Each year the Marketing Department of the Missouri State Fair is tasked with creating a theme for the annual showcase of the best the state has to offer in the field of agriculture.
This year’s selected theme of “See What Crops Up, could not be more appropriate as agriculture continues to be the economic driving force in the state, contributing $12.8 billion annually to our economy.
“When they approached me with the theme for this year’s Fair I knew we had found the perfect one,” Director for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Richard Fordyce said prior to the opening of the 2016 Fair. “We focus a lot on our livestock production which is vitally important to our state but without the crop production it would be incredibly difficult for the livestock or people to exist.”
Crops account for $6.07 billion of the $12.8 billion produced annually, livestock contributes $5.4 billion and the forestry industry another $1.32 billion.
According to numbers provided by the Department of Agriculture, Missouri is in the top 10 in four crops: placing fourth in rice with 14 million centum weight, sixth in soybeans with 260 million bushels grown annually, seventh in corn production with 628 million bushels and eighth in cotton with 570,000 bales produced annually.
Nearly 50 percent of all Missouri soybeans and 80 percent of Missouri cotton is now exported.
Governor Jay Nixon in his remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the Missouri State Fair this year commented on the importance of Missouri’s farmers to the state’s economy.
“Missouri has nearly 100,000 farms and 28.3 million acres of farmland,” Nixon stated on Thursday. “Agriculture directly employs more than a quarter of a million people in the state.”
The state ranks second in the nation terms of agricultural jobs employing 298, 320 people.
Those are actual jobs in the agriculture industry and do not reflect the jobs created and maintained as a result of farming.
400 million tons of farm products are carried on the 33,000 state highway miles annually as well as jobs in the barge industry, aviation and rail lines.
“Missouri is within 600 miles of 51 percent of all United States households and America’s fastest growing metro areas, including San Antonio, Austin, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston,” according to Department of Agriculture information.
A sign at the Fair described the agriculture industry as one comprised of passionate people doing honest work day-in and day-out.
Fordyce agrees with that statement.
“The strength of our industry and our economy lives with the men and women and the next generation who continue to make agriculture the state’s economic leader,” Fordyce said. “Second place isn’t even close and it’s because of the people involved in farming and ranching today.”
Hope lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.