Fordyce speaks about advocacy for agriculture at ag symposium

Monday, January 27, 2014

On Jan. 23, appointed Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Richard Fordyce, spoke about advocacy to ensure a bright future for Missouri's agriculture at the annual ag symposium held by the Santa Fe Agri-Leaders at Concordia.

Fordyce, who was appointed by the governor to take the position, said he was pleased to be at the symposium to speak about agriculture. He is a fourth-generation farmer from Bethany and has held leadership roles in agriculture on local, state and national levels for over 20 years.

"Agriculture is a driving force in the state," Fordyce said. "Agriculture is a great strength of our state and I have no doubt that the future of Missouri's agriculture is bright."

Richard Fordyce, director of Missouri Department of Agriculture, speaks at the annual ag symposium. (Kelly Melies/Democrat-News)

He has a strong belief in agriculture and said there needs to be a way to effectively promote and protect agriculture and agri-businesses. He promoted advocacy as a way to develop and sustain agriculture for the future. The key to advocacy is telling your story, he said.

"Everybody in this room can contribute to the bright future of Missouri's agriculture through advocacy," Fordyce said. "I challenge you to be an advocate of agriculture. Talk to people. Make them understand what we do and the things we touch every day.

"We need to continue to encourage and support our young people in agriculture. If we do those things, not only will our future be bright it will be outstanding. And the growth that we've achieved in this industry will continue."

Missouri's farmers and agri-businesses are continuing to be overachievers through innovation and technology, he said.

"We are not only holding our own, but we are leading the way and in a highly competitive global environment," Fordyce said.

He also said in his message how resilient Missouri agriculture is after suffering a statewide drought in 2012.

"Corn production rebounded very well, and to no one's surprise was up 76 percent this year," Fordyce said. "Soybean production was up 25 percent according to USDA numbers."

This would only add to the bright future of Missouri's agriculture, he said.

John Kruse, co-founder of World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services, LLC, spoke about global developments -- which are impacting US agriculture.

World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services -- WAEES -- is a 21st Century consulting firm which specializes in providing analytic support for private and public sector operaters in production agriculture, agribusinesses, trade and related environmental areas.

Terry Vinduska, past chair of the US Grains Council and a representative to National Corn Growers for the Kansas Corn Commission, spoke about global market challenges and the importance of grain and trade for the economy and agriculture.

"When trade works, the world wins," Vinduska said. "That's what the grains council is trying to do."

He said we can meet demands from our grain production.

"We produce for the world," he said.

Natural Resource Engineer for the Boone County University of Missouri Extension office, Kent Shannon, serves the Northeast region and spoke about using technology and ag data to make better management decisions in the field.

He said there are plenty of types of technology to make decisions and plans about planting and harvesting.

One such technology talked about was the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV, in which a small camera could be mounted and go over the fields to take pictures and provide visual data about the fields and crops.

Pest control and monitoring is important as well, Wayne Bailey, associate professor of Entomology at the University of Missouri, said. He talked about and described different kinds of pests and other insects and how they aided or hindered crops. He identified what to look for and how to control them.

Dan Kleinsorge, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care, spoke about the Right to Farm Legislation and how important it is for Missouri's agriculture. He encouraged those in attendance to be an advocate and support the Farming Rights Amendment.

That wrapped up the ag symposium for this year. Harold Bertz, Santa Fe Agri-Leaders adviser said they worked off and on over the course of the year to put this event together.

"We have a committee that works together to bring this about," Bertz said.

He said they talk to people and get information from people about what they want to hear so he can talk to speakers early to get them to come.

"We're constantly evolving to make changes and to make things better," Bertz said.

Contact Kelly Melies at kmelies@marshallnews.com