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Beefing up school lunches

Written by TF Staff on .

School lunches in Mount Vernon, Mo., will have double the amount of beef this year, thanks to a partnership among local ranchers and several cattle industry entities.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Beef Industry Council, Opaa Food Management and the Mount Vernon Public Schools have joined forces in the “MO Beef for MO Kids” initiative. The increase in beef comes from cattle raised in Lawrence County, No. 1 in the state’s cattle production.

“The Department of Agriculture has set out to feed Missourians more of the quality food that is grown here in our state,” Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. “Missouri cattle producers are doing their part to put beef on the plates of young students in their communities. This is an excellent opportunity to not only enhance the lunch menu, but also connect community members.”

The pilot program was launched Oct. 19 during National School Lunch Week. Since then, menus have included new beef entrée options such as meatball subs, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, beef cheddar melts and beef quesadillas. Students at various grade levels have also been learning about beef production and the health benefits of beef through educational opportunities brought to the school.

Local beef producers are recognized in posters that hang in school cafeteria areas to introduce Mount Vernon students to the people who raised a portion of their lunch.For more information on this program, visit missourigrownusa.com/mobeef-for-mokids.

Soy-ride

Written by TF Staff on .

Collaborating with the United Soybean Board, Goodyear has introduced the first commercially available tires made with a soy oil-based rubber compound.

The Assurance WeatherReady tires for passenger vehicles hit the road in September, opening another market opportunity for soybean farmers. The tire maker says using soybean oil keeps rubber compounds pliable in changing temperatures, enhancing tire performance in dry, wet and winter conditions.

The tire is offered in a wide range of sizes, covering 77 percent of the cars, minivans and SUVs on the road today.

“As we develop great products that anticipate and respond to the needs of consumers, soybean oil was one of the technologies enabling us to meet a challenging performance goal,” said Eric Mizner, Goodyear’s director of global material science.

The soybean rubber project was funded in part by the soybean checkoff, a fund paid for by soybean farmers to develop new applications and opportunities for soybean-based products.

“Goodyear and the soy checkoff share something special: a commitment to innovation,” says John Motter, United Soybean Board chair and farmer from Jenera, Ohio. “When we started working with them more than six years ago, it was just an idea, a way to build demand for soybean oil. Now, we have a tire that shows what soy can do on the road.”

First in conservation

Written by TF Staff on .

Dedicated land stewardship has paid off in more than just bumper crops for Matt and Kate Lambert of Uptown Farms in Brookfield, Mo.

The Lamberts are the state’s first winners of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award, which recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. The award was announced Nov. 8 at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City. The honor comes with a $10,000 prize.

“It used to be an accepted school of thought that agriculture, by nature, stole from the environment to be productive,” the Lamberts said in their nomination narrative. “Today, we recognize that farming does not have to be a tax on the environment and resources but can actually work alongside the natural systems for a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Putting that philosophy in action, the Lamberts show that modern agriculture can coexist with conservation successfully. That’s the intent of the award, which is given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, considered to be the father of wildlife management. His 1949 collection of essays, “A Sand County Almanac,” is one of the most influential books about the environment ever written. His namesake award has been presented annually since 2003 by the Sand County Foundation, which was established in 1965 to preserve the Wisconsin property where Leopold did his writing and research. The organization now supports and promotes conservation on working lands across the U.S.

Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of agricultural organizations that represents the state’s farmers and ranchers, partnered with the Sand County Foundation to bring the Leopold award to the Show-Me State this year. Other finalists for the award were Richard and Renee Fordyce of Bethany and John and Sandy Scherder of Frankford.

“Matt and Kate Lambert reflect the principles of Missouri agriculture—responsible land management, involvement in their community and a long-term view of their farm business,” said Dr. Alan Wessler, MFC chairman. “This year’s entire class of award applicants exhibited exemplary production practices and stewardship. We are proud to work with farmers, ranchers and the partner organizations who made this award possible.”

Matt, 31, and Kate, 30, grow corn, soybeans and wheat and raise red Angus cattle, Hampshire and Dorper sheep and Great Pyrenees dogs on some 2,000 acres in Linn County. Different paths led them to agriculture. Matt grew up farming with his father, Steve, and grandfather, Paul, while Kate was raised in the Chicago suburbs. She found FFA in high school, raising and showing Suffolk sheep, which is how she and Matt met. The couple attended Northwest Missouri State and married in 2009. They have two sons, 6-year-old Mace and 3-year-old Meyer.

