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The Impact of Agriculture in Boone County

Columbia Chamber Agriculturalist of the Year 2023 Jim Gesling

Agriculture is one of Missouri’s largest industries. According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri is home to 95,000 farms, covering two-thirds of the state’s total land acreage. There are more than 1,100 farms covering almost 213,000 acres of land of the 442,000 acres that make up Boone County. 

At the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, we work closely with the University of Missouri Extension and through our Agriculture and Bioscience Committee. Together we focus on educating our businesses and community about the importance that agriculture has on our region. For the last 63 years, we have worked together to put on the Agriculture Recognition Banquet and the Town and Country Dinner. The Town and Country Dinner is an opportunity for our business community to go to a local farm, tour operations, share a dinner together, and learn more about the different things produced in Boone County. 

The Agriculture Recognition Banquet is a chance for us to invite our Boone County farms to an event sponsored by local businesses and give us the opportunity to recognize the importance of agriculture. There are two major awards given at the banquet: the Friend of Youth Award and the Agriculturalist of the Year award.  

Columbia Chamber: Don Day Agribusiness Bioscience Scholarship
Columbia Chamber: Don Day Agribusiness Bioscience Scholarship
Columbia Chamber Friend of Youth In Agriculture Award Scott Stone 2023
Columbia Chamber Friend of Youth In Agriculture Award Scott Stone 2023

The Friend of Youth Award is presented annually to an individual, family, or business that has been exemplary in their commitment to Boone County youth over an extended period of time, particularly those youth involved in agricultural endeavors. Recipients of this prestigious award have served youth in a variety of ways through education, mentorships, and the recipients’ own time, knowledge, and resources. The 2023 Friend of Youth was Scott Stone of Centralia High School.

The Agriculturalist of the Year award recognizes individuals, families, and businesses in our community who have set a great example for present and future generations of agriculturalists. The 2023 Agriculturalist of the Year was Jim Gesling of MFA Incorporated.

The next time you are at a restaurant, grocery shopping, or spending a Saturday at the Columbia Farmers Market make sure you take a moment to realize the importance of agriculture — not just to our great state, but to Boone County — and thank a farmer for all they do.

Matt McCormick

Matt McCormick is the president and CEO of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

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