Governor Jay Nixon was in town today (Friday) to address the 45th Governor’s conference on agriculture. Nixon said the state is excited about the corn and soybean yield which is on course to set a record as the highest yield ever. He mentioned cattle prices are higher than they’ve ever been and that Missouri now ranks in the top 10 for farmers markets. The Governor also says that Missouri’s agricultural goods exports are up 14% so far this year and Missouri has closed over 10 billion in goods over the past 6 years. Nixon announced the first ever beef summit which will be held next month to discuss how to keep the cattle in the state. Nixon also mentioned some local business owners including the circle a ranch from Iberia who were at the meeting. The conference was held at tan-tar-a resort earlier this (Friday) afternoon.
Governor Nixon’s full speech can be found below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 19, 2014
Gov. Nixon discusses priorities for agriculture and rural economic development at annual conference
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon today discussed his priorities for agriculture and rural economic development in an address to the 45th Governor’s Conference on Agriculture in Osage Beach. The annual conference brings together producers, agribusinesses and other stakeholders to discuss current issues and opportunities for the industry. Below is the text of the Governor’s prepared remarks:
Good afternoon and thank you for being here as we celebrate Missouri agriculture’s many strengths and successes, and build toward even brighter future.
I want to give special recognition today our outstanding Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce. It was one year ago this week that I appointed him to my cabinet, and he’s done an incredible job.
As Governor, I could not be prouder of the exceptional skills, resilience and ingenuity of the men and women in this room who continue to move Missouri agriculture forward.
By combining old-fashioned hard work and common sense with next-generation innovation and technology, Missouri farm families and agribusinesses are strengthening our rural communities here at home… and feeding, fueling and clothing the world.
We’re forecasting the highest corn and soybean yields on record…Cattle prices, across the board, are higher than they’ve ever been and close to double what they were a year ago.
Missouri now ranks in the top 10 in the nation in the number of farmers markets, and participation in the Department’s AgriMissouri marketing program has grown ten-fold in the last three years.
Exports of Missouri agricultural goods are also surging – up 14 percent so far this year. Over the past six years, we have already closed agreements to sell $10 billion in Missouri goods – and I’m hoping to add significantly that total by the end of my term.
Missouri is also strengthening its position as an international leader in bioscience. In June, the leading global plant science company KWS – headquartered in Germany — selected St. Louis to be the home of its new North American research facility.
On the western side of the state, our internationally-recognized animal health corridor continues to spur innovation and jobs, especially among small businesses. I recently visited BioZyme Inc. in St. Joseph, a producer of livestock feed additives that has grown its workforce by 70 percent over the past 10 years.
And when challenges arise – we’ve tackled them together. From floods and ice storms… to drought and tornadoes.
For example, earlier this year, a combination of an unusually wet harvest season and a bumper crop put farmers in a pinch with a lot of product to harvest and shorter timeframe to do it. So we took action, working with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transportation to approve an emergency weight-limit waiver to so that farmers could get their crops out of the fields and onto the market, or into storage.
Those same heavy rains also washed out a number of critical soil and water projects in northern Missouri, so I also want to thank the Soil & Water Commission for voting unanimously this week to allocate an initial $500,000 to rebuild those projects.
Since 1984, when the voters of Missouri first approved a sales tax for soil and water, these projects have prevented 178 million tons of soil from being eroded. To put that in context, that’s the equivalent of covering the entire state of Rhode Island with an inch of fertile Missouri top soil – twice over!
But today, rather than focus on where we’ve been – I want to focus on where we’re going. I plan to use my last two years in office to accelerate – dramatically – our efforts to expand economic opportunity and growth in our small towns and rural areas.
Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made – too many rural communities are still struggling for their survival… and too many of their best and brightest young people are still moving away. We can do better, starting with three specific areas vital to our rural economy and way of life: our beef industry, education and energy.
First, we have a huge opportunity when it comes to beef. Missouri is the number two cow-calf state in the nation. But right now, 95 percent of the cattle we raise each year end up being finished and processed out-of-state. In fact, more than 75 percent leave the Show-Me State immediately after weaning.
As a result, our rural economy is missing out on more than a billion dollars in value. A billion dollars that should be in the pockets of Missourians, creating jobs and economic opportunity in our communities – is now ending up in places like Texas, Colorado and Kansas.
Keeping more of that value in Missouri will boost farm income, create new opportunities for branding and marketing these products, and most importantly – create jobs.
