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Experts Discuss The Future of Farming and Food in Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It's been more than a month since the Farm Bill passed, but food production continues to be a topic of discussion here in Missouri. Agriculture and farming experts from across the state met today in Springfield to discuss the future of food and farming in Missouri.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- "We just had a delivery right now," said Bill Griffiths, owner of Farmer's Gastropub in Springfield.

Freshly-picked scallions, lettuce, and mushrooms are all part of his daily delivery of produce grown from local farms.

"Now we've got a vast array of local producers that are producing really high quality produce, really high quality meats," said Griffiths.

He said buying local, fresh ingredients is a lifestyle for him and many others in the community.

"People's awareness that what you actually put inside your body is food and has an effect on your health, as well as well as everything else," he said.

John Ikerd is a Professor Emeritis at the University of Missouri. Ikerd, alongside other agriculture experts and farmers, discussed the changing food model of today.

"I think the most visible part of the sustainable agriculture movement today is the emergence of a new local food system," he said.

The panelists discussed a wide range of farming and food topics, including the need for more humane treatment of livestock, greater accessibility to locally grown foods, and ways farmers can rethink how they grow foods for more sustainable products at more affordable prices for consumers.

"We need to make it accessible so the ordinary person can go on and identify all of the local farmers that are willing to sell a whole range of produce, meat, milk, eggs, and vegetables to local customers," said Ikerd.

Ikerd said the retail price of organic foods is about eight to ten percent more than that of non-organic foods-- an added cost that is worth the price.

"I'm not going to say it's going to be as convenient or it's going to be cheap," he said. "But going to be affordable."

Vice President of Outreach at the Humane Society Joe Maxwell said the open dialogue will allow consumers to have more of an influence over what foods go into our bodies.

"Vote with your pocketbook," said Maxwell. "Demand it at your grocery store, demand it at the restaurant and that will help sustainable farmers have market access."

The Farm Bill will not expire for five years, but experts and farmers hope that starting the discussion early will make people more aware of how we can change the food model here in Missouri.

They want lawmakers to take more of a "food" rather than "farming" approach.

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