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Charles Gamble, promotion and education chairman of the St. Francois County Farm Bureau, addressed the St. Francois County Commission about the significance of agriculture in the county during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

The Farm Bureau has designated this week as “Celebrate Agriculture/Thank a Farmer Week.” A proclamation declaring the designation was signed by Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher.

Addressing the commission, Gamble explained the economic factors involving St. Francois County’s agricultural industry.

“What it adds to the economy is unbelievable,” he said. “We don’t think about St. Francois County being a big, major agricultural contributor, but according to the data, about 1,450 jobs are related to agriculture.”

According to Gamble, agriculture in the county contributed to $154 million in sales. He added that today’s efficiency and productivity in farming leads to a great benefit to consumers.

“Each farmer produces food for around 165 people,” he said. “We eat for less than 10 percent of our disposable income, which is the lowest in the world.”

According to its website, the Farm Bureau is "an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization governed by and representing farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being."

Further, it is "local, county, state, national and international in its scope and influence and is non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character. Farm Bureau is the voice of agricultural producers at all levels.”

The Farm Bureau is celebrating its centennial year, having been organized on Nov. 12, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois, by organizational leaders from 34 states. A declaration made at the beginning of the convention said, “This country needs the sound, conservative common sense of the farmers expressed in a collective and organized way.”

Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins raises cattle and is a member of the board of the University of Missouri Extension Council. He explained the details of state Agri-Ready program that St. Francois County participates in.

“Last year this commission passed Agri-Ready status for St. Francois County,” he said. “Out of 114 counties, we were 47th to support Agri-Ready status. St. Francois County will support Farm Bureau and farmers.”

Mullins explained how the county would work with and support the agricultural industry.

“In the future if we pass any resolution or ordinance, we will reach out to the Farm Bureau,” he said. “I’m proud of that, and we will be getting signs up on major arteries in this county along Highways 8, 67, and 32.”

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com.

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