Dairy farmer Paul Heins, of Higginsville, and pork producer Brent Sandidge, of Marshall, were each recognized today with a with a Governor’s Award for Agricultural Achievement, which honors outstanding farmers, growers and processors for their work with agricultural commodities and their communities. The award was presented by Missouri’s Director of Agriculture, Richard Fordyce, on behalf of Gov. Jay Nixon.

 “Missouri’s economy depends on the innovation, dedication and resilience of our farm families, who work each and every day to strengthen their communities and feed, fuel and clothe the world,” Gov. Nixon said. “Thanks to producers like Paul Heins and Brent Sandidge, Missouri agriculture continues to lead the way.”

Director Fordyce accompanied Heins and Sandidge on a farm tour of Heins Dairy and Ham Hill Farms, respectively, before presenting the awards. Established in 1851, Heins Dairy is a state-of-the-art operation outside of Higginsville. Heins and his family milk approximately 650 Holstein cows, the equivalent of 6,000 gallons of milk, per day. A major facility remodel in 2009 and the use of cutting edge technology enable the dairy to operate with incredible efficiency.

Brent Sandidge’s Ham Hill Farms has been raising quality pork and grain products for three generations. Sandidge works closely with nutritional and veterinarian consultants to ensure the production and health of their 3,000 sows. He strives for the betterment of Missouri agriculture through promotion of the industry and through his own farm-level practices.

“Great leaders are essential to any industry,” said Director Fordyce. “And we are fortunate to have so many extraordinary producers who work tirelessly to promote their commodity, and in turn, all of agriculture. Missourians – and all Americans – are getting more interested in where their food comes from, so having advocates like Paul and Brent to tell the real story of farming is a tremendous asset.”

In April of this year, Gov. Nixon signed House Bill 259, the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act, to further strengthen and support the Missouri dairy industry. The bill authorizes up to 80 scholarships of up to $5,000 each for students pursuing two- or four-year agriculture degrees. Eligible students must sign an agreement to work in the agriculture industry in Missouri for at least two years for every year they receive the scholarship, among other provisions.

This legislation also establishes a premium assistance program to assist Missouri dairy farmers with the cost of participation in the federal Margin Protection Program, which was created in the federal Farm Bill of 2014. The federal Margin Protection Program assists dairy farmers by providing payments to the farmer when the dairy margin drops below $4. House Bill 259 allows Missouri dairy farmers who participate in the federal margin protection program to apply to the Missouri Agriculture Small Business Development Authority for reimbursement of 70 percent of their federal premium.

To learn more about the Governor’s Award for Agricultural Achievement and Missouri’s agricultural economy, please visit MO.gov.

(Courtesy of Governor Jay Nixon's Public Relations)