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Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture turns 50

Farmers, agricultural leaders encouraged to attend event Nov. 16-17 in Osage Beach

The Missouri Governor’s Conference returns Nov. 16-17 to Margaritaville Resort in Osage Beach for its 50th celebration of agriculture. Held every other year, the 2023 event will be hosted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Gov. Mike Parson.

“Agriculture remains the backbone of our state’s strong economy,” Parson said. “At this conference, you will hear firsthand how our administration’s priorities are making a lasting impact and bringing greater opportunities to farm families and communities. Together, we are moving Missouri forward, and we are not done yet.”

Farmers, ranchers, agribusiness leaders and aspiring agriculturalists are invited to attend the two-day conference, which includes a jam-packed program with a nationally recognized speaker lineup. The popular “Best of Missouri Grown” reception will also showcase the state’s best food and beverage products. MFA Incorporated is among the conference’s sponsors.

“I’m proud to serve alongside Missouri farmers and ranchers and always love this opportunity to come together,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “We hope these two days provide valuable information, connections and optimism as we move toward 2024.”

The conference is open to the public, but registration is required and available at For more information, visit the Department online at Agriculture.Mo.Gov.

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WOTUS revision still murky, ag groups say

Disappointment. Concern. Unease. Frustration. 

Those are among sentiments expressed by agricultural groups after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers released a revision to the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) on Aug. 29. 

Under the Revised WOTUS Rule, intrastate wetlands are jurisdictional only if they have a “continuous surface connection” to traditional navigable water. The EPA removed the “significant nexus” test, which had been used to determine when waters or wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act. This test was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in May after being the subject of intense opposition and litigation for nearly a decade.

In addition, the most recent revision clarifies wetlands are not defined as adjacent or jurisdictional in the Clean Water Act solely because they are “bordering, contiguous or neighboring” or separated from other waters by manmade barriers.

The “significant nexus” standard was the main point of contention in a lawsuit brought by property owners Michael and Chantell Sackett, an Idaho couple who had said they should not be required to obtain expensive federal permits to build on their property that lacked any navigable water. After the Supreme Court sided with the Sacketts and overturned this definition of wetlands, the administration was required to reconsider what is covered under the WOTUS rule.

Although the newly worded rule significantly curtails federal authority to require permits for development or work in certain waters and wetlands, it doesn’t go far enough to protect farmers and ranchers, according to statements by many agricultural organizations.

“With the release of the 2023 WOTUS Rule, the EPA continues to play games with farmers, ranchers and private property owners,” said Garrett Hawkins, Missouri Farm Bureau president.

“While the new language eliminates the onerous ‘significant nexus’ test, the relatively permanent standard remains. Once again, Missouri’s hard-working farmers and ranchers are left in legal jeopardy. Instead of providing more clarity and consistency, the EPA seems committed to the status quo of confusion and government control.”
Similarly, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said it was a “missed opportunity to write a WOTUS rule that’s fair to farmers and stands the test of time.”

“We’re pleased the vague and confusing ‘significant nexus’ test has been eliminated as the Supreme Court dictated,” Duvall said. “But EPA has ignored other clear concerns about the rule’s failure to respect private property rights and the Clean Water Act. Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with. They deserve a rule that respects farmers as partners in that effort.”

There was no public comment period on the revised rule, which went into effect Sept. 8, but the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have provided more information and webinar recordings online at

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Missouri agriculture raises more than 1.2 million meals for Drive to Feed Kids

Missouri Farmers Care, agricultural leaders and partners—including MFA Incorporated—joined together for the 2023 Drive to Feed Kids, which culminated Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Missouri State Fair. In total, resources for 1,200,389 meals were raised for Feeding Missouri in the year-long campaign. Over the past eight years, this collaborative partnership has raised resources to provide more than 12 million meals for children and families across the state.

“Farmers and ranchers work 365 days a year to responsibly and sustainably produce abundance from our farms and ranches,” said Ashley McCarty, Missouri Farmers Care Foundation executive director. “The Drive to Feed Kids addresses the disparities where that abundance doesn’t reach our neighbors’ dinner tables.”

Food insecurity affects one in seven Missouri children and increases to one in three kids in some rural parts of the state. The Drive to Feed Kids was launched in 2017 with the goal of building collaborative partnerships among non-profit organizations, farmers and agricultural businesses committed to addressing this issue. Donations are distributed statewide through Feeding Missouri, the association of Missouri’s six regional food banks.

During Missouri FFA’s Day of Service on Aug. 15 at the State Fair, more than 160,000 meals were packed for families in need. In addition, fairgoers contributed non-perishable food items and monetary donations during Missouri Farmers Care’s $2 Tuesday, Missouri FFA donated fresh produce from student projects on display, and elected officials and agricultural leaders packed meal boxes on Governor’s, Legislators’ and Judges’ Day. These efforts resulted in donations equating to nearly 60,900 meals.

The state fair capped off the year-long campaign that included other partnerships with agricultural youth programs. This spring, the 4-H Feeding Missouri campaign provided 711,286 meals, and Missouri 4-H clubs and FFA chapters statewide expanded their local impact through matching mini-grants awarded by the Drive.

Food banks consistently report that protein is the most requested item for families. Through the drive’s Hogs for Hunger initiative, swine exhibitors and producers were invited to commit pigs to feed neighbors in need. Exhibitors and producers donated 33,371 servings of pork this year.

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