Madison Meyer: Advocating For Her Family’s Farm Through Leadership Opportunities

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Imagine that you have grown-up planting and harvesting corn, soybeans and wheat with your dad and grandpa. Imagine long days working with your family to feed the world. Your first business as a teenager was selling straw harvested from the land, a farm your family has respected and protected for generations. And then imagine a project called Grain Belt Express knocked on the farmhouse door wanting to take part of your family farm. This story is reality for Madison Meyer from near Dearborn in #Agri-Ready Designated Buchanan County. As a 2024 Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador, she will get the opportunity to tell the story of her family’s lengthy battle to protect their family farm and advocate for the private property rights of Missourians. 

“As a daughter, sometimes it is difficult working side by side with your father. But I love helping on the farm during planting and harvest seasons,” Madison shared. As a teenager, Madison showed initiative on her family’s farm by selling straw bales for her Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) as a member of the Mid-Buchanan FFA Chapter. She would pick up the bales, market, sell, and deliver them. She exhibited the Grand Champion straw entry at the Missouri State Fair the summer of her senior year. 

Madison was young when a large sign was erected at the only intersection of her tiny hometown that read “Block Grain Belt Express”. As a young farm kid, she thought anything that had to do with grain had to be good, but she remembers her dad saying to her, “It’s not what you think.” The Grain Belt Express is a transmission line proposed to carry energy 800 miles through four states. Over the years to follow, the project became a personal plight to their family and neighbors.

“Over the last four years I have watched as Grain Belt Express representatives have knocked on my grandparents’ door repeatedly trying to convince them to sign contracts to give up their property for a lesser amount,” Madison shared. “In the end my grandparents and dad couldn’t win. They had to take what was offered for parts of our farm or accept eminent domain. Grain Belt will take part of our farm and it is heartbreaking. Our family will lose acreage. The structures will be a nuisance to get large equipment around. We will lose pasture acreage for our beef animals and the structures will reduce property values.” Five transmission structures will impact the Meyer family on five different sections of land.

“Regarding eminent domain, I am not against helping Missourians for the betterment of our state, but I am passionate about this issue because not very many Missourians are benefiting from this proposed project. I believe it is wrong when private, for-profit companies misuse the power of eminent domain. I don’t support Missouri being used as a flyover state for projects that are built to transport energy and not really support Missouri.”

“A lot of people believe that the Grain Belt Express is just affecting the northern part of our state,” Madison continued. “But if this project succeeds, what if other companies decide to take advantage of our state? We need to learn from this experience to better protect our farmers and the rights of Missouri landowners in the future. The Grain Belt Express will hurt and inconvenience my family and neighbors. It happened to us, but how can policy be changed to make a positive difference in the future?”

Each year the Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador Program selects a male and female student 17-to-22 years of age to represent agriculture and Missouri Farm Bureau. Madison’s perseverance helped her earn the Ambassador role in the 2024 competitive selection process, her second appearance in the contest. Madison’s personal farm story was an effective platform to utilize as eminent domain reform and landowner rights are key issues to Farm Bureau’s current policy focus. As an Ambassador, Madison has had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to share her story and represent the impact of Missouri Farm Bureau policy priorities. 

Throughout 2024, Madison will have opportunities to have a positive influence as a representative of and champion for agriculture’s future. To younger agriculture students, Madison has this advice: “Keep persevering. There is a place for you in agriculture. If you are willing to work, you can make it. Find something that you are passionate about and go for it. Never be afraid. People want the best for you.” 

Madison has a message for consumers: “We (farmers) are not trying to harm or hurt you, we are just trying to help you while keeping our farms as profitable as we can,” Madison said. “(Agriculturists) need to be understanding of the concerns of consumers but be able to meet their concerns with the truth. We can bridge the gap of understanding with conversations. It can be a big challenge to convince consumers that we can care about them and have herbicides and GM (genetically modified) crops that work.” 

Madison is a student at the University of Missouri in Columbia studying plant science with emphasis in crop management. She is a member of the student council for the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR). She is an active member of the Mizzou Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter where she enjoys participating in the group’s educational, community service and fellowship events. Madison is the oldest daughter of John and Tiffany Meyer. The Meyer family are members of Missouri Farm Bureau, a partner of Missouri Farmers Care.