November 21, 2023
Grocery store owners, managers and employees are such vital partners to agriculture. They are the bridge between the folks who raise our food and those who consume it.
Last month, I spoke at the Missouri Grocers Association Convention and shared how Missouri farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses produce delicious products — from wine and cheese to honey and popcorn.
Studies continue to show that consumers want local products, and our grocery stores can partner with us to provide it.
Consumers want to support producers in their area and their state, and the Missouri Department of Agriculture is making access to local products easier.
Missouri Grown is the state’s branded program for agriculture products. The marketing specialists on the Missouri Grown team work hard each day to connect producers to consumers and consumers to agriculture. They help raise awareness, increase demand and grow sales for the program’s nearly 700 member companies.
Several Missouri Grown member companies attended the Missouri Grocers Convention, including the convention trade show, where they made connections with retail owners and managers. I enjoyed visiting with them and hearing about how they are expanding markets and providing opportunities for multiple generations to be part of the farm.
One way to expand is using Show-Me Entrepreneurial Grant (SEGA) funds. Here are examples of how three Missouri family operations are using these funds:
Premium Protein. At Premium Protein in Crane, Mo., one generation raises the beef cattle, and another manages the value-added portion of the business. This family saw the opportunity to add value to their own cattle through Steak Sticks, which can be found in several southwest Missouri locations and online.
Hemme Brothers Creamery. This family business is using SEGA funds to purchase equipment that will allow it to use 100% of its own milk to make delicious cheeses. This operation is also multigenerational, as the decision to add value to the dairy through cheese-making has allowed several members of the next generation to raise their own families on the farm.
Show Me HH Farms. The traditional row crop operation included a unique value-added component in the past few years by planting sunflowers. Today, the Brown family presses the oil for bottling and retail sale. This family farm is also using SEGA grant funds to purchase equipment, which will allow them to triple the production capacity.
Find more information about these three companies and all Missouri Grown members at the program website, missourigrownusa.com.
If you are still searching for the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one, consider the Missouri Grown Holiday Box. This year marks the fourth year the program has offered a box filled with food and household items grown and processed right here in Missouri. Boxes can be shipped anywhere in the country. There is a limited supply, so visit the website soon to place your order.
So, as you shop for the holidays, consider gifts for your loved ones that are grown, raised and processed in the Show-Me State. Pick up something for yourself, too. I think you will be surprised to find so many delicious products right here, close to home.
From our family at the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and lives on a diversified farming operation in northeast Missouri.
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