Although the manner in which farming is done today has changed in some respects from that of previous generations, one thing that hasn’t changed is the ability of agriculture producers to face challenges every day to meet the goal of feeding the world.
“People who are involved in agriculture are some of the most tremendous human beings who exist,” Director of Agriculture for the State of Missouri, Richard Fordyce said Wednesday afternoon prior to the start of the Missouri State Fair. “They really are examples of people who are risk takers but who are incredibly resilient at the same time.
“They will celebrate a success and mourn a loss and are even keeled in their approach to life,” he added. “When times were good for agriculture it didn’t change the way that those involved treated others, they continued to do the work that was necessary with humility.”
Fordyce went on to characterize farmers as being ready for anything, something that he feels is not found in some other places.
“The future of agriculture is very, very good,” Fordyce commented. “We will always deal with challenges, that is the nature of the business but we have access to technology that our ancestors could not have dreamed of as well as newer equipment that helps us maximize our acres and developments in both plants and livestock that have increased production.
“All of these are very important and it is a very exciting time for agriculture and especially for the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” he added. “It’s the next generation that realizes the importance of a challenge and they have been practicing meeting those challenges for a while.”
The youth involved in agriculture Fordyce describes as being both passionate and some of the best and brightest our state has to offer.
Agriculture and the young people who are a part of the agricultural movement are two of the primary reason Fordyce would recommend attending the Fair but there are others.
“I really recommend getting a daily program and schedule a day at the Fair,” Fordyce said. “There is something going on all the time and something for all ages and backgrounds.”
Fordyce commented that for the $10 admission price, there were hundreds of options available and many of the venues were free events.
“We have the largest equipment exhibit of any state fair in America,” Fordyce said. “It would take two or three hours to see it all.
“I saw the Eagles Tribute Band (Hotel California) last year and they were a tremendous act that I hope to see again this year,” he added. “Every day there is something different to see and experience and we have worked with all of our partners in Ag to make sure the exhibits in the Agriculture Building and throughout the Fair don’t have a trade show atmosphere.”
A fourth generation farmer from Bethany, Fordyce commented on the anticipation he felt as a young boy waiting to come to the Fair.
“We started planning for the next Fair the day the Fair ended,” Fordyce said. “As soon as the current one was over we started to look forward to the next one, as a child. The anticipation was huge and I couldn’t wait to come to the Fair.
“The enormity of it was something else and it seemed to go on forever,” he added. “We never exhibited livestock but we were always involved in the crop side of the exhibits and my wife showed as a 4-H member when she was in school.”
Fordyce said that he believes he first started attending the Fair when he was perhaps four or five, possibly only missing one or two Fairs in the last 45 years.
Passing down the stories of his time at the Fair is something Fordyce wants to do for his children, even now after they have been attending the Fair for years themselves.
“We do have some challenges we are facing in agriculture right now, prices will always be a challenge but we have the prospects for a good year this year even though it has been a little rough,” Fordyce observed. “I think one of the other challenges we face is getting our story out.
“People have great stories to tell about their time in agriculture and I don’t think anyone is hiding anything about our industry,” he added. “We need to let consumers and others know what we are doing and now we are finding opportunities and ways to get our message across to those outside agriculture.”
Getting the message out will only add to the rich history of the Fair and the heritage of agriculture.
“One of the greatest things that the Fair does is it brings people together to create memories,” Fordyce said. “It could be a few years after you attend or when you are older, but people remember their experiences and time at the Fair and what it was like.
“For so many it is something they will never forget and it needs to be shared and passed down to the next generation.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.