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  • Here in the Midwest, where food grows all around us, there are children who don’t know where they will get their next meal. That is an unfortunate irony that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Missouri’s agricultural community.

    In response, this summer you will see a campaign called Drive to Feed Kids in action at the Missouri State Fair. The effort is being led by Missouri Farmers Care, an organization dedicated to the state’s farming community. And thanks to the members of Sawyer Brown, you can see a great concert at the State Fair to support the cause.

    Drive to Feed Kids is a program that leverages existing food bank and distribution networks to deliver kid-friendly meals to youth. Food is delivered through backpack programs and in-school food pantries to help children in households with low food security.

    MFA Vice President of Feed Dr. Alan Wessler, chairman of Missouri Farmers Care, said the Missouri State Fair is an appropriate venue to celebrate the best of Missouri agriculture as well as address food-security challenges.

    “All of us in agriculture are focused on doing our best to produce food,” Wessler said. “But we’re also focused on making our communities the best they can be. When our youth face uncertainty about access to nutritious food, it presents challenges in coming to school ready to learn and thrive. It is time to consider how we can help. Our partner through Drive to Feed Kids, Feeding Missouri, has a proven and efficient way to deliver food to those who most need it.”

    Over the past decade, research from USDA and other agencies has revealed how pervasive the lack of access to nutritious food is in many American households. To help quantify the problem, USDA uses terminology centered on food security to provide a better picture of the real needs. High food security means a family has no problems attaining nutritional food. Low food security means reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet. Very low food security means eating patterns are disrupted, and food intake is reduced.

    In its most recent research, USDA found that 5 percent of American households have very low food security. And, 76 percent of counties in the top 10 percent of food-insecure counties are rural. Predominantly rural counties have higher rates of food insecurity than urban counties.

    Statistics like these are what brought a sense of urgency to Missouri Farmers Care. The organization’s campaign will feature several events at the Missouri State Fair, which runs Aug. 10-20 in Sedalia. On opening day, Thursday, Aug. 10, there will be a premiere of Where the Fast Lane Ends, a movie co-written and produced by Sawyer Brown lead singer Mark Miller. The film was created by Farming to Fight Hunger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the knowledge gap between agriculture and consumers and increasing awareness of food security issues.

    The movie premiere will be followed that evening by the Sawyer Brown concert at 7:30 p.m. with opening act Royal Wade Kimes. Tickets to the concert go on sale June 20.

    The first Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Service Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 15, when Missouri FFA members will pack 50,000 child-friendly meals to be distributed by Missouri food banks.

    To find out more, visit MoFarmersCare.com.

  • Since its creation in January 2000, the MFA Health Track program has enrolled and tagged more than 600,000 head of feeder calves into the nation’s most comprehensive third-party verified beef cattle preconditioning program. Now, the program is adding even more value for participating producers through a new partnership with ABS Global, a world-leading provider of bovine genetics, reproduction services and technologies.

    With the new ABS Alliance Advantage offering, MFA Health Track puts genetic and health certification into a single ID tag program for the first time. Producers qualify their calves for the program by using designated ABS Profit Proven bulls and meeting MFA Health Track requirements, which include 45 days of preconditioning with both nutrition and vaccination protocols.

    “A little more than 17 years after it was started, Health Track’s reputation for integrity and value is as good as it has ever been,” said Mike John, MFA Health Track director. “However, missing from that documentation, and of significant value, is an indication of the genetic composition of those calves. That’s where ABS comes in, and with it comes global genetic experience. This takes Health Track to the next level.”

    Calves enrolled in the ABS Alliance Advantage program are identified with a special purple tag that designates their potentially high-value status.

    “ABS has created evaluation schemes and databases to help its customers make more informed sire selections that dramatically add to the value of their offerings,” John said. “By combining that expertise with the obvious health benefits of the Health Track program, a new level of predictable performance will come with calves that qualify for the new ABS Alliance Advantage purple tag.”

