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  • Threatened tariffs from China could take a huge toll on U.S. agriculture by cutting soybean exports by as much as 40 percent. The impact would be severely felt in MFA territory, where Missouri, Iowa and Kansas are among the top 10 soybean-exporting states.

    On April 2, the Trump administration announced a second round of tariff increases on goods imported from China, a move meant to address the country’s illegal trade practices. The next day, China proposed tariffs against some of the most important U.S. exports, including soybeans, cotton, corn, wheat, sorghum and beef. Pork exported from the U.S. to China was already covered by recently announced Chinese tariffs.

    “It is hard to remember a more potentially calamitous week for U.S. agriculture,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said after the announcement. “If fully implemented, these actions spell trouble for Missouri agriculture producers.”

    On April 12, Hurst and the presidents of the Missouri’s Cattlemen’s, Soybean, Pork and Corn Growers associations issued a joint statement urging elected leaders to “negotiate a solution that addresses the issue of intellectual property theft while protecting Missouri’s No. 1 industry from devastating retaliation.”

    China is by far the leading destination for U.S. soybeans, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. soybean exports. A recent Purdue University study estimates that tariffs similar to those proposed by China would cause up to $3.3 billion in annual economic losses for soybeans alone. That figure doesn’t include lost sales of pork, corn, cotton and beef.

    “There are no winners in a trade war, only casualties,” said Wesley Spurlock, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. “As trade tensions continue to mount with China, the expanded list of tariffs on food and agriculture exports are making America’s farmers the first casualties.”

    For beef producers, the tariffs could unravel the industry’s recent progress in growing sales to China. Following a 13-year absence, the U.S. regained access to the Chinese market last June. U.S. beef already faces a 12 percent tariff in China. The new measures would raise the tariff to 37 percent, putting the U.S. even further behind competitors with a free-trade agreement.

    Trump’s proposed tariffs will take effect in June. A public comment period will last until May 11, and a hearing is set for May 15. China is not expected to take formal action unless the U.S. moves forward with implementing its tariffs.

  • Thirty high school sophomores were recently selected to participate in the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Missouri Agribusiness Academy (MAbA). The students will spend the first week of June in the St. Louis region exploring various facets of agriculture.

    “We are proud to announce another outstanding MAbA class,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “Our young people in agriculture set the bar high and model respect, determination, responsibility and service—values we in the industry strive to instill.”

    Students will visit businesses and learn about career opportunities in animal and plant health, communications, forestry, value-added agriculture and more. The students will end their week with a graduation ceremony at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

    Since 1988, the MAbA has awarded more than 900 academy memberships through a competitive application and interview process for high school sophomores interested in pursuing agriculture-related degrees and careers. To be eligible, students must come from a farming family or be active in FFA or 4-H.

    Students selected for the 2018 Agribusiness Academy are:

    • Hailey Schepers, California, Mo.
    • Ellie Coppock, Eldon, Mo.
    • Kaylee Lower, Collins, Mo.
    • Miles Bailey, Clinton, Mo.
    • Justin Austin, Appleton City, Mo.
    • Parker Triplett, Rutledge, Mo.
    • Katie Campbell, Memphis, Mo.
    • Clint Bailey, Curryville, Mo.
    • Lucy Schnitker, Middletown, Mo.
    • Linsey Brady, Fayette, Mo.
    • Sally Schmidt, Carrollton, Mo.
    • Anderson Rogers, Bethany, Mo.
    • Brooklyn Bennett, Bolckow, Mo.
    • Garrett Heil, Norborne, Mo.
    • Maryanna Milazzo, Galt, Mo.
    • Hannah Hoelscher, Warrenton, Mo.
    • Paul Boeckmann, Loose Creek, Mo.
    • Madison Coleman, Rhineland, Mo. 
    • William Lee, Truxton, Mo.
    • Nicole Deeken, Loose Creek, Mo.
    • Ricanna Spargo, Naylor, Mo.
    • Katelyn Young, Arcadia, Mo.
    • Aaron Brown, Jackson, Mo. 
    • Elizabeth Mooney, Fredericktown, Mo.
    • Brittany Ladd, Farmington, Mo.
    • Kaitlyn Cloud, Carthage, Mo.
    • Cade Shepherd, Mount Vernon, Mo.
    • Lauren Gilbert, Oldfield, Mo.
    • Jacob Toombs, Bolivar, Mo.
    • Lauren Ford, Stockton, Mo.
  • In agriculture, more and more students are focusing their studies on the field of precision agriculture. And colleges are taking notice. South Dakota State University, for example, was the first in the U.S. to offer a four-year precision ag degree in 2016, and more schools will likely follow that lead.

