A workforce needs assessment for Missouri’s food, agriculture and forestry industry

An agro processing plant and silos fronted by a cornfieldMissouri’s agriculture and forestry industries contribute over $88 billion to the state’s economy — approximately 15% of total state GDP. The University of Missouri's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has set a goal to double the economic impact of the state’s agricultural sector. The development of a 21st-century agriculture workforce is a critical step toward accomplishing this ambitious goal.

To better understand these challenges, University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Agricultural Foundation are undertaking a workforce needs assessment for Missouri’s food, agriculture and forestry industry. This project will focus on worker demand within four primary segments of the agricultural sector — agricultural producers, agricultural inputs and services, food and related products manufacturing and forestry products manufacturing — and consider the challenges that employers face in meeting that demand.

Our approach

Smiling woman in lab coat and hard hat in meat factoryThe research team will utilize a mixed-method approach to complete the needs assessment. Secondary data sources will highlight the most commonly sought jobs, in-demand skills and certifications and relevant degree completions within each segment of Missouri’s agricultural sector. This information will show current and future workforce trends and patterns. The research team will also actively engage employers and industry leaders through focus groups and a statewide survey of employers to gather information not readily available from secondary data sources. 

The final report will help industry leaders, educators and policymakers make the data-driven decisions and investments necessary to strengthen Missouri’s food, agriculture and forestry current and future workforce.

Project outcomes

This effort will result in a detailed report that will allow Missouri agricultural employers, industry leaders and policymakers to have a better understanding of:

  • The composition of Missouri’s food, agriculture and forestry workforce
  • The scale of current and future demands for workers and skills
  • Relevant education and training needs, and Missouri’s capacity to meet those needs
  • The critical workforce issues around which to focus future efforts


For more information, contact:
Mark C. White | MU Extension
Teresa Lee | Missouri Agricultural Foundation
Davin Althoff | Missouri Department of Agriculture