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Country Corner

New stewardship award is just for Missouri

JenkinsAllison Jenkins
Today’s Farmer editor

Stewardship takes many different forms at MFA. It’s training custom applicators on proper procedures. It’s using precision technology to place fertilizer and crop protection products specifically where they’re needed. It’s implementing nutritionally sound feeding programs for livestock. It’s encouraging farmers to use conservation practices to improve nutrient management, soil, water and wildlife habitat.

It’s also partnering with like-minded organizations that recognize the importance of agricultural stewardship. One such entity is Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of the state’s commodity groups and agribusinesses, including MFA Incorporated.

In its mission to “promote the continued growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities,” MFC focuses on communication, education and advocacy both in the ag industry and the nonfarming public. Stewardship by the state’s farmers is a key message.

To that end, MFC collaborated with the Sand County Foundation to present the Missouri Leopold Conservation Award from 2017 to 2023. This year, MFC is launching its own recognition program—the Missouri Agriculture Stewardship Award—that will be given instead of the Leopold award going forward.

The Missouri Agriculture Stewardship Award will continue the Leopold tradition by highlighting the “best of the best” when it comes to the careful and responsible management of land, natural resources and animals entrusted to the care of Missouri farmers and ranchers. Each year, the award will be presented to one farm or ranch family, who will receive a farm sign recognizing the honor along with a $5,000 honorarium.

“Farmers take seriously their role in ensuring natural resources are managed so that they are left in better condition for generations that follow.”

Ashley McCarty, MFC executive director, says a rigorous process will be used to choose the winner, with an expert, external committee considering such criteria as voluntary stewardship practices, collaboration with conservation partners, innovation, leadership, outreach and education.

“Past recipients of the Leopold Award are shining examples of the sort of leadership and focus on land management that we want to promote,” McCarty said. “The Missouri Agriculture Stewardship Award provides a greater opportunity for us to tell those stories and figuratively open the farm gate to let people know about the science, technology and innovation happening on Missouri farms and ranches.”

In creating this Missouri-based stewardship award under the MFC umbrella, McCarty said she and the MFC board hope to see increased participation in the program. Applications are now being accepted, with a deadline of June 30, 2024.

Farmers take seriously their role in ensuring natural resources are managed so that they are left in better condition for generations that follow. Does that describe your operation? That’s what this award is all about. Check out the guidelines at mofarmerscare.com/agstewardshipaward. Who knows? You might just be the first-ever recipient of the Missouri Agriculture Stewardship Award.

CLICK TO READ MORE FROM THE 2024 MAY ISSUE OF TODAY'S FARMER MAGAZINE.

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