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  • The Red Delicious will lose its reign as the most popular apple grown in the U.S. this year after more than half a century at No. 1.

    The U.S. Apple Association, which advocates on behalf of 7,500 apple growers and 400 companies in the apple business, is projecting that the Gala apple will take over the top spot, as consumers prefer its “taste, texture and sweetness.” Gala already is the most popular variety sold in the U.S., followed by Red Delicious, according to the association.

    In response to shifting preference, the U.S. will grow some 52 million bushels of Gala apples in 2018, up 5.9 percent from a year earlier. Gala originated in New Zealand in the 1930s.

    Red Delicious production, meanwhile, is expected to tumble 10.7 percent to around 51 million bushels in 2018, the trade group predicts. Red Delicious will still account for about half of U.S. apple exports.

    The Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp apples are expected to rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in U.S. production.

  • Show season may be winding down for many 4-H and FFA members, but that means it’s time to start new livestock projects. As you make plans for next year’s events, keep MFA’s Project Premium Program in mind. Special incentives are available for using MFA feeds with your show animals. Bring home a win in the show ring, and you’ll win again with financial rewards from MFA’s Feed Division and your local MFA feed supplier.

    This year’s project premiums are $50 for a steer, beef heifer or dairy heifer and $20 for a market hog, market lamb, goat or bucket calf. To participate, animals must be fed a qualifying MFA feed product from weigh-in, and it must be fed at recommended amounts throughout the project. The animal’s initial weight, ending weight and other information must be verified by the group leader and submitted to your local MFA feed supplier.

    For project animals that place at the top of county rate-of-gain contests or state or national carcass-evaluation contests, there are additional financial rewards of up to $1,000. There is one project premium and one contest cash prize allowed per

    participant.
    MFA takes pride in rewarding our youth who work hard and achieve success. Those interested in the 4-H/FFA Livestock Project Premium Program must visit their local MFA to complete the enrollment and results forms. For more information on the program and qualifying feed products, visit http://mfa.ag/livestockproject.

  • Missouri agriculture made it a mission this summer to combat food insecurity through the Missouri Farmers Care (MFC) Drive to Feed Kids campaign. In its second year, this collaborative partnership raised resources to supply nearly 1.8 million meals for hungry children across the state.

    “This event raises awareness of food insecurity faced by Missouri school kids, especially in rural areas,” said Dr. Alan Wessler, Missouri Farmers Care chairman and MFA Incorporated vice president of feed operations and animal health. “It also speaks to the heart of Missouri’s agricultural community, showcasing the tremendous work of farmers and ranchers who provide food for the world.”

    Feeding Missouri, the association of the state’s six regional food banks, estimates that food insecurity affects one in five Missouri children. This number increases to one in three young people in rural areas.

    On Aug. 14, MFC partnered with the Missouri FFA Association for Food Insecurity Service Day at the Missouri State Fair. More than 650 FFA members and agricultural leaders packed 100,800 meals to feed families of up to six people. The meals were distributed to Missouri’s regional food banks.

    “Food Insecurity Day served as a chance for Missouri FFA members to experience service in action,” said Paxton Dahmer, Missouri FFA president. “It was wonderful to see so many members excited about helping those in need. They left energized and ready to take their own service to the next level, truly living out the fourth line of our FFA Motto ‘Living to Serve.’”

    Gov. Mike Parsons and First Lady Teresa Parsons, along with Missouri’s elected officials and agricultural leaders, joined the cause on Thursday, Aug. 16, at the fair. Together they packed nearly 2,000 backpack meals that provided weekend nourishment for students in Pettis, Benton and Cooper counties during the first month of school.

    The Drive to Feed Kids campaign culminated Aug. 18 with a check presentation of $145,165 to Feeding Missouri.

    Fairgoers also participated in the MFC Food Drive Day by bringing non-perishable food donations. In the fair’s Can Creation Contest, teams used canned food items donated by Woods Supermarket. Through these activities, a total of 18,932 pounds of non-perishable food was donated to local pantries. In addition, Missouri FFA donated fresh produce from FFA student projects on display at the fair.

    “As people become more aware of the hunger problem in Missouri, they’re stepping up to do something about it, and our farmers are leading the way,” said Scott Baker, state director of Feeding Missouri. “The impact from this partnership will be felt by many of our neighbors in need.”

  • Few Missouri farmers have been spared by Mother Nature this summer. At press time, more than 85 percent of the state was classified as abnormally dry or greater, with 15.5 percent considered in “extreme drought.”

    “We’ve experienced some severe drought conditions in a big part of Missouri,” said Matt Hill, MFA natural resources conservation specialist. “Primarily, the central north and northwest parts of the state have been affected, but unfortunately that’s expanding.”

    As a result, several agencies are offering relief opportunities, Hill said. Those include:

    • USDA Farm Service Agency offers cost share to establish either permanent or temporary water resources for livestock production.
    • FSA released CRP ground for emergency haying and grazing where forage is limited.
    • The Missouri Department of Natural Resources Soil and Water District Commission will allow grazing on easement acres that are enrolled in conservation practices.
    • The Natural Resources Conservation Service allocated $2 million for forage development, specifically planting annual cover crop-type species that can be drilled in either dormant pasture, dormant hay fields or harvested crop fields. Producers in counties designated as “severe drought,” also known as D3 on the national drought monitor, are all eligible.
    • In Missouri’s driest counties, landowners can apply to NRCS to cut up to 50 percent of the grass on their wetland easements if they are in a drought-designated county. Landowners interesting in haying wetland easements should contact their local NRCS office for prior authorization.

    For more information on any of these opportunities, contact the agency’s local office or Matt Hill at 573-876-5382 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Missourians will be allowed to grow, cultivate, harvest and process industrial hemp under new legislation passed by the General Assembly in May and signed by former Gov. Eric Greitens as he left office June 1.

    Hemp is part of the cannabis family, but contains a negligible concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicating component in marijuana. The new law exempts the plant from the definition of controlled substances and allows anyone who has received an industrial hemp license to produce the crop. To be classified as hemp, the plants must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.

    In the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress gave states permission to run test programs for growing and marketing industrial hemp. Until now, Missouri was one of 15 states that did not allow its cultivation. Industrial hemp can be used in an estimated 25,000 products, according to the Congressional Research Service, including fabrics, personal care products and furniture.

    The new Missouri law creates an industrial hemp pilot program to be implemented by the state Department of Agriculture, which must issue a license or permit for an applicant to produce the crop. Growers must meet statutory requirements and complete a criminal background check.

    During a listening session on July 18, farmers told Department of Ag officials that they see huge potential from industrial hemp but questioned the small size of the pilot program. The legislation limits the total number of farmable acres under the program to just 2,000 acres statewide. The law takes effect Aug. 28, but the department will likely take six to eight months to finalize rules governing the program.

  • The 2018 group of MFA Ag Experience interns started their summer session on May 21 with an orientation at the home office in Columbia, Mo., and will complete their 12-week program on Aug. 10. The work-study internship allows college students to experience the real world of production agriculture with hands-on assignments. The interns work with MFA Incorporated and its members in areas that match their career objectives.

    MFA’s 2018 Ag Experience participants are, front row, from left: Cole Upton, Krista Gilmartin, Sydnee Mason, Malynda O’Day, Nicole Webber, Madison Byrd, Levi Banner, Jacob Hoellering and Cassidy Brown. Back row, from left: Avery Kuhns, Alex Morgan, Eric Allen, Andrew Welch, Matthew Reidenbach, Garrett Niemeier, Cole Diggins, Dylan Boling and Lane Groce.

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