Missouri Governor sees agri-tech innovation in person

The State of Missouri has the unofficial nickname of the “Show Me State” after a no-nonsense speech by a congressman in 1899, and it is still true today. Governor Mike L Parson, a third-generation cattle farmer, came with First Lady Teresa and Chris Chinn, also a farmer and Director of the Missouri Dept of Agriculture, to meet members of Agri-TechE and to see for himself the innovation that is emerging from the ecosystem.


Agri-TechE and Missouri Partnership coordinated a successful mission to the Missouri agri-food ecosystem in March 2020, just before the pandemic. This followed a 2019 agri-tech mission from Missouri to the UK.

Since that time Agri-TechE and numerous Missouri companies and organizations have been working together to advance agri-tech into the future and build strong connections between the two ecosystems. The Governor’s visit, organised by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, was to build on those relationships and explore future opportunities for collaboration.

Dr Nik Johnson (Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority), First Lady Teresa Parson, Governor Mike Parson, Sarra Mander (CMO Small Robot Company), Dr Belinda Clarke (Director of Agri-TechE), Professor Mario Caccamo (CEO of NIAB) – with one of Small Robot Company’s robots

Agri-TechE at the centre 

“We were delighted to welcome Governor Parson and the Missouri delegation for one of the first US state-level visits to the UK this year,” said Alan Gogbashian, British Consul General to the Midwest based in Chicago. “As Missouri’s exports to the UK top $1.4 billion, agri-tech represents a rich vein of innovation for both our economies. And Agri-TechE sits at the very centre of our shared ambitions for further growth.”

For Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, it was an opportunity to meet the Governor and First Lady in person: “Although the pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of many aspects of digital agriculture, farming is still about people and the real world. The mission with Missouri has been invaluable in building business relationships and creating wider understanding of mutual opportunities and we are delighted to progress this with the Governor.”

Agriculture $94 billion industry

Annually, agriculture is a $94 billion industry in Missouri and nearly 50 per cent of US crop and livestock production is located within 500 miles of the state. The ag cluster includes international ag and food corporations and centres of plant science research including Bayer Crop Science’s Global Seeds and Traits HQ.

So, Missouri is a good launch point for companies looking to engage with US food production.

“As Missouri’s Governor, I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen relationships with business partners in the United Kingdom,” Governor Parson said. “For decades, Missouri and the U.K. have enjoyed a unique connection that is both culturally and economically significant. Given the importance of international trade, we’re grateful for this chance to promote Missouri agriculture and technology, among other strengths that make the Show-Me State an ideal business location.”

Chance to showcase diversity of agri-tech ecosystem

The meeting on 18th March 2022, was hosted by the crop science organisation NIAB. Of particular interest to the Governor, who rears beef cattle, is the work on using naturally occurring microorganisms to unlock fertility in soil, improving the nutritional value of grass and reducing the need for inorganic fertiliser.

The 2020 mission was co-funded by the UK government Department for International Trade. Agri-Tech Lead Elizabeth Warham said: “We are delighted that the Governor is taking this opportunity to consolidate the relationships that have been made with many members of the UK’s vibrant agri-tech ecosystem and look forward to seeing these collaborations prosper.”

Agri-TechE members meeting the Governor included:

Wyld Networks, simplifying sensor to satellite connectivity;

Small Robot Company, developing robotics to support a ‘per-plant’ approach to agriculture which provides timely interventions to ensure crop health;

PBD Biotech, developers of rapid blood test for tuberculosis in humans and animals;

Farmer Robert Smith of Russell Smith Farms along with Bayer Crop Science, PwC and Cambridge Consultants.

The Willand Group which is developing an intelligent facility that offers the potential of net zero livestock production was also part of the mission.

Image: (from left) Dr Nik Johnson (Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough); First Lady Teresa Parson; Governor Mike Parson; Sarra Mander (Small Robot Company); Dr Belinda Clarke (Director of Agri-TechE), Professor Mario Caccamo (CEO of NIAB) – with one of Small Robot Company’s robots.

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