture Housing Task Force’s goal was to investigate the need for housing in the state’s growing $104.7 billion food and agriculture sector. The assumption was that a lack of affordable housing was playing a key role in the labor shortages processers and producers were facing in Michigan and that it had it threatened the security of our food supply chain. Workforce housing and labor is essential when recruiting new companies to Michigan and for current companies to expand in the state.

Led by MDARD, the task force is compromised of the departments of Environment, Great Lakes and Environment and Labor and Economic Opportunity, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, USDA Rural Development, and Michigan Farm Bureau.

The five key action items identified by the Food and Agriculture Housing Task Force:

  • Identify a dedicated funding source for the Michigan Housing and Community Development Program.
  • Amend the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
  • Conduct a statewide survey with GIS mapping to determine where food and ag housing is needed.
  • Work with key stakeholders to identify build ready sites.
  • Work with the newly created Migrant Labor Housing Advisory Board to build housing for agricultural workers that provides a low-cost rental option for workers and employers. This type of housing would fill gaps where farmers are not able to provide housing.

The full report is available for download on the MDARD website.

For more information on MDARD’s programs, please visit Michigan.gov/MDARD.