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Food and Agriculture Task Force to Examine Housing Issues

The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has launched a task force to hear about housing needs of agricultural and food processing communities across Michigan. 


The task force includes a number of different state agencies as well as some federal, among them are EGLE, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and even the USDA Rural Development.


Dr. James Averill is the deputy director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and is heading up the task force. He says the group will host town hall meetings to gather information from community leaders and agriculture workers.


He said the task force will explore housing solutions as the agriculture industry transitions from its family-based model to an industry that hires more outside workers. 


One other important aspect that Averill highlighted was that the taskforce is also getting the food processing side of the industry involved as well. He said the industry in Michigan is a lot more nuanced than it might seem.


“Michigan has a diverse agricultural industry, it's way more than just sows plows and cows, there’s a lot of what we call specialty crops,” he explained. The specialty crops include various fruits and veggies within the state that are in need of processing in order to be enjoyed year round, this has led to a whole industry based around it within the state. He said the processors are as much a part of the industry as the farmers.


Averill said a report will be released in the late spring or summer based on the findings from surveys, town hall, and one-on-one meetings.


“By late spring early summer we can have that all assimilated and be identifying what are the impediments for housing in the food and ag sector here in Michigan, then we’ll use that to try and drive and identify solutions to mitigate those impediments and see if we can help move the needle on this issue,” said Averill.


The survey can be taken here:


Information for each town hall meeting is listed below:


Taylor – Wednesday, February 5

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wayne County Community College, Ray Mix Conference Room

21000 Northline Rd., Taylor


Grand Rapids – Tuesday, February 11

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Western Michigan University – GR Beltline Campus, Woodland Suites

2333 E. Beltline Ave., SE, Grand Rapids


Kalamazoo – Wednesday, February 12

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

MDOT Office Building, East/West Conference Rooms

1501 E. Kilgore, Kalamazoo


Frankenmuth – Tuesday, March 10

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center, Exhibition Room

3775 S. Reese Rd., Frankenmuth


Traverse City – Monday, March 30

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

NW Michigan Horticultural Research Center

6686 S. Center Hwy., Traverse City


Escanaba – Tuesday, March 31

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Bay de Noc Community College, Room 952, Herman University Center

2001 N. Lincoln Rd., Escanaba