    The ABS Alliance Advantage approval and tagging process includes these steps:

    • Calves must be enrolled in MFA Health Track and meet all program requirements. This program is available through MFA Agri Services locations and administered by MFA Incorporated livestock product sales representatives.
    • ABS maintains minimum criteria and publishes lists of AI (artificial insemination) sires that qualify for Alliance Advantage. Natural service sons of these sires can also qualify. ABS representatives are responsible for Alliance-qualifying calves based on its program criteria and the ability of producers to identify calves out of approved sires.
    • When qualifying calves have been approved, purple ABS Alliance Advantage tags are ordered from MFA and delivered through an MFA representative who can help process and tag the calves.
    • When all requirements for both components are complete, a sales certificate is created that documents preconditioning dates, processes and products as well as genetic information to help buyers identify potential of the calves with the purple tags.

    For more information and details about the ABS Alliance Advantage program, visit with your local MFA Agri Services or AGChoice location or MFA sales representative.

  • A regulation mandating more training and safeguards for people handling restricted-use pesticides has been delayed for one year by the EPA.

    The EPA said it was going “back to basics” by delaying the Obama-era rule in its mid-May announcement. The Certification and Training of Pesticide Applicators (C&T) rule would have established a minimum age for handling these pesticides, required more training and more frequent certifications for the approximately 1 million applicators allowed to use them, and tightened overall controls on insecticides, pesticides and other substances.

    “To achieve both environmental protection and economic prosperity, we must give the regulated community, which includes farmers and ranchers, adequate time to come into compliance with regulations,” said Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator.

    The original effective date of May 22, 2017, is now extended to May 22, 2018.

    In its statement on the year-long delay, EPA said it received feedback from states and stakeholders that more time and resources are needed to prepare for compliance with the rule. Specifically mentioned was an April meeting with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who applauded the move to extend the deadline.

    “I look forward to continuing to work with this administration to curb regulations that are killing jobs and hurting our farmers,” Greitens said. “It’s time for government to get out of the way and let our farmers farm.”

  • Three months after his nomination, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was confirmed as the 31st U.S. secretary of agriculture by the Senate on April 24 and sworn in the next day. 

    The much-delayed appointment—the last announced Trump cabinet post on Jan. 19—prompted some in the agricultural industry to express concerns that the president has made a low priority of rural and farm interests credited with his victory. 

    To address those concerns in part, President Trump and Perdue wasted no time in hosting a “Farmers Roundtable” at the White House after the secretary’s swearing-in ceremony April 25. The event featured more than a dozen farmers and representatives of the agriculture community who discussed topics such as agricultural trade, regulatory reform, rural infrastructure, labor issues and the Farm Bill.

    The president also signed an executive order establishing an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity with a mission “to promote economic development and revitalization, job growth, infrastructure, innovation, and quality of life issues for rural America.” Perdue will lead that task force.

    Perdue’s first official trip as secretary outside of Washington, DC, was to Missouri, where he spoke April 28 in Kansas City at a town hall session for farmers and ag industry representatives including MFA Incorporated CEO Ernie Verslues.

    Two weeks later, Perdue announced he is reorganizing USDA, creating an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs position in recognition of the importance of international trade to American agriculture. The new position was outlined in the 2014 Farm Bill but never implemented. 

    In the first significant reorganization of USDA since 1994, the proposed structure also includes a new Farm Production and Conservation mission area to focus on domestic agricultural issues. A new undersecretary will be selected for this area, which will include the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

    Under the reorganization plan, Rural Development will no longer have its own undersecretary but will report directly to Perdue. The undersecretary for natural resources and environment will retain supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. A reduction in USDA workforce is not part of the reorganization plan.

    See the full report at www.usda.gov/our-agency/reforming-usda.

  • University of Missouri Interim Chancellor and Provost Garnett S. Stokes announced today that Christopher R. Daubert, professor and department head of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University, has been named vice chancellor and dean of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), effective Aug. 1, 2017.

    “With a career spanning more than 20 years, Professor Daubert is a dedicated administrator and teacher focused on the land-grant philosophy, agriculture and food research, and innovative economic development initiatives,” Stokes said. “His experience will enable him to lead MU’s students, faculty and staff, and represent Mizzou effectively with CAFNR’s constituent base including members of Missouri’s broad agricultural community.”

