Friday, December 30, 2011

Need Help Creating a Food Safety Plan?

The On-Farm Food Safety Project is a comprehensive national program that offers fruit and vegetable farmers, food safety professionals and agricultural extension specialists technical assistance to utilize and teach best practices in food safety.

The project developed a website which includes the bulk of these resources including a free voluntary online tool, based on a comprehensive risk based framework, which generates customized on-farm food safety plans based on user input. The tool is designed for use by small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable growers and provides a full set of record keeping tools to document their food safety program and to provide training to their employees.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Organic Seed Availability Database Planned

American Seed Trade Association, the Organic Seed Alliance, and the Organic Trade Association, with additional input, are proposing to develop a database where seed producers and growers will be able to determine what organic varieties of seed are available. Elements of the new database include easy searching by seed type, classification, organic certification, and region of adaptation.  To read the full story click here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cover Crop and Soil Health Workshops

Two Cover Crop and Soil Health Workshops will  be taking place; one on January 13 and the other on January 14.  Both are identical workshops but each is on a different day and at a different location.  Be sure to RSVP to the correct location that fits your schedule.

Topics include:

  • Improve profitability using no-till and cover crops Integrate livestock into cover cropping systems 
  • Reduce input costs 
  • Building soil health Improve sustainability 
  • Cover crop selection, strategies, planting techniques, and management

Guest Speaker:  Gabe Brown
Nationally Recognized Farmer/rancher and County Conservation District Supervisor from Bismarck, ND. Years of experience with cover crops, mixtures, soil health, and other methods to improve productivity Highly diversified zero-tillage cropping system Farm has attracted visitors from all 50 states and 15 foreign countries Incorporates grazing into his cropping system.

Guest Speaker:  Ray Archuleta
Nationally Recognized Conservation Agronomist at the NRCS East National Technology Center from
Greensboro, NC 24 years experience with NRCS in Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, and North Carolina Utilizes demonstrations to teach soil quality and the importance of soil health.

Friday, January 13, 2012 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 311 East Patterson Avenue Salisbury, MO from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m..  Call to RSVP for lunch count at 660-288-3279 x 3 or email  Send registration fee of $5.00 per person to Chariton Co. SWCD.  Registration needs to be received by January 6, 2012.

Saturday, January 14, 2012 at the Blue Springs Elks, 100 NE Brizenine, Blue Springs, MO 64014 from 9:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m.  RSVP for lunch count by calling 816-228-1161 x 3

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Southeast Missouri Ag Expo

The Ag Expo will celebrate its 26th Anniversary on January 20 and 21 at the Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Agriculture booth spaces are now available to rent. This is one of the largest ag trade shows in the region, which is sponsored by Butler County University of Missouri Extension Council and the Ag Club of Three Rivers College.

There will be 118 booths available to visit and learn first-hand about agriculture and natural resources and their importance to the area’s economy. The expo will also feature outdoor exhibits. Twelve thousand people attended last year’s two-day event.

The event will be held Friday, January 20 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, January 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free and the two days are packed with activities for the whole family. Entertainment and events include gospel, jazz, and contemporary music; agriculture seminars; beauty pageants; and toy tractor pedal pull contests for youth ages 4 to 9. There will be tractor driving contests for FFA members; petting farm; an old time auction; a milking contest; an ag photography contest; duck calling contest for adults and youth; and baking contest. This year the Pesticide Applicator Training for private re-certification will be held at the Expo on Friday afternoon from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

Butler County University of Missouri Extension
222 N. Broadway Street
Poplar Bluff, Missouri 63901

Monday, December 26, 2011

Beginning Beekeeping Workshops in Planning Stages for 2012

The following beekeeping clubs and beekeepers have springtime workshops in the planning stages for the spring of 2012.

January 5 - Valerie and Jim Duever will do an all-day beginners’ workshop at the Great Plains Growers Conference in St Joseph, MO. For more information, email

January 25, February 1 and February 8 - Jefferson County Beekeepers is offering a three-night Beginners’ Beekeeping class. It will be  from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Jefferson County Extension Office in Hillsboro. Cost of the class is $45.00 per person. To register, contact Wanda Kiggans at (636)797-5391.

January 28 - Boone Regional Beekeepers will host a Beginning Beekeeping Workshop in Columbia. Contact Marty Comstock for more information at

February 11 - Eastern Missouri Beekeepers will host its Fifth Annual Beekeepers Workshop in Fenton. It will feature Jennifer Berry, Erin Forbes and Grant Gillard, with instruction for beginners and experienced beekeepers. More at

Feb 24-26 - Three Rivers Beekeepers will hold a Beginning Beekeeping Workshop. More information can be found at

March 17-18 - Three Rivers Beekeepers will hold a Queen Rearing Workshop.  More information can be found at

April 7 - Cory Stevens will host a field day at his queen mating apiary in Dexter. Call 573-225-6935 for more information.

Local Beekeepers Associations

  1. Beekeepers Association of the Ozarks, 4th Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m., The Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell, Springfield,
  2. Boone Regional Beekeepers Association, 3rd Sunday of month, 3:00 p.m., Columbia Insurance Group, 2102 Whitegate Dr. (back door), Columbia,President Jim Duever 573-254-3373,
  3. Busy Bee Club, 4th Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m., Cedar County Health Center, Owens Mill Road, Stockton, Neal Lee 417-276-3090 Neil Brunner 314-276-4252,
  4. Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, 2nd Wednesday of each month, 7:00 p.m., Powder Valley Nature Center 11715 Craigwold Rd., Kirkwood, Bob Sears, President 314-479-9517,
  5. Golden Valley Beekeepers, 2nd Monday of each month, 7:00 p.m. (but varies), Henry County Courthouse, Clinton MO, Contact Kathy Murphy 660-678-5171,
  6. Jackson Area Beekeepers, 4th Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m., First Pres. of Jackson, 206 E. Washington, Contact Grant Gillard 573-243-6568,
  7. Jefferson County Beekeepers Association, 2nd Tuesday of each month, 7:30 p.m., Hwy B & 21, Jefferson County Extension Center, Hillsboro, Contact Scott Moser 636-285-7295
  8. Joplin Area Beekeepers Association, Last Tue. of each month, 7 pm, SM Bank Community Building (7th and Duquesne Rd), Joplin, Contact Gene Foley 417-624-6831
  9. Mid Missouri Beekeepers, 3rd Sunday of each month, 2 pm, St. James Tourist Ctr., Charlotte Wiggins, President,
  10. Midwestern Beekeepers Association, Nov-March, 2nd Sunday of each month, 2:30 p.m., April-Oct, 2nd Thursday of each month, 7:00 p.m., (Schedule varies; please call first to confirm.) Bass Pro Shop, Independence, Conservation Room, Andy Nowachek, President 913-438-5397
  11. Mississippi Valley Beekeepers Association, Last Tuesday of Month in Quincy, IL, Contact Bernie Andrew 217-938-4975
  12. Missouri Valley Beekeepers Association, 3rd Monday of each month, 7:00 p.m., Location varies, call contact number below if unsure, President Calvin Brandt, VP Rodney Angell bee143@fi
  13. Parkland Beekeepers, 3rd Tuesday of month, 7pm, Ozark Federal Savings & Loan, President Bob Brenneke 573-518-1997 or 573-631-2782
  14. Pomme de Terre Beekeepers, 2nd Thursday of each month, 7 pm, Missouri Extension Office, Hermitage, Contact Bessi Shryer 417-745-2527
  15. SEMO Honey Producers, 2nd Thursday of month, Poplar Bluff Extension Office, Contact Ernie Wells 573-429-0222,
  16. South Central Missouri Beekeepers Association, 1st Friday of month, Howell Electric Coop, West Plains, Monty Wiens, President 417 257-3994
  17. Southern MO Beekeepers of Monett “MOBees”), 3rd Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m., United Methodist Church, Hwy 37 NW of Monett, Leon Riggs, President 417-235-5053
  18. Southwest Missouri Beekeepers Association, 1st Tuesday of month, Neosho High School FFA Building, Contact Glenn W. Smith 417-548-2255
  19. Three Rivers Beekeepers, 3rd Monday of month, University of Missouri Extension, 260 Brown Road, St. Peters, Missouri, 7:00 p.m., For info: 2952 Greenleaf Drive, St. Charles, MO 63303,
  20. Northwest Missouri Bee Busters, 1st Monday of odd months, 7:00 p.m., 511 4th Street, Conception Junction, MO 64434, Gerald Auffert, President 660-944-2535
  21. Lake of the Ozarks Beekeepers, 3rd Saturday of month, 1:00 p.m., UMC Extension Office, 100 E. Newton, Versailles MO, Contact Russell Kasnick 573-372-3122

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

The Missouri Beginning Farmer Program wishes everyone Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Growing Chestnuts in Missouri a Challenge, But Possible

Roasting chestnuts over an open fire sounds like a nice holiday activity. But, it takes extra work and the right variety to grow chestnuts in the Missouri according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

Byers says three chestnut species are native to the United States: American chestnut, Alleheny chinkapin and Ozark chinkapin. However, all three are very susceptible to chestnut blight attack.

As a result, the Chinese chestnut is an emerging new tree crop for the Midwest. The Chinese chestnut tree is a spreading, medium-sized tree with glossy dark leaves bearing large crops of nutritious nuts.

“These delicious nuts are a healthy, low-fat food ingredient that can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes. Chinese chestnut trees are medium sized and they have great cold tolerance and adequate tolerance to chestnut blight,” said Byers.

Chinese chestnuts can be grown about anywhere if the soil is well drained and not within a frost pocket. Chinese chestnut trees are drought tolerant once established, but ample water throughout the growing season promotes good tree growth and regular nut production.

“For the most part, the Chinese chestnut is pest free and in a small-scale planting can be successfully grown without pesticides,” said Byers.

Byers recommends grafted trees of proven varieties for the backyard gardener. Grafted varieties provide more uniform ripening, higher nut quality, larger nut size and more consistent yields.

Several different varieties such as Eaton, Mossbarger, Sleeping Giant, Peach, Wing, Willamette and Revival have been recommended for Missouri. A list of retail nursery locations that sell grafted varieties are available online.

Byers also recommends that three trees of different varieties be planted together to ensure pollination. Spacing trees at least 40 feet apart will allow ample room for tree growth.

“Homeowners should plant chestnut trees where children and pets can be kept away from the spiny burrs that fall to the ground at harvest. Also keep in mind that chestnuts require full sun for best nut production so they should not be planted next to large shade trees,” said Byers.

Grafted Chinese chestnuts should start bearing nuts one to three years after planting.

“At that point, you should have the pleasure of roasting your very own chestnuts over an open fire during the holiday season,” said Byers.

For additional information on growing Chinese chestnuts, contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center or call Greene County’s Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 881-8909.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Plains Grower’s Conference

Ever since moving to Northwest Missouri, I have been a member of the organizing committee of the Great Plains Growers Conference. Putting together a large conference like this takes an enormous amount of planning and work, but the results are certainly worth it, as conference attendees have pointed out to us on evaluations through the years. This will be our 16th annual conference. It will be held on January 5-7, 2012.  You can still get the early registration fee until this coming Friday.

We do have a lot of help putting this together. The conference is organized by the Extension services of five states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

The conference starts with workshops on Thursday. Attendees choose a workshop when they register. Each workshop explores a topic in-depth.

This year, we have expanded the Thursday workshops again. The high tunnel workshop returns to discuss topics such as high tunnel winter & summer production, advanced soil management in high tunnels, moveable high tunnels, and more.

Other workshops will discuss CSA marketing (Community Supported Agriculture), implementing Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) on your farm for food safety, and a tree fruit workshop for orchardists.

New to our Thursday workshops is a session titled, “The Basics of Beekeeping in the Midwest.” I have been working or organizing this workshop, and am pretty excited about it. This session will teach the basics that you need to get started, including equipment, hive construction, where to get your bees, bee care, and more. Our workshop instructors will take you through step-by-step management of your bees, and what to expect in that first year. You will also learn of educational reference sources, and how to find local bee clubs and beekeepers that can help you get started. Our instructors will also assemble a hive during the workshop. As a bonus, one workshop participant will walk away with that hive, which will be given away as a door prize.

Friday and Saturday, there are up to five concurrent tracks to choose from. But before deciding what track you want to attend (sometimes a hard choice), we will hear from our keynote speakers, Paul and Sandy Arnold of Saratoga Springs, New York. They will relate their experiences at their very successful Pleasant Valley Farm, which should be of interest to everyone.

Break-out sessions this year include a wide range of topics, including small fruit, beginning organic, conventional vegetables, marketing & agritourism, tree fruit, integrated pest management, advanced organic, cut flowers, farmers markets, urban horticulture & community gardens, and more.

You will hear from growers and university researchers from all over the country. As usual, we will have a trade show, where you can see the latest that horticultural suppliers have to offer.

I have only missed three of these conferences through the years. I’m always amazed that it not only improves with time, but that growers continue to support it in ever increasing numbers. If you are a horticultural producer of any kind, you will find this to be well worth your time.

Registration is online.  For more information, please call the Buchanan County Extension Center at 816-279-1691.
(by Tim Baker, University of Missouri Regional Horticulture Specialist)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pasture-Based Dairy Course

Online Course - January 17 - March 23, 2012
Laboratory - March 24-27, 2012

The University of Missouri (MU) is offering a 9-week team-taught (14 instructors) course covering the topic of pasture-based dairy farming.  The course was offered to MU undergraduates in Spring 2011 for the first time and received very positive reviews.  Beginning in Spring 2012, the course will still be offered to traditional MU students, but will also be opened up to off-campus and non-traditional students such as current dairy farmers that are considering transitioning from confinement to management intensive grazing, or to those that are considering starting a pasture-based operation.

This course is offered as an online course – all you need is access to an internet connection and about 3-5 hours per week (9 weeks) of your time to listen to lectures (this is not just boring text that you need to read, these are oral lectures with accompanying slides that the instructor delivers and records for you to listen to at your convenience) and complete your assignments.  You pick the times when you would like to learn about pasture-based dairying - the schedule is flexible.  The only rigid scheduling items are 1) one hour per week will be scheduled for the whole class to participate in an online discussion with the instructors, and 2) assignments and exams will be posted after the discussion period and are due by the end of the week (students can complete these assignments at their leisure over the course of several days, but there is a due date).

In addition to the online lecture, there is an optional 4-day practical laboratory held at the MU Southwest Center Grazing Dairy and also on several commercial pasture-based dairies in Southwest Missouri.  The lab course will be held on four consecutive days near the end of March.  This laboratory portion of the course is optional, but students are not allowed to enroll or participate in the laboratory section without also completing the online portion of the course first.  Students will learn to implement many of the practices discussed in the online course (such as allocating pasture, measuring residuals, working with the grazing wedge, and site evaluations for new farm set-ups) and will also get to see multiple farm systems and talk with farm owners about what has and has not worked for them.  Students from the 2011 class raved that this hands-on farm experience really brought everything together for them from the online portion of the course.

Contact Matt Waldron 573-882-6354 for more information. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Goats Require Minimal Investment But Several Factors Can Impact Profits

There are several major benefits to raising meat goats according to Dr. Jodie Pennington, a small ruminant specialist working with Lincoln University and University of Missouri Extension.

“Raising goats requires minimal costs for facilities and investment. They are also attractive for their ability to use grass and other low costs forages, brush control, high pregnancy rates, and potential for high returns per acre,” said Pennington. “But at the same time, goats also have the potential for losses if sound management is not maintained.”

Sound management of any goat enterprise depends on good records to monitor economic factors and the proper care of the animals.

Pennington says it is essential that animal identification be made in a precise manner. Budgets should be set to determine the financial feasibility of the business. Breeders should also make sure they have a market for their goats before they begin.

A calendar is also recommended to make sure routine management practices which are conducted in a timely manner and treatment procedures for illnesses are established.

“Proper care of meat goats is essential because the best economic returns are realized when disease problems are minimal,” said Pennington. “That means cleanliness and proper animal comfort are important for the prevention of disease.”

Major problems with raising goats include marketing, internal parasite control, an economic and sustainable forage program, availability of good breeding stock, predator control (primarily guard dogs), availability of a local veterinarian, and lack of model farms to emulate.

“Some producers with full-time jobs may be limited in the time that they can spend on goats at critical times. Feeding the guard dog can also be a problem with absentee owners, but it is essential the goats be protected from predators,” said Pennington.

More and more cattle producers are running goats with the cattle, either in leader-follower system or concurrently. The advantage of this system is that the pasture is used more efficiently.

The goats are browsers and eat the bushy plants, including many weeds, and the cattle eat the lower-growing grass. According to Pennington, forage use can be improved 10 to 20 percent by this system which also works well with horses.

“The performance of your meat goats is a combination of several factors. The breeding and selection of the animals, the health and care of the animals once they are in your possession, and the interaction with facilities, feeding, and weather will all effect performance,” said Pennington.

For more information, contact Pennington at the Newton County Extension Center, (417) 455-9500.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Farmers' Markets Expand

The number of winter farmers markets is increasing. According to the updated National Farmers Market Directory, since 2010, the number of winter markets has increased 38 percent, from 886 to 1,225. These winter markets also account for nearly 17 percent of the nation's 7,222 operating farmers markets (Note: The reported number of farmers markets has been updated since August 2011).

Consumers are looking for more ways to buy locally grown food throughout the year. Through winter markets, American farmers are able to meet this need and bring in additional income to support their families and businesses.

Farmers markets operating at least once between November and March are considered winter farmers markets. The top 10 states for these markets are:

State - # of Winter Markets in 2011 - # of Winter Markets in 2010

1. New York 180 - 152
2. California 153  - 137
3. Pennsylvania 78 - 35
4. North Carolina 73 - 53
5. Ohio 50 - 34
6. Maryland 48 - 30
7. Florida 46 - 31
8. Massachusetts 43 - 30
9. Virginia* 40 - 21
10. Michigan* 33 - 19
* New to the top 10 list.

The expanded adoption of hoop house technology, which has enabled many smaller growers to extend their production seasons at low cost, has been a contributing factor to the growth of winter farmers markets. Hoop houses have allowed growers to produce locally-grown products for longer time periods and in colder climates.

USDA provides support to farmers markets through numerous programs, including AMS Specialty Crop Block Grants Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program. The agency also sponsors its own indoor farmers market during the winter months at USDA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The market features local products such as fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, honey, herbs, handmade soaps, baked goods and more.

(Does anyone know how many winter farmers' markets there are in MO?  I don't but I'd sure like to know.  debi)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Immigrant Population Increasing Interest in Meat Goats

It seems everyone in the world eats goat meat but Americans.  However, the preference for goat meat in the U.S. is rapidly increasing, as reflected in the record high prices of the last two years.

“This increase in consumption is primarily related to a rapidly growing population from traditional goat consuming residents,” said Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension.

Presently, 16 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic and 4 percent of the population is Asian. The Hispanic population in the U.S. has grown 5-fold since 1970.

“The Hispanic population should provide a significant consumer base for goat meat products, particularly fresh goat meat served around festivals or significant occasions,” said Pennington.

Hispanic Interest

Since many Hispanics are Christian, and many are Catholic, producers can expect the highest consumption periods of goat meat for Hispanics, especially Mexicans, to be around Christmas, New Years, and Easter according to Pennington.

“With Cinco de Mayo being May 5, it also increases goat meat consumption by Mexicans during the period surrounding Easter,” said Pennington.

For those celebrating the Western or traditional Easter, the ideal goat is a milk-fed kid weighing 30 pounds. For those celebrating the Eastern, Orthodox or Greek Easter (which generally coincides with, or follows, the Western Easter), a slightly larger, 35 pound milk-fed kid is preferred.  However, larger goats are also acceptable but may sell for slightly less per pound.

“The Latino market prefers a suckling kid weighing 20-35 pounds with larger kids preferred for pit barbecuing,” said Pennington.

Muslim Interest

The U.S. is also experiencing growth in religious groups that prefer goat meat, particularly those of the Muslim/Islam faith.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which lasts for 29 or 30 days.  Festival meals take place each night since no food is consumed between sunrise and sunset.

Male or female kids that are less than one year old and weigh 60 pounds are desired, but weaned kids between 45-120 pounds may be acceptable. For the past few years, Ramadan has coincided with September - November, the months when most kids are weaned and sold.

Traditionally, this also is the time when prices fall due to seasonal weaning and increases in numbers sold.  However, for the next few years, Ramadan will be earlier in the calendar year, being on July 20 in 2012 and moving 11 days earlier each year.

“Muslim holidays are based on the lunar calendar which is 11 days less than our traditional solar calendar.  How the movement of Ramadan toward summer and spring months will affect fall goat prices remains to be seen,” said Pennington.

The Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) is a Muslin market for blemish free yearlings, preferably uncastrated bucks. Large kids weighing 60-100 pounds may be acceptable.  The Festival of Harvest was Oct. 18 this year and futures dates are Oct. 26, 2012, and Oct. 5, 2013.

Seasons Impact

“Goats tend to be seasonal breeders, coming into heat as daylight shortens from late August to early January.  Most kids are born in late winter to early spring and weaned in the late summer or fall. This creates a market kid shortage during the late winter and early spring months, and over-supplies the market during late summer and fall,” said Pennington.

Easter (the Western or traditional Easter) has the strongest goat meat demand in the U.S. Pennington says market kid and goat meat prices tend to reach their peak just before the Western Easter (March-April), drop significantly during June, continue trending downward through October-November, then begin rising toward the Christmas season (December).

Fresh goat meat shortages force the prices to continue upward until they peak again during the Easter season (March-April).

“How the changing dates of Ramadan and the increased demand for goat meat will affect the best times to market goats remains to be determined.  Yet, producers should plan their marketing strategies around the traditional ethnic holidays—which means marketing two to four weeks before those holidays,” said Pennington.

For more information, contact Pennington at the Newton County Extension Center, (417) 455-9500, or by e-mail at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

EQIP Organic Initiative Bulletin Published

On November 14, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released the fiscal year (FY) 2012 National Bulletin on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative.

This bulletin provides guidance to State Conservationists for administering the EQIP Organic Initiative in FY 2012.  The Organic Initiative provides funds and technical assistance to certified organic, exempt organic, and transitioning organic producers to instal conservation practices related to organic production.  A number of changes have been made to the National Bulletin for FY 2012:
  • The Organic Initiative will now require transitioning producers and exempt organic producers to self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an Organic Systems Plan in order to receive assistance through the Organic Initiative.  Transitioning producers must also prove that they have contacted a certifying agent and begun the process of transitioning to certified organic production.
  • National Headquarters has created a list of 64 conservation practices and Conservation Activity Plans that states must offer.  This differs from the previous two years, when each state determined which practices it chose to offer.  However, a state conservationist can request a waiver to omit individual practices if they are deemed unnecessary.  We expect that many states will request exemptions for a least some of these 64 practices.
  • National Headquarters will determine national ranking criteria for the Organic Initiative, and the national office will essentially eliminate state ranking criteria by rolling the state criteria in with the national criteria.  National ranking criteria will account for seventy-five percent of available ranking points.  States will develop local ranking questions, which will account for twenty-five percent of available ranking points.
  • NRCS has established three application periods for the Organic Initiative in FY 2012, which is a change from the single application period that existed in previous fiscal years.  National Headquarters will establish a threshold ranking score for each application period, and all EQIP applications with scores that meet or exceed the threshold score in a given application period may receive funding.  Period 1 ends on February 3, 2012, Period 2 ends on March 30, 2012, and Period 3 ends on June 1, 2012.  The threshold ranking score will change with each successive application period, and any eligible applications below the threshold score in a given application period will be considered for funding during future application periods.
  • National Headquarters will initially allocate only a portion of the total available Organic Initiative funds to states, which states can then use to obligate funds to contracts in Period 1.  If states need additional Organic Initiative funds during any application period, the state conservationist can submit a request for an allowance change.  It is our understanding that NRCS National Headquarters will make it easy for states to receive additional funding when needed.
  • NRCS plans to develop a national web site for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which will include information on application periods and national bulletins.  Each state will have a web page that links to the national web site.
  • Each state will update their state contact person for the Organic Initiative.
State conservationists must complete the required actions by November 25, 2011, four working days from today.  The National Bulletin expires on September 30, 2012, when NRCS will publish updated guidance on administering the EQIP Organic Initiative.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: A New Invasive Insect Pest

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) has been detected in some Midwestern states. This invasive stink bug is native to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and was introduced into the US in 1996. It can cause devastating damage to many crops, including tree and small fruit, vegetables, row crops, vineyards, etc. For example, in 2010 severe crop injury was reported in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Currently, it is found in 31 states including Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. Its presence in Illinois and Missouri is unknown. Its additional status as a nuisance pest makes the brown marmorated stink bug different than other plant-feeding stink bug species. The adults enter homes and other buildings in the autumn seeking sheltered sites to spend the winter. The adults fly to these overwintering sites in mid September, and the peak flight activity is from late September until early October. The bugs are harmless to humans and pets as they do not bite, but they can become a nuisance when they congregate in large numbers outside and inside buildings. In extreme cases, hundreds can invade a home. When disturbed, the bugs produce a characteristic pungent, acrid odor that many people find offensive.

