Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 13, 2006

Profile: Rep. Wes Shoemyer

Rep. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence) attended the University of Missouri-Columbia for its agriculture associate degree, a two-year program that no longer exists. “I tell people they did such a good job in one year that I didn’t have to come back,” he said. “It was a good experience for me and I learned a great deal, but I had a farm back home that was calling so I went back to farm.” Shoemyer has owned and operated a family farm in Monroe County for 20 years.

But times have changed since he attended MU, Shoemyer notes. While earning a college degree was not a requirement then, it certainly is now. “It is so important for people to get a college education,” he said. “I tell kids in my district that education is something that no one can ever take from you, and it is a ticket that you need to enjoy your life in the future.”

Shoemyer remembers many outstanding classes and professors from his time at MU, but the one that particularly stands out in his mind is “Hogs by Bogs,” taught by agriculture economics Professor Bogs. “If I were to give any advice to students coming to MU, it would be that they should not take a class from a professor who wrote the book used in class!” he jokes. “Seriously, it was a great learning experience that you could only get at a great institution like MU.”

Outside of farming, Shoemyer has served in the Missouri House of Representatives since 2000. He is a member of the Budget, Agriculture Policy, and Professional Registration and Licensing Committees.

He also has served as vice president for the Monroe County Farm Bureau and as president of the National Farmers Organization and Missouri Farmers Union, Institute for Rural America.

Today the University of Missouri continues to have a significant impact not only on Shoemyer but throughout his district, which covers part of Audrain, Boone, Chariton, Monroe and Howard counties. In addition to students who attend the University and employees who travel to work there, the region has many University graduates, whom Shoemyer describes as always very qualified and successful in the workforce.

“The University results in a quality of life for many people in central Missouri that is higher than similar places without a major higher education institution,” Shoemyer said. “When you look at Boone County and Columbia, between the health care entities and the University, it makes us a hub for economic development for the entire region of the state.”

The work of MU Extension and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources also impact both Shoemyer and the well-being of those in his district. He notes that Extension is one of the University’s best tools and is very relevant to the prosperity of the state’s citizens. “Extension shows the good things that the University does in the lives of everyday people throughout the state, and the importance of research that you do,” he said. “For example, I am a cattle farmer and I may have an interest in the impact of turnips in pasture land. Extension has experts who can help me understand that.”

The greatest challenge facing higher education is ensuring that our state institutions are accessible financially, Shoemyer said. “We have seen rapid increases in tuition and that is putting strains on family budgets,” he said. “The General Assembly needs to have a true commitment to the University system so that it can maintain its strengths and keep education affordable for Missourians.”

Shoemyer knows the University’s research mission is critical to the future of our state and to creating high-paying jobs. “Higher education plays a major role in the preparation of young people, so that they have the skills and abilities to meet the needs of a changing workforce. This helps ensure that Missouri businesses have the type of employees they need to locate and thrive here,” he said.

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