Agriculture atop the Capitol

CeresAfter being on public display for several days in December, the newly restored bronze statue of Ceres is lifted over temporary construction walls around the Missouri State Capitol in preparation for her return to the top of the dome.When the first Missouri State Capitol Com­mission convened at the beginning of the 20th century, planners decided agriculture should have a high-profile place on the colossal structure in Jefferson City.

As a result, a 10-foot-4-inch, 1,500-pound bronze statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, was chosen to symbolize the Show-Me State’s most prominent industry. In the building plans, the statue is described as carrying a bundle of grain in her left hand and the “torch of education” in her right.

Originally hoisted atop the Capitol building in 1924, Ceres came down for the first time in November 2018 for repairs. She returned from her makeover a year later and was briefly on display to the public before re-ascending Dec. 17 to the Capi­tol dome. There, she continues to represent agricul­ture—just as important to Missouri today as it was when Ceres first took her lofty position 95 years ago.

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The countdown begins

Western Farm ShowMike Spidle, right, MFA strategic feed specialist, greets guests at the main entrance to the Western Farm Show at the American Royal Complex in Kansas City, Mo. The show returns for its 59th year Feb. 21-23. MFA will once again be a premier sponsor of the event and host several exhibits.Now entering its 59th season, the Western Farm Show begins Friday, Feb. 21, at the American Royal Com­plex in Kansas City, Mo., and ends on Sunday, Feb. 23. MFA Incorporated serves as a primary sponsor for this event.

“Preparations are underway for another great show with at­tractions for the whole family,” said Ken Dean, Western Farm Show manager. “We’re proud that the Western Farm Show ranks among the top indoor farm shows in the Midwest. We’re not just another big show but really an ag event.”

The show kicks off with the annual FFA day, when stu­dents from across Missouri and Kansas compete in a border war food drive. This longstanding tradition will take on a new format this year. Instead of a single chapter receiving a $500 prize for the highest number of nonperishable food items, all participat­ing chapters that collect at least 200 items will be entered into a drawing for $1,000 to be used for ag educational activities. One win­ning chapter will be drawn from both Missouri and Kansas.

“We’re very excited to introduce this new format, which gives every qualified chapter a chance to win,” said Dean. “We think this will make the food drive more fun and competitive, as well as expand chapter participation and increase food collections to help combat food insecurity in our region.”

On Saturday, Feb. 22, the Stockmanship and Steward­ship Low-Stress Livestock Handling Demonstration will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is the 10th year of the event, which is sponsored by MFA Incorporated and free to Western Farm Show paid attendees. Demonstrations are led by Ron Gill, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension special­ist, who has been providing technical expertise to livestock producers in beef cattle nutrition, management and live­stock-handling techniques for more than 23 years.

“We’ve had ranchers see Dr. Gill’s demonstration and come back to the show the following year and tell us how they were able to apply the techniques and see the benefits on their own operation,” Dean said.

Throughout the weekend, attendees are invited to browse the 400,000-square-foot complex, where exhibitors display their latest and greatest equipment and technologies along with wide-ranging displays of other agricultural products and services. Look for MFA exhibits featuring precision agronomy, seed, feed and livestock equipment.

For attendees who need to take a break from the trade show, the Family Living Center on the upper level of the American Royal offers clothing, crafts, food, and health and home décor products.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23. Adult tickets are $10 daily. Children ages 12 and under are free. A $3 off coupon is available by filling out a survey on the show’s website or visiting a participat­ing member of the Western Equipment Dealers Association, which produces the show.

For more information, visit www.westernfarmshow.com.

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First bee-applied pesticide approved in the U.S.

On Aug. 28, the EPA approved the first bee-distributed organic pesticide for the U.S. market—a powder branded as “Vectorite” that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called CR-7. The compound is complete­ly harmless to its host plant but acts as a hostile competitor to other fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops such as blueberries, strawberries, almonds and tomatoes.

A Canadian company, Bee Vectoring Technolo­gies, devised the system, which involves placing small trays of CR-7 inside bee hives. The bees walk over the trays while in the hive, and the CR-7 attaches to their bodies. When they fly out to pollinate plants, the bees leave traces of the fungal compound everywhere they go. Both bum­blebees and honeybees are capable of spreading Vectorite up to 400 yards from their hive.

Once it’s delivered by the bees, CR-7 quickly embeds itself within the plant, establishing a natural defense system against common diseases such as gray mold, white mold, early potato blight, black rot on citrus and other fungus-based crop problems.

EPA’s published statement on the approval says there is no evidence that CR-7 is unsafe to either humans or the environment and also cre­ates a tolerance exemption, which means there is no requirement to test crops for CR-7 residue on food.

The bee-delivered pesticide is already being marketed for U.S. strawberry and blueberry crops grown in the fall and winter, and the technology is being tested on sunflower crops in the Dakotas.

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