The adult brown marmorated stink bug has the typical shield shape of other stink bugs.  They are approximately 15 mm (5/8 inch) long and 8 mm (3/8 inch) wide. The upper side of the body is mottled shades of brown and gray, and is covered with dense puncture marks, as shown in the image below.  The word marmorated refers to its marblelike coloration. The adults of the brown marmorated stink bug can be distinguished from other species of stink bugs by the alternating dark and light bands on the last two segments of the antennae. The edges of the abdomen also have alternating light and dark banding.

If you happen to see a brown marmorated stink bug in your area, please contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture by contacting Collin Wamsley, State Entomologist at (573) 751-5505 or Dr. Jaime Piñero

If you are able to capture a specimen, please place it in any type of container such as a plastic medicine bottle or a film canister and put this in a freezer for at least 24 hours before submitting the sample. Digital pictures will also be useful.

(By Dr. Jaime Piñero, LUCE Integrated Pest Management State Specialist.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Webinar Tonight - Rotational Grazing Part 2

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue tonight with its last webinar of the 2011 with Fred Martz, retired animal scientist from the University of Missouri Extension.

After more than 50 years of agricultural teaching and research, Fred Martz retired in 1997 and now focuses on a business he enjoyed all his life, farming. With 450 acres located on the outskirts of northeastern Columbia, Martz assists his son, Kevin, in tending to 150 cattle, 24 ewes, 50 lambs, 100 hens and one protective llama on a daily basis. An innovator in utilizing rotational grazing, Martz turned to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1997 for financial and technical assistance to further expand and modernize his system. He now has 60 paddocks which allow him to move four groups of cattle from paddock to paddock every 2-3 days. The process protects the health of the pasture, makes the herd easier to handle and increases the performance and profitability of his livestock. “We take the cattle off the land and allow the pasture to rest anywhere from 20-to-40 days,” Martz said. “This allows plants time to refurbish and develop vegetative tops while also keeping the roots vigorous.” He adds that he feeds hay from January through March to supplement the dormant winter pastures. Martz is former president of the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council and says he has had an interest in pasture management for as long as he can remember.

When: Monday December 12th, 7-8:30 pm
Introduction to Rotational Grazing, Part 2
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

We will continue with new webinars in 2012!

Friday, December 9, 2011

NRCS Announces Ranking Dates for Major Conservation Programs and Initiatives

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced ranking dates for its major conservation programs and initiatives that offer technical and financial assistance to Missouri farmers and ranchers.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. However, NRCS establishes ranking periods for its programs that allow it to rank submitted proposals for funding consideration. NRCS then notifies all applicants of the results of the rankings and begins developing contracts with selected applicants. 

The ranking period cutoff dates for the major conservation programs and initiatives that apply in Missouri are:

February 3, 2012
€     Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
€     Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
€     On-Farm Energy Initiative
€     Organic Initiative
€     Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative

March 30, 2012
€     On-Farm Energy Initiative
€     Organic Initiative
€     Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative

June 1, 2012
€     On-Farm Energy Initiative
€     Organic Initiative
€     Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative

Moving to multiple ranking dates instead of just one annually will make it easier for more producers to apply for the three initiatives and help them get started with implementing the practices they need to benefit the natural resources on their operations, State Conservationist J.R. Flores says.

"This change will also give Missouri's agriculture producers more time to make sure they choose the initiatives that are right for their operations," Flores says.

Flores adds that additional ranking periods for EQIP and WHIP could be established at a later date depending upon Missouri's funding allocation.

Program and Initiative Overviews
Environmental Quality Incentives Program: EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to install and implement structural and management conservation practices on agricultural land.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program: WHIP provides financial and technical assistance on private agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land and Indian land to assist eligible producers establish and manage fish and wildlife habitat.

On-Farm Energy Initiative:  NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation.

Organic Initiative:  NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. New for fiscal year 2012, applicants will be evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications meeting or exceeding a threshold score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period. Applications rating below the threshold score will be deferred to the next period. A new threshold score will be established at the beginning of each ranking period. This new scoring process allows organic producers to implement conservation practices in a timelier manner.

Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative:  NRCS helps producers plan and implement the steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops.

Visit the NRCS National Web site for more information on how to apply for these initiatives and connect with an NRCS office near you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

MU research goes organic

Mizzou receives its first national organic farming grant to study cover crops, greenhouse gases.

With freshly sprouted cover crops of cereal rye and hairy vetch, the University of Missouri’s BradfordResearch and Extension Center is embarking on the university's first nationally funded organic farming research project.

Those cover crops are the first step in a project funded by a grant of more than $740,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The project hopes to advance organic cropping systems with a focus on weed suppression, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing fertility in an environmentally friendly way and improving grain productivity. MU joins 23 other institutions that shared $19 million in grants from NIFA.

“The most important goal is to find management practices that have the least carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions,” said Tim Reinbott, lead researcher on the project and superintendent of MU’s Bradford Research and Extension Center. “We’re also very concerned with utilizing cover crops and compost, and how those management methods might help suppress weeds.”

Much of that effort focuses on the soil. Researchers will measure both the amount of gases released in each plot and how much carbon is sequestered when plant matter returns to the soil to improve its fertility and nutrient-holding capacity.

