Missouri Gov. Mike Parson made Mexico a part of his Listening Tour (#MissouriForward) this past Monday to discuss Missouri agriculture with local farmers and members of the agricultural business community.
Gov. Parson and about 15 other people took turns discussing a variety of agricultural issues while enjoying a cup of coffee at Stacey’s Place on Highway 54.
“I feel like it’s an honor they chose us out of all the breakfast places here in Mexico,” said Stacey’s Place owner Stacey Conklin. “All of the staff was very pleased and the governor’s staff was very easy to work with.”
One major point of discussion came in regards to President Donald Trump’s recent focus on tariffs on Chinese imports and how it might impact the agricultural community.
Gov. Parson recently met with President Trump for about an hour and a half and tariffs were discussed.
“I do believe the president is truly concerned about this issue and trying to do what is right,” Gov. Parson said about tariffs. “I agree it’s the best thing long term for the country.”
Clarissa Cauthorn, who farms with her husband Andrew, said three big concerns are tariffs, internet access, and easements.
Audrain County Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs talked to governor on the effects the drought has had on soybeans. He also noted the recent windstorm that blew down, as he noted, around 10,000 acres of corn.
Hobbs also shared one of Gov. Parson’s concerns for the agricultural community and that is the challenge local farmers are having finding good people to help with work on area farms.
Western District Commissioner Tracy Graham brought up the topic of megatronics. Megatronics involves engineering and can be used to identify skill sets of area students with the hopes of having and keeping skillfully trained employees and their abilities in Audrain County.
“This employee deal is a real problem,” Gov. Parson noted.
Gov. Parson said it’s important when it comes to workforce development to work with students, starting in middle school or high school, to prepare them for the workforce.
“At the government level, we look at things a year at a time and that’s not good,” Gov. Parson noted. “In business, we look five, 10, or 15 years down the road to see where we are going. We need to do that with schools.”
Gov. Parson noted how some of this work can be done through tech schools in a hometown or in a county.
Lucy Schnitker, who was at the morning event with her mom Beth (New York Life Ins.) and sister Lorna, talked to the governor regarding her speech on international trade. Lucy is the FFA President at Wellsville-Middletown High School.
“To meet the demands, you have to double production the next 40 years,” Gov. Parson said on the demand challenge for Schnitker, who is a part of the next generation of that has a list of challenges coming off the last 100 years for agricultural advancement.
Gov. Parson added that farmers no longer farm the way they did in the past. Lorna Schnitker addressed the governor and said she was thankful for how 4-H and FFA prepared her for life after school while the educational system itself could have done more.
“We have to change the way we think when we educate these kids,” Gov. Parson said.
During the conversation, Gov. Parson noted that farmers may want to look at how Agri-Tourism could impact the local economy. He said this has worked in states like Texas and Florida as folks are wanting to come out either locally or from the bigger cities to learn all aspects of farming and to see what farmers do.
Some focus can be on FFA and 4-H students going into St. Louis and Kansas City and taking the Ag. story to the students living in those communities.
Commissioner Graham also expressed concerns regarding high speed internet connectivity as well as the ever increasing health insurance costs. Presiding Commissioner Hobbs noted traffic concerns for farmers on local roadways as did local farmer Keith Deimeke.
Former State Rep. and State Sen. John Cauthorn talked about processing facilities and the need for being “as efficient as the big boys and still be local.” He also noted concerns on outside entities wanting to take a farmer’s property as is being done for some proposed projects that want access to farmland.
Russ Thomas, a Shelter Insurance agent from Paris, Mo., talked on his concerns of competing for funds relating to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) from the state and federal level. He also talked about the livestock grazing deadline of September 30.
State Sen. Jeanie Riddle (R-10), who attended the event, noted she would look at both matters closer for Thomas and others with the same concern.
“The two things you hear everywhere you go has to deal with infrastructure and workforce development and making sure we’ve got these people ready for the work force, and really that they have a quality of life and that we can do better in the state of Missouri,” Gov. Parson told ‘The Vandalia Leader’ after the event. “And now it’s (my job) as the governor of the state to see how I can make those dreams come true.”
Gov. Mike Parson on his visit with area farmers, Agriculture business owners, and elected officials at Stacey's Place this morning in Mexico.
Posted by The Vandalia Leader on Monday, August 13, 2018