Missouri has a proud agricultural tradition. In fact, the statue adorning the dome of the State Capitol—often mistaken as Lady Liberty—is that of Ceres, the goddess of growing vegetation. The first farms in Missouri were established around 1725 by French settlers in the Sainte Genevieve area. In 1811, the violent New Madrid earthquake shook the small farming communities. Devastated villagers petitioned congress for assistance and were granted land in the “Boone’s Lick” area that runs parallel to the Missouri River. The area proved prosperous, and Missouri agriculture became more productive and diverse. A decade later, in the 1820s, societies for the promotion and exhibition of agricultural products began to appear throughout Missouri’s 114 counties.
Now, more than two-thirds of the state is made up of agricultural land. The most valuable agricultural commodities produced by Missouri are cattle and calves. Other valuable livestock products include hogs, dairy products and turkeys. Soybeans are Missouri's most valuable crop, followed by grain corn. Other valuable crops include cotton, wheat and hay.
Today, the Missouri Department of Agriculture sets agriculture policy and provides assistance to farmers throughout the state. While the Department maintains its regulatory functions, its expanded duties include consumer protection, public health roles, environmental advocacy, agricultural marketing, public information and awareness and promoting new technology and new uses for Missouri’s agricultural goods.
Missouri's Grow Native! Program