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Ag department focuses on future workforce, markets and broadband

young farmer kneeling in soybean field
TRAINING WORKERS: Is the next generation running and working on Missouri farms getting the training they need to be successful? That will be a question the state ag department tries to answer in the coming year.
Ag Matters: It’s time to put the state ag department vision into action.

“#Farming has been challenging lately but sunsets like this are God’s way of telling us He’s got this!”

I tweeted this after a long, challenging few weeks on the farm. You’ve felt these days on your farm, too — long hours, volatile commodity prices, increased input costs, technology challenges and more. As I returned to the farm a couple of days later, thinking about what is next for Missouri agriculture, I realized that nearly every piece of my farm is a part of the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s More strategic vision. The challenges you face on your farm are exactly what this vision is all about: commodity prices, animal health, business expansion, ag technology, broadband availability, workforce development and cutting regulation.

In fact, these are the challenges that the More strategic vision is made for. Whether you raise cattle, hogs, corn, soybeans, fruits or vegetables, the department is here for you with a vision to strengthen Missouri agriculture and your communities.

We’re talking ag innovation.
We’re talking government efficiency.
We’re talking agribusiness growth.
We’re talking the next generation.
We’re talking true leadership.

One year ago, we launched the More vision to improve the things our department is doing that affect life on your farms and ranches. This fall and winter, we had the chance to share this vision with you, and invite you to provide feedback on where we were headed. We listened.

I’m excited to tell you we just launched 16 individual initiatives that take our vision and put it into action. These initiatives will take the things the department already does daily to the next level, without additional taxpayer dollars. Here are a few examples of where your Missouri Department of Agriculture is headed in 2018:

Training the next agricultural workforce. Hiring an agricultural workforce is extremely challenging. We will assess workforce needs in Missouri agriculture, and build partnerships to address skill gaps and labor shortages. We will also establish a taskforce on future agriculture education in coordination with K-12, postsecondary and industry representatives.

Exploring domestic and international markets. Missouri agriculture is open for business. We will increase domestic and international market opportunities by collaborating with businesses and other organizations. The department will also analyze and work to strengthen current business programs available to Missouri farmers.

Improving high-speed internet access. Collaboration among state agencies, organizations and the private sector will determine the success of our goal to improve high-speed internet access. We will work with the Missouri Department of Economic Development to build partnerships to increase rural Missourians’ availability to high-quality, affordable broadband. This initiative includes launching Missouri’s Broadband Office to create a central point of contact for broadband information.

One of the most exciting aspects to me is that our strategic initiatives were rolled out alongside those of 15 other state agencies, showing our unified commitment to building a stronger Missouri. Working in tandem with Missouri’s cabinet members on initiatives like broadband deployment and workforce development has established unprecedented collaboration and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Human nature drives us to want to live in a way that betters the world around us, serves others and leaves our community in better shape. We wouldn’t be able to carry out our More vision without the dedication of our staff. They have pushed themselves to think outside of the box, and challenged one another to do more with less. They have been with us every step of the way as we formulated these 16 new initiatives, and they will now have the opportunity to take leadership roles in each of them.

In the coming months, you will see the More webpage updated with the leader of each initiative, as well as the progress made. To learn about More and see the full list initiatives, please visit agriculture.mo.gov/more. Visit strategicchange.mo.gov to see all the plans prepared by Missouri’s executive agencies.

Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence, Mo.

 

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