Agriculture is our legacy — and our future
Missouri is a lot of things. We are a manufacturing powerhouse. We are a leader in health care. We have one of the fastest growing high-tech economies. Oh, and we’re also home to the Stanley Cup.
And although we are all those things, we are also something else that we often take for granted. Missouri is mostly a giant farm.
Today, two-thirds of Missouri’s land is involved in agriculture. We are home to nearly 100,000 farms. Ag is an $88 billion industry here, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Our state’s history is indelibly linked to the practice of farming. And yet, most Missourians today are at least a couple of generations removed from being directly involved in agriculture. The life of the average Missourian, once rural and agricultural, is now largely urban and industrial.
However, it would be a huge mistake to think of agriculture as a legacy industry in Missouri. Instead, it’s a critical piece of our economic future.
By 2050, we expect there to be 2 billion additional people on Earth. Every part of the world is grappling with how we will feed that many people.
The answer — or at least part of it — likely will come from Missouri.
Thousands of Missourians go to work each day trying to solve a piece of that problem. In the east, St. Louis is a global leader in plant science. In the west, Kansas City is driving the future in animal health. These industry strongholds are supported by the knowledge and innovations coming from the University of Missouri System and other research institutions across the state.
Our prominence in these industries is underscored by the steady stream of positive news about expansions and growth happening here. This summer, that included Bayer’s decision to bring hundreds of jobs to St. Louis and the USDA’s plan to relocate research functions to the Kansas City area.
We also see incredible potential with the many small companies working in this space. Learn more about two of them, RNAgri and CoverCress, here.
But science-based companies and research are just one part of the equation. At the end of the day, it takes farmers to actually put these ideas into practice. Fortunately, Missouri is home to forward-thinking farmers who are using every tool at their disposal to maximize our state’s production potential. We profile the more than 200-year-old Clay Farms in central Missouri to illustrate the effect of this year’s flooding and the ongoing international trade tensions. Read that story here.
In many ways, the wet spring season, flooding and ongoing trade uncertainty have led to a painful 2019 for our producers.
But the long-term outlook for Missouri’s agriculture and ag tech industry is very bright. Farming is our past — and our future.