January 19, 2014

Gov. Nixon and Director of Ag Honor Outstanding Local Agribusiness during Governor's Conference on Agriculture

Steve and Veronica Baetje of Baetje Farms received the AgriMissouri Member of the Year Award

Steve and Veronica Baetje, artisan cheese makers from St. Genevieve County, received high honors in front of hundreds of Missouri producers and agribusiness leaders during the 44th Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture, hosted by Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. During the awards banquet Saturday evening, Gov. Nixon and Missouri's Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce recognized them with Missouri's AgriMissouri Member of the Year honors.

"Our farmers and farm families are essential to the continued success of the Missouri agriculture," said Director Fordyce. "It is key that we recognize not only their outstanding accomplishments, but also their service and efforts to share their experience with others through AgriMissouri and farmers' markets across our state."

In 2005, Steve and Veronica Baetje chose the hills around St. Genevieve as the place to grow their artisan cheese making operation and herd of saanen goats. The Baetje's have since been recognized throughout the U.S. and internationally for their goats' milk cheeses, including receiving top honors at the World Cheese Awards. Their cheeses have also received first place awards from the American Cheese Society, the American Dairy Goat Association and at the Missouri State Fair.

In addition to selling their cheeses online at baetjefarms.com, the aged cheeses and Coeur de la Crème are available at a number of farmers' markets in the St. Louis area throughout the year, including Soulard, Maplewood, Webster Groves, Downtown St. Louis, Clayton, Kirkwood and Tower Grove.

Missouri's AgriMissouri Member of the Year was recognized alongside the Agricultural Journalist of the Year and the Agriculture Educator of the Year at the 2014 Missouri' Governor's Conference on Agriculture closing banquet.

The Conference, held in Kansas City, concluded Saturday evening with a special performance by country music star John Michael Montgomery. The three-day event included seminars and panel discussions on current hot topics in agriculture, including advocacy, youth engagement and technology. Special events during the conference included the Taste of AgriMissouri reception and the Friday evening benefit auction supporting programs for youth and young professionals in agriculture.

For more information on the Governor's Conference on Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit the Department online at http://www.mda.mo.gov.