Ongoing research: Missouri agricultural and forestry sector workforce needs assessment

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 College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has set a goal to double the economic impact of the state’s agricultural sector by 2030. 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 agricultural sector. This project will focus on worker demand within three primary segments of the agricultural sector — agricultural producers (including forestry), activities that provide support and services to producers and value-added agricultural activities (e.g., meat processing) — 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, skills and certifications within each segment of Missouri’s agricultural sector.

The research team also will actively engage employers and industry leaders through focus groups and a survey of agricultural employers to better understand specific agricultural workforce challenges.

We will collect input from key agricultural and agribusiness leaders through an employer survey and employer and stakeholder focus groups will take place toward the end of the year. Combined, this research will provide a solid foundation of facts that will ensure that Missouri takes a data-driven approach to address the pressing workforce needs of the state’s agricultural sector.

Project outcomes

This effort will result in a detailed report containing information that will allow Missouri agricultural employers, industry leaders and policymakers to:

  • Better understand the current composition of Missouri’s existing agricultural workforce
  • Identify current and future demands for workers and skills
  • Highlight agricultural education and training needs, now and in the future
  • Determine 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