November 15, 2017

Op-Ed Column: Putting a face on government

Department of Agriculture will interact face to face with thousands of farmers and ranchers through the reach MORE tour.


When farmers think about our government, the first thought they have is often one of apprehension. It’s rare for a farmer to know anyone on a first name basis. We talk on the phone to discuss a license or certification. We e-mail back and forth regarding new business promotion opportunities. It’s the nature of our society that we can go years without putting a face with a name, voice or e-mail address. The reach MORE tour will change that; we’re bringing our people to you.

The nearly 350 men and women who work at your Missouri Department of Agriculture work diligently to promote and protect agriculture. Every single day our team is carrying out our mission by stopping the introduction and spread of animal disease, ensuring accurate measurement and weighing at gas stations, grocery stores and livestock barns, snuffing out harmful insects and plant disease, assisting agribusinesses in finding new markets for their goods, and guaranteeing the quality and quantity of grain passing through elevators. I want to assure you that our team is top notch. They are a group of passionate and professional individuals, many of whom live and work on their own farming operations.

In an effort to reach more farmers and ranchers and connect them with our staff, we are embarking on a tour over the next couple of months. The stops on the tour will be agriculture and commodity organizations’ winter meetings. Deputy Director Hawkins and I, along with other Department leadership, will use this as a platform to interact in a meaningful way with farmers and ranchers. We’ll talk about our priorities at the Department and how we’re aiming to enhance the lives of all Missourians through our strategic vision, MORE.

Each of the five division directors will be traveling across the state with us: Ron Hayes from Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection, state veterinarian Dr. Linda Hickam from Animal Health, Chris Klenklen from Grain Inspection and Warehousing, Paul Bailey from Plant Industries and our Agriculture Business Development division director, Davin Althoff.

The reach MORE tour will take the place of this year’s Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture. While we aren’t replacing this conference for the long haul, we are excited about the opportunity this tour gives us to take our show on the road. Each of these winter meetings has strong attendance from a diverse group of Missouri producers, and getting to talk with them on their turf will be mutually beneficial.  

Stay up to date with all of the stops on the reach MORE tour by visiting