“Microorganisms decompose materials like sugars and starches because they are easy to digest, but a considerable amount of organic matter is broken down into carbon compounds that can be incorporated into the soil matrix. It may take decades to a century to break down that organic matter,” said Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and an adjunct soil science professor with the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Nitrous oxide has garnered particular attention for agriculture producers. The greenhouse gas takes 120 years to break down and traps 310 as much heat as carbon dioxide in its lifetime, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

More than 60 percent of nitrous oxide emissions are attributed to soil management. Emissions come from natural sources like manure, crop residue or cover crops breaking down. Nitrogen fertilizer, whether organic or synthetic, also can be a significant source of nitrous oxide.

“We intend to periodically sample soil for the carbon measurements and will have small chambers in each plot to collect gases from the soil so we can analyze carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide,” Kremer said.

Reinbott said the project will partner with several organic farmers in the state, both to serve as extra experiment sites for plots and to help disseminate results through farm tours and interaction with other organic farmers.

Missouri ranks 20th in the nation for the number of organic farms, with more than 30,000 certified organic acres. According to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, 38 percent of all certified organic producers in the U.S. use no-till or conservation tillage practices on their farms, 51 percent use compost and 65 percent use green manure and animal manures. Missouri organic farmers have not adopted as many of these practices as their nationwide counterparts, with only 13 percent reporting they use no-till or conservation tillage, 19 percent using compost and 46 percent using green and animal manures.

“While Missouri has an active state organic association, there has not been much ongoing research into organic practices in the state to spur change,” Reinbott said. “Traditionally, most organic is heavily tilled for weed control, but we’re going to determine if we can produce enough biomass from our cover crops to suppress the weeds.”

As experiments progress, the results will be shared with organic farmers via the Missouri Alternatives Center and Missouri Sustainable Agriculture Research Education co-coordinator Debi Kelly.

That extension and outreach has potential to change how Missouri’s organic farmers approach their crops.

“This is exactly the kind of thing organic farmers would be interested in,” Reinbott said. “We expect some of our hypotheses will hit home runs and some things will probably teach us painful lessons. We hope it’s something that continues to build a database of useful information for organic farmers.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Show-Me Beef University

Beef producers can learn more about how their product makes it from the pasture to the meat counter at Show-Me Beef University, Jan. 11-13, 2012, at the University of Missouri meat lab.

“Producers can learn what adds value to their product,” said Carol Lorenzen, MU Extension meat specialist. “They will see the process from live animal to carcass to retail package.”

MU Extension and the Missouri Beef Industry Council sponsor the three-day Show-Me Beef University. The yearly workshop helps producers think beyond the farm gate to learn what consumers want when buying beef.

“Too often, beef producers never think about what affects quality,” said David Patterson, MU Extension beef reproduction specialist. “Few think of what happens to their calves once they leave the farm.”

Professors of animal science, food science and veterinary medicine will lead classes that cover topics from animal nutrition and food safety to meat cutting and cooking. Participants will see the processing of a market steer and a cull cow to learn the difference in meat quality and value. They will get hands-on experience cutting a whole rib, progressively, down to the final cuts.

Experts will demonstrate cooking techniques in a commercial kitchen and participants will taste-test beef to compare the differences among USDA quality grades and observe the impact of aging on beef.

Enrollees will arrive at 5 p.m. on the first day to study meat products and participate in taste tests. Research updates will follow dinner. The second day runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with lectures and participation exercises. On the final day, the participants will see the actual cutouts from the carcasses graded the day before. The program ends with lunch.

Class size is limited to the first 30 participants. A $100 registration fee includes four meals, a parking pass and instructional materials to take home. Rooms can be reserved at Stoney Creek Inn for $80 per night when mentioning Show-Me Beef University.

Reservation deadline is Jan. 1. Contact Kathy Craighead to register at 573-882-2752.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Youth & Youth Educator Sustainable Agriculture Grants

NCR-SARE 2011 Youth & Youth Educator Sustainable Agriculture Grants Due January 12, 2012

The 2011 North Central Region - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Youth & Youth Educator Grant Call for Proposals is now available.

These grants are a part of the Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Their purpose is to provide opportunities for youth in the North Central Region to learn more about sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible. A total of approximately $34,000 is available for this program.

There are two options:

1. YOUTH GRANTS. These grants are for on-farm research, demonstration, or education projects by youth ages 8-18. Research and demonstration projects are for hands-on efforts to explore Sustainable Agriculture issues and practices. Education projects can involve teaching others about Sustainable Agriculture or attending a Sustainable Agriculture conference, workshop, or camp. $400 maximum.

2. YOUTH EDUCATOR GRANTS. These are grants for educators to provide programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. $2,000 maximum.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal at

Proposals are due by 4:30 pm, Thursday, January 12, 2012 at the NCR-SARE office in Jefferson City, MO.

Potential applicants with questions can contact Joan Benjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator, at or 573-681-5545 or 800-529-1342. A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. We make slight revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most recent call for proposals.

Previously funded Youth and Youth Educator Grant Program projects have covered a wide variety of topics from a youth project about learning to spin wool into yarn to a youth educator project about growing a more sustainable school garden.

Since 1988, NCR-SARE has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a regional research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Webinar tonight - rotational grazing

Remember to join us this evening for our beginning farmers webinar on rotational brazing with Fred Martz.

When: Monday December 5th, 7-8:30 pm
Introduction to Rotational Grazing, Part 1
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Prepare Tools for Use Next Spring

