As Election Day approaches, another campaign is in full swing with candidates vying to become president of the Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB).
Three men are in the running to replace outgoing MOFB President Blake Hurst: Garrett Hawkins, Todd Hays, and Richard Fordyce. Here’s a look at the candidates, their experience, and what they say they could bring to the table if elected.
Hawkins has served in numerous ag positions since starting with MOFB in 2001. He was the director of the National Legislative Program where he worked with lobbyists and other delegations for more than 14 years before becoming deputy director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. He eventually transitioned into the private sector.
“It’s an exciting time for agriculture,” Hawkins told The Missouri Times. “We have our challenges, but there are always exciting things coming down the pike in agriculture, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the race and to be able to have these conversations with members.”
Hays serves as the MOFB’s vice president, a position he’s held since 2010. He served on the board of directors for six years and was appointed the Young Farmer and Rancher Committee chairman in 2003.
Hays said his experience — both with the MOFB and in his work as a sixth-generation farmer — makes him a good candidate for the position.
“I think my work with the bureau, including where I am now, has given me the knowledge and understanding of the organization and the farmers we represent as well,” he said. “I think my experience is a strength, and on the farm, I deal with the daily stresses like other farmers around the state.”
Fordyce has served as the Farm Service Agency administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) since 2018. He has also been involved with the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, United Soybean Board, and Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Commission. He served as director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017 and has been involved with the MOFB — in one position or another — since 1985.
Fordyce said talking to Missouri farmers from Washington made the race difficult, but he was honored to run for the position.
“I’ve always deeply respected and admired the work the bureau does in representing folks that make agriculture their living,” he said. “I think I can bring some experience and exposure. I love the organization and would like nothing more than to represent it as president.”
Outgoing President Blake Hurst
Hurst announced he would not be seeking reelection in July after serving as president for 10 years. Before being elected, Hurst served as the statewide chairman of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, a district board member, and vice-president of the bureau.
“I’ve been president for 10 years, and it’s been a wonderful and challenging assignment, but it’s time for a change for me and for the organization,” Hurst told The Missouri Times then.
The election will be held at the Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting on Dec. 6. County delegates will vote, and the winner will take office immediately.
This post has been updated.