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Midwest’s ag directors welcomed to Missouri

Ag Matters: The national meeting shines a light on the state’s agriculture industry from BioSTL to Purina.

Chris Chinn

June 20, 2024

3 Min Read
Exterior view of a white building with a red roof
ANIMAL NUTRITION: State department directors from 12 states heard from researchers at Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo. It was part of an annual meeting held in the St. Louis region.Purina

Over the past year, it has been my pleasure to serve as president of the Midwest Association of State Departments of Agriculture, or MASDA. MASDA is one of four regional groups of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

I came to the helm in June 2023 at the MASDA annual meeting. Each year, the sitting president hosts the meeting. Thus, last month my counterparts from 12 other states came to Chesterfield, Mo., representing Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

My team and I started planning the 2024 MASDA annual meeting more than two years ago. Determining where to hold the event was perhaps the most difficult chore. Missouri has so much to offer, and we wanted to show the width and depth of our state’s agriculture industry to the other state leaders.

We asked representatives from the agriculture sector in the St. Louis region to address the group. With the largest concentration of plant scientists in the entire world, the Danforth Center shared how it leads this effort.

BioSTL explained how a nonprofit works with existing ag companies and startups to drive the agriculture economy. Missouri Farmers Care told how commodity groups and agribusinesses work together to move Missouri agriculture forward.

Field trip

In addition, we took the state department of agriculture leaders to the Bayer Research Facility in Chesterfield and Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit.

Plant scientists and agronomists at Bayer Plant Science are on the leading edge of seed technology and crop protection for farmers across the entire globe. The research and trials conducted at Bayer will truly help feed and clothe the growing world.

The Purina Animal Nutrition Center is a 1,200-acre working farm with more than 3,000 animals. Purina is constantly seeking the next innovation in animal nutrition. The team works with traditional livestock species to determine optimum feed rations and production practices for all stages of life.

While we can’t invite every farmer who uses Bayer technology or every rancher who purchased a bag of Purina feed to visit, giving that opportunity to their state agriculture leader is perhaps the next best thing.

It was a privilege to take my counterparts to both locations. We are proud to have these and other global agriculture companies in our state.

Prepared workforce

Here in the heartland, Missouri has the workforce, the transportation availability and the climate to help companies succeed.

One session concentrated on how the University of Missouri Animal Science team trains workers for the meat processing industry.

Dr. Bryon Wiegand established the meat science research program at MU before being named Animal Science Division director. His team’s latest innovation is the Show-Me Meat Education & Training Center, a training and education meat processing facility on wheels.

Wiegand was joined by officials from American Foods Group, the owner of a 2,400-herd beef processing facility set to open in 2025 near Wright City, Mo.

It was my pleasure to host my counterparts for a few days and to show them just a small glimpse of the great things Missouri is doing to impact an entire industry.

Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and lives on a diversified farming operation in northeast Missouri.

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