MFA continues grant program for volunteer fire departments

The MFA Charitable Foundation has once again partnered with the University of Missouri Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute (FRTI) to offer grants that can be used to equip volunteer fire departments with the training and resources they need to save lives and protect property.

Launched in 2019, this first-of-its-kind program has awarded more than $65,000 over the past two years to fire and rescue entities across the state. For 2021, the MFA Charitable Foundation board of trustees approved $35,000 for the grant program.

Each award recipient must provide a 50% match for their requested funding. The award maximum is $2,000 and minimum is $500.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Missouri has 775 registered fire depart­ments, and nearly 85% are volunteer or mostly volunteer. These entities are largely dependent on donations, not tax dollars, to run their operations.

“It seems there’s never enough funding for a fire department, but in rural areas, that’s really, truly the case,” said Gail Hagans-Reynolds, FRTI educational program coordi­nator. “When there isn’t a municipality to pay the bills, even the smallest amount of funding can make a big difference.”

The application period is open through Nov. 30, with award notifications expected after Feb. 1, 2022. Depending on the availability of funds, the goal is to provide grants to at least one recipient in each of the nine Fire Mutual Aid Regions in Missouri. Each agency must be registered with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety.

For more information on the program or how to apply for funding, visit online at or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Agriculture adapts to persistent supply chain disruptions

The U.S. economy is on a strong growth path, cash-rich consumers are spending robustly on both services and goods and roughly 80% of the U.S. adult population has now received at least one COVID vaccination shot. However, the country is still very much in the grips of the pandemic, and its negative influence has shifted from curtailing demand to derailing supply chains, according to a new quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange.

Lead times for manufacturing inputs recently reached record highs, the report said, putting supply chains in the worst condi­tions since the start of the pandemic. These disruptions, along with labor shortages, are adding significant costs to businesses, and consumers will likely feel these effects through higher prices for months to come.

“Supply chain snarls are likely to persist well into 2022, and so will elevated inflation,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division. “The latest producer price index data for August was up 20% year-over-year, while the consumer price index increased just 5.2%. So, it’s clear that many businesses are passing only a small portion of those cost increases on to the final consumer. We expect that will change in the months ahead.”

Rapidly rising input costs and product shortages are hitting agriculture particularly hard, Kowalski said, as ag commodity prices flatten and inflation compresses margins. However, robust exports have kept much of agriculture in the black. The USDA currently projects that China will import $39 billion of U.S. ag products in 2022, up from an estimated $37 billion in 2021.

Ag retailers are benefitting from strong demand for crop inputs resulting from above-average U.S. grain prices and net farm in­come, CoBank reported. U.S. cotton prices have also risen nearly 20% since the beginning of the year. While harvest is not yet finished, farm supply cooperatives should experience a favor­able fall agronomy season, barring any extreme weather events. Skyrocketing fertilizer prices and crop chemical shortages are two key short-term factors affecting the ag retail sector.

On the livestock side of the industry, returning demand from the food-service sector has led to extraordinary strength in the U.S. meat and poultry industries. However, the report predicted, the full effect of inflation is expected to test consumers’ appetite for meat during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Foreign demand for U.S. animal protein has also remained robust. Combined U.S. exports of beef, pork and chicken are forecasted to reach record highs in 2021, increasing 3% over last year. But inadequate labor availability continues to dampen pro­ductivity throughout the meat industry and is expected to remain a concern into 2022.

Rising feed and construction costs halted the 11-month-long expansion of the U.S. dairy herd last quarter while record hot temperatures dented milk cow productivity. The U.S. cow herd dropped by 29,000 head over three consecutive months into August.

Much more information is available in the full report at Each quarterly update covers key industries represented by CoBank, a $158 billion cooperative bank serving agribusinesses such as MFA Incorporated across rural America.

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Drive to Feed Kids exceeds expectations in its 2021 hunger-relief campaign

After activities were curbed due to COVID-19 last year, the 2021 Missouri Farmers Care (MFC) Drive to Feed Kids campaign came back in fullDrive To Feed KidsFans at the Hank Williams Jr. concert, which closed out the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 21, react enthusiastically as Jeff Houts, Missouri Farmers Care chairman, announces that this year’s Drive to Feed Kids raised resources for 2,015,088 meals. force, raising enough resources for a record-setting 2,015,088 meals to help feed hungry children across the state.

“Over 10 years ago, the leadership of Missouri Farmers Care saw there was a gap between the hard work of our farmers and ranchers producing food year-round for con­sumers and what ended up on Missourians’ dinner tables,” said MFC Executive Director Ashley McCarty. “They felt called to fill in that gap on behalf of those who couldn’t do anything to change their situation. Out of that effort evolved the Drive to Feed Kids.”

According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, 13.8% of Missourians were considered food insecure in 2021. Among children, that number is even higher—15%.

“There are thousands of hard-working Missourians who can’t make ends meet and don’t have enough to feed their families. That’s just a reality in Missouri,” said Scott Baker, director of Feeding Missouri, an association of the state’s six regional food banks. “However, another reality is the heart and commitment of Missouri’s farmers to do all they can to help neighbors in need. The impact of the Drive to Feed Kids campaign is substantial, and we are truly grateful.”

This past year, the program benefited from several key partnerships and programs, culminating with activities at the Missouri State Fair:

  • On Aug. 17, more than 700 Missouri FFA Association members and agricultural leaders came together at the fair to pack 203,544 family meals for the Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Day. They exceeded the ambitious goal of 200,000 meals in honor of the state’s bicentennial.
  • Gov. Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson, along with Missouri elected officials and agricultural leaders, joined the cause on Aug. 19, packing 500 share boxes at the State Fair to provide nourishment to central Missou­ri families in need.
  • The Hogs for Hunger program connected Missouri pig farmers, 4-H and FFA exhibitors to meat processors and local food banks. More than 900 pounds of ground pork was provided by Missouri State Fair swine exhibitors, and a partnership with Feeding Missouri has contributed an additional 205,883 pounds of high-quality protein to all six regional food banks. Missouri pig farmers can still donate to their local food bank through this program. Missouri Farmers Care Foundation will reimburse $1 per pound donated to cover processing fees.
  • Missouri 4-H members donated 356,665 meals during their hunger-relief campaign that ran January through April 2021, and they packed an additional 500 meal boxes for veterans at the Missouri State Fair.
  • Fairgoers participated by bringing non-perishable food items and monetary donations for the Missouri Farmers Care Food Drive on $2 Tuesday at the Fair. Through these activities and a generous canned food donation by Woods Supermarket, more than 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food was donated to local pantries. In addition, Missouri FFA donated fresh produce from FFA student projects on display at the fair.

MFA Incorporated is among industry sponsors of Missouri Farmers Care’s Drive to Feed Kids. To learn more, visit

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