In many ways, agriculture has been a front-runner in technology to make our food safer, more affordable and plentiful.
Crop farmers use farm equipment armed with GPS software to implement precision application techniques, leading to higher yields and fewer inputs. Livestock producers use research-based methods to raise animals in a comfortable and environmentally sustainable way, resulting in the highest-quality meat products in the world.
The relationship between farmers and their communities is symbiotic by nature. Rural communities depend on farmers just as much as farmers depend upon rural communities.
Unfortunately, rural communities have been left in the Dark Ages. Employers and businesses have left, hospitals have shut down, poverty has infiltrated and communities have struggled. Staggering statistics show that today nearly as many rural Americans die as are born each year.
As state director of agriculture, I’ve set forth an agenda to bring attention back to rural Missouri. It's a vision to enhance the quality of life in the hundreds of towns that dot the Show Me State’s landscape — a vision that won't allow Missouri to settle any longer.
That vision is More. More will carve out a pathway to bring vitality back to rural communities and make them places that my children, and your children, want to live and raise their families in. I want to leave my hometown, and yours, in better shape for the next generation.
To do that, we will meet challenges in the agriculture industry by focusing on four pillars:
• Feed More. What will it take to feed one more family? If farming has one overarching purpose, it’s to feed people. Food is one of the most basic human needs, but for some Missouri families it’s not a given. We believe we can make affordable, nutritious and safe food more available to Missouri families.
• Reach More. What will it take to reach one more consumer? From peaches to pork, Missouri farmers raise the highest-quality food products in the world while being good stewards of our natural resources. Rebuilding the trust in food decisions is essential. We believe we can reach more consumers with the positive story of Missouri farm families.
• Connect More. What will it take to connect one more community? Rural communities are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to business development, health care, education and farming technologies because of a lack of high-speed internet. We believe we can connect every last mile in more Missouri communities.
• Empower More. What will it take to empower one more farmer? One thing is clear: Farmers just want to farm. They are the true experts in animal care and agriculture stewardship. We believe we can empower more Missouri farm families for generations to come.
From a thorough regulatory review to ensuring every last mile in Missouri has high-speed internet access, More will be the vehicle to improve the quality of life in rural and urban communities. The bottom line is, a strong rural Missouri means a strong Missouri.
Farmers and ranchers will continue to push for new and innovative ways to make their business more productive and profitable, and we at the department will do everything we can to ensure that the communities that support those farmers and ranchers thrive.
Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence.