Sunday, March 29, 2015

Organic Cost Share Program

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has funds available for the 2015 National Organic Certification Cost Share Program through funds provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. The program will provide cost share assistance to organic producers and handlers receiving certification or continuation of certification by a USDA accredited certifying agency starting October 1, 2014, and ending September 30, 2015. Under the Act, cost-share assistance payments are limited to 75 percent of an individual producer's or handler's certification costs, with a maximum of $750 per certification or category of certification per year. The National Organic Program (NOP) currently recognizes four categories of certification: crops, wild crops, livestock and processing/handling. Operations may receive one reimbursement per certificate or category of certification per year. Each certificate may be reimbursed separately. Likewise, each category of certification may be reimbursed separately.

To be eligible for reimbursement in the current fiscal year, applicants must successfully receive their first organic certification or have incurred expenses related to the renewal of certification by a USDA accredited certifying agency between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015. The organic production or handling operation must be located within Missouri, comply with the USDA National Organic Program regulations for organic production or handling and have received certification or continuation of certification by a USDA-accredited certifying agency between the eligible dates.

One year of certification reimbursement is available from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015.

Program Participants: Organic Operations
To receive cost share assistance from their respective state departments, eligible organic operations must apply to their participating state department to receive cost share payments. Eligible operations must apply to the participating state agency in which they are located to receive cost share reimbursements. Entities operating in more than on state should apply in the state where their federal taxes are filed. These entities may only apply for reimbursements once per certificate or certification category per year, as verified by certification documentation. The applicable National Organic Program (NOP) regulations are available on the NOP website at In order to be eligible for reimbursement in the current federal fiscal year, applicants must have received their certification or have incurred expenses related to the renewal of certification by a USDA accredited certifying agent between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015.

Allowable Costs
Payments are limited to 75 percent of an individual producer's or handler's certification costs up to a maximum of $750 per certification or category of certification per year. The NOP currently recognizes four categories of certification: crops, wild crops, livestock and processing/handling. Operations may receive one reimbursement per certificate or category of certification per year. Each certificate may be reimbursed separately. Likewise, each category of certification may be reimbursed separately. No other direct costs are permitted. For a sample list of allowable and unallowable expenses on reimbursement applications, see Chart of Allowable and Unallowable Costs.

For more information contact:
Missouri Department of Agriculture
Cindy Thompson
Organic Certification Cost-Share Program
PO Box 630 - Jefferson City, MO 65102-0630

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mizzou Plant Diagnostic Clinic

The Mizzou Plant Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) is open all year to receive plant samples that are affected by a disease or disorder.  The PDC can also identify pesky weeds, plants of interest, mushrooms and insects or spiders.

Last year the Clinic processed 445 samples, over 50% of these consisted of ornamentals, turf, and fruit or vegetable producing plants. Diseases ranged the gamut from anthracnose to wilts, making it an interesting year in the Plant Clinic.  In 2014, most woody ornamentals were diagnosed with leaf spots and vascular wilt diseases.  Bacterial blights and root rots were most problematic in herbaceous ornamentals.  On zoysiagrass lawns, both chinch bugs and large patch were most often diagnosed. The food producing plants had a myriad of issues ranging from root rots to leaf spots.

The PDC is open all year.  It is encouraged that you get a diagnosis before applying pesticides or other controls, as this will allow for selection of a control measure that will most effectively deal with your precise pest problem.  The PDC is open for sample drop off, Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm.  Sample can also be mailed directly to the PDC or dropped off at your local extension office.  If possible, take a picture of the sick plant before digging it up; if several plants are affected a picture of the entire planting is also encouraged.  Pictures may be submitted in an email to, printed and submitted with the sample or supplied on a flash drive.  As always, please include a Submission Form, which has been filled out as completely as possible, with the sample.  Submission Forms and information on how to collect and ship samples can be found on the website or at your local Extension Office. 

MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic
28 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO  65211
phone: (573) 882-3019

Friday, March 27, 2015

Free NRCS Tool Helps Farmers Determine Economics of Using Cover Crops

By now most farmers have heard about cover crops and how incorporating them into rotations can increase yields and reduce input costs while providing other valuable benefits. But there still are many farmers who have not tried cover crops because they are unsure about the costs.

