FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 12, 2013


Growing Michigan dairy industry creates need for skilled workforce

New study reveals shortage of qualified labor available for dairy industry

LANSING – Michigan’s dairy industry is growing and looking to hire additional workers according to a new study released by the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan (ALM). According to the study, while many farmers need to hire workers, they are finding it difficult to hire qualified workers to fill their workforce needs.

The study was conducted by Bill Knudson, an economist with the Michigan State University Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA). The study focused on the labor needs of MMPA members.

“Dairy is Michigan’s top agricultural commodity, and the industry is on track to continue growing, creating jobs and contributing to Michigan’s vibrant agricultural economy,” said Ken Nobis, president of MMPA. “The industry needs to have a qualified labor force so that we can take advantage of opportunities for growth. This survey is the first step to ensure we’re aligning employee skills with the current and future needs of agriculture in Michigan so the industry can continue to expand and contribute to Michigan’s economy.”

According to Nobis, increasing milk production in Michigan has created a trend toward larger dairy farms — those with 400 cows or more. The study notes that these larger operations tend to require more highly skilled employees, suggesting that the industry should focus on developing additional agricultural training programs and identifying career paths for advancement to keep up with industry trends.

The survey identified several steps that could be taken to aid the recruitment of employees including:

  • The development of an online job bank
  • Standardizing job titles and descriptions across the industry to make it easier for employers to communicate opportunities and recruit employees
  • Reaching out to students and parents to educate them about career opportunities in the industry

In response to the study, MMPA, along with other dairy industry representatives, are exploring opportunities to develop an online job bank to help match employers with qualified workers.

The executive summary for this report is available online.