About the Missouri Department of Agriculture
The Missouri Department of Agriculture, located in Jefferson City, Mo., is dedicated to the promotion and protection of the state’s agriculture industry. With nearly 100,000 farms on more than 28 million acres of farmland, the state’s Department of Agriculture works to connect farmers with consumers. Nearly 90% of Missouri’s farms are family owned, and our family farms are committed to producing a safe and secure food supply for customers locally and globally. Additionally, more than one in every 10 Missouri jobs are in agriculture and forestry.
The Department of Agriculture houses five divisions including Ag Business Development, Animal Health, Grain Inspection & Warehousing, Plant Industries and Weights, Measures & Consumer Protection. These divisions work each day to promote and protect the backbone of the state’s economy.
When it comes to economic impact, agriculture is a heavy hitter. Between crops, livestock, forestry and fishery production; agriculture inputs and services agriculture inputs and services; food and related products manufacturing and forestry products manufacturing, agriculture’s economic contribution to Missouri totals $93.7 billion.
Missouri is incredibly diverse in what we grow. From corn and soybeans in the north and cotton and rice in the south, all of our commodity groups work together to form one agriculture.
Home to the Plant and Biotechnology Science corridor in St. Louis and the Animal Health Corridor in Kansas City, Missouri is constantly making advancements to keep up with growing demand from domestic and international markets.
View more Missouri agriculture highlights in the department’s Ag at a Glance brochure.
"To serve, promote, and protect the agricultural producers, processors, and consumers of Missouri’s food, fuel, and fiber products."
Agriculture’s Proud History
Missouri has a proud agricultural tradition. In fact, the statue adorning the dome of the State Capitol—often mistaken as Lady Liberty—is that of Ceres, goddess of growing vegetation. The first farms in Missouri were established around 1725 by French settlers in the Ste. Genevieve area. In 1811, an event of great magnitude shook the small farming communities—the New Madrid earthquake (recorded as the worst earthquake in North American history). Devastated villagers petitioned congress for assistance and were granted land in the “Boone’s Lick” area that runs parallel to the Missouri River. The area proved prosperous, and Missouri agriculture became more productive and diverse. A decade later, in the 1820s, agricultural societies for the promotion and exhibition of agricultural products began to appear throughout Missouri’s counties.
By the 1860s Missouri’s rapidly expanding agricultural industry needed leadership and assistance. As a result, the precursor organization to the department was formed in 1865. Known as the Missouri State Board of Agriculture, the ten member organization is best remembered for its “Farmer’s Institutes.” Similar to the work of the modern-day University Extension, the state board endeavored to reach out and educate farmers and farm families. The state board served in cooperation with the Missouri State Horticultural Society and later helped form the Missouri College of Agriculture. All three organizations worked to educate the agricultural community until the 1933 reorganization.
In 1933, the state board was abolished and a new era of agricultural leadership began in Missouri. The State Department of Agriculture was formed and delegated responsibility for regulatory functions, while the College of Agriculture was given primary responsibility for research and education.
Today, the Missouri Department of Agriculture sets agriculture policy and provides assistance to farmers throughout the state. While the department maintains its regulatory functions, its expanded duties include consumer protection, public health roles, environmental advocacy, agricultural marketing, strategic communications and outreach, and promoting new technology and new uses for Missouri’s agricultural goods.
To learn more about the divisions and boards and commissions at the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit the Missouri Blue Book.