On August 10, Missouri Farm Bureau members from 86 counties assembled in Jefferson City to hear from and question the U.S. Senate nominees from both major parties. After interview sessions with Attorney General Josh Hawley and incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill, trustees decided to endorse Hawley with a 93% vote.

The Missouri Farm Bureau endorsement session is traditionally the first in-person event after the primary election in which both candidates participate. This year’s session was only three days after the primary election, and over 200 MOFB members were present to listen to each candidate and question them on issues important to farmers and all Missourians. Both candidates spoke passionately about their positions and their support for Missouri farmers, and both seemed fired up for an intense campaign.

With the balance of power in the Senate up for grabs this November, Missouri has become a focal point in the Republican Party’s efforts to retain control of the chamber. Senator McCaskill is widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in this year’s election, as Missouri voted for President Trump by a 19-point margin in 2016 and McCaskill has struggled to overcome political missteps that have continued to hound her. If Republicans were to pick up McCaskill’s seat, it would make it extremely unlikely that Democrats could take control of the Senate, given the extremely favorable electoral map for Republicans this year.

Adding to the intensity of the Farm Bureau endorsement session was the attention President Trump’s tariffs and trade war have placed on the agricultural community. Commodity prices have been hit hard by Chinese retaliatory tariffs in the past few months, making many farmers struggle to make ends meet. Combined with an ongoing drought and already-low commodity prices for the past six years, plus a Farm Bill expiring in seven weeks, political attention on agriculture is at a high point.

Attorney General Hawley focused on his family’s background in agriculture, his opposition to federal government overregulation on farm operations, and his leadership in suing California to stop its laws from regulating Missouri farmers. Senator McCaskill acknowledged that she has not always been popular with the farming community, but emphasized that she has broken with her party on many occasions to fight for Missouri priorities. She pointedly attacked President Trump’s tariffs and argued that Missouri farmers need open markets, not trade wars.

The final tally came in overwhelmingly for Hawley, who MOFB members also endorsed in his 2016 Attorney General race. He thanked the crowd for their support and closed by telling them, “with your support, I am 100 percent confident we will win in November.”

The eyes of the nation will be focused on our state for the next three months. If the Missouri Farm Bureau endorsement session was any indication, they will be in for quite a lively show.