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Railroads and waterways integral to ag

Written by Nancy Jorgensen on .

When it comes to railroads and waterways, Missouri is fortunate. The state has the nation’s second- and third-largest rail hubs and 14 public ports on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, according to MoDOT spokesman Bob Brendel.

Moving grain costs less by rail and barge, frees up highways and reduces wear and tear on roads and bridges. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation:

  • One large semi truck carries 910 bushels.
  • One jumbo hopper rail car carries 4,000 bushels.
  • One barge carries 52,500 bushels.

A few years ago, agriculture had problems finding rail cars to move grain because of higher demand from the oil industry, but railroads invested in their networks. Today, agriculture faces less competition for rail shipping services.

“Even with historic harvests the last couple of years, we’ve been able to move ag products by rail,” said Mike Steenhoek of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

But Steenhoek remains concerned about barge traffic on inland waterways—especially at deteriorating locks and dams leading to and along the Mississippi River. Thanks to lobbying by agricultural and barging organizations, Congress has approved limited federal appropriations for locks and dams. However, Steenhoek pointed out, “Improvements to the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers are over budget and won’t be done for another five or six years. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s slow coming.”

For years, MFA Incorporated has used ports along the Mississippi to barge in fertilizer and other products. For the past three summers, MFA has also moved grain by barge from Missouri River ports.

“In 2016, MFA loaded 35 barges of grain on the Missouri River, eventually ending up in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Bill Dunn, director of transportation for MFA Incorporated.

Shane Kinne, director of public policy for the Missouri Corn Growers Association, also says his group would like to see increased investment in river locks and dams, and he’s bullish on Missouri River barging.

“We’re fortunate to have the Missouri River, yet battles about management priorities hamper its use to move products,” he said. “We continue to urge the Corps of Engineers to give a higher priority to navigation and flood control.”

Feral hog removal on the rise

Written by TF Staff on .

Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife biologists on the feral hog strike team have tallied up numbers for 2016. The year yielded a total of 5,358 feral hogs removed by MDC, partner agencies and private landowners, a significant increase over 2015 when 3,649 feral hogs were removed from the landscape. 

Some attributing factors in the increase include MDC’s “Report, don’t shoot” message encouraging trapping (see April 2016 Today’s Farmer), banning hog hunting on conservation areas and a strong public awareness campaign.

Some 2,941 feral hogs were trapped in southeast Missouri, which is where the highest density of feral hogs occurs. The Ozark region trapped 1,293, while the Southwest region trapped 1,006 hogs. St. Louis, Central and Kansas City regions all trapped fewer than 100 feral hogs each.

Alan Leary, MDC’s wildlife management coordinator and leader of its feral hog eradication efforts, said the immediate goal is to keep feral hogs from spreading to northern regions of the state while working to eliminate the population altogether. Feral hogs are a serious threat to fish, forests and wildlife as well as agricultural resources. Economic losses resulting from feral hog damage in the U.S. is estimated at greater than $1.5 billion per year.

“We made significant progress in 2016,” said Leary. “The key to eradicating these destructive, invasive pests is cooperation with private landowners and partners in efforts to report hog sightings, continue trapping and deter hog hunting and the illegal release of hogs.”

In 2016, MDC partnered with other conservation groups, agriculture organizations and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation to provide the state’s feral hog strike team with more trapping equipment for use on both private and public land and to fund public education efforts on the dangers of feral hogs.

MDC also increased communication efforts with a campaign featuring private landowners who suffered hog damage and are working with MDC and USDA to eradicate feral hogs.

Visit mdc.mo.gov/feralhog to report feral hog sightings or damage.

Farmer needed for Missouri strip trials

Written by TF Staff on .

Farmers are invited to participate in University of Missouri Extension’s 2017 Strip Trial Program, which focuses on cover crops and other agronomic comparisons.

The trial consists of multiple long strips laid out side by side in a field. Researchers and growers compare different management practices on each strip, using in-season aerial imagery and GPS-referenced yield monitor data to compare different cover crop treatments.

