Southwest MO Startup AgButler Connects Farmers to Workforce
Learn how the startup is bringing agricultural labor into the gig economy.
Revitalizing Rural Farms
Agriculture is the heart of rural communities across the United States. And just like any other industry, farmers and ranchers have found themselves facing serious workforce challenges in recent years.
Producers spend valuable time and energy looking for skilled laborers to tend to crops, take care of livestock, and other activities that have to happen for their operation to remain economically viable. Social media channels are flooded with posts seeking part-time labor to help with milking cows, hauling hay, or clipping cattle. Each year hundreds of producers go without the help they need while laborers struggle to find work that matches their skills.
Kevin Johansen is on a mission to solve this problem. Johansen is the founder and CEO of southwest Missouri based AgTech startup, AgButler, a solution that brings agriculture labor into the modern-day gig economy.
As a fifth-generation farmer and former day laborer, Johansen understood the challenges facing the industry and identified the missing piece. Johansen was born in Tipton, MO and later studied agriculture at Missouri State University. Throughout college and early adulthood he regularly worked as a day laborer and had a first-hand view into the workforce challenges facing agriculture. After returning to the family operation, he knew there needed to be a centralized platform connecting laborers to producers.
“The AgButler story directly connects with my foundation in agriculture. My family runs a Charolais and Hereford seedstock operation,” Johansen said. “Nothing gets me more excited than connecting farmers and ranchers from across the country with my fellow skilled laborers and to give back to the industry I was raised in.”
How It Works
AgButler is a mobile application designed to help solve agricultural workforce shortages. It works by creating a network of experienced ag laborers made accessible in real-time. Similar to ride-sharing, the platform allows farmers, ranchers and/or agribusinesses to connect with available laborers filtered by location, ratings, work experience and availability. The entire experience – from posting available work to being paid for completed labor – all lives within a secure structure organized in the app.
When surveyed, producers overwhelmingly cited reliability and trustworthiness as their top concerns when hiring labor. AgButler validates those characteristics by vetting laborers and building in accountability in the form of star ratings. The solution meets the needs of laborers, as well. Users can easily search for jobs and filter them to a particular radius of their location.
AgButler has already proven itself to be a popular solution. The platform was named the People’s Choice Winner in Farm Credit Services of America’s Innovation Challenge earlier this year and has secured endorsements from the National Center for Beef Excellence, Missouri State University’s William H. Darr College of Agriculture, University of Missouri Extension, the Missouri Farm Bureau, and Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.
Bringing AgButler to Market
Johansen has assembled a team with deep industry expertise and experience to bring AgButler to market. The initial launch efforts will be focused on Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas, where more than 350,000 individuals take part in paid farm work each year.
Expansion plans include Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota before ultimately moving both west and east to capture the rest of the United States. In total, nearly 2.5 million Americans are employed as farm workers across the U.S.
Southwest Missouri producers and laborers can sign up and get started today!