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Missouri agriculture confronts drought and generational shifts
Missouri Ag Connection - 11/27/2023

Missouri's agricultural community, known for its enduring spirit, faces new challenges as it grapples with drought conditions and the transition to a new generation of farmers. At the 50th annual Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture, held in Osage Beach, leaders from seven commodity associations united to discuss these pressing issues.

Gary Wheeler from the Missouri Soybean Association highlighted soybeans' resilience despite tough conditions. He emphasized the importance of strategic planting times and the role of research in overcoming challenges.

Meanwhile, the dairy sector, represented by Reagan Bluel of Missouri Dairy, noted how droughts in consecutive years tested their members' resilience, underscoring the critical role of corn silage in sustaining dairy cows.

The Missouri Cattlemen's Association's Mike Deering stressed the devastating impact of drought on cattle farming. He urged members to explore alternative forage options and to utilize state disaster programs. With no certainty about future weather conditions, proactive planning and risk management are key.

Beyond immediate challenges, the conference also focused on generational resiliency. Commodity leaders discussed the importance of building markets and reducing regulatory burdens to attract young farmers. Bradley Schad from the Missouri Corn Growers Association emphasized the need for profitability and sustainability in farming to encourage younger generations to continue family farming traditions.

Collaboration and innovation are pivotal in these efforts. Organizations like the Missouri Soybean Association are actively seeking input from younger staff, aiming to understand and meet the future farmer's needs. This forward-thinking approach extends to other sectors as well, with an emphasis on diversifying agricultural opportunities beyond traditional farming roles.

Garrett Hawkins, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau, highlighted the broad scope of their mission, not just focusing on agricultural issues but also addressing quality of life concerns such as healthcare accessibility for rural families.

The timber industry, represented by Brian Brookshire of the Missouri Forest Products Association, faces unique challenges, especially in recruitment due to the hazardous nature of logging. Partnerships with companies like John Deere and Caterpillar are being pursued to mechanize operations, making the industry safer and more appealing to the younger generation.

Missouri's agricultural sector, while facing significant challenges, shows a determined spirit to adapt, innovate, and thrive, ensuring its resilience for generations to come.


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