Funding for firefighters

On Sept. 18, MFA presented the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute with grants totaling $26,000 from the MFA Charitable Foundation and CoBank. The money will be used to train and equip volunteer fire departments in rural areas to save lives and protect property.

“While no fire department has all the funding necessary, rural departments often struggle the most,” said Kevin Zumwaldt, MU FRTI director. “Even the smallest amount can make a big difference. Over 80% of Missouri’s firefighters are volunteer, and many do not have a dedicated funding source, depending solely on donations.”

The MFA Charitable Foundation has a long history of fulfilling donation requests made by fire departments across Missouri but lacks the expertise to determine their true needs. In this first-of-its-kind program, MFA and CoBank will provide the funding and allow MU FRTI to manage the program.

The goal is to award grants in each of the nine Fire Mutual Aid Regions in Missouri. Each award recipient must provide a 50% match. More than 30 proposals had been submitted by mid-October, with the application period closing Oct. 31.

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Missouri Industrial Hemp Program proposes regulations

Proposed rules for the Missouri Industrial Hemp Program have been posted, and applications for interested producers are expected to be available in early December.

The rules will amend existing regulations and transition the legal growth of industrial hemp in the Show-Me State from a pilot research program to a commercially regulated industry. A public comment period will be available on the Missouri Department of Agriculture website until Dec. 1. Missouri’s final rules will incorporate citizen feedback from this process as well as federal regulatory guidance from the USDA.

Department officials anticipate that applications for the program will be made available as a fillable PDF in early December, after the comment period closes. The program is structured in two parts: registration for those who want to produce hemp and permits for those who want to sell or distribute hemp plant materials or seed to registered producers or other permit holders.

The proposed rules, additional resources and frequently asked questions are online at Agriculture.Mo.Gov/plants/industrial-hemp.

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CoBank quarterly review shows enduring volatility across agriculture

Concerns over trade policy, weather and African swine fever dominated agricultural markets last quarter, causing greater uncertainty among producers, supply chains and end users, according to the latest Quarterly Rural Economic Review from the CoBank Knowledge Exchange division.

Trade negotiation breakthroughs have largely remained elu­sive and the U.S. agricultural sector is in the midst of its second consecutive harvest under the shad­ow of hefty tariffs. Lower feed prices, however, are aiding animal protein and dairy margins.

“Global trade tensions are ratch­eting up as world economic growth slows,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of the Knowledge Ex­change. “However, the new trade deal struck between the U.S. and Japan is a bright spot and will bolster U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness into a key export destination.”

The historically late planting of the corn crop cast a long shadow through the quarter with extremely volatile cash corn prices. End users such as ethanol producers and livestock feeders bid old-crop corn supplies higher in anticipation of a short harvest this fall, with prices falling back to levels seen prior to spring planting.

Farmers continue to hold on to old-crop corn supplies in hopes that prices will recover in the months ahead on local supply shortages. But globally, grain stocks remain ample and are widely expected to dull any significant rallies in corn if har­vest reports confirm a smaller-than-expected U.S. crop.

Soybean prices surged late last quarter based on fears of de­layed maturity of the U.S. soybean crop and hopes of resuming China market access. In a sign of good faith ahead of negotia­tions, which resumed in October, China exempted U.S. soy­beans from additional tariffs.

The already volatile U.S. animal protein markets have gotten even more so in the third quarter. The impact of African swine fever on global pork supplies is just beginning to be felt in the United States. Trade volume is expanding and will begin to yield benefits to producers across the meat and poultry indus­tries. The new trade deal with Japan also lifts hopes of renewed exports, particularly for U.S. beef and pork.

Fertilizer prices have stabilized after falling throughout the summer. Warehouse fertilizer inventories in the Corn Belt remain oversupplied following this year’s unseasonably wet weather that caused a sharp reduction in planted acreage.

The full report is available at cobank.com.

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