Blaine’s Bulletin: National Ag Week

Farming and ranching are just about as Missouri as it gets. Our state’s fertile land has been farmed for hundreds of years and we are one of the nation’s top ag states, ranking second in the nation for number of farms. From soybeans, to corn, to hay, rice, cotton, cattle, hogs, and turkeys – Missouri farmers and ranchers are producing a variety of commodities the world needs. And they’re doing it well. Our state runs an $88.4 billion ag industry, mostly consisting of family farms, showing that not only do we have a rich history of farming, but our future as a global ag leader looks very bright.

With 95,000 farms in Missouri, farming creates nearly 400,000 jobs across our state, and each one of those helps feed, clothe, and power not just our country but places all over the world. With that being said, agriculture is another industry that has been severely impacted by the economic issues our nation has been facing.

Inflation and supply chain issues have hurt the vast majority of American consumers and businesses over the last year, especially farmers. Agricultural producers are at the mercy of Mother Nature which makes it one of the most unpredictable industries there is. It’s critical that farmers have the ability to rely on relatively predictable commodity prices and timely supplies to run their operations. Without these guarantees, it is extremely difficult to plan for the next season. My wife and I still run our family farm, so I know firsthand how these outside factors can make running operations that much more challenging.

Unfortunately, the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating many of the problem farmers and ranchers face. Food prices were going up prior to the Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but now the war is expected to cost the average family in America and Europe even more money. Russia is actually the top wheat producer in the world and Ukraine follows closely behind them in the number five slot. As a result, wheat has gone up 28% since Putin’s ruthless attack on Ukraine began and without an end to this conflict in sight, this number is only expected to rise. As we enter week four of this terrible conflict that has taken so many innocent lives, we will likely feel more of the economic effects here in America.

Here in Congress, being an advocate for Third District ag producers is always at the top of my priority list. Most recently, I helped secure funding for the Upper Mississippi navigability, which is critical for our state’s farmers, exports and economy. 60% of our nation’s grain exports travel on the Upper Mississippi River System so ensuring this it remains a reliable route for grains and the other commodities we grow is extremely important to our state. I also helped secure funding for the Center for Agricultural Animal Genetic Engineering and Health at the University of Missouri. This will allow for increased research to help Missouri remain a global ag competitor and ensure our state’s farmers have access to the latest findings and information.

This week is National Ag Week and a great time to celebrate the Missouri farmers who choose to continue our state’s longstanding agricultural tradition. With so many factors out of industry control like weather, demand, and war, farming takes a great deal of patience and faith. But it is also incredibly rewarding. I’m so grateful to live in a place where families see the value in investing back into our state by taking over their own family farms. Agriculture is quintessentially Missourian, and I’m hopeful our thriving tradition will continue for generations to come.