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Bill Streeter named to Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame

Written by TF Staff on .

This spring, retired President and CEO of MFA Incorporated Bill Streeter was inducted into the Missouri Institute of Cooperatives Hall of Fame.

Streeter was recognized for a career devoted to cooperatives, a career he began with MFA Oil in 1973. Shortly after that, he oversaw the transfer of the chemical division to MFA Incorporated. In 1978, Streeter became manager of farm supply at MFA Incorporated. By 1982 he was promoted to sales manager and then vice president of corporate sales in 1986, and senior vice president of MFA’s Agri Services division in 1999.

The corporate board selected Streeter as President and CEO of MFA Incorporated in March 2009.

In remarks preceding Streeter’s induction, MFA president and CEO Ernie Verslues said that Streeter recognized the importance of investment in people and training. He noted that Streeter’s legacy would continue at MFA through comprehensive employee training programs and processes Streeter set in motion.

During his time in leadership positions at MFA, Streeter focused on three fronts: a customer-centric approach, an intense balance sheet focus and a participative management structure that required his executive staff to make decisions and stand accountable for results.

Joining Streeter in the Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame for 2016 were Jim Edwards, a long-time member of the Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers board, and Jim Jura, former CEO of Associated Electric Cooperative.

MFA Saddle Award winner

Written by TF Staff on .

Buchanan County, Mo., equine enthusiast McKell Norris was recently awarded the 2016 MFA Western Saddle. The MFA Saddle Award is awarded annually at the Missouri 4-H State Horse Judging Contest, and Clinic held in the spring. The award is given to the Missouri 4-H member aged 14 years and older participating in the Missouri 4-H horsemanship program who demonstrates knowledge and skills in horsemanship and horse science, the ability to share the knowledge and expertise with other members and the commitment to better their community. The saddle competition is open to 4-H youth 14 and older.

Norris noted in her application, “All of my work with horses both in the broader community and my local club has made me a better-rounded person. I have the time-management skills necessary to keep up with both schoolwork and horses, the same skills required for handling both college and a job. More specifically, my study of equine science has better prepared me for the STEM career I wish to pursue.”

Norris, daughter of Todd and Angie Norris of Easton, Mo., will graduate from high school in 2018 and plans to major in biochemistry and equine science. She hopes to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This saddle is a part of a complete line of equine products available through MFA.

Slow thaw

Written by TF Staff on .

Ripples from President Obama’s cabinet trip to Cuba could have positive effects for U.S. agricultural producers. During the trip, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several measures to foster collaboration between the U.S. and Cuban agriculture sectors.

While in Cuba, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA will allow the 22 industry-funded Research and Promotion Programs and 18 Marketing Order organizations to conduct authorized research and information exchange activities with Cuba. These groups, which are responsible for creating bonds with consumers and businesses around the world in support of U.S. agriculture, will be able to engage in cooperative research and information exchanges with Cuba about agricultural productivity, food security and sustainable natural resource management.

Commodity groups in the United States reacted favorably to the news. USDA will review all proposed Research and Promotion Board and Marketing Order activities related to Cuba to ensure that they are consistent with existing laws. Examples of activities that may take place include the following:

  • Provide nutritional research and guidance and interact with the Cuban government and industry officials at meetings regarding nutrition and Cuban regulations.
  • Conduct plate waste study research in schools to determine what kids eat and what they discard, leading to improved nutritional information.
  • Provide U.S.-based market, consumer, nutrition and environmental research findings to Cuban government and industry officials.
  • Study the efficacy of water disinfectants to eliminate/inactivate bacteria on commodities.
  • Test recipes and specific products among Cuban consumers of all ages, with the goal of increasing product development and acceptance.
  • Conduct consumer tracking studies to measure attitudes for specific commodity consumption and purchasing habits.

While most U.S. commercial activities are prohibited, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000 permits the export of U.S. agricultural commodities, though U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba are limited by U.S. restrictions on government export assistance, cash payments and extending credit. U.S. agricultural exports have grown significantly since trade was authorized in 2000. In 2014, Cuba imported over $2 billion in agricultural products including $300 million from the United States. However, from 2014 to 2015, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba fell 48 percent to $148.9 million, the lowest since 2002, giving the United States just a 10 percent market share as Cuba’s fourth largest agricultural supplier, behind the EU, Brazil, and Argentina.

Is all well in the well?

Written by TF Staff on .

Rural water districts bring drinking water to many farms in Today’s Farmer country, but plenty of farms still use private wells for drinking water and livestock. How often do you check it?

The National Ground Water Association recommends routine annual maintenance checks to ensure the proper operation of the well as well as monitor the water quality.

A typical checkup would include:

  • A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding and line voltage), and pressure tank and pressure switch contact.
  • An inspection of well equipment to assure that it is sanitary and meets local code requirements.
  • A test of your water for coliform bacteria, nitrates and anything else of local concern.

Other typical tests are those for iron, manganese, water hardness, sulfides, and other water constituents that cause problems with plumbing, staining, water appearance and odor.

