MARYVILLE, Mo. — During the 100th annual meeting of the Nodaway County Farm Bureau, 161 members shared memories, fellowship and a meal at the conference center at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
The group, believed to be the highest ever attendance at a Nodaway County annual meeting, memorialized the moment with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, courtesy of the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce, and regular meeting business.
Terry Ecker, board president, welcomed the crowd to the event saying 100 years is a long time, and that Missouri Farm Bureau membership at the state level has grown by 20 percent in the eight years the guest speaker has been president.
“It is quite an acknowledgement to have an organization last a hundred years,” guest speaker Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau president, told the crowd. “It is a testament to an organization that is fulfilling a need, needs people have.”
He said Missouri Farm Bureau made quota for the 31st year in a row just short of 125,000 members.
“You don’t get 125,000 people to fork over $30 bucks unless you’re doing something they need,” he said. “So we’re proud of that.”
Later in the meeting Hurst spoke about the upcoming Nov. 6 general election ballot issues. He said Missouri Farm Bureau is endorsing Attorney General Josh Hawley for U.S. Senate and Proposition D, an increase in the gas tax to free up funds for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and highway construction and maintenance.
“It’s a pretty uncomfortable position for a farm bureau president to be in favor of a tax,” Hurst said. “It’s a pretty uncomfortable position to be in favor of a tax when prices are low and yields are awful, but we need to do something to fix the roads. We haven’t seen an increase in funding since 1996. … We have about 600 bridges with load limits. … Our fathers and our grandfathers built an extensive as the DOT (department of transportation) system, the largest or second largest in the country. It’s our responsibility to maintain it and like it or not that takes some money.”
He then discussed his personal opinion on the Amendment 1 “Clean Missouri” ballot issue. The Farm Bureau has not taken an official position, but Hurst wanted to discuss it with the crowd.
He explained that the initiative intends to lower campaign contributions, saying that’s farm bureau policy. It also will require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyist, which again Hurst said is bureau policy as well. It will limit the number of gifts politicians can accept.
“That’s part of our policy as well,” he said. “So why do we have questions about Clean Missouri? Well it’s the other provision.”
Hurst said, the final problematic provision is said to ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, it will require a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps.
“Now, how do you draw more competitive ballot districts in a state like Missouri where Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia vote one way and everybody else votes the other way,” he asked.
In response he said, “you come up with a bunch of districts where urban voters are about 52 percent of the vote, which means we won’t have any representation. It will change not only the state house and state senate, our congressional delegation as well. For me, it is a gun aimed right at rural Missouri and it is an awful idea.”
He asked Nodaway County Farm Bureau members to read about it and get out to vote.
“Thank you all for what you do for Missouri agriculture,” Hurst said. “Thank you, Nodaway County Farm Bureau and congratulations on 100 years of service to agriculture.”
He handed the microphone to Farm Bureau District 1 Representative Vern Hart who is in his eighth and final year as a member of the bureau. Hart received a gift from Ecker and also congratulated the bureau on 100 years of being an organization.
As part of the 100th annual meeting, county bureau president Ecker presented Benny Farrell with a plaque in recognition of his longtime membership with the organization.
Mariah Fork, Northwest Missouri State University student gave the Collegiate Farm Bureau update, explaining how much fun the organization is having getting information out to students on campus.
With regard to students, Chad McCullough, county bureau board vice president, presented two students with scholarships during the meeting. Mikayla Mattson and David Hull each received a $1,000 scholarship. Mattson said she intends to use her scholarship to attend Northwest Missouri State University. Hull said he is going in to the military and will attend the University of Central Missouri in order to become a pilot.
As part of the business of the meeting bureau members elected their officials: Ecker, president; McCullough, vice president; Andrew Lance, treasurer; Joe Freuh, secretary.
Nominated from the floor, Marybeth Shipps was elected to the board by group members.
Bureau member Gary Hull talked about his father and fellow farmer Lowell Hull who died earlier this summer at the age of 99.
Gary Hull said his father was interviewed by the Nodaway County Historical Society before he died and said in the interview, “Stop and think about how much farming and life has changed in 100 years,” Gary Hull said. “Probably 1930 or before, he said at that time there were only two farmers in Lincoln Township that had a tractor, my grandad Glenn Hull and Earl Conner.
“You know I stop and think about the changes, what those people that worked and did at farm bureau tried to keep policies as we needed them, and the drastic changes in crop yields. Didn’t I hear today, something like an estimated 180-bushel corn? Good grief, if we got 40-bushel corn we were happy, years ago. It’s totally changed. It’s going to change a lot more. Pardon me now, but as much as I hate politics we better be there that day paying attention or we’re going to get the short end of the stick.”
While members shared memories over the years, Ecker gave some statistics from a very old ledger kept by bureau member Ed Hamilton.
In the ledger Hamilton had written, July 10, 1934, sold lambs that weighed 78 pounds at $7.65 a head. In September, he bought a one buck for $11.50
“Things have changed quite a bit,” Ecker said.
The next meeting of the Nodaway County Farm Bureau will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 10. Ecker said location information will be made available at a later time.