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Missouri women take on ag association positions

Missouri Minutes: Renee Fordyce leads the Missouri Soybean Association; Clarissa Cauthorn serves AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers.

Mindy Ward

January 31, 2024

2 Min Read
A girl standing in a gallery looking at two photos of women
SHINING MOMENT: Missouri women pave the way for the next generation to lead in state and national agriculture associations. Mads Perch/Getty Images

At the national Annie’s Project annual meeting last year, Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn noted that in Missouri — whether farming, leading or serving — it is not a matter of gender but aptitude.

“Today, women are found at every level of farm management and industry leadership, which is terrific,” Chinn said. “Gender makes no difference when it comes to leadership. Your title, or lack of title, doesn’t matter when it comes time to getting the job done. Just lead. Plain and simple.”

This year, two farmers are leading — one at the Missouri Soybean Association and the other with the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers.

Serving state’s soybean farmers

Renee Fordyce is the new president for the Missouri Soybean Association.

A soybean grower and rural health professional from Bethany, she represents District 1 on the board. Fordyce has been a board member for more than 10 years, serving in various leadership roles, including vice president. This is her first term serving as the association’s president.

“Thank you to my fellow farmer-leaders for trusting me to fulfill this leadership role,” Fordyce said in a news release. “MSA has made great strides in grower engagement and will continue to pursue this important endeavor. MSA is only successful with member support, so please reach out with your concerns or recommendations for the future.”

On their farm, Fordyce and her husband, Richard, grow corn and soybeans and have a cow-calf operation. She serves as the chief financial officer of Fordyce Farms, managing the banking, marketing, payroll and tax preparation.

Fordyce is also on the board for the Harrison County Community Hospital and the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri. She is also a nurse and mother to her two kids, Ethan and Emma.

Voice for national young farmers

Clarissa Cauthorn was recently elected vice chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmers & Ranchers committee at its 105th convention.

The YF&R program provides opportunities for young farmers and ranchers to develop their skills, network with peers and advocate for the industry. Cauthorn has represented Missouri on the AFBF YF&R committee for the past two years.

She has been a member on the Missouri Farm Bureau committee, along with placing first in its discussion meet in 2020 and representing the state in the national competition.

Cauthorn sells seed for Beck’s Hybrids and manages a team of seed dealers across Missouri. She and her husband, Andrew, and two children are a part of a multigenerational farm in Audrain County, raising row crops and cattle.

Cauthorn will work alongside the newly elected chair, Kevin Lussier of Florida, and secretary, Haily Sand of Wisconsin, to lead the YF&R committee and its initiatives throughout 2024. This includes planning national events, developing educational resources, and representing the interests of young farmers and ranchers on a national level.

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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