JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Arriving to the event in an John Deere tractor, Gov. Mike Parsons spoke to more than 80 FFA members about agricultures role in the state economy and addressed the future of farming in regards to workforce development.

In honor of National FFA Week, Parson along with the Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven stressed spoke to agricultural students about the importance of the industry. Following speeches, FFA members heard from eight panelists about Missouri agriculture’s workforce and the skills they will need to develop before being career-ready.

“The future of Missouri agriculture lies in the hands of these students,” Chinn said. “It’s important that we invest in them as young leaders now so that they can invent the next agriculture technology, return to the family farm, or help us share the story of Missouri agriculture.”

The governor commended FFA members and farmers across the state for their contribution to Missouri business. According to Parson, farmers are the state’s number one source of business and highlights how important the position is to Missouri at large. 

“A lot of times we (only) get to be known as farmers,” Parson said. “But the reality of it is we’re the number one business in the state of Missouri and every farmer is a businessman or woman that runs a farm. They’re number one in the state of Missouri and that’s how important they are in this state.” 

With that in mind, Parson addressed the issue of building a proper economic future for Missouri farmers as well as the state. Through the advancement of science and technology young farmers and FFA members would carry the torch in understanding more efficient ways to tend the land. 

“The only way we’re going to do that is through things like technology, science, engineering, math, and wherever we might go,” said Parson. “You guys are going to have the daunting task of trying to figure out where are going in the future of Missouri and how we meet those demands. That’s going to be to you.” 

Parson went on to demonstrate how the number of farmers has significantly lessened within the past 60 years and how this relates to the current generation of FFA members.

“In the forties and fifties 50 percent of the people in this country were farmers. Today that number is less than 2 percent,” Parson explained. “You are the ones that will tell the story, you are the ones that will carry the message and you are the ones that will make a difference in the future of our state.”

Parson ended his speech on a note of appreciation and promised the FFA that he would continue to fight for the future of farming in Missouri. 

“It is an honor to be a farmer as the Governor in the state of Missouri. Agriculture will always be important to me. I will do everything in my power to make sure that farming and ranching and agriculture is passed down to that next generation so that you will have the same opportunities that I had.”  

After he concluded his speech, Parson proclaimed National FFA Week on behalf of FFA members all across Missouri. National FFA week lasts from February 17th through February 23rd in 2019.