Bethany farmer named ag director [St. Joseph News-Press (MO)]
(St. Joseph News-Press (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) RUSHVILLE, Mo. - Perhaps it's appropriate that Missouri's new director of agriculture first met the public in a barn with a dirt floor.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday he has selected Richard Fordyce, of Bethany, Mo., to serve as the state's new head of agriculture.
A mix of industry leaders, politicians, FFA students and others gathered for a meet-and-greet at the Lanny Frakes farm in rural Buchanan County near Rushville.
While the majority of the fourth-generation farmer's remarks outlined his past accomplishments, he hinted at the balancing act he would face pleasing the different factions of the state's largest industry.
"I raise soybeans, corn, and beef cattle, and those aren't in order of importance," Mr. Fordyce said to laughs from the crowd. "I'm just listing them."
Mr. Nixon touted his new director's service on numerous boards related to agriculture and rural issues. Specifically, he referenced Mr. Fordyce's work as chairman of the Missouri Soil and Water Districts Commission.
"Richard was instrumental in our efforts to help Missouri farmers weather that drought," Mr. Nixon said.
In May, the Conservation Federation of Missouri named Mr. Fordyce its Soil Conservationist of the Year.
He has served since 2008 as chairman of the Missouri Soil and Water Districts Commission and also has taken an active role in the United Soybean Board, most recently serving as chairman of its Freedom To Operate Action Team. State statutes required Mr. Fordyce to resign his post with the Soil and Water Commission
Mr. Fordyce represents Harrison County on the board of the Community Foundation for Northwest Missouri - a group that aims to convince people to leave a portion of their estates to their communities in an effort to improve rural life.
He previously graduated from Agriculture Leadership of Tomorrow (ALOT), a two-year program that provides leadership opportunities for members of the agriculture industry to prepare them for larger leadership roles in the future. Other organizations Mr. Fordyce has held positions with in the past include the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, National Biodiesel Board, University of Missouri Extension, Northwest Missouri State Fair and Future Farmers of America.
Mr. Fordyce's previous experience working with lawmakers includes stints on advisory groups for U.S. Rep. Sam Graves and former U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent.
State Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, made the drive down from Harrison County to see the public announcement of a new agriculture director from his hometown. In fact, Mr. Guernsey grew up on a dairy farm roughly a mile away from Mr. Fordyce's farm. Mr. Guernsey said Mr. Fordyce even served as one of his FFA sponsors at South Harrison High School.
"I heard a couple of weeks ago it was probably going to be (Mr. Fordyce), but I didn't want to say anything until it was official," Mr. Guernsey said. "I have to give Gov. Nixon credit. He could not have made a better choice."
Mr. Guernsey was previously appointed as head of a committee to investigate workplace issues within the agriculture department. He said he would wait to see what changes Mr. Fordyce made before determining if any hearings would need to be held.
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