Missouri is No. 2

Missouri agriculture remains second in the number of farms in the U.S. with more than 95,000 farms on 27.8 million acres, according to the 2017 Census of Agri­culture. The data showcases the state’s unique foothold in agriculture commodity diversity and ability to bring home the next generation of agriculture’s workforce.

Results from the latest census data, published in April by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, shows that soybean, corn, cattle, poultry and hog production account for 88 percent of Missouri agricultural sales. Specialty crops also thrive in the Show-Me State, home to several growing agricultural sectors, including elderberries, honey produc­tion, mushrooms, sheep and goats, among others.

Since the 2012 census, the average age of the Missouri farmer increased by one year to 59.4 years. However, farms specializing in the livestock sectors of hogs, dairy and poultry showed a significantly younger average age. Hog farms are made up of 25 percent young farmers, defined as 35 years or less. Data also showed that 16 to 20 percent of producers on dairy, poultry, sheep and goat farms are young farmers.

The data also confirmed the need for better connectivity in rural Missouri. The census revealed that only 73 percent of farms have access to some form of internet. Missouri farms rely predominately on mobile, DSL and satellite connections to gather, analyze and use their agricultural data.

The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land—rural or urban—growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if $1,000 or more of such prod­ucts were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. Taken only once every five years, the census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expendi­tures. For additional details, visit nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.

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Heroes in the heartland

heroesheartlandIf you’d like to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial without making the trip to Washington, D.C., there’s a much closer option in Perryville, Mo. America’s Wall—a full-scale, exact replica of the D.C. memorial—will celebrate its grand opening May 18-19. Located on 45 acres of former farmland, the Missouri version of the wall is free to visit.Just in time for Memorial Day, the Missouri National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, Mo., will celebrate its grand open­ing on Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19.

Dedicated to honoring all U.S. soldiers and their families, the site’s centerpiece is “America’s Wall,” a full-scale black granite replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. With every detail painstakingly reproduced, the Show-Me State’s version of the wall is located on 45 acres of farmland donated by Vietnam War veteran and local resident Jim Eddleman and his wife, Charlene.

The wall was completed last fall, and the grand opening celebra­tion will commemorate work that has already been accomplished at the site and lay the groundwork for future projects, which include an event space, reflecting fountain, cemetery and more. Gov. Mike Parson is scheduled to be part of Saturday’s ceremony, which begins with a Huey helicopter flyover at 9:45. On Sunday, a worship service begins at 10 a.m. and includes NFL Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Smith, who will sing the national anthem.

The Missouri National Veterans Memorial is located north of Perryville off Highway 61 at 1172 Veterans Memorial Parkway. Ad­mission is free, although donations are encouraged to help support the nonprofit organization. For more information, call 573-547- 2035 or visit www.mnvmfund.org.

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New leaders elected to MFA board

The MFA Incorporated Board of Directors has two new members after district meetings and elections were held in the last week of February.

Jim Novinger of Kirksville, Mo., was elected to rep­resent District 3. He and his wife, Lanna, have a son and a daughter, and run a diversified row-crop, beef cattle and feedlot operation. Novinger replaces outgo­ing director John Moffitt of Kirksville, whose term ended in March.

“MFA has been part of my family’s operation since I was a kid, and I want to see it succeed,” Novinger said. “It’s important that we look for ways to keep something local to provide the services and products we farmers need. I don’t like to do things halfway. I’ll put my whole heart into being an MFA director and use what almost 40 years of hard knocks has taught me to do what I can for the co-op.”

Steve Stumpe was elected as the new director for District 10, filling the position vacated by Tim Engemann of Hermann. Stumpe and his wife, Cathy, have two daughters and a son and raise beef cattle and hay on their farm in Leslie, Mo.

“The rate of change in agriculture is not going to slow down; it’s only going to get faster,” Stumpe said. “That’s our challenge. Can we accept technology and make changes that are positive for us as producers and positive for MFA as a company? I believe MFA has been on that track, and no other company in the state of Missouri is set up to handle those changes and deliver the technology to us.”

Also re-elected to their positions on the MFA board were Tom Dent, District 2, and Doyle Oehl, District 14. Members of the corporate board are eligible to serve three-year terms and are limited to four consec­utive terms. Operating under those rules means that three more of the 14 members will leave the board due to term limits by March 2020.

In addition to elections, the February 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 updated on highlights from their respective regions.

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