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  • School lunches in Mount Vernon, Mo., will have double the amount of beef this year, thanks to a partnership among local ranchers and several cattle industry entities.

    The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Beef Industry Council, Opaa Food Management and the Mount Vernon Public Schools have joined forces in the “MO Beef for MO Kids” initiative. The increase in beef comes from cattle raised in Lawrence County, No. 1 in the state’s cattle production.

    “The Department of Agriculture has set out to feed Missourians more of the quality food that is grown here in our state,” Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. “Missouri cattle producers are doing their part to put beef on the plates of young students in their communities. This is an excellent opportunity to not only enhance the lunch menu, but also connect community members.”

    The pilot program was launched Oct. 19 during National School Lunch Week. Since then, menus have included new beef entrée options such as meatball subs, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, beef cheddar melts and beef quesadillas. Students at various grade levels have also been learning about beef production and the health benefits of beef through educational opportunities brought to the school.

    Local beef producers are recognized in posters that hang in school cafeteria areas to introduce Mount Vernon students to the people who raised a portion of their lunch.For more information on this program, visit missourigrownusa.com/mobeef-for-mokids.

  • Collaborating with the United Soybean Board, Goodyear has introduced the first commercially available tires made with a soy oil-based rubber compound.

    The Assurance WeatherReady tires for passenger vehicles hit the road in September, opening another market opportunity for soybean farmers. The tire maker says using soybean oil keeps rubber compounds pliable in changing temperatures, enhancing tire performance in dry, wet and winter conditions.

    The tire is offered in a wide range of sizes, covering 77 percent of the cars, minivans and SUVs on the road today.

    “As we develop great products that anticipate and respond to the needs of consumers, soybean oil was one of the technologies enabling us to meet a challenging performance goal,” said Eric Mizner, Goodyear’s director of global material science.

    The soybean rubber project was funded in part by the soybean checkoff, a fund paid for by soybean farmers to develop new applications and opportunities for soybean-based products.

    “Goodyear and the soy checkoff share something special: a commitment to innovation,” says John Motter, United Soybean Board chair and farmer from Jenera, Ohio. “When we started working with them more than six years ago, it was just an idea, a way to build demand for soybean oil. Now, we have a tire that shows what soy can do on the road.”

  • Dedicated land stewardship has paid off in more than just bumper crops for Matt and Kate Lambert of Uptown Farms in Brookfield, Mo.

    The Lamberts are the state’s first winners of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award, which recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. The award was announced Nov. 8 at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City. The honor comes with a $10,000 prize.

    “It used to be an accepted school of thought that agriculture, by nature, stole from the environment to be productive,” the Lamberts said in their nomination narrative. “Today, we recognize that farming does not have to be a tax on the environment and resources but can actually work alongside the natural systems for a mutually beneficial relationship.”

    Putting that philosophy in action, the Lamberts show that modern agriculture can coexist with conservation successfully. That’s the intent of the award, which is given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, considered to be the father of wildlife management. His 1949 collection of essays, “A Sand County Almanac,” is one of the most influential books about the environment ever written. His namesake award has been presented annually since 2003 by the Sand County Foundation, which was established in 1965 to preserve the Wisconsin property where Leopold did his writing and research. The organization now supports and promotes conservation on working lands across the U.S.

    Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of agricultural organizations that represents the state’s farmers and ranchers, partnered with the Sand County Foundation to bring the Leopold award to the Show-Me State this year. Other finalists for the award were Richard and Renee Fordyce of Bethany and John and Sandy Scherder of Frankford.

    “Matt and Kate Lambert reflect the principles of Missouri agriculture—responsible land management, involvement in their community and a long-term view of their farm business,” said Dr. Alan Wessler, MFC chairman. “This year’s entire class of award applicants exhibited exemplary production practices and stewardship. We are proud to work with farmers, ranchers and the partner organizations who made this award possible.”

    Matt, 31, and Kate, 30, grow corn, soybeans and wheat and raise red Angus cattle, Hampshire and Dorper sheep and Great Pyrenees dogs on some 2,000 acres in Linn County. Different paths led them to agriculture. Matt grew up farming with his father, Steve, and grandfather, Paul, while Kate was raised in the Chicago suburbs. She found FFA in high school, raising and showing Suffolk sheep, which is how she and Matt met. The couple attended Northwest Missouri State and married in 2009. They have two sons, 6-year-old Mace and 3-year-old Meyer.

