McCaskill includes Purdy dairy in ag tour

Thursday, September 3, 2015
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill stocked up on cheese, dairy products and a gallon of milk during her stop at the Edgewood Creamery Food and Grocery store north of Purdy on Thursday morning. Pictured, from left, are McCaskill, Aubrey Fletcher and Melissa Fletcher. Murray Bishoff/times-news@monett-times.com

Edgewood Creamery visit spotlights multi-generational farming

Making a sweep through small towns in Missouri to learn about agriculture issues from producers, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill stopped at Charles and Melissa Fletcher's Edgewood Creamery operation, north of Purdy, on Thursday.

McCaskill toured the creamery's cheese making operation and discussed agriculture issues with the Fletchers and other industry representatives who stopped by.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill offered details on her efforts concerning agriculture issues such as regulations on genetically-modified organisms and coal-burning energy states during her visit to the Edgewood Creamery Food and Grocery store on Thursday. McCaskill spoke with creamery operators Melissa and Charles Fletcher, right, with Wanda Brown, left, and Aubrey Fletcher looking on. Murray Bishoff/times-news@monett-times.com

"Most Missourians don't understand agriculture is the most important economic activity we have," McCaskill said. "The more we can do to make agriculture visible, the more people will support it."

McCaskill said she wanted to see the Fletchers' new cheese operation because it fit her ideal model of a family farm.

"This is the best of all worlds, a family-based farm producing a large amount of milk that's value-added by making cheese," McCaskill said. "With the mom making cheese, the daughter-in-law working in marketing and the grandma running the cash register, this is a rock star operation.

"One of the challenges of agriculture now is keeping young people on the farm. Hearing this was new, I wanted to see what it was all about. I'm glad I did. It's special."

McCaskill said her agriculture tour crossed the state this week, visiting a number of small towns, a natural experience for her having grown up in Houston, Missouri.

"This is where I really learn," McCaskill said. "You can have [the Dairy Farmers of America] come to Washington, but really when I come face to face with farmers, that's when I learn."

McCaskill and Charles Fletcher discussed science issues and regulations impacting farms. McCaskill said she believed in science and the real problems with global warming. New restrictions on states using coal to produce energy, like Missouri, she felt had gone too far, and she planned to ask questions of Environmental Protection Agency officials to reach a more balanced approach.

"Some regulations are necessary," McCaskill said. "I want to see a balanced approach. Sometimes, both sides get carried away."

Questions about genetically-modified organism (GMO) crops continue to circle in agriculture circles.

"If science says there's a problem with GMOs, then we should listen," she said. "Until then, we should chill."

Charles Fletcher observed the creamery's cheese operation has gone well in its first four weeks of business. The farm's food and grocery store, which he hopes will continue to grow, is open on Farm Road 1090 and has received positive support in the community, he said.

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