JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Farm Bureau hosted hundreds of its members this week in the Capital City, wrapping up the annual legislative day with a briefing Thursday morning with updates and speakers.

MFB President Blake Hurst said he was pleased with the turnout of the banquet Wednesday evening, where around 300 were in attendance, in spite of the weather weighing in the minds of many members and new ethics law changes. Hurst had just returned from an event with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where international trade in the growing global agricultural economy was emphasized.

“We eat the bacon and export the rest of the hog,” Hurst said. “That points out the importance of trade.”

North and South America account for 11% of the world’s population, yet has 20% of the world’s farmland.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, House Agriculture Policy Chairman Don Rone, and House Subcommittee on Appropriations – Agriculture, Conservation, Natural Resources, and Economic Development Chair Hannah Kelly spoke.

“Worldwide food demand is expected to double in the next forty years,” Haahr, who grew up on a corn and hog farm, said. “We’re going to need to get that food from somewhere. Agriculture is such a huge part of Missouri’s industry right now, it’s only going to be a larger part as the years go on.”

Haahr shared that the 163 member chamber is stacked with talent from a variety of backgrounds, including Rone and Kelly. Rone’s committee is the second largest House committee, behind Budget, with 25 members.

“It is good that it is that way,” Rone said, touting the industrial prowess of agriculture. “Like the Speaker said, if you don’t know, have someone around you who does know.”

Rone said one of the topics the committee is looking at is the development of hemp farming in Missouri, which was permitted by a bill passed by the legislature in 2018. Rone and Kelly both encouraged MFB members to visit the Capitol to share their insight.

“Never discredit your work or your time here,” Kelly said. “Farming is not just important, it’s integral to our way of life.”

BJ Tanksley, Director of State Legislative Affairs at MFB, shared the strategy for this session, called the Capitol Connection program, where members are split up by region and scheduled regionally for weekly lobbying days.

“It’s a vital piece of what we do,” Tanksley said, touting legislative alert tools for members. “Please, contact your legislators.”

The Thursday morning crowd also heard from Senior Market Analyst at Agrivisor Dale Durchholz, Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn, and World Weather Inc. President Drew Lerner about future industry developments, ranging from higher commodity prices, department relations, and bumper crops.