CARROLLTON — Blake Hurst is a man who has worn many hats throughout his life – farmer, writer, and the 14th Missouri Farm Bureau president.
On Friday at the Rupe Center, Hurst was a guest speaker at the Carroll County Farm Bureau’s general meeting. Hurst opened his remarks by addressing the obvious elephant in the room, the pandemic, which has shaken up plans for everyone — the bureau included.
“I haven’t talked to anybody about a date, a meeting, a conversation where one of us says ‘unless something changes’ because it continues to change from day to day,” Hurst says. “So we just do the best we can. I guess farming is a pretty good preparation for that because the weather changes every day and dictates what we do day to day. Clearly right now the virus is dictating what everyone does from day to day.”
Just hours before the meeting, the Missouri State Fair announced that the fair would be reduced to a youth livestock show. The Missouri Farm Bureau has a building on the fairgrounds where they host and sponsor many events with the agriculture community and state legislators. Despite the loss of these events, Hurst respects the decisions that had to be made.
“All those things are gone, and we’ll miss opportunities,” Hurst says. “But having said all that, the situation has changed since the decision to have the fair and I think the governor and the other people responsible for those decisions have taken those changes into account and made a responsible decision.”
Hurst took the time to discuss policy and trade relations in the United State. Speaking on behalf of the bureau, he is impressed with trade deals in the country right now, such as the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal that went into effect on July 1.
“As there always will be there’s still conflicts between the three countries but its good news that we have some certainty for the next few years,” Hurst says. “Trade with Mexico and Canada have by in large been really good for Missouri farmers and we’re glad that’s going to continue.”
Another victory the farm bureau is celebrating is the expansion of broadband in rural Missouri. The state recently passed a bill granting rural areas funding for expansion. This is an effort that has been a priority for the farm bureau for years now, and the pandemic heightened the need for expansion.
“We had a statewide meeting here about two years ago which we really emphasized and brought in people from all over the state and lots of people are working on it and lots of people are concerned about it but I like to think that meeting kicked off and renewed efforts here in Missouri. It has been a priority of ours for several years and will continue to be so.”
Hurst acknowledges how these times have been difficult and unpredictable for Missouri farmers. The most important message Hurst wants to relay to farmers is that they are listening and paying attention to farmers while trying to help solve their problems to the best of their ability.
“A consistent message of mine is ‘this too shall pass’ — it will get better,” Hurst says. “But we’re in it now and I expect that we’ll be in it for a while.”