Emerson with State Rep. Jason Crowell in tow took a tour of the Good Humor-Breyers north plant, where she witnessed Klondike vanilla cones, Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, Oreo bars and other popsicles being made.
"My goal for the next years is to visit every single manufacturer in Southeast Missouri," Emerson said. "The Eighth District is also the largest dairy producer in the state and we did one dairy stop (at Mountain Grove). Since Good Humor-Breyers makes ice cream, this is our second dairy stop."
The Sikeston facility, where approximately 800 people are employed at both the north and south plants, manufactures 100 million dozen ice cream products each year using 19 production lines.
On Friday, plant manager Kelly Harms, along with other Good Humor-Breyers managers, stressed to Emerson the importance of keeping jobs in Southeast Missouri as well as the need for improving highway transportation.
"Transportation is definitely a key issue for us," agreed Scott Moore, Good Humor-Breyers human resources manager. "Facts bare out Missouri is a leader in poor road quality and per capita job loss -- and it's a statewide concern."
While facilities like Good Humor-Breyers offer good paying jobs and good products, they do face challenges such as rising costs, work comp and transportation issues, Emerson noted.
Stops on Emerson's farm tour last week included timber, dairy, rice and Christmas trees. Following her stop in Sikeston, Emerson and her staff headed to the River Ridge Winery in Commerce to learn about wine production.
"It's been great," Emerson said about the four-day tour. "We've had a lot of good discussions, and the one thing I'm hearing is to keep the Farm Bill."
In addition to discussions on the Farm Bill, Emerson noted talk on the tour has been about the USDA trying to develop an animal identity system in regards to mad cow disease.
Most farmers Emerson's talked to say they aren't against the identification system, she said.
"They just want to make sure producers are protected and aren't having to pay huge costs for something that doesn't work," Emerson said.
One of the reasons for doing the annual farm tour is agri-business related, Emerson said.
"The best way I can learn is to visit the producers and become educated -- you can't understand how farming impacts an individual without seeing it firsthand," Emerson said.
Emerson, a member of the Appropriations Subcommitee on Agriculture in the U.S. House of Representatives, visited 10 counties from Tuesday through Friday.
"This is the best part of my job," Emerson commented about the tour. "It will always be a continuing learning experience."