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New director, chairman elected to MFA Incorporated board

CATTLE PRODUCER GARY MCCLURE is the newest mem­ber of MFA Incorporated’s Board of Directors, representing District 13 in south-central Missouri. He was elected during the district delegate meeting held March 7 in Houston.

McClure runs a 100-head cow/calf operation and raises 150 acres of hay near Lebanon, Mo. He’s been a member of MFA since 1983 and serves on the local Farmers Produce Exchange board. He is also a delegate for MFA Oil Compa­ny and a member of the LaClede County Developmental Center board.

“MFA has always been a big part of my life,” McClure said. “In fact, my first job was loading feed on the dock at MFA here in Lebanon. I’m honored to be elected to the MFA Incorporated board, and I think it’s going to be a great experience to see what goes on across the state and learn from other people’s perspectives. MFA is such a vast orga­nization and deals with so many facets of agriculture, and I’m looking forward to helping connect the farmers in our district to all the resources it has to offer.”

He and his wife, Karen, have two children—Kyle, who also raises beef cattle near the fam­ily’s farm, and Krenda Wade, a teacher and track coach in the Lebanon R-3 School District—and one granddaughter, 2-year-old Karis Wade.

McClure replaces Wayne Nichols of Pomona, whose term ended in March. Nichols has served as chairman of the board for the past five years and is succeeded by Don Schlesselman of Concordia, who officially assumed his leadership role Jan. 31. Schlesselman was also re-elected as District 5 director during the recent delegate meetings.

Also re-elected to their positions on the MFA board were Frank Schieber of Stanberry, District 1; Craig Lambert of Pattonsburg, District 4; and Dwayne Schad of Versailles, District 8. Members of the corporate board are eligible to serve three-year terms and are limited to four consecutive terms.

In addition to elections, the March meetings in each of MFA’s 14 districts gave farmer-owners a chance to learn about the cooperative’s financial progress, hear from management and operating divisions and get updates on highlights from their respective regions.

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Secretary of ag kicks off climate-smart funding

CommodityClassic SoilHealth PanelAt the recent Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla., Missouri farmer Neal Bredehoeft, second from left, shares his experience in growing cover crops during a panel discussion on the new Farmers for Soil Health program. Also on the panel were, from left, Brandon Hunnicutt, National Corn Growers Association farmer leader from Nebraska; Jim Douglas, United Soybean Board farmer leader from Indiana; Gary Asay, National Pork Board leader and hog farmer from Illinois; Robert Bonnie, USDA undersecretary; and Ben West, Farmers for Soil Health executive director.Farmers in MFA territory are among those who could benefit from the first programs to be officially launched under the USDA’s Partnerships for Cli­mate-Smart Commodities program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined leaders from farm industry groups to publicly sign memorandums of under­standing for two new soil-health programs during last month’s Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla. Each pilot project spotlight­ed at the national event will receive grant funding of up to $95 million.

“This is a really important day for Amer­ican agriculture,” Vilsack said. “It is the beginning of a number of projects that are going to transform how we farm, where we farm and what we do to produce sus­tainably produced crops and livestock.”

One of those projects is Farmers for Soil Health, a partnership that looks to increase cover crops by 1 million acres over 20 states, includ­ing Missouri, Iowa and Kansas. The initiative is led by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation along with the National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and the National Pork Board. The University of Missouri is also part of the collaboration.

Farmers for Soil Health creates a producer-led cover crop pro­gram intended to advance sustainable soil health practices that improve farm profitability. The idea is to accelerate long-term cover crop adoption by incentivizing farmers through a verified ecosystem marketplace.

Prior to Vilsack’s signing event, Missouri row-crop farmer Neal Bredehoeft, a director on the United Soybean Board, was among participants in a panel explaining the purpose and importance of the program. Bredehoeft, who farms in Lafayette County, has been no-tilling since the early 1990s and began planting cover crops about a decade ago. He told the audience the practices have helped reduce erosion, provide control of winter annual weeds and improve soil health.

Bredehoeft said he believes farmers will like the Farmers for Soil Health initiative because early adopters of conservation practices, like himself, can participate. There will be different levels of cost-share enrollment based on whether farmers are new to cover crops or have already established the practice.

“Any farm, no matter what stage they are at using cover crops, can sign up for this cost share,” Bredehoeft said.

The second agreement signed by Vilsack was the Midwest Climate-Smart Commodity Program, led by the Iowa Soybean Association with other partners. That program will direct financial incentives to farmers in 12 states, including Missouri, Iowa and Kansas in MFA territory, to implement climate-smart conservation practices. The program will run for five years and deliver outcome-based payments to participating farmers.

Robert Bonnie, USDA undersecretary for farm production and conservation who was part of the Farmers for Soil Health panel, said the voluntary, producer-led aspect of the two high­lighted programs was a key reason they were singled out from the highly competitive Climate-Smart Commodities applicants.

“In working with agriculture to increase the deployment of climate-smart practices, we want to do something that puts the farmers in charge of decisions about their own operations and puts USDA in the position of providing financial assistance to make that happen,” Bonnie said. “As we look across the propos­als we selected, they’re all about voluntary stewardship—not a top-down regulatory-heavy approach but a bottom-up incen­tive-based collaboration.”

To learn more about the two projects mentioned here, visit Farmers for Soil Health online at and Midwest Climate-Smart Commodity Program at

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Who will be the next stewardship star?

First came the Lambert family in 2017. The Scherders, Brinkers and Yoders followed. Most recently, the Oetting family and Britt family were honored in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Who will be the 2023 recipient of the Missouri Leopold Conservation Award?

Nominations are now being accepted for the program, which recognizes farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who go above and beyond in the care and management of natural resources. Winners are awarded a $10,000 prize for their efforts.

The Sand County Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization, presents the Leopold Award in 25 states based on such criteria as innovation, adaptability, resilience, lead­ership and communications. Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes those who inspire others with a dedication to land, water and wild­life habitat management. Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of agricultural organizations including MFA Incorporated, partners with the foundation to bring the award to the Show-Me State.

“Missouri farmers and ranchers continually strive to sup­port long-term viability and productive capac­ity of their operations,” said Missouri Farmers Care Chairman Jeff Houts. “We are honored to highlight innovative leaders who are using stewardship practices to improve land, air, water and habitat for future generations.”

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The application can be found at Submitting applications online is preferred, or they can be mailed to Missouri Farmers Care Foundation, 19171 State Highway 11, Kirksville, MO 63501. All applications must be submitted or postmarked by June 30, 2023. Finalists will be announced in September with plans to present the award in November 2023.

More information on the award and past winners can be found at online at

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