Labor shortages are causing a great concern for several industries, including agriculture. In some states, there are fewer job seekers than there are jobs, states a writer from the Dairy Herd Management Magazine. 

According to the USDA’s annual Farm Labor Report, “U.S. farms and livestock operations employed 11% fewer workers during one-week periods this past January and April compared to the same weeks in 2020.” 

One may ask, how are we working around this pressing problem in the agricultural industry? Heartland AG Systems employees and valued customers give their insight on how the labor shortages are affecting their operations and how they are dealing with those effects. 

How big is the labor shortage really?


Tyson Shelly, a Salesman at Heartland AG Systems, says “About 50% of customers in my territory are actively seeking hired help and the rest of them would hire if the right person walked through the door.” He continues, saying “Most customers are anticipating it getting worse because we seem to see more and more people move to larger cities and with retailers being primarily in rural areas, it is hard to find prospects that stick around.” Co-ops aren’t the only ones struggling to find help. At the dealership level, a full workforce is not exactly in sight either. “The number of enrollments for incoming diesel technicians is lacking compared to the retirement rate of current technicians. We are also seeing more technicians moving on from their current role into something more advanced, despite their need in the industry”, says Kerry Taylor, Operations Manager at Heartland AG Systems. A customer of Heartland AG Systems says. “Although we are still at a shortage, having multiple locations gives us some flexibility to move employees and machines around to offer opportunities of growth within the company.”  

When a company faces a labor shortage, it affects more than just the workload for the employees. For example, when a business is short on technicians, they do not have enough boots on the ground to meet their customers’ machine repair needs in the field. This causes the customers and the dealerships to lose revenue. They put their future business at risk by falling short of meeting their customers’ expectations. All the employees involved feel additional stress because they have the same amount of work to do with less time to do it. When unexpected labor shortages put customers and employees in difficult situations, the retention of both is at risk. 

One tactic businesses can use to find potential workers to fill the positions is by asking current employees for referrals. This way, an experienced employee knows the qualities of a potential candidate coming in and can see if they would be a good fit for the company. Another tactic that continues to help with labor shortages is larger and more efficient machines. Although this helps take care of the workload put on employees, this is only a short-term solution to the problem. According to a customer of Heartland AG Systems, “Since the ag industry is known to work beyond the 8 AM – 5 PM hours, the key is to find employees that are willing to work full days when needed.”  

Despite the apparent long road ahead in retaining employees, agricultural businesses are remaining strong and finding ways to work around the obstacle. Their commitment to serving their customers is helping farmers put food on the tables for our growing world. We are hopeful that in the near future, we can find a solution to the labor issue and get the ag industry to be more productive than ever. 


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