By Ron VandenBoom
Farming is still the biggest industry in Joplin. General Mills operates the largest elevator between Chester and Rudyard and serves as a vital link between the farmer and the marketplace.
General Mills operates a large complex of buildings and grain elevators on the south side of Joplin, next to the BNSF railroad tracks, where it sells seed and fertilizer to farmers and gathers the finished product for transport.
Andrew Vantine manages the elevator and describes its primary function as collecting and shipping grain. But the towering elevators also serve as a symbol of the area's economic purpose.
"Well, the drought doesn't help us any," Vantine said when asked how business had been. "But the drought will eventually pass."
The Conservation Reserve Program is also a factor in the health of the grain market.
"CPR just means less of everything," Vantine said.
But Vantine is optimistic that farming is going to be around for a long time.
"There will always be farming," he said. "I don't know how much, but there's always going to be farmers around. I'd like to see more."
Five people are employed at the Joplin elevator.