    Daubert joined the faculty at NC State in 1997 in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. While at NC State, he also served on the faculty of the biotechnology program and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. As an administrator, he has been leading an economic development initiative aimed at transforming North Carolina into a regional food processing destination, a project that supports the food and agriculture industry while creating new jobs.

    In his new role as vice chancellor and dean, Daubert will report to the provost and be responsible for strategic planning and budgets, hiring faculty and staff, development activities, and building a climate of excellence on campus and throughout the entire University of Missouri System to fulfill the university’s mission of teaching, research, service and economic development.

    “The MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has strong people, programs and partnerships serving our land grant heritage, making CAFNR such an attractive destination and opportunity for leadership,” Daubert said. “The faculty and staff are exceptional and dedicated, and CAFNR’s students are incredibly capable and well prepared to serve our stakeholders. During the interview process, it was clear that the college and the university have strong support across the entire state of Missouri, including alumni, commodity organizations, and members of the Missouri legislature. Agriculture is such an important part of Missouri, and everyone is eager to help move our college forward.”

    Daubert received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 1991 and a doctorate in agricultural engineering and food science from Michigan State University in 1996. As a researcher, Daubert has authored nearly 100 peer-reviewed publications and books; mentored more than 20 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers; and obtained two patents connected to his research.

    Since its establishment in 1870, CAFNR has embraced the three missions of the land-grant university — providing accessible educational opportunities to Missouri citizens, conducting applied and basic research to address the needs of Missourians, and delivering research-based information to enhance the quality of life and economic well-being of all Missourians.

  • AccuWeather reports as a surge of water continues to flow downstream, flooding will occur along the middle and lower Mississippi River through the middle of May and perhaps to the end of the month in some areas.

    While some areas along streams and small rivers have born the brunt of the slow-moving flooding disaster in recent days, communities along the Mississippi River from Missouri and Illinois to Louisiana and Mississippi will be racing against rising water over the next couple of weeks.

    The larger the stream, the longer it takes for flooding to cycle through. Small creeks in mountainous or hilly areas can flood in a matter of minutes and hours, while the largest rivers in nearly flat terrain sometimes take days and a week or more for water to drop below flood stage.

    Torrential rain from the last weekend of April set the flooding disaster in motion.

    During late April and early May, record flooding occurred at some locations, including along the Black river at Pocahontas, Arkansas; Current River at Doniphan, Arkansas; Meramec at Sullivan, Steelville and Eureka, Missouri; and the Gasconade at Hazelgreen and Jerome, Missouri. Levees in some communities were breached or topped by high water levels.

    Rainfall during the middle days of this week brought a second surge and crest along small streams and tributaries of the major rivers.

    This new surge of water will also prolong the rise and recession of the Mississippi River and lower portions of the Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and White rivers. The high water levels will continue to impact river navigation and port operations.

    This weekend, the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, will crest near or just shy of the record of 48.9 feet set on Jan. 2, 2016, according to data compiled by National Weather Service hydrologists and the United States Geological Survey.

    At St. Louis, where some highways have been closed due to high water, the Mississippi is not expected to drop below flood stage until the middle of next week.

    Farther downstream, a crest at major flood stage is forecast at Osceola, Arkansas, later next week.

    At Memphis, Tennessee, while only minor flooding is forecast, the Mississippi River may remain above flood stage from the middle of next week to beyond the middle of the month.

    Areas farther south along the Mississippi River in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana may not experience a crest until the third week in May. River levels in some portions of these states will reach moderate flood stage and may not drop below flood stage until nearly the end of the month.

    Meanwhile, a portion of the Black River in northern Arkansas may remain above flood stage into early next week.

    Areas along the White River in Arkansas will experience major flooding through this weekend. Waters along the White River may not drop below flood stage until the third or fourth week in May.

    It may take many weeks until flooded farmland is workable, but the weather may cooperate in the short term.

    "No significant rain is anticipated to fall over the middle and lower Mississippi Valley from this weekend through the middle of next week," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

    The extended rain-free weather will help some communities with damage assessment and cleanup operations, while communities over the lower Mississippi will have fair weather to prepare for the flooding to come.

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