Missouri farm family makes a splash with ‘Ditch the Rule’ video

The Clay family has farmed north of Jamestown, Missouri, since 1816. Andrew Clay, now among the seventh generation of his family to farm, works 3,600 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat alongside his father, John. They raise 400 head of cows ,and for the past 15 years, have owned the Jamestown Agri Service feed mill. With a lot on his hands, Andrew relies on his wife of 10 years, Kacey.

“As a farmer’s wife, I appreciate the time I have with him,” Kacey said.

Together Andrew and Kacey raise their three children with the same farm values they both were taught growing up. Hudson, the oldest son, is 6 years old and is in first-grade. The twins, Hayden and Hadley, are 4 years old. The Clay children are already getting a taste of being a farmer by riding with their dad in the tractor and raising their own pigs.

If a busy husband and three children are not enough, Kacey owns her own business, Kacey’s Kreations, a beauty salon in Jamestown. She also worked as a part-time cosmetology instructor at Merrill University in Jefferson City for 10 years.

The couple adds to their hectic lifestyle with their involvement in the Jamestown community and in farming organizations. They are extremely active in the Moniteau County and Missouri Farm Bureaus. Andrew has been on his county board of directors for almost 10 years and has served as chair of various committees. The Farm Bureau is a nonprofit organization that promotes and represents the interests of U.S. farmers and ranchers.

On the state level, the Clays serve on the Missouri Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and help develop policy as part of the resolutions committee. Andrew was appointed state YF&R committee chair in 2013 while serving on the Missouri Board of Directors.

Andrew and Kacey also participated in the YF&R Achievement Award Competitive Event. They won at the state level and advanced to compete as one of the top 10 finalists during the national competition in San Antonio, Texas.

Since the Clays were very involved with Farm Bureau, they were granted major opportunities to advocate for agriculture. They saw a problem with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule that would expand its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.

The “Waters of the U.S.” proposal, reflecting the EPA’s latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act, was published in April 2014 in the Federal Register. If the proposal passes, it would give agencies the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices. The Clays could face up to a $37,000 fine per day if they do not comply with the rules.

“An example would be to move cattle across a small stream we would be required to get a permit,” Andrew said. “If not received in adequate timing and cattle are moved we could face the fine. Definitely not feasible.”

Garrett Hawkins, Missouri Farm Bureau legislative director, and Andrew brainstormed how to explain the issue to the public and came up with the idea to make a video. They used Disney’s Frozen song “Let it Go” to create a parody called “That’s Enough.” Their plan was to take a funny approach to a serious situation.

“We’re hoping it prompts questions in terms of ‘what is it that they’re wanting to do, and why is it a concern for farmers?’” Hawkins said.

The video, showcasing Kacey’s singing ability and the acting talents of their family, has received over 135,000 views on YouTube. With the help of the hardworking Farm Bureau staff, they shared their concerns about the EPA’s and Corp’s proposal.

“We have been complimented on our efforts from people all over the U.S. This has given us memories we will never forget,” Kacey said.

For an ordinary farming family, the video and the Farm Bureau brought the Clays many wonderful opportunities they would have never experienced otherwise. The family appeared on “Fox and Friends” and the “Huckabee Show” shortly after the video was released.

“The one thing Andy and I strive for is to advocate for agriculture,” Kacey said. “Having the feeling of accomplishment is the best thing to come out of everything we have done. To share the experience that anyone can make a difference if you just tell your story.”

The Clays hope to prove no matter how busy someone may be with work or family matters, he or she can always make a difference with just a small idea. If someone believes in something, all he or she needs is some support and creativity to make it happen.

The House has passed a bill to block the EPA’s rule. The Farm Bureau believes the Senate will follow-suit. The Clays and Farm Bureau are asking citizens to contact their senators and urge them to stand up for farmers and ranchers and for private landowners’ ability to make land-use decisions without the involvement of federal agencies. They are asking citizens to rein in the EPA and Corps of Engineers’ attempt at broadening their regulatory reach beyond anything Congress ever intended.

For the EPA point of view, you can read their document, Facts about the Waters of the U.S. Proposal.

The “That’s Enough” parody video and more information about the Clay family are located on the Missouri Farm Bureau website at mofb.org and on youtube.

While the success of the video has been rewarding for the Clays, their focus is back on the farm, raising their family and doing the work their families have loved for generations.

Robyn Eschenbrenner

About the Author Robyn Eschenbrenner

My passion for agriculture and the University of Missouri began at an early age. I was raised by two MU graduates on a row crop and livestock farm outside of Jamestown, Missouri. We raise primarily field crops, Brangus cattle and pumpkins. While my hometown, Jamestown, may not be marked on most maps, it helped shaped me into who I am today and it is a place where I am proud to call home. Growing up in the small town lifestyle allowed me to be involved in everything from sports to FFA. I fell in love with advocating for agriculture and being able to teach others about the importance of the industry.