That’s why, next month, we will convene Missouri’s first ever Beef Summit to develop strategies to maximize the potential of Missouri’s cattle industry. I hope many of you will join us for an in-depth, action-oriented discussion of the opportunities and challenges in this area, and drill down on two key issues:
First, how we can feed more Missouri calves here in Missouri, instead of shipping them – and their value – to another state?
And second, what it would take to get a major processing facility located in the Show-Me State. Advances in the lab over the past 25 years have shown that it’s possible to feed and process cattle using methods that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. So what’s stopping us?
Today, thanks to many of the people in this room, Missouri is ideally situated to become a new hub in the beef supply chain. We’ve got a central location… superior genetics…. abundant clean water and land… and some of the most innovative researchers and cattle farmers in the world.
It’s great to see John Wood here, whose operation up in Hannibal demonstrates the strong market for sustainable beef that’s born and raised here in Missouri.
I appreciated the opportunity to join John and other industry leaders on a recent visit to the University of Missouri’s South Farm – a nationally-recognized center for the kind of research and innovation we need to take our beef industry to the next level. There, scientists are working to develop and implement technology that allows cattle farmers to monitor their animals’ health, how much they eat, and how much weight they gain.
South Farm scientists are also conducting industry-leading genetic research to help minimize risk and maximize quality.
For example: specific research projects are being conducted… including identifying cattle tolerant to fescue toxicity; nutrition programs that improve feed efficiency and reduce waste; development of forage varieties and programs that improve cow productivity and calf growth; and identification of genetic markers that producers can use to make better genetic selections.
I want to thank Drs. Kerley and Wiegand, as well as Dave Patterson and Justin Sexten for being instrumental partners in our efforts to continue to make Missouri the leader in both quality and quantity when it comes to beef cattle.
One operation that is already implementing many of these cutting-edge practices is Circle A Ranch in Iberia, which I visited earlier this year. The model they’ve developed at Circle A is proof positive that cattle can be raised sustainably…. profitably… and on a large scale, right here in Missouri.
We have the resources, the research, the know-how… now all we need is the roadmap. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at the summit to make sure we seize it. Transforming our beef industry for the 21st century has the potential to be a game-changer for our rural economy… But we’re not going to stop there.
I often say that in today’s high-tech global marketplace, education is the best economic development tool there is, and agriculture…. our state’s number one industry… is no exception.
I met with an outstanding group of FFA students up in Centralia this week and told them I was committed to making sure public schools like theirs continue to be strong pipelines not only for the next-generation of farmers and ranchers – but also veterinarians and soil scientists… researchers and engineers.
That’s why we’re not just increasing funding for schools – we’ve also raised our expectations, with higher standards and more rigorous hands-on curriculums that prepare students with the skills today’s businesses need.
We’re also going to keep working to forge partnerships among businesses, public schools and higher education institutions. One successful model we’ve identified is called Certified Work Ready – a program developed by American College Testing that empowers communities to align their education and workforce training efforts with the specific needs of local employers.
Missouri now has the most fully certified communities of any state in the nation, and we look forward to continuing to grow this successful program.
Finally, I want to talk about energy. While the recent drop in fuel prices has brought some welcome relief at the pump — energy still makes up a huge portion of the input costs necessary to raise, plant, grow and harvest the products our farmers bring to market.
Farmers are playing a bigger role in energy production as well: from the wind farms of northwest Missouri… to the 15 majority farmer-owned ethanol and biodiesel plants across our state.
This past summer I went up to Iowa to tour one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic bio-refineries in the United States – a next-generation technology that holds tremendous promise for us here in the Show-Me State.
To make sure Missouri is in a position to capitalize on the opportunities, and overcome the challenges, of today’s rapidly changing energy landscape, earlier this year we began the process of crafting a comprehensive State Energy Plan.
I want to thank Director Fordyce and the agriculture partners in this room who served on the steering committee, which has held seven public meetings around the state – including its very first meeting with commodity groups at the Missouri State Fair.
Input from Missourians is vital to the success of this effort, so I encourage all of you to reach out to our Division of Energy and help us chart a path toward a clean, affordable, abundant energy future.
In conclusion, I want to thank you all again for everything you do for this industry, your communities and our state.
On these and so many issues, the progress we need to make can’t be achieved by one organization or even one industry alone. It will require bold ideas, innovative solutions – and a collaboration among many partners willing to challenge the status quo.
As we reflect on the past year, we see both great successes and great challenges. But I think we’d all agree that our blessings are many.
I wish you all a merry Christmas, and I look forward to seeing you as we chart the course for Missouri agriculture for 2015 and beyond. Thank you and God Bless.
Follow the Governor on Twitter @GovJayNixon