Missouri lawmakers heard a detailed farm report Monday afternoon at the Capitol in Jefferson City, a report which notes Missouri agriculture employs nearly 400,000 people statewide.

Missouri House Agriculture Policy Committee Chairman Jay Houghton (left) and Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee Chairman Brian Munzlinger (right) talk before a joint informational meeting at the Statehouse on January 23, 2017 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

Acting Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director Chris Chinn tells lawmakers that agriculture is an $88 billion industry in Missouri. She delivered a presentation Monday to a joint Senate-House committee.

“We spend $55 billion to add $33 billion to the state of Missouri, for a total of $88.4 billion,” says Chinn. “Now this number does not include grocery stores, restaurants or retail outlets.”

Chinn testifies that Missouri has nearly 100,000 farms, 90 percent of which are family-owned. She says that in 2016, agriculture, forestry and related industries in Missouri produced about 378,000 jobs.

Chinn’s department partnered with Missouri Farm Bureau to conduct the study, which was funded through the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.

“One in ten jobs in Missouri is related to agriculture and the forestry industry,” Chinn says. “90 percent of our 100,000 farms are family-owned in the state of Missouri. And almost 15 percent of the total sales of the state of Missouri come from agriculture and the forestry industry.”

Chinn presented a detailed report titled “Missouri Agriculture: at a glance” to members of the House Agriculture Policy Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources.

Chinn says Missouri ranks in the top ten in several categories, including third in beef cows (1.9 million head), fifth in turkeys (19 million head), seventh in hogs (3 million head), as well as fourth in rice and eighth in cotton.

The report also says Missouri ranks second in biodiesel production.

Missouri Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) wants the Legislature to use the detailed report as a reference as lawmakers move forward with ag-related priorities. Munzlinger notes agriculture is Missouri’s top industry.

“It (the report) helps us (lawmakers) shine the light on agriculture and give it awareness for my colleagues and your all’s (Missouri House Agriculture Policy committee members) colleagues to see the importance of agriculture,” Munzlinger says.

Munzlinger emphasizes the importance of value-added agriculture. The report says breweries are the top contributor of value-added, with a $2.9 billion economic impact.

The average age of a Missouri farmer is 58, according to the report. State Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho) serves on the House Agriculture Policy committee. He also operates Reiboldt Farms Incorporated.

“It takes so much money to get started in agriculture,” Reiboldt tells Missourinet. “I remember when I got started 45 years ago, and to get started I borrowed $100,000. Well, that was like a million (dollars) today.”

In 1997, the average age of a Missouri farmer was 54. The report says that of Missouri’s approximately 100,000 farmers, only 636 are under age 25. The largest number, more than 22,000, are at least 70.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) is expected to unveil his proposed state operating budget in February, including his proposed budget for MDA.

During last week’s State of the State address, Greitens mentioned farming only once, when referring to overregulation.