Region's farmers praise appointment of Ferrell

Friday, January 7, 2005

Local farmers are hopeful that the appointment of Fred Ferrell to the state's top agricultural seat will mean good things and better representation for cattlemen and crop producers across Southeast Missouri.

"Fred has been a leader for our area here," said Gerald Bryan, an agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Extension office in Jackson. "He's a cattleman and a farmer. He not only knows the business aspect, but also the production aspect. In other words, he risks his own dollars to make money."

Bryan said that Ferrell will take an intimate knowledge of agriculture production to Jefferson City, particularly with cotton and rice, which isn't widely grown in other parts of the state.

"He's also a practicing farmer," Bryan said. "In many cases, that's not the case with the director of ag."

Glenn Nothdurft, who farms soybean, corn and wheat in Oran, Mo., said he was glad that a Southeast Missouri farmer will be the agriculture director. He hopes Ferrell will push along a stalled proposal for a biodiesel plant in Malden, Mo.

"That would enhance our fuel situation, give us an alternative rather than just burning straight diesel," Nothdurft said.

Fuel prices have been high, he said, and this would relieve some reliance on foreign oil.

Mike Reiminger, who has a farm north of Delta, said to ask him again in a year what it means to have a Southeast Missouri farmer in the job.

"From what little I know about Fred, he's a super nice guy, but what he can do for the agriculture in Missouri, I don't know yet," Reiminger said.

Kevin Holt, who has a 2,800 acre farm with his father south of Benton, Mo., is more optimistic.

"People from other parts of the state don't really understand how things operate in the Bootheel," he said. "I think he knows what we need, and he's actually farmed down here. I'm glad he's from Southeast Missouri."

Ferrell's son, Britton Ferrell, is hopeful that his father can bring change.

"Too often, this job goes to a bureaucrat," said the 34-year-old son. "But with my father, they get a farmer with real-life experience."

Fred Ferrell also owns Mid-Valley Irrigation Inc., which operates in Missouri and four neighboring states. Britton Ferrell said his father bought the irrigation company in 1977, and credits it largely with bringing irrigation to the Bootheel.

335-6611, extension 137

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