Convention commendations

Missouri FFA members were awarded 520 American FFA Degrees at the 92nd National FFA Convention, held Oct. 30 through Nov. 2 in Indianapolis. That’s the most recipients of any state earning the organization’s highest individual honor in 2019.

The awards were among many earned by Missouri FFA members, past and present. Among them were Dr. Alan Wessler, retired MFA Incorpo­rated Vice President of Feed Operations and Ani­mal Health, who was presented with an Honorary American FFA Degree. The recognition is given to people who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education or FFA. Six others from Missouri also received honorary degrees: Jackie Carlson, Scott Gardner, David Higgins, Jill Nagel, Diane Olsen and Jon Wilson.

Troy FFA was also recognized as the National Premier Chapter winner for “Building Commu­nities,” based on its campaign to promote organ donor registration to members and supporters. Troy FFA members used social media, videos and presentations to encourage enrollment in the pro­gram while educating others on the importance of organ donations. The chapter signed up more than 1,000 people to the registry.

The Sweet Springs FFA chapter was named among the top 10 in the nation in the Premier Chapter’s “Strengthening Agriculture” Division.

Two youth captured national championships in Agricultural Proficiency: Amelia Liebhart (Bucklin FFA, diversified livestock production) and Kylynn Mallen (Cameron FFA, nursery operations). The North Shelby FFA team also took first place in the agriculture mechanics category of Career and Leadership Development Events.

During the 2019 convention, the national FFA organization announced that it now has record student enrollment of more than 700,000 mem­bers, up from 669,989 in 2018. Missouri is among the top six student membership states.

A full list of this year’s award recipients is avail­able at

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Funding for firefighters

On Sept. 18, MFA presented the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute with grants totaling $26,000 from the MFA Charitable Foundation and CoBank. The money will be used to train and equip volunteer fire departments in rural areas to save lives and protect property.

“While no fire department has all the funding necessary, rural departments often struggle the most,” said Kevin Zumwaldt, MU FRTI director. “Even the smallest amount can make a big difference. Over 80% of Missouri’s firefighters are volunteer, and many do not have a dedicated funding source, depending solely on donations.”

The MFA Charitable Foundation has a long history of fulfilling donation requests made by fire departments across Missouri but lacks the expertise to determine their true needs. In this first-of-its-kind program, MFA and CoBank will provide the funding and allow MU FRTI to manage the program.

The goal is to award grants in each of the nine Fire Mutual Aid Regions in Missouri. Each award recipient must provide a 50% match. More than 30 proposals had been submitted by mid-October, with the application period closing Oct. 31.

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Missouri Industrial Hemp Program proposes regulations

Proposed rules for the Missouri Industrial Hemp Program have been posted, and applications for interested producers are expected to be available in early December.

The rules will amend existing regulations and transition the legal growth of industrial hemp in the Show-Me State from a pilot research program to a commercially regulated industry. A public comment period will be available on the Missouri Department of Agriculture website until Dec. 1. Missouri’s final rules will incorporate citizen feedback from this process as well as federal regulatory guidance from the USDA.

Department officials anticipate that applications for the program will be made available as a fillable PDF in early December, after the comment period closes. The program is structured in two parts: registration for those who want to produce hemp and permits for those who want to sell or distribute hemp plant materials or seed to registered producers or other permit holders.

The proposed rules, additional resources and frequently asked questions are online at Agriculture.Mo.Gov/plants/industrial-hemp.

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