Mary Hendrickson

Associate Professor Development, Resources & Sustainability

Mary Hendrickson is Associate Professor in Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri and serves as Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security.  She is a rural sociologist whose passion is making the world a better place through food. The way we produce and consume food has transformed rapidly over the past few decades for both consumers and producers, placing food and agriculture at the nexus of critical 21st century issues of climate change, water scarcity, hunger, and energy use.

Hendrickson seeks to contribute to the robust discussion among scholars, policymakers, and citizens about the positive and negative implications of food system changes for farmers, rural communities, the overall environment, and the health of our population.  Her scholarship focuses on the social and economic organization of different types of food systems, the social, ecological, and economic impacts of that organization, and options for changing how we organize the food system. In a nutshell, how can we transform our food systems to make all of our lives better and make us more resilient in the face of our changing climate.

She spent 15 years as an extension sociologist working to create local food systems in the state of Missouri, partnering extensively with community groups to increase the amount of fresh, flavorful, and nutritious food available by providing technical assistance on marketing, business planning, feasibility studies, policy, food safety, and consumer preferences to farmers and community groups. In 2020, she was a Fulbright scholar in Iceland and has received several teaching and extension awards. She currently teaches sustainable food and farming courses at Mizzou.

Current Projects:

  • I am currently working on several projects around fairness and competition in agricultural markets. I have a USDA/AMS cooperative grant on Enhancing Market Monitoring and Economic Analysis for Fair and Competitive Agricultural Markets” and am Co-PI on a USDA AFRI project Assessing Fairness in Agricultural Markets, with Harvey James.
  • I also have a couple of projects dealing with alternative agriculture, including leading the social science component of the USDA-Sustainable Agricultural Systems grant “Catalyzing cover crop advancement as a climate-smart practice through a national variety improvement and seed production program” led by Rob Myers, Center for Regenerative Agriculture. I am just finishing up a USDA-AFRI-funded project exploring the opportunities and challenges for organic farmers in the Mid-South.
  • I advised a doctoral student, Jenny Melo, which led to being a co-PI on “Examining accessibility and inclusivity of a pilot app to support participation in climate-smart agriculture incentive programs.” Led by Kelly Wilson, Center for Regenerative Agriculture
  • Member, USDA MultiState Project NC-1198 “Enhancing the Resilience of Agriculture and Food in the Middle East: Building for the Future.” Examining issues of fairness, competition, and the impacts of digital agriculture on farmers and others in the middle.