By Bill Lant

I was on the Annual Legislative Farm Tour on Wednesday. It was sponsored this year by Senator Munslinger and Representative Reiboldt. lant, bill mug2

Bill was kind enough to invite me to take part for a day, and boy was it fun! A lot of people don’t realize that agriculture is Missouri’s biggest industry. We tend to take farmers and ranchers for granted because we are around them so much.

Even those with relatively small operations have a huge investment in time and capitol and are at the mercy of the weather as well as market fluctuations that are totally out of their control.

Jane and I enjoyed building up a small cow/calf operation when the boys were still at home, but when we built it up to about 80 head, the market flopped and 500 pounders were selling at 60 cents a pound.

If that wasn’t bad enough, we had a drought and hay was tough to find. I was one of the lucky ones with a regular job to “supplement my hobby.” On the tour we got to see some really beautiful cattle and talked to some professional ranchers who really knew what they were doing.

We spent some time at the IDF facility at Monett. They take fat and chicken parts and, with a remarkably complex process, turn them into dried ingredients for seasonings, soup stock, and bullion to just name a few of their end products.

The amazing thing was how extremely clean the entire operation was. They told us that there were at least three different lab tests on each batch of ingredients before they were released for shipping to customers.

I was in that facility almost 30 years ago when they first started operation. It is now at least 10 times bigger than then and they have over 50 poultry plants shipping them products for processing.

On Friday we were at K&S Wire in Neosho for a Neosho Manufacturing Day Celebration. Mr. Dusty Cruise, Missouri Enterprise President and Chief Executive, recognized Mr. Gene Schwartz Sr., President of K&S Wire, for his continued contribution to Neosho area manufacturing.

Gene has just completed another expansion to his facility and ships wire products worldwide. He has recently added state of the art machinery to keep up with the increase in demand of his specialty product line.

Saturday morning I joined the McDonald County Junior ROTC in their yearly tribute to PFC Christopher Lee Marion, a 2005 graduate who gave his life defending this great nation on February 22, 2006 in Hawijah, Iraq.

Chris’s family was joined by the entire McDonald County High School JROTC Battalion, The Pineville American Legion Post and the Patriot Riders in a moving ceremony. I was honored to be invited.

The Chamber Oktoberfest was in full swing by 10:00 a.m. when I got to Pineville. They were just finishing up a 5K run and the chili contest was about to begin. How it happened, I still don’t know, but I was delegated to be one of the contest judges.

I insisted on judging the “mild” batches but chili chefs don’t know the meaning of the word! There were 11 entries in the mild category but by number 3, the enamel had melted off my teeth!

Bill Dobbs was judging the “Hot” categories. You might want to send him a Get Well Card. All in all, we had a great time and the weather couldn’t have been better. You know how I’m always saying, “You just can’t make this stuff up”? When I got home guess what Jane had fixed for lunch? CHILI!

Saturday evening we went to a benefit for Bob Payton. Bob has been a dedicated paramedic in Southwest Missouri for 34 years as well as a volunteer firefighter. He is experiencing his second bout of cancer in three years and several hundred people gathered for a chicken dinner and auction to help defray some costs.

The food was great, Johnny Dale did a super job of entertaining us, and everyone had a fun time for a great cause. (Guess who had to buy another pie?)

More next week, enjoy this wonderful weather.

(State Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, represents the 159th District of Missouri, which includes Seneca and all of McDonald County. He can be reached in his Capitol office at (573) 751-9801 or by email at


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