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House Economic Development Committee to hear from Missouri AgTech leaders

Agriculture technology leaders from across the Show-Me State are set to give members of the Missouri House an inside look into the industry.

On Monday, the House Economic Development Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing in Columbia where Missouri companies will talk about what Missouri can do to support AgTech.  

“The innovation and activity happening in the agriculture technology industry across our state is one of the most exciting areas of opportunity for Missouri,” Rep. Derek Grier, the Repubilcan committee chair, told The Missouri Times. “We are quickly becoming a world leader in this space and as chair of the Economic Development Committee, I feel it is important for us to understand the impact this sector is having on our economy. That is why I have convened a committee meeting and asked leaders in this industry to share all the good work they are doing.”

State leaders often tout agriculture as one of the leading industries in Missouri. The $88 billion industry includes nearly 100,000 farms, covering two-thirds of the state’s total land acreage, and employs nearly 400,000 people across the state.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce predicted Missouri’s technology industry to be one of the fastest growing in the country in the next five years. 

AgTech merges two industries, applying technology to the farming field. The multifaceted AgTech industry is wide-ranging, encompassing GPS guidance to plant tracking to drones to vertical farming. 

“I’m looking forward to meeting with the Economic Development Committee and sharing our story of the impact of AgTech benefiting Missouri farmers and creating a 21st-century economy in our state. Support for the Missouri Technology Corporation and other incentives necessary to attract and support early-stage companies and build infrastructure is critical to growing this sector and maintaining our competitiveness,” said Karla Roeber, vice president of public and government affairs at Danforth Plant Science Center.

The public hearing is set for 11 a.m. on July 15 at the University of Missouri – Columbia in the Memorial Union Building, room 130-A.

Industry experts expected to attend the hearing include: Roeber, James Forbes, co-founder of Tiger Fiber; Matt Crisp, CEO of Benson Hill Biosystems; Janet Wilding, vice president of 39N and major projects at St. Louis Economic Development Partnership; Connie Bowen, executive director and co-founder of Yield Lab; Shibu Jose, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri – Columbia; and Richard Norris, director of the Center for Plant and Life Sciences (CPLS) at St. Louis Community College (STLCC).

“I look forward to having a robust conversation about how we all can continue to support this important and growing industry,” Grier said.