March 29, 2016
"To serve, promote, and protect the agricultural producers, processors, and consumers of Missouri's food, fuel, and fiber products." Those are the words we live by at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. For most of us at the department, it's more than a mission statement, it's a passion statement. The men and women who I work side-by-side with are constantly looking for ways to promote agriculture and help Missouri's farm families.
INSPECTION TIME: Grain inspection is just one area where Missouri Department of Agriculture employees safeguard the state's food system.
Plants, animals, grains, fuel retailers, agribusinesses, farmers' markets, international partners, milk, wine, financial assistance—we cover all this and more at the Department of Agriculture. To shed some light on what we do, I want to highlight the great work of our five divisions in the MDA.
1. Ag Business Development. This team helps producers make decisions on who, how, what, when and where to sell their farm products. The market may be the neighbor next door who shops at the local farmers' market, the producer who buys at a livestock market or a business that ships goods to a foreign country. No matter the end user, all of these markets help bring additional value to products grown here in Missouri.
2. Grain Inspection and Warehousing. Securing a fair marketplace for our state's high-quality grains, as well as accurate weighing and inspection of grain at the elevator is the focus of this division. Our staff puts a stamp of approval on Missouri grain so that the end customer knows exactly the quality and quantity they are getting. Additionally, the commodity services program works closely with commodity merchandising councils like beef, corn, wine, aquaculture, sheep, rice and soybeans to help publicize and facilitate their elections.
3. Animal Health. A team of large and small animal veterinarians, meat inspectors and animal care specialists make up the department's Animal Health division. Through testing, vaccinations and regulatory programs, they provide surveillance, control and eradication of livestock disease. Remember avian influenza in Missouri last year? Our animal health team worked around the clock to ensure the most positive outcome for our poultry industry.
4. Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection. This dynamic division ensures that Missouri consumers get what they are paying for in the grocery store and at fuel pumps. Staff ensures that fuel pumps are fueling appropriately and accurately, devices like taxicab meters are functioning properly, airport luggage scales are weighing accurately and that the food you purchase matches the quantity printed on the package.
5. Plant Industries. This division regulates Missouri's feed, seed and treated timber industries while protecting the state from harmful insects and plant diseases. Responsibilities like regulating pesticide use, preventing the spread of invasive pests and ensuring the quality and grade of fruits and vegetables all fall under the purview of the Plant Industries division.
From sun up to sun down, Missouri Department of Agriculture employees, divisions and programs are out in Missouri, making it better. I invite you to visit with our employees if you see one of them and share your story with them so we can continue to enhance agriculture in our state.
Richard Fordyce is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a row crop and beef cattle producer from Bethany.
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