Commendable conservation

Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award Program, recognizing farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who make ex­traordinary achievements in voluntary conservation. Nominees could win a $10,000 award for their efforts.

The Sand County Foundation, a nonprofit conservation orga­nization, presents the Leopold Award in 21 states based on such criteria as innovation, adaptability, resilience, leadership and communications. Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of agricul­tural organizations, including MFA Incorporated, partners with the foundation to bring the award to the Show-Me State. In Missouri, previous winners are the Brinker family of Auxvasse in 2019, the Scherder family of Frankford in 2018 and the Lambert family of Laclede in 2017.

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.

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA or www.mofarmerscare.com.

Applications can be mailed to Missouri Farmers Care, c/o Kari Asbury, 4481 Brown Station Road, Columbia, MO 65202, or submitted online at http://mofarmerscare.com/lca. All applications must be submitted or postmarked by June 30.

Finalists will be announced in September with the award presented in November 2020 at the Missouri Governor’s Con­ference on Agriculture.

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Missouri Food Finder

A new online tool, the Missouri Food Finder, is connecting consumers with people growing and selling locally produced food in their region.

Developed by University of Missouri Extension in collaboration with the Mis­souri Department of Agriculture, the site helps address the economic impact of COVID-19 on producers and consumers.

“This easy-to-use resource will help farmers and small businesses continue to thrive, while also helping families find nutritious local and regional food options,” said Marshall Stewart, MU vice chancellor for extension and en­gagement.

Farmers, growers and local suppliers can enter basic information about the food they sell, their hours, location and contact information. That information will automatically show up on a Missouri map. Consumers simply type in their lo­cation to see what options are available in the area they select.

To access the Missouri Food Finder, visit www.MOFoodFinder.org.

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Farm State of Mind campaign transitions to American Farm Bureau

The often-taboo topic of mental health among farmers hits close to home for Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, who lost his wife of 40 years, Bonnie, to cancer on Jan. 18. Speaking at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio a little more than a month later, Duvall described his emotional turmoil after her death.

“The first two weeks, I held a lot of that inside of me, and I almost exploded. Then I started talking about it, and it made me feel better,” Duvall said, his voice trembling. “There’s nothing shameful about it. We love our farmers and neighbors. We want them to have a relief valve and a place to find some help.”

This personal revelation came during a Feb. 27 press conference in which Duvall and Lisa Safarian, president of Bayer Crop Science for North America, announced that the American Farm Bureau would take over administration of Bayer’s Farm State of Mind campaign. The initiative was created last year to provide information and resources on mental health to the farming community, and Safarian said transitioning the program to Farm Bureau will greatly expand its reach and effectiveness.

“We felt strongly that we needed to identify another organiza­tion to help take this to the next level,” she said. “Farm Bureau is the right choice to drive this important work forward.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and farmers are a par­ticularly high-risk population for stress and suicide, Duvall said. In a 2019 survey conducted by Farm Bureau, nearly half of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. At the same time, farmers are two times less likely than other rural adults to talk to a friend or family member about solutions for a mental health condition.

Farm Bureau will combine the Farm State of Mind assets with its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign. Together, the programs are designed to encourage open dialogue and offer tips, resources and referrals for mental health needs.

“In our conversations about mental stress and mental health, we hope that we can show our farmers and our rural communities that it’s OK to talk about it,” Duvall said. “Our farmers can’t carry this burden alone. We need to talk about it to each other. We need to lean on each other.”

Find more information online at www.fb.org/programs/ rural-resilience.

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