An Obsession with Bridging the Food Gap

Chris Chinn Missouri Director of Agriculture

Farm for Life is an editorial series by the Missouri Department of Agriculture

It was decades of farming and advocacy that led her here. In Missouri’s Capital City, Chris Chinn is more than a farmer and rural community member today: she’s your Director of Agriculture.

The Chinn Family Farm is a true partnership among all family members – grandparents, parents, siblings, children, nieces and nephews – that has transcended generations of agriculture in Shelby County. As a fifth generation diversified farmer, Chinn has always made sure to focus on the families her farm feeds.   

“My husband Kevin and I chose to farm because we wanted to make sure we were providing safe food not only for our family, but for other families as well,” Chinn said. “At the end of every day, when you come in after a hard day’s work, it’s nice to know you’re making an impact. We know Missouri families need safe and affordable food for their tables.”

The heart and soul of the farming community makes her proud to be a Missouri farmer.

“Any time there’s someone in need, our farmers and ranchers are the first one there with a helping hand,” Chinn said. “They make sure that neighbors who need help getting a crop out of the ground or cleaning up after a weather event have the help they need. That’s what makes Missouri agriculture special.”

Chinn is passionate about passing agriculture and our rural communities on to the next generation stronger than they are today.

“My message to the next generation of agriculture is to take a chance,” Chinn said. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take the risk. Agriculture is a great career opportunity. It’s a great place to raise your family. More importantly, we need you. We need you in agriculture to make sure we continue to have affordable and safe food for the next generation.”

Today, it’s a widely known fact that most consumers are, on average, three to four times removed from farming. She knows the value of remaining connected with consumers and being transparent about modern farming practices.

“I wish consumers knew that every change we make on our farm is for a reason,” Chinn said. “It could be because we want to give better care for our animals, or take better care of the land. I feed my family the same food I raise for consumers. I wouldn’t give my kids anything that wasn’t safe or healthy to eat.”

In the last 15 years, Chinn has traveled nationally and internationally to advocate on behalf of Missouri agriculture. If there’s one thing she learned over time, it’s that protecting our agricultural diversity is of the utmost importance. She points out that every farm should have the opportunity to choose the farming practices that fits for them. It’s that diversity in products and methods, Chinn said, that will help Missouri agriculture meet the variety of consumer needs.

“It doesn’t matter how that animal was raised, whether it was inside of a barn or outside of a barn,” Chinn said. “It’s the care and commitment that the farmer puts in that makes a difference. At the end of the day, we are one big family in Missouri agriculture. We need everyone at the table to make sure we can meet the changing demands of our consumers today.”