Missouri's Paxton Dahmer elected as national FFA officer

2020 21 National Officer Team 2020 - 2021 National FFA Officer Team Paxton Dahmer of Nevada, Mo., is the Show-Me State’s first national FFA officer in 13 years.

He was elected to serve as central region vice president on the 2020-21 National FFA Officer Team in October during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dahmer, an agricultural education and leadership major at the University of Missouri in Columbia, was one of MFA’s Ag Experi­ence interns this past summer, assigned to Missouri Farmers Care.

He and five other FFA members were selected from 38 candidates vying for the honor. Candidates take part in an extensive online interview process with the National FFA Officer Nominating Committee leading up to the election. National officers commit to a year of service to the organization. Throughout their year of service, the officers will interact with business and industry leaders, FFA members and leaders, corporate sponsors, govern­ment and education officials and the general public. The team will help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and the next generation of leaders.

During the convention, Missouri was recognized as having the highest number of American FFA Degrees by state, with 505 recipients earning the organization’s top individual honor. Less than one-half of 1% of FFA members earn this distinction.

Three Missouri FFA chapters—Ashland, Braymer and Troy— were ranked in the national top 10 in the Model of Excellence Division. Ashland was also recognized as a Top 10 chapter in Building Communities, and Audrain County R-VI FFA was Top 10 in the Strengthening Agriculture Division. A total of 33 Missouri chapters earned the highest available rating.

Two members captured national championships in Agricul­tural Proficiency. Jacob Dierking of Santa Fe FFA was the top winner in diversified crop production entrepreneurship, and Amanda Belew of Ashland FFA took the highest award in wild­life management. Missouri had seven other national finalists.

Four Missourians earned an honorary American FFA degree, awarded to people who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, ag education or FFA. Additionally, teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs are eligible. This year’s honorary degree recipients are Tonya Jedlicka, West Plains; John Kallash, Clopton; Randy Morris, Putnam County; and Chad Murphy, Versailles.

Visit ffa.org/2020-awards-results for a full list of winners.

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When pigs fly, they can now depart from St. Louis airport

Pigs laying in beddingSome 200 breeding pigs from a farm in Henderson, Tenn., were in this first LEIF shipment. An increased demand for live animal cargo flights prompted investment in the one-of-a-kind facility.A shipment of breeding pigs from Henderson, Tenn., took off for Sao Paulo, Brazil, on the afternoon of Nov. 11, rep­resenting the first farm animals to fly from the Livestock Export and Inspection Facility (LEIF) at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport. The global hub is the first of its kind in the United States.

The shipment to Brazil demonstrates an aggressive new strategy for overseas exports at St. Louis-Lambert Airport and is the first of several planned shipments. An increased demand for live animal cargo flights during COVID-19 positions St. Louis as an import­ant central hub for livestock transport, said Gov. Mike Parson in commenting on the inaugural LEIF flight.

“This is exciting progress for the state and shows that Missouri’s strong agricultural industry continues to power our economy,” Parson said. “Missouri has long worked to push agricultural tech­nology forward. What we are seeing today is how Missouri inno­vations and infrastructure are allowing us to market the industry to the world in a new way.”

LEIF is a dedicated and customizable 18,000-square-foot facility designed for shipping livestock. It has a 12,000-square-foot adjacent open bay that was utilized to load the pigs onto a Boeing 747-400F for the flight to Brazil. It’s the only on-site 24/7 livestock palletizing facility in the United States and is uniquely situated to service livestock exporters. Missouri has consistently ranked in the top three states for number of livestock, and other top-producing states for swine, cattle, goats and sheep are all a short drive away.

Pigs in cargo of an airplane Crates of live pigs departed the St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Nov. 11, bound for Sao Paulo, Brazil, aboard a Boeing 747- 400F. The shipment was the first from the airport’s Livestock Export and Inspection Facility (LEIF), the only on-site 24/7 livestock palletizing center in the United States.The National Center for Beef Excellence (NCBE) recently secured a Missouri Agriculture Small Business Development Authority grant to lend assistance to STL and the Midwest Cargo Hub Commission in promoting the LEIF facility, which has been approved for livestock inspection and exports since 2017.

“We are crossing a threshold a long time in coming,” said Chad Sayre, MCBE chairman. “This could open up active trade around the world for Missouri and Midwest livestock. Our producers, family farmers, agribusinesses and research institutions all can benefit from creating this portal to the world market.”

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Economic recovery remains fragile, but rural industries show signs of improvement

Although the U.S. economy has been improving since late spring, prog­ress has slowed measurably and will likely remain sluggish through the end of the year, according to the latest analysis by CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division.

With COVID-19 cases stubbornly high—especially in rural areas—and cooler temperatures forewarning a return to the indoors, the quarterly report by CoBank indicates economic progress ahead will be slower than the gains already achieved.

However, essential rural industries are finding new ways to survive and even thrive, despite the pandemic, said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Ex­change division.

“The good news, at least from an econom­ic standpoint, is that many rural industries have begun to turn the corner,” Kowalski said. “This is particu­larly true in agriculture. A weaker, steady dollar has supported a price recovery in most agricultural commodities.”

The U.S. ethanol sector continued to recover during the third quarter to a new baseline level equaling roughly 90% of pre- COVID demand. Recent developments surrounding E15, small refinery exemptions, federal relief and another delay on Brazilian import duties appear to be incremental positives for ethanol.

Large grain sales to China along with recent reductions in ending stocks and expected production have provided a rally for U.S. grain farmers. Strong export sales were a major driver of recent positive commodity price performance. However, China has a propensity to announce but not close grain purchases, so whether those imports will happen remains a lingering question.

Farm supply retailers navigated through a volatile, yet success­ful, growing season. Harvest has been strong despite crop damage and stress caused by extreme storm activity and dry weather. Direct government payments to agriculture producers throughout 2020 could result in higher prepayments to farm supply coop­eratives during the fourth quarter in advance of the spring 2021 planting season.

The U.S. beef complex ended the third quarter in a far better position than where it started. Over the last three months, boxed beef cutout has climbed 5%. This helped lift cattle prices by 10% since the low around Independence Day. Profitability for cattle feeders has improved to break-even levels on a cash basis, and packer margins have remained elevated.

Renewed optimism for trade is the bright spot for the U.S. pork sector after exports slowed significantly over the summer. Ger­many discovered African swine fever (ASF) in wild boars, leading many markets to ban pork exports from Germany. Lean hog futures have spiked on this news. Hog producers are expected to lose $7 per head in the coming quarter and see positive margins of $15 to $20 per head in the first half of 2021.

Dairy markets remained mired in volatility last quarter with milk and cheese prices ending on a strong note. The recovery in milk prices has already incentivized more dairy production on the farm. Federal programs also helped provide financial cushion for some struggling dairy producers last quarter.

The reopening of restaurants in the third quarter was welcome news for specialty crop producers and processors with food-ser­vice contracts, although the expected rise in COVID-19 cases this fall could cause greater uncertainty. Produce sales at retail grocery stores, however, remain above year-ago levels and are expected to remain higher than prior years for the foreseeable future.

Much more information is available in the full report at cobank.com. Each quarterly update covers key industries represented by CoBank, a $152 billion cooperative bank serving agribusinesses such as MFA Incorporated across rural America.

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