Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Sept. 23, 2020

Opportunities in Agriculture

I’m a firm believer in America as a land of opportunity. I’m also a firm believer in the opportunities the land provides us.

Here in Missouri, agriculture contributes an estimated $88 billion annually to our state’s economy and employs nearly 400,000 people across the state. And according to a recently released report, this field is expected to provide steady employment opportunities for years to come.

According to a report released in July by the Missouri Agriculture Foundation and University of Missouri Extension, Missouri’s ag sector is projected to have 13,000 annual job openings over the next decade. Now, these jobs aren’t just in farming, as one might assume. No, Missouri’s agriculture industry is incredibly diverse, with job opportunities for landscapers, farm and ranch workers, vet assistants, machine operators, accountants, truck drivers and more. Not only does this go to show the large role agriculture plays in our state, but also the wide range of opportunities Missourians have to get involved. Better yet, while some jobs in agriculture require advance degrees, the study found that most openings currently do not require post-secondary degree or certification. Instead, many of these positions emphasize on-the-job training, providing an avenue for hardworking Missourians to learn the ropes of a new job while earning a living.

These opportunities do not come without challenges though. According to the study, part of the challenge in filling positions in the agriculture industry is simply knowing these positions exist. As our rural population shrinks and the general population becomes further removed from agriculture, people become less familiar with the opportunities available through agriculture. As a result, I believe organizations like FFA and 4-H are critical to providing a vital link between the next generation and our state’s most important industry. By exposing kids to agriculture at an early age, they are showing them what a career in agriculture could provide for them – good pay and honest work. I believe we must continue supporting organizations like FFA and 4-H and all the good work they do. With an estimated 40 percent of our farmers age 55 or older, it’s essential we start growing the next generation of agriculturalists today if want to see agriculture prosper tomorrow.

As a lawmaker and the chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee, I am committed to ensuring our state’s agriculture industry remains strong for the next generation. Together, my fellow lawmakers and I will do the best we can to help the agriculture industry meet the demands of the future. The work of keeping Missouri and our nation the land of opportunity is hard, but it’s well worth it.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at