Cover crops, no-till, grazing management and precision farming are among the practices that have allowed the Lamberts to adapt to the challenges of today’s farm economy. Diversifying their operation also helps provide income sources at different times of year and make better use of certain areas on the farm.

The Lamberts are also active in the agricultural industry. Their farm was one of the first to be certified by Missouri’s Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, and Matt is in his second term on the board of the Missouri Corn Growers Association. Kate, who is assistant vice president for FCS Financial in Chillicothe, volunteers with Missouri CommonGround, a group of farm women who are bridging the gap between consumers and farmers to share the true story of agriculture and the food it provides. Kate also represented Missouri in the American Soybean Association’s communications and advocacy training program this fall, and she tells the real-life story of agriculture through her popular blog, www.UptownGirlBlog.com.

More important than advocacy or awards, the Lamberts insisted, is how their actions today will impact the future.

“Like nearly all of the 97 percent of U.S. farms that are family-owned, our ultimate goal is to pass this farm on to our children. When we bought our home farm three years ago, our driving goal was that it would be in better condition the day they take over than the day we purchased it.”

Cover crop acreage has doubled since 2012

Written by TF Staff on .

Acreage planted in cover crops has nearly doubled over the past five years, according to nationwide survey results released in September.

The fifth annual cover crop survey by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) draws on the insight of 2,102 U.S. farmers—88 percent of whom reported using cover crops.

Cereal rye remained the top choice of farmers for cover cropping, followed by oats and radish. Sixty-five percent of the cover crop users reported planting mixes in 2016.

Following the use of cover crops, farmers reported increased yields of corn, soybeans and wheat. The report shows:

  • Corn yields increased an average of 2.3 bushels per acre;
  • Soybean yields increased 2.1 bushels per acre;
  • Wheat yields increased 1.9 bushels per acre.

“In addition to yield increases, farmers reported other benefits to cover crops, ranging from improved soil health to better control of herbicide-resistant weeds,” said Rob Myers, regional director of Extension Programs for North Central SARE at the University of Missouri. “That reflects long-term thinking and a growing understanding of the enduring value that cover crops deliver.”

Myers said 69 percent of the respondents said cover crops always or sometimes improved control of herbicide-resistant weeds. Soil health was noted by 86 percent of the respondents to be a key benefit of cover crops, and more than half believed that soil health benefits began in the first year of use.

Since SARE and CTIC began the annual cover crop survey in 2012, there has been a steady increase in cover crop acreage among participants. In this year’s survey, farmers said they committed an average of 400 acres each to cover crops in 2016, up from 217 acres per farm in 2012. They expected to increase their cover crop planting in 2017 to an average of 451 acres.

The timing of cover crop planting is also evolving. Approximately three out of four cover crop acres in the survey were planted after harvesting a cash crop, but the practice of inter-seeding covers into growing cash crops is an emerging trend—27 percent of the respondents said they seeded cover crops at sidedress fertilization time or in late summer.

At the other end of the cycle, “planting green” had been tried or used by 39 percent of the respondents. They said the approach—in which cash crops are seeded directly into living cover crops, and then the covers are terminated—helped suppress weeds, manage soil moisture and maximize other benefits of cover crops. Planting green was uncommon just a few years ago.

More details are online at www.sare.org/covercropsurvey.

Pork ambassadors sought

Written by TF Staff on .

The Missouri Pork Association is now accepting applications for the 2018 Youth Pork Ambassador Program, which allows students to actively interact with leaders in Missouri’s pork industry and receive a $1,000 scholarship, payable to any technical school, community college or four-year institution.

As a Youth Pork Ambassador, participants will promote the Missouri Pork Association and the pork industry at various events throughout the year and will learn about pork production, the industry and make life-long connections in the field.

To qualify, applicants must be a high school senior or college freshman or sophomore as of Jan. 1, 2018. Applications and three letters of recommendation are due Dec. 15, 2017. For complete details and an application, visit www.mopork.com/youth/youth-pork-ambassador/.

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