MU conducted strip trials at 40 locations last year. This year, cover crop trials will focus on yield impact to corn and soybean, optimum termination dates, ILevo soybean treatment, fine-tuning phosphorus requirements and optimum nitrogen timing for corn.

Farmers use their own equipment or that of their commercial applicator and work with their choice of an MU Extension specialist or other crop consultant to guide them through the process. At the end of the season, growers receive personalized, confidential evaluations of their trial. They also have access to aggregated results from trials in their area and statewide.

The grower-based program helps farmers and crop advisers compare on-farm management decisions and practices in a low-cost, low-risk setting, said Greg Luce, MU Extension corn specialist and research director for the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. He said strip trial research can help answer questions such as when growers should terminate cover crops for best results, whether erosion control or long-term soil health is the biggest benefit of cover crops, and whether cover crops are giving up nitrogen or tying it up in the soil.

Visit striptrial.missouri.edu or contact Luce at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 573-473-7079 for more information.

POTUS ditches WOTUS rule

Written by TF Staff on .

Farmers and agricultural organizations across the nation have applauded President Trump’s executive order that reverses the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule, which gave the agency virtually limitless authority to regulate water on private land.

Introduced under President Obama in 2015, WOTUS expanded the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act to include not just “navigable waterways” but any water that might eventually flow into navigable waterways. Trump’s order asks the heads of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to publish a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule for notice and comment—the first step in what is likely to be long administrative review process that many expect to end up at the Supreme Court.

At a White House signing ceremony on Feb. 28, the president called the rule, which has never been implemented because of a series of lawsuits, “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”

“It’s been a disaster,” he went on, claiming that the EPA had decided it could regulate “nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land or any place else that they decide.”

Farmers and landowners have also criticized the rule, saying there are already too many government regulations that affect their businesses. And while changes won’t happen overnight, the agricultural industry is hoping that any revised rule will be transparent and fair for America’s farmers and ranchers.

“The executive action taken by President Trump marks the beginning of the end of the Waters of the U.S. rule,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said in a statement, pointing out that some 99 percent of Missouri land would be impacted by the rule. “The repeal of the rule shows the strength of the grassroots and the importance of people belonging to organizations where one voice can make a difference.”

Missouri and Kansas FFA students collect nearly 6,000 items in Western Farm Show Food Drive

Written by TF Staff on .

FFA students from Missouri and Kansas who recently attended the Western Farm Show in Kansas City made a major contribution to the fight against hunger by collecting 5,958 canned goods and other non-perishable items in the show’s annual “Border War” Food Drive.

Almost 3,400 FFA students – 65 chapters from Missouri and 10 from Kansas – brought their food collections to the 2017 Western Farm Show, which was held Feb. 24-26 at the American Royal. The food items were donated to Harvesters – The Community Food Network, based in Kansas City, and are expected to provide over 3,100 meals in the regional food bank’s service area that includes northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas.

“We continue to be amazed at the generosity and commitment of the FFA chapters through this annual drive to fight hunger in our community,” said Katie Warning, Harvesters Food and Fund Drive Engagement Manager. “As always, we appreciate the Western Farm Show and Western Equipment Dealers Association’s support of Harvesters and the hungry in our community.”

The Border War Food Drive is a friendly competition between Missouri and Kansas FFA chapters to see which chapter can bring the greatest number of food items to the show, with a $500 prize going to the winner. For the fifth time in the past six years, the Lone Jack, Missouri FFA turned in the top performance, collecting 3,003 items. Other top performing Missouri chapters were from La Monte and St. Joseph. The top three Kansas FFA chapters were from Hiawatha, Louisburg and Fort Scott. 

The 2017 Western Farm Show featured over 500 exhibitors and more than 400,000 square feet of floor space that showcased one of the largest indoor displays of farm equipment and other agricultural products in the Midwest. Other attractions included the Livestock Low-Stress Handling Demonstration, the Health & Safety Roundup, Family Living Center and cooking demonstrations provided by the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  To learn more, visit WesternFarmShow.com or Facebook at Facebook.com/WesternFarmShow and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/WesternFarmShow.

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