Garden tools imageYou wouldn’t forget to wash your hands after ‘playing’ in the soil, so why should your garden tools get this treatment? Garden tools often get neglected and ignored until there is a major problem. With a little bit of maintenance at the end of the gardening season you can keep your tools looking like new for many years to come.
Remove the Dirt & Rust
The type of tool determines the care that it receives. Digging tools, like shovels and hoes, need different maintenance and care compared to the pruning tools, like pruners and loppers. Digging tools, most commonly include shovels, hoes, pitchforks, and garden rakes. Routine maintenance should begin by removing any excess soil from the tool. It can be as simple as scraping off the excess soil, or as extreme as washing and drying the tool after every use, the choice is yours. Any rust that is present can be removed using a wire brush and a little bit of elbow grease or an electric drill with a wire brush or sanding attachment. After rust is removed, renew or sharpen the edges and points with a mill file or grinding wheel, be sure to wear protective eyewear.
For winter storage, apply a light coating of oil. Tools can even be stored in a 5 gallon bucket filled with sand and oil, either motor oil or vegetable oil. Inspect the handles of your tools at the end of the season for cracks or splinters. Replace the handles if necessary. If the wooden handles are in good condition, they can be sanded and oiled at least once a year. Use a fine grade sand paper to smooth the surface. Remove any dust and rub linseed oil into the handle and allow it to soak in. Keep applying until the oil doesn’t absorb any more. Wait a half hour, and dry off any oil remaining on the surface.
Sharpen Your Pruners
Pruning tools, like hand pruners, loppers, or hedge shears, require a little different maintenance technique than digging tools. After each use, the cutting blades should be cleaned. Rubbing alcohol or a solvent like kerosene can be used to remove any sticky sap residue left on the blades. Prior to storage, apply a light coating of oil on the joints and on the exposed metal.
When it comes to sharpening your pruning tools, the type of tool and how you sharpen can make a difference. Sharp pruning tools will cut with less effort and the clean cuts promote faster plant healing. Inspect your pruning tools to see if they would benefit from a sharpening. With Anvil type tools, sharpen the cutting blade only on both sides, not the anvil portion. It is important that you don’t change the shape of the blade because it needs to sit flush against the anvil to provide clean cuts. With bypass type tools, sharpen the blade on the outside edge only. With both types of tools, try to maintain the original bevel angle of the blade to give you the best edge life.
To ensure you have the correct cutting angle on the blades, color the area to be sharpened with a black felt-tip pen before your start. Use a whetstone or oil stone and sharpen evenly until no trace of the ink can be seen on the blades. When sharpening, be sure to push away from the blade with the file or sharpening tool.
Personalize Your Tools
Another good thing to do with your tools is to personalize them. How many times have you not seen the garden rake lying in the lawn or remembered which tools you borrowed from your neighbor? Use spray paint on the handles to find tools quickly and to identify yours’ from the neighbors’. Go green and use up any leftover paint from another project, or invest in the bright florescent pink paint that you have had your eye on. Whichever you choose, it will make finding and identifying your tools a snap.
(by Elizabeth Killinger, University of Nebraska Extension Educator)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Young and Beginning Farmers Need Capital, Land, Health Insurance

New Survey of 1,000 Young and Beginning Farmers Reveals What the Next Generation Needs
The National Young Farmer’s Coalition released a study showing that the nation’s young and beginning farmers face tremendous barriers in starting a farming career. Building a Future With Farmers: Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed surveyed 1,000 farmers from across the United States and found that access to capital, access to land and health insurance present the largest obstacles for beginners. Farmers rated farm apprenticeships, local partnerships and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as the most valuable programs to help beginners.
 “If Congress wants to keep America farming, then they must address the barriers that young people face in getting started,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute, Director of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition. “We need credit opportunities for beginning and diversified farmers, land policies that keep farms affordable for full-time growers and funding for conservation programs.”
Report findings include:
  • 78% of farmers ranked “lack of capital” as a top challenge for beginners, with another 40% ranking “access to credit” as the biggest challenge.
  • 68% of farmers ranked land access as the biggest challenge faced by beginners.
  • 70% of farmers under 30 rented land, as compared to 37% of farmers over 30.
  • 74% of farmers ranked apprenticeships as among the most valuable programs for beginners.
  • 55% of farmers ranked local partnerships as one of the most valuable programs, and 49% ranked Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a top program.
Lack of capital was found to be the biggest challenge for beginners. Although the USDA’s Farm Service Agency offers loans to beginning farmers, current loan rules often disqualify even experienced farmers with good credit and small loans are hard to come by. For real estate transactions, FSA loans take too long to process — up to thirty days to qualify and up to a year to receive funds – and the $300,000 loan limit doesn’t go far in many real estate markets.   
Land access was the second biggest concern. Farmers under the age of 30 were significantly more likely to rent land (70%) than those over 30 (37%). Over the last decade, farm real estate values and rents doubled making farm ownership next to impossible for many beginners.
“In Nebraska the main barrier to new and beginning farmers is access to land.  Unless an aspiring farmer inherits land, it is very difficult to have access to it,” says William A. Powers, farmer and Executive Director of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society.
The National Young Farmers’ Coalition recommends action at the local, state and federal level to help beginning farmers. At the local level, communities can create market opportunities for farmers by starting Community Supported Agriculture groups and shopping at farmers markets, as well as protecting existing farmland through zoning and the purchase of development rights. States can preserve farmland and even offer tax credits for farmers that sell their land to beginners. At the federal level, Congress can include the “Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Opportunity Act” in the next Farm Bill, which supports many of the specific recommendations in the report.
Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is calling for hundreds of thousands of new farmers nationwide. Over the past century, the total number of American farmers has declined – from over 6 million in 1910 to just over 2 million today. For each farmer under 35 there are now 6 over 65 and the average age of farmers is 57. The USDA expects that one-quarter (500,000) of all farmers will retire in the next twenty years.
The ‘good food’ movement is inspiring many young people to farm, both from farming and non-farming backgrounds. These farmers have the potential to offset the numbers of retiring farmers and keep family farms active, but land tenure and lack of capital are getting in the way.
“Young farmers are poised to redefine the American landscape along with our food scene”, says Severine T Fleming, Director of The Greenhorns, “We are strong of will, and determined to make farming sustainable in this country.” 
“With the release of reports such as this one, the agrarian revival, this influx of young and beginning farmers, gains status – we’re not just a few people spread across the country, we’re a well organized, politically active group that can be documented,” says Tierney Creech of the Washington State Young Farmers Coalition. “We know who our senators and representatives are, we vote, and our friends and families vote.  We need USDA and government support to succeed and we’re going to let the nation know that.”
Download the full report here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Urban Farming and Community Gardens to be featured at Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference

The 16th Annual Great Plains Growers Conference is set for Jan. 5-7, 2012, at the Fulkerson Center at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

Among the highlights at the 2012 conference is an all-day track focusing on Urban Farming and Community Gardens in the sponsoring states of IA, KS, NE, MO & SD .

