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Annual "Salute to Agriculture" Breakfast
Mervyn Jenkins Expo Center
February 21, 2014

 Chillicothe FFA Hosts Breakfast for Supporters
February 21, 2014
Calli Price, Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune
C-T Photos / Calli Price | Other Photos by BK Web Works

Chillicothe FFA members served breakfast to local FFA supporters at the Salute to Agriculture Breakfast in the Jenkins Expo Center Friday, February 21, 2014. Nearly 140 people attended the event. Community members filed into the Jenkins Expo Center for the Salute to Agriculture Breakfast while 35 Chillicothe FFA members served eggs, pancakes, sausage, fruit, coffee and juice to the attendees prior to the program.

Chillicothe FFA Chapter President Elizabeth Warren welcomed the group and thanked everyone for attending. Jason Bone of Woody's Automotive Group, sponsor of the morning's activities, commended Chillicothe's FFA program and their efforts in agriculture. Bone added that Woody's supports the FFA program in several ways, including providing a truck to Grand River Technical School every year and providing several mini-vans to the school. Bone said FFA is a program that Brent Kline, owner of Woody's, finds to be important, and one that he will continue to support.

The event's keynote speaker was Richard Fordyce, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Fordyce is a fourth-generation farmer from Bethany, Mo. He has held leadership roles in agriculture in local, state and national levels for more than 20 years. He was appointed as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture in December 2013. Fordyce began by discussing his family and his background in farming. His family's farm in Harrison County raises corn, soybeans and beef cattle.

He then went on to discuss the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the different aspects of the department. "The mission for the Missouri Department of Agriculture is to promote and protect Missouri's ag producers, ag businesses and consumers as we produce food, fuel and fiber to clothe the world," Fordyce said. "I think that's a great mission statement, I think that's what the department does primarily. The department interprets those (USDA rules) and tries to carry them out." Fordyce added that when the governor appointed him as director, he told Fordyce there were three things he wanted to see the department do - increase international marketing; increase agriculture production and add value and impact to the agriculture industry, particularly in Missouri's exports; and put an emphasis on youth in agriculture.

Fordyce explained that many consumers do not understand agriculture due to lack of experience with agriculture-focused programs like FFA and that they, "in some cases, don't trust what we do." He added that the average age of a Missouri farmer has increased over the years, and according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture's current census, the average age is now around 59.3 years. Fordyce said that although many youth may not return to help on their family farms, it's important to have educated youth in the community to be a voice for local agriculture knowledge.

The event ended with a drawing for a basket filled with Missouri-produced products, sponsored by the Livingston County Farm Bureau and an award presentation. Anthony Schreiner (far left above) was also announced as a winner in Livingston County for America's Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. Schreiner won a $2,500 donation for a local non-profit, which he chose to direct to the Chillicothe FFA Chapter.

Exhibitors at the Salute to Agriculture Breakfast were Barnes Baker Motors, Chillicothe Ford-Lincoln, Citizens Bank & Trust, Farmers' Electric Cooperative, FCS Financial, Livingston County Farm Bureau, MFA Agri Services (photo above), Morton Buildings, Sydenstricker Farm & Lawn, Woody's Outdoor Power Equipment and Ziegler Ag Equipment.

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