Forage and grazing conferences merge

The annual Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference and the Heart of America Grazing Conference are coming together for a combined two-day event on Monday, Feb. 26, and Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Mo.

The joint conference is designed for producers interested in learning more about management strategies for forages and livestock. Monday afternoon’s agenda offers four different sessions focusing on soil health on grasslands, followed by a social event, trade show and evening dinner.

On Tuesday, 45-minute breakout sessions will feature topics that include chemical weed control in pastures, understanding forage quality, grazing alfalfa, mineral supplements in pastures, incorporating sheep and goats into the cattle operation, beef genetics, getting top dollar for your calves, adapting to the forage growth curve and conditioning cows for pregnancy. The keynote luncheon speaker is Dave Pratt, who teaches the Ranching for Profit School in North America, Australia and Africa. He’s been instrumental in developing the Sustainable Ranching Research and Education Project and is co-founder of the California Grazing Academy.

More information and registration are available at SpringForageConference.com or by calling 417-532-6305, ext. 101. Pre-register by Feb. 16.

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Feeding the economy

The food and agriculture industries not only play a vital role in feeding Americans but also in feeding and growing the nation’s economy.

That fact was put into figures through a nationwide economic impact study released in November. The research found that more than one-fifth (or 20.4 percent) of the nation’s economy is linked, directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors, and more than one-fourth of all American jobs (28 percent) are similarly connected.

The extensive farm-to-fork economic analysis quantified the impact of the jobs, wages, taxes and exports the agricultural and food industries make possible. Twenty-two food and agriculture organizations commissioned this research. Among the most important findings were:   

  • Total jobs: 43,311,057
  • Total wages: $1.9 trillion
  • Total taxes: $894.13 billion
  • Exports: $146.32 billion
  • Total food and industry economic impact: $6.7 trillion

To measure the total economic impact of the sectors, the analysis also includes the indirect and induced economic activity surrounding these industries, which captures upstream and downstream activity. For example, when a farm equipment retailer hires new employees because farmers are buying more tractors, experts consider the new salaries an indirect impact. Similarly, when that new retail associate spends her paycheck, an induced economic impact occurs. Together, these have a multiplier effect on the already formidable direct impact of food and agriculture.

“These numbers tell an essential story, reminding us that food and agriculture remain absolutely central to our nation’s well-being. We not only produce three square meals a day for most Americans, that same work supports one in four American jobs,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, one of the commissioning groups. “Policymakers should keep this data in mind as they consider changes to tax and trade issues that might affect the food and agriculture sectors.”

The complete report is online at FeedingTheEconomy.com.

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Beefing up school lunches

School lunches in Mount Vernon, Mo., will have double the amount of beef this year, thanks to a partnership among local ranchers and several cattle industry entities.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Beef Industry Council, Opaa Food Management and the Mount Vernon Public Schools have joined forces in the “MO Beef for MO Kids” initiative. The increase in beef comes from cattle raised in Lawrence County, No. 1 in the state’s cattle production.

“The Department of Agriculture has set out to feed Missourians more of the quality food that is grown here in our state,” Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. “Missouri cattle producers are doing their part to put beef on the plates of young students in their communities. This is an excellent opportunity to not only enhance the lunch menu, but also connect community members.”

The pilot program was launched Oct. 19 during National School Lunch Week. Since then, menus have included new beef entrée options such as meatball subs, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, beef cheddar melts and beef quesadillas. Students at various grade levels have also been learning about beef production and the health benefits of beef through educational opportunities brought to the school.

Local beef producers are recognized in posters that hang in school cafeteria areas to introduce Mount Vernon students to the people who raised a portion of their lunch.For more information on this program, visit missourigrownusa.com/mobeef-for-mokids.

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