JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Soybean Association held its annual meeting Jan. 28 in Jefferson City, followed by a legislative reception and meeting with lawmakers.
Brooks Hurst, a northwest Missouri farmer from Tarkio, was re-elected president of the association. He says the legislator visits were a good opportunity to connect and talk about the challenges facing the ag industry.
“There were a lot of legislators that stopped by,” he says. “We were able to have some good conversations about agriculture and where it’s going and what they can do to help us. But we also talked about what we can do to help them, with education.”
Feeding livestock with soybean meal and expanding the state’s biodiesel industry were some of the key topics. Hurst says these issues are connected.
“The more biodiesel being made, the more soybean meal being made, and that makes it cheaper,” he says.
Soybean growers met with Gov. Mike Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe to talk about a possible 5 percent biodiesel mandate in diesel sold in Missouri year-round.
“There’s no difference between B5 and diesel,” Hurst says. “A B5 mandate year-round would help the biodiesel industry.”
He says the hope is a biodiesel mandate would make up for some of the demand issues stemming from uncertainty over international exports amid trade negotiations.
“We hope to offset some of the international issues with increased demand in state,” he says.
Overall, Hurst says the governor and lieutenant governor like hearing from people in agriculture.
“When the governor and lieutenant governor are both farmers, they’re pretty receptive when farmers come in to talk with them,” he says.
Legislators are also interested in talking with farmers, Hurst says, because of the role agriculture plays in the state.
“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state,” he says. “When agriculture is doing well, the whole state is doing well.”
Hurst says the annual meeting, as well as regional MSA meetings, are great opportunities to see friends and talk about what’s going on in the industry.
“It’s just great to hear what our neighbors are experiencing and what they’re doing,” he says.
Members of the association appreciate the opportunity at the annual meeting to learn more about key topics and what the soybean board is doing, Hurst says.
“They like to know what’s going on statewide and nationally,” he says.
Heading into 2019, Hurst is optimistic.
“As a farmer, you always have to be optimistic — thinking that you’ll live to fight another day,” he says.
Still, Hurst knows there are big challenges facing farmers as another growing season approaches.
“The market is well off what it was just a little while ago,” he says.
Despite the worries, Hurst and other growers made it through a tough 2018, and he’s grateful to still be farming and doing what he enjoys.
“I have concerns,” he says, “but I made enough last year to do it again this year, so that’s good.”