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In October, Missouri celebrates Pork Month.

Gov. Mike Parson joined the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s pork luncheon Thursday to present a proclamation declaring October 2021 Pork Month, keeping a multi-year tradition alive.

The Missouri Pork Association provided lunch for the department’s workforce, a few state lawmakers and some industry partners, who gathered around large tables in the department’s office space.

Missouri’s celebration of the pork industry is several years strong and aligns with the United States Department of Agriculture’s national Pork Month.

Missouri is sixth in the nation for pork production and more than 3.75 million hogs were raised in the state last year.

The department’s traditional pork luncheon was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Parson and Chris Chinn, director of the Department of Agriculture, said made this year’s celebration more special.

“Here we are 18 months later,” Chinn said. “We survived, we’re stronger, and we’re better together because we worked together as a team with the pork industry, with our friends in the Legislature to make sure that we were supporting Missouri’s number one economic driver — and that’s agriculture.”

Although the luncheon was cancelled last year, Chinn said the department didn’t stop working.

“When the world shut down in March of 2020, the one thing that never stopped was agriculture,” Chinn said. “And that meant your Department of Agriculture didn’t stop either.”

Whether it was sourcing milk for community grocery stores or ensuring farmer’s markets and livestock auctions were still happening, Chinn said the department adapted and found ways to support the agriculture community.

Parson thanked the state employees for staying the course and continuing to serve Missouri’s farmers throughout the pandemic.

Recognizing there were some tough times and high tensions among pork producers throughout the pandemic, Parson said it was the combined efforts of the state workforce and private industry that found solutions.

Parson said he is committed to promoting and supporting agriculture as he looks to the future.

Christi Miller, communications director for the Department of Agriculture, said the department was excited to have Parson and pork producers from around the state present to celebrate Pork Month with department staff.

“Right now, Missouri’s on the right track,” Parson said.

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