    Cover crops, no-till, grazing management and precision farming are among the practices that have allowed the Lamberts to adapt to the challenges of today’s farm economy. Diversifying their operation also helps provide income sources at different times of year and make better use of certain areas on the farm.

    The Lamberts are also active in the agricultural industry. Their farm was one of the first to be certified by Missouri’s Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, and Matt is in his second term on the board of the Missouri Corn Growers Association. Kate, who is assistant vice president for FCS Financial in Chillicothe, volunteers with Missouri CommonGround, a group of farm women who are bridging the gap between consumers and farmers to share the true story of agriculture and the food it provides. Kate also represented Missouri in the American Soybean Association’s communications and advocacy training program this fall, and she tells the real-life story of agriculture through her popular blog, www.UptownGirlBlog.com.

    More important than advocacy or awards, the Lamberts insisted, is how their actions today will impact the future.

    “Like nearly all of the 97 percent of U.S. farms that are family-owned, our ultimate goal is to pass this farm on to our children. When we bought our home farm three years ago, our driving goal was that it would be in better condition the day they take over than the day we purchased it.”

  • The Missouri Pork Association is now accepting applications for the 2018 Youth Pork Ambassador Program, which allows students to actively interact with leaders in Missouri’s pork industry and receive a $1,000 scholarship, payable to any technical school, community college or four-year institution.

    As a Youth Pork Ambassador, participants will promote the Missouri Pork Association and the pork industry at various events throughout the year and will learn about pork production, the industry and make life-long connections in the field.

    To qualify, applicants must be a high school senior or college freshman or sophomore as of Jan. 1, 2018. Applications and three letters of recommendation are due Dec. 15, 2017. For complete details and an application, visit www.mopork.com/youth/youth-pork-ambassador/.

  • Farmers and ranchers across the nation soon will start receiving the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which is only conducted once every five years.

    Producers can mail completed census forms or respond online via the web questionnaire. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has extensively revised the online questionnaire to make it more convenient for producers, according to NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater.

    “The updated online questionnaire is very user-friendly—it can now be used on any electronic device and can be saved and revisited as the producer’s schedule allows,” Rater said. “Responding online saves time and protects data quality. Better data means informed decisions, and that’s why it is so important that every producer respond and be represented.”

    New time-saving features of the online questionnaire include automatically calculating totals, skipping sections that do not pertain to the operation, and providing drop-down menus of frequent responses.

    The census website will continue to be updated with new information through the census response deadline of Feb. 5, 2018. One recently added feature is a new video from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reminding all producers to respond when they receive their 2017 Census of Agriculture in the mail this fall.

    Revisions and additions to the 2017 Census of Agriculture aim to capture a more detailed account of the industry. Producers will see a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers and others involved in running the business.

    The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them and is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the country. The data is used to make decisions that shape American agriculture—from creating and funding farm programs to boosting services for communities and the industry.

    For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 800-727-9540.

  • Max Armstrong has said his broadcasting career began at age 11 on his family farm in Indiana’s Wabash River Valley. The youngster strung an antenna wire from his bedroom window to a pole behind the chicken coop, turned on the transmitter he built from a mail-order kit, and WMAX was on the air.

    Although WMAX is long gone, Armstrong is still broadcasting, both on the radio and television, more than 50 years later. This award-winning farm broadcaster will share his expertise and insight on our industry as the keynote speaker during MFA Incorporated’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

    Armstrong now co-hosts This Week in AgriBusiness with Orion Samuelson on RFD-TV and other stations, and the pair team up for The Saturday Morning Show on WGN Radio. He and Samuelson previously covered agriculture’s ups and downs for WGN Radio and TV in Chicago for more than 30 years.

    Since 2009, Armstrong has been with the Penton Farm Progress Companies, where his duties include producing and hosting daily reports on Farm Progress America and Max Armstrong’s Midwest Digest. He has originated broadcasts from all 50 states and 30 different foreign nations

    A 1975 graduate of Purdue University, he has twice received the Oscar In Agriculture and has been awarded the highest honors by the National Agri-Marketing Association, the American Agricultural Editors Association and the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.

    Armstrong and his wife, Linda, now live on a small farm in North Carolina near their grandchildren.

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