University of Missouri officials on Monday celebrated the start of what is now the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources 150 years ago in 1870.

"Today really is a big deal," Dean and Vice Chancellor Christopher Daubert said during the event in the rotunda of Jesse Hall.

The college was established on Feb. 24, 1870, exactly 150 years to the day, Daubert said.

"We still uphold our commitment to Missouri’s number one industry — agriculture," he said. "I’m proud of what CAFNR has meant to Mizzou, the state, the nation and the world."

In an interview before the event, Daubert said the strategic plan, "Drive to Distinction," will guide the college in the coming years.

"We have a very bold future ahead of us," he said.

Tom Payne, dean and vice chancellor from 1999-2016, said George Swallow was the first dean of what was then called the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts.

"Swallow was very insistent on this college being established," Payne said.

It has grown to having 170 faculty and 350 staff members, with 14,000 acres in research stations around the state, Payne said.

The college’s research has prevented soil erosion in the U.S. and saved the French wine industry when the grapevines there were threatened with a disease, Payne said.

Payne described a "multiplier effect" caused by the thousands of graduates over the generations.

"CAFNR, you deserve a big birthday party, a big chunk of cake and a bowl of Tiger Stripe," Payne said.

The teaching and research done at the college enhances the lives of Missourians, MU Provost Latha Ramchand said.

It was a big accomplishment for professor Thomas Spencer to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Ramchand said.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe read a proclamation by Gov. Mike Parson recognizing the anniversary.

Both he and Parson are farmers, Kehoe said.

Parson last month toured the East Campus Plant Growth Facility, the college’s newest building.

"The impact you’ve had on people’s lives I don’t think can be measured," Kehoe said.