To help answer that question, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, has developed a simple digital tool. The Cover Crop Economic Decision Support Tool is a spreadsheet that helps farmers, landowners and others make informed decisions when considering whether to add cover crops to their systems. It was developed by two NRCS economists, Lauren Cartwright, of Missouri, and Bryon Kirwan, of Illinois.

Missouri State Conservationist J.R. Flores explained that the tool offers a partial budget analysis. It focuses only on operational changes that farmers make, things that affect the actual costs and benefits that farmers see when they add cover crops.

“The tool focuses on benefits and costs that can easily be expressed in dollars,” Flores said. “As a natural resources agency, we are excited about the resource benefits realized when farmers utilize cover crops and no-tillage. But we also understand that farmers need to be profitable. We hope that this tool will help farmers see that they don’t have to sacrifice one of those two things to realize the other.”

Cartwright said her inspiration for developing the tool came from attending some of the many soil health workshops throughout the state.

“I would hear the main speakers, farmers who have been using cover crops for many years, talk about how they have no runoff and they are producing corn for less than $2 per bushel. And I found myself thinking ‘That’s good. But how did you get to that point, and how much did it cost to get there?’” she said.

Cartwright said she teamed up with Kirwan to develop the tool because they each brought a different skillset to the process. Kirwan has a strong economic and agronomic background, and owns a farm. Cartwright has degrees in environmental science and economics and is strong in programming. She has used her skills to develop seven other economic tools for NRCS.

The spreadsheet tool that Kirwan and Cartwright developed is designed to measure:
  • Direct nutrient credits
  • Input reductions
  • Yield increases and decreases
  • Seed and establishment costs
  • Erosion reductions
  • Grazing opportunities
  • Overall soil fertility levels
  • Water storage and infiltration improvements
The tool’s analysis depends on data that farmers enter. They can run “what if” scenarios if they want to evaluate a range of values. The tool offers results in both dollars and graphs, showing short-term and long-term benefits.

Cartwright said for most scenarios, the tool shows a clear financial benefit for those who learn to manage cover crops and stick with them. There is a significant jump in benefits over time, primarily because of increased organic matter in the soil. The tool also indicates that short-term costs can be offset by farmers who incorporate grazing of cover crops.

According to NRCS and other research, long-term use of cover crops offers improved profitability because of higher yields and lower input costs. Healthier soil also improves water quality, infiltration, weed and pest control, wildlife habitat, and more.

“Some people view cover crops as a trend,” Flores said. “I think it is much more than that. Farming in ways that improve soil health is coming to the forefront now, but those ways will eventually become commonplace.”

Farmers can download the spreadsheet at:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Grazing Schools across Missouri

Now's the time to start planning to attend the grazing school near you.

TBA - June 9-10 contact Nathan Bilke at (660) 582-7125 Ext 117,

Sedalia (FCS Financial Building) - July 9-10 contact Zach Harding SWCD, 1-660-826-3390 x 115 or Brent Carpenter MU Extension, 1-660-827-0591

Warrensburg (Johnson County Grazing School) - September 15-16 contact James Watterson, (660) 747-8200 x 3,

Warrenton (Warren County Extension Center) - April 1-2    contact Polly Sachs (636) 456-3434 x 3

St. Martins (Knights of Columbus Hall.) - September 22-24 contact Ed Gillmore, (573) 893-5188 x 3

Rolla - April 13-14 contact Phelps Co. SWCD - Paula Wade, (573) 364-6202 x 3

Tri-County School Gasconade County - September 10-11 contact Gasconade Co. SWCD -
Diana Mayfield (573) 437-3478 x 3

Wurdack on September 24-25 contact Crawford Co. Extension, (573) 775-2135

West Plains - April 15-17 contact Randy Wiedmeier, (417) 256-2391,

Hartville - May 4-6 contact Missy Wollard, (417) 741- 6195 x 3, or Ted Probert (417) 741-6134,

Houston - July 29-31 contact Sandy Wooten, (417) 967-2028 x 3, or Sarah Kenyon (417) 967-4545,

Squires - June 8-10 contact Stacy Hambelton, (417) 679-3525,

Willow Springs - September 2-4 contact Regan Hughston (417) 256-7117 x 3, or Jamie Kurtz (417) 256-7117 x 3,

