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Missouri agriculture director addresses young farmers in Alma

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

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Peter Hofherr, who took over as director for Missouri Department of Agriculture last July, said the future of agriculture in the state centers on creating value-added commodities such as ethanol. He touched on a variety of agriculture topics during the annual meeting of the Santa Fe Agri-Leaders and Central District Young Farmers and Young Farm Wives in Alma Tuesday.
Missouri Director of Agriculture Peter Hofherr addressed a crowd of about 60 in Alma Tuesday night during the joint annual meeting of the Santa Fe Agri-Leaders and Central District Young Farmers and Young Farm Wives.

Hofherr covered a variety of agriculture topics during his 40-minute speech and said he has three goals for Missouri agriculture: creating entrepreneurial opportunities for producers, changing how people perceive agriculture and creating regulations that don't hinder producers.

Hofherr used Mid-Missouri Energy, the producer cooperative building an ethanol plant in Malta Bend capable of producing 50 million gallons a year, as a good example of agricultural entrepreneurship.

"All across the state we're seeing things like MME, that's a great example of it," he said. "We saw 700 people put down $30,000 apiece in the quickest time in United States history in equity for that plant, step up to the plate and say, 'You know what? Take a chance. Let's take a chance on the leadership of this community and on what's happening in this state, take a chance to make more money, make it better for the next generation.'"

Hofherr said the future of agriculture is changing, with farms growing larger and leaving niches that small producers should take advantage of. Products need to be marketed as Missouri-grown to fill those niches, he said. Hofherr said he wants to see Missouri milk fill one of those niches because the state is on the verge of falling out of the top 20 dairy-producing states.

In response to a question from Marshall hog producer Brent Sandidge, Hofherr said marketing hogs as a Missouri product is the solution to stopping smaller operations from going out of business. But Hofherr admitted that so far he has been unable to make headway in the pork industry.

Answering another question from the audience, Hofherr said urban sprawl is an issue the General Assembly has refused to address. The 2004 legislative session opened Wednesday.

Contact Jenny Bryers at

marshallag@socket.net



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