The Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute is a non-profit agricultural education and research center working in support of family farmers. With a focus on crop diversification, the Jefferson Institute provides farmers with information on how to grow and market alternative crops. We assist producers in Missouri and other states with crops such as canola, buckwheat, amaranth, flax, sesame, sunflowers, millets, and alternative legumes. 

The Jefferson Institute was founded in 1997, with offices in Columbia, MO. Institute staff cooperate on crop diversification and other agricultural projects with university extension programs, state agency staff, and private sector partners. 

Our guiding principle is to help farmers increase their profitability and improve farm stewardship so that family farms remain a viable and rewarding way of life. The institute is named after Thomas Jefferson because of his interest in alternative crops.

Our activities include:

  • Assisting farmers with on-farm tests of alternative crops that can complement their crop rotations.
  • Developing information guides on how to grow and market the most promising alternative crops.
  • Coordinating introduction of alternative crops in targeted farming regions of the Midwest.
  • Providing educational programs and farm tours on successful alternative crops.
  • Conducting analysis of the economic performance of various alternative crops in different farming situations.
  • Creating marketing opportunities by connecting producers to prospective buyers of alternative crops.
  • Working to overcome barriers to diversification by connecting with state and federal decision makers on crop insurance, conservation guidelines, and other farm program rules.
  • Exploring organizational models, such as formation of new generation cooperatives, that can help bring farmers together to add value to their operations through packaging and/or processing of farm products.

Learn more about specific accomplishments of the Jefferson Institute during 2000.

Meet our Board of Directors.


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Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute
601 West Nifong Blvd. Suite 1D
Columbia, MO 65203