Joint study looks at Missouri ag workforce development

A study by the Missouri Agriculture Foundation and University of Missouri Extension is projecting 13,000 annual job openings in agriculture over the next decade.

MU Extension’s Mark White says Missouri’s ag industry is a mix of ag focused jobs like farming and jobs indirectly tied to ag, such as accounting.

“We have some jobs that are unique that we need to create a pipeline of talent for and other jobs that are in demand throughout the economy where we need to compete for those folks,” White said.

He said that pipeline for jobs includes programs like 4-H and FFA that foster interest in the ag sector.

White said people moving away from rural areas has caused headaches for ag based employers trying to find enough people to fill open positions.

“The real challenge is just finding people, you know, because you’re not necessarily looking for people with four-year degrees,” he said. “You’re looking for people with a strong work-ethic who can be reliable.”

White said businesses like large meat processors have struggled to find employees, pushing them towards automation to fill those jobs. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up that process.

Most of the study took place before the pandemic and draws conclusions based on non-pandemic circumstances. The study can be found at MU Extension’s website.

Mark White Interview

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