Changes in these constituents also may indicate changes in your well or local groundwater. Additional tests may be recommended if water appears cloudy or oily, if bacterial growth is visible on fixtures, or water treatment devices are not working as they should. Check with your water well contractor, state department of natural resources, or local health department for information on local water quality issues.

You should get a written report following the checkup that explains results and recommendations, and includes all laboratory and other test results. File it away for reference during the next checkup.

Look for a local well contractor to perform the checkup. You can visit http://mfa.ag/LTpTrp4 to search for a certified contractor near you.

Don't shoot, report

Written by Mary Cheney on .

While it may seem counterintuitive, shooting and hunting feral hogs actually increases feral hog numbers and distribution because of illegal releases of more animals into the wild for future hunting opportunities. It also scatters the hogs and can interfere with trapping efforts, according to Alan Leary, the MDC state feral hog coordinator.

“Getting rid of these destructive, invasive pests requires a well-planned strategy, a lot of patience, and a little luck,” Leary said.

MDC and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service personnel can help landowners implement effective trapping programs, but they can only do so if feral hog sightings or identification of their signs, like damage to crops or land, is reported promptly.

Missouri’s population includes Russian and European boars as well as several varieties of domestic pig. They come in an array of colors and patterns, and usually range in size from 100 to 200 pounds, though they can grow significantly larger. The animals reach sexual maturity at a young age, with females able to reproduce at six months of age, and they can have two litters of four to eight piglets every 12 to 18 months.

Feral hogs may be the most prolific large mammal on earth, according to Leary. Their annual population growth rate can reach 166 percent if no removal efforts are made. Adult hogs have few predators and are very hardy, so natural mortality rates are low. The end result: populations can sustain up to a 70 percent reduction annually and still rebound the next year.

“This creates a nightmare situation for landowners and managers trying to get a handle on this growing problem,” said Leary.

Feral hogs wreak havoc on crops and pastureland from their rooting behavior and trampling. As few as 10 hogs can destroy 20 to 30 acres of crops in one night. Hogs can also destroy fencing, feeders and waterers, and they compete for and contaminate livestock and wildlife supplemental feeding stations. They wallow in wet areas near ponds, streams and wetlands, fouling water sources for livestock and wildlife.

Leary says feral hogs eat almost anything they come across. They compete directly with native wildlife for food and water, particularly with deer and turkey for acorns—and their rooting and trampling destroys wildlife habitat. They will also eat any wildlife they can fit their snouts around, including birds, reptiles, amphibians—even fawns.

One of the biggest concerns for agriculture is hogs’ potential to spread disease. Feral hogs carry more than 30 diseases and parasites, and many of them are transmissible to livestock, wildlife, pets and humans. Two diseases prevalent in feral hogs, pseudorabies and swine brucellosis, have been eradicated in the U.S. domestic swine industry. However, reintroduction through contact with feral hogs could be economically disastrous.

Feral hogs also pose a human safety hazard through collisions with vehicles and, occasionally, direct attacks on people. Their rooting and trampling damages roads, ponds, trails and other infrastructure.

USDA has received $20 million in federal funds through the 2014 Farm Bill to help states either suppress or eliminate their feral hog populations, depending on the size and distribution of the populations. States with large, widely distributed populations, like Texas, are focused on reducing problems and population spread, while in states with small or emerging populations, the focus is on eradication. In Missouri, the focus is on eradication, but it will require cooperation between state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private landowners.

Missouri’s eradication strategy has evolved over the last few years as the Department and USDA have learned valuable lessons about what works and what does not. Initially, the Department encouraged the public to shoot feral hogs on sight, but they have learned that hunting feral hogs actually increases their numbers and expands their distribution. In addition, “hunters generally only kill one or two hogs at a time and for a species with a high reproductive rate like feral hogs, this doesn’t reduce populations as intended,” explained Leary.

Feral hogs travel in groups called sounders, generally comprised of a few related adult females and their piglets, which can number 20 animals or more. Killing one or two members of a sounder only makes the rest of group more wary and difficult to catch. Landowners may be tempted to shoot hogs when they see them, but that educates the surviving hogs and causes them to disperse, ultimately making eradication more difficult.

“These animals are intelligent and highly adaptable, they quickly learn how to avoid getting caught,” Leary says.

MDC and USDA ask anyone who sees a feral hog or signs of them to report it so that the agencies can assist landowners in trapping and eradicating the entire sounder at once. After receiving a report, a MDC or USDA trapper will contact the landowner and assist them with trapping and eradicating the hogs.

“It is important to remember that trapping is a process, not a one night event,” Leary said.

In order to eliminate the most hogs, it’s best to take the time up front to get entire sounders consistently coming to a trap. Springing a trap too early, before all the hogs have entered, educates the survivors and causes them to become trap-shy and difficult to catch.

MDC regularly communicates with other states to stay current on technology for trapping hogs. Recently it began using a trap called the Boar Buster, which uses real-time video monitoring and remote trap detonation via cellphone to more effectively and efficiently eliminate entire sounders.

“Feral hogs are a serious issue,” Leary cautioned. “They threaten Missouri’s natural resources and agricultural industry.

”If you’re experiencing damage on your property in Missouri, call 573-522-4115, extension 3296.

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