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Americans continue to have questions about how their food is grown and raised. In response, Missouri Farmers Care, in partnership with the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®), which was created to lead the dialogue and answer questions consumers have about food production, will host The Food DialoguesSM: Columbia. Today, Missouri Farmers Care announced the panelists and moderator who will assemble at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri in Columbia on September 19 for panel discussions on two of today's most pressing food issues - Biotechnology and Animal Welfare.

"The Food Dialogues are a place where individuals from across the food production spectrum can come together and have a constructive conversation about issues facing today's agriculture," said Don Nikodim, Chairman, Missouri Farmers Care. "There are additional issues however, that need to be addressed for our local consumers and we are excited to answer their most pressing questions. It's time we move the conversation forward on both a national and local level."

The panel discussions will focus on Biotechnology and Animal Welfare. Missouri Farmers Care and the USFRA has assembled a group of panelists who are experts in their respective fields with various points of view on biotechnology, including Jim Thomas, the Chairman of the Missouri Organic Association and a Marshall, Missouri, area produce farmer and Dr. Fanson Kidwaro, the Chair of Agriculture at the University of Central Missouri. The Animal Welfare panel features pork, dairy, and grass-fed cattle farmers alongside Bleu Restaurant owner Travis Tucker, MFA, Inc's Dr. Alan Wessler, Vice President of Feed Operations and Animal Health, and Dr. Don Spiers, Professor of Environmental Physiology at the University of Missouri and sponsor of the University of Missouri Animal Welfare Club.


Animal Welfare: Beyond the Hype

2:00 PM

This panel will discuss animal welfare issues that have come to the forefront in recent years.




  • Mark Mahnken ● Grass-fed Cattle Farmer and Owner, Missouri Legacy Beef

  • Chris Heins ● Dairy Farmer, Heins Dairy

  • Alan Wessler, DVM ●Vice President, Feed Operations and Animal Health of MFA Incorporated

  • Chris Chinn ● Hog Farmer and USFRA Faces of Farming and Ranching Winner

  • Don Spiers, Ph.D. ● Professor of Environmental Physiology and sponsor of the University of Missouri Animal Welfare Club University of Missouri

  • Travis Tucker ● Owner, Bleu Restaurant




Hi-Tech or Low-Tech: Can't We All Just Get Along?

3:45 PM

This panel will focus on biotechnology and the need of conventional and organic agriculture to work together to meet consumer demands.



  • Blake Hurst ● Farmer and President of Missouri Farm Bureau

  • Jim Thomas ● Vegetable Farmer and Chairman, and Past President, Missouri Organic Association

  • Fanson Kidwaro, Ph.D., ● Department Chair of Agriculture, University of Central Missouri

  • Dan Shaul ● State Director, Missouri Grocer's Association


"Following the momentum of The Food Dialogues events held in major metro areas, we realize that many of these issues have local implications," said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "Many of USFRA's affiliates have access to local experts, influencers, farmers and ranchers who are ready and willing to address questions about how food is grown and raised. These experts can address issues that are of national and local interest, sharing and tailoring the discussion to local audiences. We're excited to extend The Food Dialogues series of events to local communities throughout the United States, Columbia being one of them."

For information about USFRA and to see footage from past Food Dialogues events, visit To join the conversation online, visit and follow USFRA on Twitter @USFRA using #FoodD. To watch the event live online, visit


About The Food Dialogues

USFRA recognizes that Americans have important questions about our food and how it is produced. We have all become invested in knowing more about where our food comes from and how it was grown and raised - and how it impacts our personal health. USFRA helps farmers and ranchers answer consumers' and influencers' questions, and respond to their concerns, about food production.

About U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of nearly 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture working to engage in dialogues with consumers who have questions about how today's food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today's agriculture.

About Missouri Farmers Care

Missouri Farmers Care promotes the continued growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education and advocacy. Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri's farming and agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our community depends.

This news release was wholly or partially paid for by one or more checkoff organizations.








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