    So which schools are the best of the best when it comes to precision agriculture? The editors at PrecisionAg Professional recently attempted to answer this question in an article listing the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. The rankings were based on feedback from industry experts, internet research and surveys with heads of these programs. Only four-year schools were included.

    In MFA territory, the University of Missouri, Kansas State University, Iowa State University and Oklahoma State University made the cut.

    To see the complete list, visit: bit.ly/25BestPrecisionAgColleges.

  • Do you have old, unwanted or leftover pesticides taking up room in your barn, shed, garage or home? Disposing of them is more complicated than you think. Throwing away pesticides or pouring them down the drain can be detrimental to the environment, septic systems and the water supply.

    That’s why MFA is participating in the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Pesticide Collection Program, which provides free events for farmers and households throughout the state to properly dispose of waste pesticides. At these events, approved hazardous waste contractors will take agriculture or household chemicals and send them to a permitted incineration facility.

    From 2012 to 2017, the Missouri Pesticide Collection Program conducted 38 events, collecting more than 337,500 pounds of waste pesticide from 1,148 participants. In 2018, the department will again collect herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, dewormers, fly tags and fertilizer containing pesticides from Missouri residents at these locations, which include two MFA Agri Services Centers. All events run from 8 a.m. until noon.

    • May 19 — Palmyra Recycling Center, 810 W. Line St., Palmyra
    • June 23 — MFA Agri Services, 3501 US 61, Perryville
    • July 21 — Vernon County Fairgrounds, 1488 E. Ashland St., Nevada
    • Sept. 8 — MFA Agri Services, 1009 Fourth St., Jefferson City

    Keep all pesticides in original containers and identify those not in original containers or with missing labels. Do not mix the pesticides with other materials, like used motor oil or antifreeze. Make sure lids are tightly sealed. If the container is leaking, place it in a larger container with a nonflammable absorbent, such as clay-based cat box filler. Secure waste pesticides upright in a cardboard box and transport in the back of a pickup truck, trailer or car trunk. Keep flammables out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat.

    A hazardous waste contractor will unload the waste pesticides from your vehicle at the collection event. Non-pesticide waste brought to the event will be rejected and sent back with the participant.
    For more information, go to dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/pesticide/ or call 573-751-3176.

  • Missouri now has more farms than it did a year ago, according to the Farms and Land in Farms Summary released
    Feb. 16 by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

    In 2017, farms in the $100,000 to $249,999 economic sales class rose by 600—from 6,400 to 7,000—and average size for this type of farm increased from 609 acres to 614.

    Unchanged at 44,500 were the farms that fall in the economic sales class of $1,000 to $9,999. However, all other classes of farms in the Show-Me State declined in number between 2016 and 2017, so the total number of farms increased only by 100 to 97,300. Overall, average farm size in Missouri remained the same at 293 acres.

    Other states in MFA territory were either unchanged or down in total farm numbers. Farms in neighboring Arkansas declined from 43,000 in 2016 to 42,300 in 2017, although average farm size grew from 319 to 322 acres. Kansas remained at 59,600 farms, while Iowa farm numbers decreased by 100 to 86,900 in 2017. Farm size was consistent in both of these states.

    Across the U.S., the number of farms for 2017 is estimated at 2.05 million, down 12,000 farms from 2016. Total land in farms, at 910 million acres, decreased 1 million acres from 2016. The average U.S. farm size for 2017 is 444 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

  • Playing in the sand can be serious business.

    Just ask MFA Incorporated’s Precision Agronomy Department Manager Thad Becker and MFA agronomists. They have created an “augmented reality” sandbox that’s more than child’s play.

    This hands-on exhibit combines a tabletop sandbox, a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera, powerful simulation software and a data projector to create interactive topography models. Users mold the sand by hand, and the landscape comes to life. The peaks and valleys of the sand shapes are augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines and simulated water. The system teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts such as the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees, etc.

    The augmented reality sandbox was originally developed by the University of California, Davis, with funds from the National Science Foundation, and the software to power the system is a free open-source download from the university. Becker and staff agronomists built the sandbox and worked with MFA Information Technology personnel to put the technology together for the exhibit.

    The interactive display debuted at MFA’s Winter Buyers Market in January, where it was a popular stop for visitors, and the precision agronomy team took the sandbox to the Western Farm Show Feb. 23-25 in Kansas City. They also plan to use it in future producer meetings and training events.

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