"Agriculture Technology for the 21st Century" was the theme for this year's event, which was dedicated to the late state Rep. Otto Bean Jr., who died July 16.
Thursday also marked the 45th Field Day for Delta Center's superintendent Jake Fisher.
"I've seen a lot of changes in agriculture over the years," Fisher assured.
But something that hasn't changed is the need for agriculture not only in Southeast Missouri but also the United States.
"Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Missouri, and we have to stay on the cutting edge," Fisher said. "We've got to keep up the research. It's hard to measure. I'd hate to see what it would be like if we didn't have the Center."
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof and U.S. Sen. Kit Bond were among political figures to speak at the breakfast held in the Rone Exhibit Hall Thursday morning.
Gov. Matt Blunt was scheduled to appear at the breakfast but due to the dense fog, he was unable to fly into the area for the event.
"Agriculture and what we do -- not only in the field but in the research center -- is the key to our future, the key to the reaper of rural America, the key to our economic and national security, and it's about time the people from the cities understand how important you are to this country," Emerson told the group.
Emerson also discussed the concept of subsidies.
"The American farmer provides a safety net to our American people," Emerson said. "The American farmer subsidizes the American food supply, and it's about time people in the city understood. We are eating subsidized food. We are not subsidizing farmers.
"The farmer is only person in America who pays retail for input, retail for equipment and retail for everything and then sells wholesale and pays shipping both ways. What's fair about that?" Emerson said.
Since America has the cheapest food supply in the world, it's only right to ensure the American farmer has a safety net, Emerson said.
Talent told the crowd it looks as though the existing farm bill will be extended in 2007. He also said progress is being made to develop an institute for plant science research similar to what the National Institute of Health is to health science.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was also held Thursday for the new 14,100 square-foot Farm Maintenance Building with MU and USDA Rural Development officials, Emerson, Talent and Hulshof participating in the event.
Located at the Lee Farm near the Rone Exhibit Hall, the building replaces the Center's current shop, which was built in 1961. MU officials said it will be used for researchers to adjust equipment and repair machinery for their projects. Also in the event of an earthquake, it will be utilized as a supply warehouse for the region. Grants totaling nearly $400,000 from USDA Rural Development and the Delta Regional Authority funded the construction.
"Field Day is really about what we're starting to do and everyone wants to find out about the new research we're beginning," Dr. Gene Stevens, crop production specialist.
In the winter, meetings are held to explain research results, he added.
Attendees had the opportunity to take tours to fields and learn about cotton production, irrigation, soybeans, crop production and weed science.
Discussions during the farm tours included: ways to decrease irrigation pumping costs; a summary on soybean rust and research updates on the development of rust-resistant varieties; the development of "Jake and Stoddard," which are two new soybean cyst nematode-resistant varieties for Missouri named after the Delta Center superintendent and the county; using sensors to predict nitrogen needs in cotton; an update on insects for cotton and corn; a new project comparing 58 corn varieties for ethanol production; retro rice weed control; potential savings from reduced seeding rates; and strategies for reducing the chances of herbicide resistance in weeds.
People travel from all over the state and other states including Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois and Tennessee, to attend the event, Fisher said.
"I think the turnout has been great," added the Delta Center superintendent. Carlon Breckenridge of Qulin and his wife, Lillie, have attended the annual Field Days for years. Breckenridge retired from farming about 10 to 15 years ago, and his son runs the farm now.
"Even though I'm not farming, I like to keep up to date on everything," Breckenridge said, adding he takes the information back to his son. "You're never too old to learn."
A farm safety program sponsored by local FFA chapters and the University of Missouri was conducted in the machinery building on the Lee Farm. Representatives from agribusiness industries set up display booths in the Rone Exhibit Hall, handing out promotional items and information.
For more information about the Field Day, visit the Center's Web site: http://