WHAT OTHERS SAY: Hands-on farmer looks promising as state director of agriculture

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | 1:42 p.m. CST

Missouri's new director of agriculture promises good leadership for the state's leading industry. Richard Fordyce recently was appointed to the position by Gov. Jay Nixon. 

Mr. Fordyce already has demonstrated his commitment to making the area better, serving on the boards for MU Extension, the Northwest Missouri State Fair and the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri, as well as mentoring youth through FFA. His participation on the state's Soil and Water Districts Commission shows he values our natural resources.

Even more important is that Missouri farmers can be assured Mr. Fordyce will understand their needs and concerns. This is because he is one of them.

Beyond being a landowner and manager, Mr. Fordyce is a hands-on farmer who has experienced the pride in a job well done and the frustrations of markets and weather beyond the grower's control.

He will have plenty of opportunity to prove his merit at the Department of Agriculture. Former director Jon Hagler left under a cloud of controversy that included allegations of a hostile work environment and employment of inexperienced aides. The new director will do well to surround himself with capable advisers and managers.

Finally, Mr. Fordyce brings experience in the state's powerful commodity organizations, having served in the past on the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and National Biodiesel Board. An in-depth understanding of these industries is an asset.

Agriculture, even within the borders of Missouri, is a wonderfully complex business. Mr. Fordyce faces a steep learning curve to become familiar with all its facets that touch not only on commerce, but also on values and social issues woven deeply into the fabric of our state.

We wish our new agriculture director the best of success. A lot is riding on his leadership.

Copyright The St. Joseph News-Press. Distributed by the Associated Press.

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