From farm to college and back, Cupps learned many lessons

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Challenger for southern commissioner hopes for growth in county

Challenger for Barry County's southern commissioner, Matt Cupps, R-Shell Knob, has taken the long road from the farm, through college and back to farming, and his experiences throughout his years he feels has made him ready to take on a county administrative role.

A lifelong resident of Shell Knob, Cupps went to Shell Knob Elementary School, graduated from Cassville High School in 2003, spent time at Crowder College, then graduated from Missouri State University in 2006.

Growing up on his family's farm in Shell Knob, Cupps admits even though he remains in the farming industry, it was not always his first love.

"I was not much of a farm kid because I grew up in a lake town," he said. "We would get home from school, do our homework and then do chores on the farm, but I was not always proud of it. When I got to Cassville High School and around other farm kids, I came to realize how people respect you for it."

Once he bought into his farming roots, Cupps would drive back from college to work on the farm working cattle. Now, he operates farms in Shell Knob, Exeter, south of Cassville, northeast of Cassville and in Jenkins. He said through his travels across the county, he has met a lot of different people.

"My brother and I bought our parents' farm when I was in college," he said. "The thing I learned as a farm kid is there are a lot of different types of people in Barry County, especially in the south. There is the lake and retirement community, the small-town Cassville community and the rural farming community. There are a lot of different opinions, and we seem to be good living in harmony without any cultural clash."

Cupps said he especially saw the differences in Shell Knob, where some of his friends as a youth were raised by their grandparents.

"I got to see a lot of different people, not just those story book families," he said. "I've traveled the county as a farmer, and I believe this county is going to see growth. The harmony we have now with so many different demographics is something I'd like to continue."

Cupps said even though people may not always see eye to eye, and no one is 100 percent right or wrong, there are always solutions to make everyone happy.

"I don't want any certain group of people to feel discriminated against," he said. "I'm expecting growth, and I want an environment where young and old alike want to live here. And, I don't want to see us have the kind of population decline like in other rural parts of the state.

"I have also always been a problem-solver and critical thinker. I never look at things as just black and white, and we must look for the best option to make everyone happy. I pride myself in that, and think it's an attribute that would make me a good commissioner.

Not married and with no children, Cupps said although farming takes a lot of time, his family situation will allow him more time to focus on being a commissioner.

"A lot of people have asked if I would have the time to do this because I'm so busy farming," he said. "But, a family consumes more time and effort than farming. We have also downscaled our farming a little bit because of the prices. Not being tied down with a family will also allow me more time to learn, because that is a lot of being a commissioner in the beginning is figuring everything out."

Cupps will face incumbent Wayne Hendrix, D-Cassville, in the general election on Nov. 8.

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