Forage and grazing conferences merge

Written by TF Staff on .

The annual Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference and the Heart of America Grazing Conference are coming together for a combined two-day event on Monday, Feb. 26, and Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Mo.

The joint conference is designed for producers interested in learning more about management strategies for forages and livestock. Monday afternoon’s agenda offers four different sessions focusing on soil health on grasslands, followed by a social event, trade show and evening dinner.

On Tuesday, 45-minute breakout sessions will feature topics that include chemical weed control in pastures, understanding forage quality, grazing alfalfa, mineral supplements in pastures, incorporating sheep and goats into the cattle operation, beef genetics, getting top dollar for your calves, adapting to the forage growth curve and conditioning cows for pregnancy. The keynote luncheon speaker is Dave Pratt, who teaches the Ranching for Profit School in North America, Australia and Africa. He’s been instrumental in developing the Sustainable Ranching Research and Education Project and is co-founder of the California Grazing Academy.

More information and registration are available at or by calling 417-532-6305, ext. 101. Pre-register by Feb. 16.

Feeding the economy

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The food and agriculture industries not only play a vital role in feeding Americans but also in feeding and growing the nation’s economy.

That fact was put into figures through a nationwide economic impact study released in November. The research found that more than one-fifth (or 20.4 percent) of the nation’s economy is linked, directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors, and more than one-fourth of all American jobs (28 percent) are similarly connected.

The extensive farm-to-fork economic analysis quantified the impact of the jobs, wages, taxes and exports the agricultural and food industries make possible. Twenty-two food and agriculture organizations commissioned this research. Among the most important findings were:   

  • Total jobs: 43,311,057
  • Total wages: $1.9 trillion
  • Total taxes: $894.13 billion
  • Exports: $146.32 billion
  • Total food and industry economic impact: $6.7 trillion

To measure the total economic impact of the sectors, the analysis also includes the indirect and induced economic activity surrounding these industries, which captures upstream and downstream activity. For example, when a farm equipment retailer hires new employees because farmers are buying more tractors, experts consider the new salaries an indirect impact. Similarly, when that new retail associate spends her paycheck, an induced economic impact occurs. Together, these have a multiplier effect on the already formidable direct impact of food and agriculture.

“These numbers tell an essential story, reminding us that food and agriculture remain absolutely central to our nation’s well-being. We not only produce three square meals a day for most Americans, that same work supports one in four American jobs,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, one of the commissioning groups. “Policymakers should keep this data in mind as they consider changes to tax and trade issues that might affect the food and agriculture sectors.”

The complete report is online at

Beefing up school lunches

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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


Written by TF Staff on .

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.”

First in conservation

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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,

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.”


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