Even before Missouri became a state in 1821, French settlers had been farming the land for more than a century. Today, Missouri has 99,171 farms, a number second only to Texas in the nation.
Farming is respected and celebrated throughout the state. Agriculture is a major contributor to the Missouri economy. Crops, livestock, forestry, and fishery production combined with food and food-related products and all other forms of agriculture create an annual economic impact of more than $88 billion.
Missouri is incredibly diverse in what its farms grow. The north is home to corn and soybeans, while the south produces cotton and rice. Cattle, hogs and poultry are raised all across the state.
While farming is steeped in Missouri’s history, the state’s agricultural industry is focused on the future. The Plant and Biotechnology Science Corridor in St. Louis is a major magnet for ag-tech startups. A big player is the Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur. A $45 million research expansion opened in 2016 focuses on life science research, specifically crop improvement, bioenergy, sustainability and plant biology. These innovations in agricultural sciences will help grow Missouri’s economy.
Meanwhile, the Animal Health Corridor in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to the single largest concentration of animal health and nutrition companies in the world. Businesses in the corridor account for more than half of all worldwide sales of animal health, diagnostics and pet food – and the companies and universities are national leaders in veterinary programs, animal health, and nutrition research and innovation.
Missouri won’t settle. That’s the mantra behind the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s recently announced MORE campaign, which outlines the Department’s mission for agriculture in the state.
MORE works on four pillars: feed MORE, reach MORE, connect MORE and empower MORE. The pillars focus on goals such as providing affordable and safe food to Missouri families, reaching consumers with a positive message surrounding food, improving rural communities in terms of technology and business development, and empowering Missouri farm families for future generations.
Learn more about the Department’s campaign and everything they hope to achieve at agriculture.mo.gov/more.
Missouri agriculture is alive and growing – and that’s good news for job seekers.
The state has about 60,000 highly-skilled positions available in agriculture. Graduates from the agriculture programs at University of Missouri, Missouri State University, College of the Ozarks and more than 20 other state colleges and universities are well-equipped to enter fields ranging from crop management to animal sciences to agribusiness.
Hop to It
Thanks to the growing interest in craft beer, a viable crop is re-emerging for Missouri farmers – hops.
Hops give beer its flavor, and while the crop isn’t new to the Show Me State, the demand for local has given more than 50 Missouri breweries a reason to try growing their own hops. Luckily, the state’s soil and climate are optimal for hop production.
University of Missouri Extension horticulturalists are experimenting with different varieties of hops to help growers, and there are about 10 different types planted at the 1⁄4-acre hop yard at MU’s Bradford Research Center. Learn more at extension.missouri.edu.