Ellington - October 19-21 contact Vera Pyles, (573) 648-1035, or Jeff Lawrence, (417) 778-7561 x 106,

Park Hills (Mineral Area College) - May 6-7contact Selma Mascaro, (573) 224-3410 x 3,

TBA - September 17-18 contact Selma Mascaro, (573) 224-3410 x 3,

Halfway - April 21, 24, 28, May 1 (evenings), April 25 (Saturday - All Day) contact Dallas Co. SWCD (417) 345-2312 x 3

Mt. Vernon - April 28-30 (daytime) contact Lawrence County Extension, (417) 466-3102

Neosho - June 9-11 (daytime) contact Nathan Witt (417) 451-1007 x 3

Greenfield - September 15, 17, 22, 24 (daytime), September 19 (Saturday - All Day) contact Cedar County SWCD (417) 276-3388 x 3

Crane - September 16-18 (daytime) contact Stone Co. SWCD, (417) 723-8389

Marshfield - September 22-24 contact Webster Co SWCD, (417) 468-4176 x 3

Springfield - October 20-22 (daytime) contact Greene Co. SWCD, (417)831-5246 x 3

Camdenton (Laclede Electric Coop) - April 29-30 contact Dennis Bruns,

Osceola (Osceola Baptist Church) - May 6-7 contact Margie Best, (417) 646-8108

Harrisonville (Cass Co. Extension Office) - May 14-15 contact Jamie Bokern, (816) 884-3391, or Katrina O’Farrell, (816) 884-3391,

Lincoln - September 29-30 contact Tina Dulaban, (660) 547-2351 x 3

Perry - May 29-30 contact Lucas Brass, (573) 985-8611 x 3 or Daniel Mallory, (573)985-3911

Lancaster - June 5-6 contact Darla Campbell, (660)457-3469

Kahoka - August 28-29 contact Debby Whiston, (660)727-3339 or Robert Conley, (660)727-2955 x 3

Madison - September 11-12 contact Darren Hoffman or Lena Sharp, (660)327-4117 x 3

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Post Harvest Handling

The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture is making a presentation available online on post-harvest handling for produce. The presentation covers harvest, cleaning and cooling, packing area infrastructure, sorting and grading, storage, transport, and more. Companion handouts are also available online.  These can be found online by clicking here

Topics covered include:
Cleaning & Cooling
Packing Area Infrastructure
Sorting & Grading
Packing & Packaging
Display & Point-of-sale

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Missouri Pollinator Conservancy Program

The Missouri Pollinator Conservancy Program offers beekeepers new ways to protect hives from pesticide drift.

The group is working with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry to help pesticide applicators locate nearby hives before spraying. It also offers real-time weather data to help them decide when to spray. Wind can make pesticides drift from their intended targets.

The program opens talks between farmers, consultants, applicators and beekeepers to protect the more than 400 species of bees in Missouri, says Moneen Jones, University of Missouri entomologist. She works for the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the Fisher Delta Center in Portageville.

She encourages beekeepers to register their hives at Participation is voluntary, and beekeepers can limit the information that is available for public viewing. Beehive locations are kept confidential, and Jones says beekeepers do not need to worry about their personal information being sold or distributed without consent.

Also, MU Extension offers large yellow "BeeCheck" flags and poles for sale at a discount. The flags alert others that beehives are close. The benefits of the program will outweigh any initial costs, Jones said.

Honeybee colonies in the United States decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bee numbers began falling in the 1980s as new pathogens, parasites, pests and nutrition problems hit bees at the same time. USDA estimates that 33 percent of the country's hives were lost each winter from 2006 to 2011.

Honeybees are vital to agriculture. Besides making honey, bees pollinate crops, fruits, nuts and vegetables.

"We can cut economic losses for row-crop farmers and beekeepers by managing row-crop pests and reduce the effect of pesticide drift on beehives," Jones says.

Partners in the program are University of Missouri, Missouri Agricultural Aviation Association, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri State Beekeepers Association and the MU Fisher Delta Research Center. DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry was created by Purdue University. The nonprofit FieldWatch Inc. operates the website.

For more information, contact Jones at 573-379-5431 or Anastasia Becker, Missouri Department of Agriculture at 573-526-0837.