Missouri's Fordyce to lead Farm Service Agency

Former Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce has been named national administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

In his new role, Fordyce will provide leadership for the agency and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of more than 2,100 county and 50 state offices. Most recently, he served as Missouri’s FSA executive director.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in announcing the appointment. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective, customer-focused agency in the federal government.”

Previously, Fordyce ran the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017. In 2015, he was awarded the Missouri Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Alumnus of the Year. He has served in roles for the National Biodiesel Board and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and spent 11 years as one of the Missouri directors on the United Soybean Board.

He and his wife, Renee, have two children and raise row crops and beef cattle on their family farm in Bethany, Mo.

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Saluting stewardship

Missouri farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who voluntarily demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources will have an opportunity to win a $10,000 award for their efforts.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award Program, recognizing those who have made extraordinary achievements in voluntary conservation. Nominees will be evaluated on such criteria as conservation ethic, innovation, adaptability, resilience, leadership and communications.

The Sand County Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization, presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 13 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In Missouri, the award was presented for the first time in 2017 in conjunction with Missouri Farmers Care and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. Missouri’s inaugural Leopold award was presented to the Lambert family of Laclede.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes those who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

“The Leopold Conservation Award is an excellent venue for Missouri’s agriculture community to highlight the great work of farmers, ranchers and foresters,” said Alan Wessler, chairman of Missouri Farmers Care and vice president of feed for MFA Incorporated. “This program highlights farmers’ best practices and purpose to meet an ultimate goal: leaving the land in as good or better shape for the next generation.”

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. All applications must be submitted or postmarked by July 20. The application can be found at http://mofarmerscare.com/leopold-conservation-award/. Finalists will be announced in November.

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Missouri wants 'fake' meat clearly labeled

Under legislation passed by Missouri lawmakers this session, the Show-Me State will be the first to require clear labeling of lab-grown or plant-based meat substitutes to designate that these products did not originate from livestock.

The bill, given the green light by the Missouri House on April 26 and the Senate on May 17, prohibits “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” This means manufacturers would not be able to market those products as “meat” if selling them in Missouri.

The measure is backed by Missouri Farm Bureau and the state’s cattle, pork, poultry, corn and soybean associations. Missouri Cattlemen’s Association member Andy McCorkill testified during the House legislative hearing, saying the bill “ensures the integrity of the meat supply” in Missouri.

“Calling [plant-based products] meat without knowing the inspection process, the nutrient profile of these products, food safety or anything is a disservice to farmers, ranchers and consumers,” McCorkill said. “It is important these products don’t misrepresent our industry. We care for our livestock and invest a lot of time and money in ensuring the consumer has a safe, nutritious and affordable product.”

U.S. sales of plant-based substitutes for animal food products rose by 8.1 percent between 2016 and 2017. According to the Plant Based Food Association, 36 percent of consumers purchase plant-based meat substitutes. Among millennials, that figure jumps to 60 percent. These products go by names such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.

Opponents argued that creating a Missouri-specific prohibition would create an untenable situation where products sold in the state must be labeled differently from products sold in all 49 other states.

At press time, the bill was on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk to be signed.

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