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Support from Lincoln University Positions Missouri Growers Association as a Resource for Missouri Farmers and Specialty Crops Producers

Lynne Holsapple | May 7th, 2024

Lincoln University of Missouri (LU) has relaunched its partnership with the Missouri Growers Association (MGA), aiming to support farmers by providing essential industry insights and resources to foster farming innovations and improve profitability. Through funding from LU, the collaboration seeks to revitalize MGA's efforts in catering to the needs of Missouri growers and specialty crops producers, including minority and limited resource farmers.

“The collaboration with LU will sustain the organization while delivering quality educational opportunities to farmers. MGA members will benefit when they attend workshops and farm tours sponsored by LU and promoted by MGA,” explained Dr. Touria Eaton, state horticulture specialist at LU.

She continued, “By improving the production of the individual farmers, we will improve the horticultural industry in Missouri, which is the main goal of the LU Horticulture Program. By supporting MGA, LU will make an impact by enhancing the education of Missouri farmers and by improving the connection of farmers with each other and with government and nongovernment organizations,” Eaton said. “Research-based information is needed for farmers to improve their production and income. LU has the resources and personnel to meet those needs.”

MGA membership provides many benefits, including access to the association’s farm tours, educational workshops, conferences and social networking events. Membership for the first year is free, courtesy of LU. Members also receive a complimentary copy of the “Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers” and free admission to the Great Plains Growers Conference, an annual event that draws attendees from Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and other Midwestern states.

Missouri Growers Association President Gabrielle Branstetter teaches a group of preschoolers

Missouri Growers Association President Gabrielle Branstetter teaches a group of preschoolers how to grow lettuce with hydroponics at an event on April 29, 2024.

With LU’s support, a new board has been formed, and several activities are planned for upcoming months, including an MGA members’ meeting at the Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival in Mansfield on May 13. The event will feature a presentation by Gabrielle Branstetter, MGA president. Branstetter was recently hired by the LU Horticulture Program to serve as an area educator and to support the association and the MGA-LU partnership. The members’ meeting and presentation will take place on the second floor of the restaurant at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds on Monday, May 13, at 9:00 a.m. Admission to the festival is free, and LU will cover the cost of parking passes for MGA members. Parking passes must be reserved ahead of time by emailing Branstetter at

Branstetter shared, “Less than 2% of the American population is involved in agriculture, and even fewer are involved in the commercial production of fruit and vegetables. Specialty crops producers need MGA to be a voice at the state level… The collaboration between LU and MGA will improve the production of individual farmers and improve their livelihood.”

In addition to receiving funding and assistance from LU, MGA also collaborates with horticultural specialists and extension agents from LU, the University of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture. Founded and led by Missouri farmers, the organization was originally named the “Missouri Vegetable Growers Association.” MGA has offered networking and educational opportunities to farmers and specialty crops producers statewide since 1991. To learn more about MGA and find out how to get involved, please visit or contact Branstetter at

Cooperative Extension