Urban farming will be the initial focus with the lead off presenter Katherine Kelly of the non-profit Cultivate KC, which helps people grow and eat healthy, quality food in city neighborhoods. Katherine has been a vegetable grower in the Midwest and active with local foods, urban farming and nonprofits in Kansas City since 1996. “I’ve witnessed this agriculture niche develop into a dynamic and vital urban scene in less than 10 years.” says Katherine, “ City residents are beginning to see how city-grown food can be a real contributor to the local food supply.”

“We are always looking for interesting topics for the Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference,” said James Quinn, University of Missouri Extension regional horticulture specialist. “By putting these presentations on Saturday, I’m hoping individuals in this new aspect of agriculture will find it more convenient to attend; some may have regular full-time jobs.” There are 9 other presenters in the track, with other areas of focus being youth gardening and techniques associated with growing edibles in community gardens. Complete information can be found here.

The conference and trade show is a collaboration of growers associations and extension services from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. Each year the event draws hundreds of producers from the region and beyond.

Five concurrent sessions on Friday, and Saturday allow for more than 50 presentations on subjects related to organic and conventional vegetable crop production, operating a U-pick, selling at farmers’ markets, growing table grapes, and floral crafts.

“Interesting and useful information will be presented on production and marketing of vegetables, cut flowers, tree fruit and berries,” said Tom Fowler, MU Extension horticulture specialist in Buchanan County. “It doesn't matter if you are an experienced commercial vegetable grower or someone with just a dream about starting to grow and sell produce, there will be something for you.”

Registration for the workshops on the first day is $50-$60; included in the registration is lunch and break refreshments. The workshops on the 5th include: High Tunnels, Community Supported Agriculture mini-school, Beekeeping, Fruit Growers, GAP/Food Safety . Registration for the second and third day of the conference is $35 each and includes lunch and break refreshments.

Headquarter hotels are the Ramada Inn, 4016 Frederick Blvd., St. Joseph. Room rate is $72 per night plus tax. For reservations call 800-748-0036. Or Stoney Creek Inn, 1201 N Woodbine, St. Joseph. Room rate is $77 per night plus tax, call (816) 901-9600 for reservations.

For more information about the program and a registration form, contact Katie Cook at 816-279-1691.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December Webinars - Introduction to Rotational Grazing

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in December with two presentations from Fred Martz, retired animal scientist from the University of Missouri Extension.

After more than 50 years of agricultural teaching and research, Fred Martz retired in 1997 and now focuses on a business he enjoyed all his life, farming. With 450 acres located on the outskirts of northeastern Columbia, Martz assists his son, Kevin, in tending to 150 cattle, 24 ewes, 50 lambs, 100 hens and one protective llama on a daily basis. An innovator in utilizing rotational grazing, Martz turned to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1997 for financial and technical assistance to further expand and modernize his system. He now has 60 paddocks which allow him to move four groups of cattle from paddock to paddock every 2-3 days. The process protects the health of the pasture, makes the herd easier to handle and increases the performance and profitability of his livestock. “We take the cattle off the land and allow the pasture to rest anywhere from 20-to-40 days,” Martz said. “This allows plants time to refurbish and develop vegetative tops while also keeping the roots vigorous.” He adds that he feeds hay from January through March to supplement the dormant winter pastures. Martz is former president of the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council and says he has had an interest in pasture management for as long as he can remember.

When: Monday December 5th, 7-8:30 pm
Introduction to Rotational Grazing, Part 1
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

When: Monday December 12th, 7-8:30 pm
Introduction to Rotational Grazing, Part 2
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missouri Livestock Symposium offers free expert advice, Dec. 2-3 in Kirksville

Whether your animals moo, bleat or whinny, the 2011 Missouri Livestock Symposium, Dec. 2-3 in Kirksville, will have helpful tips for your farm or ranch.

“We have some of the best speakers in the country coming to the Kirksville Middle School,” said Garry L. Mathes, chair of the MLS planning committee. “Since the symposium is free, and so are the meals, I doubt there is a better buy anywhere.”

Speakers will cover topics on beef cattle and forages, horses, sheep, meat goats and stock dogs. The Missouri Livestock Symposium is organized and run by a 20-member volunteer committee representing all livestock species and multiple agriculture-related agencies and educational institutions.


Dave Pratt, founder of Ranching for Profit, will be a big draw for livestock producers. Pratt will give multiple talks on efficient and profitable techniques for farms and ranches. The former University of California Extension specialist has taught practical farm and ranch management to producers since 1992. Topics will include “Three Secrets to Profit,” “Working on the Business,” “Knowing What Numbers Mean,” Hard Work and Harmony,” “Wealthy on the Balance Sheet, Broke at the Bank” and a Q-and-A session.

“Dave Pratt speaks all over the world and his schools can cost producers more than $2,000 to attend, so this is a golden opportunity to hear Dave at no cost,” Mathes said.

Beef cattle health will be the focus of an expert panel discussion moderated by Rod Geisert, University of Missouri professor of animal science. Covering pinkeye and trichomoniasis and other perennial issues, these specialists will field questions from the audience.

Justin Sexten, an MU Extension state beef specialist, will turn his eye toward efficiency of operations in “Feed Costs, Feed Efficiency and Profit.”

The Missouri Beef Council will team up with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to debut some new cuts that are coming to the meat counter thanks to beef checkoff dollars. Cooking and taste tests will be part of the program.

Sheep and goats

Sheep and goat producers can expect to hear national experts present about the biggest producer problems.
T.A. Yazwinski, University of Arkansas, will share new strategies and products to control worms and internal parasites. Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland, will cover both ends of the beast, including feed costs and foot health.

Veterinarian Bob Fielder of McArthur, Calif., will bring the discussion to better sheep and goat breeding. He will also talk about how to keep a producer’s flock or herd healthy.


Equine producers and aficionados will learn from Van Hargis, Sulfur Springs, Texas. His talks will discuss standing while mounting and bit education.

Veterinarian and author Ted Stashak of Northern California will turn attention to the tender issue of wound care. Emily Costello, Truman State University equine specialist, will round out the program by moderating an equine panel to explain a variety of horse topics and field audience questions.

Other sessions will include livestock and farm protection, backyard poultry production and management, the Farmers Care program, providing safe food to consumers, the impact of food and drink on the history of the world, available grant money to improve farmstead efficiency, and floral arranging. Stock dog owners can also receive tips from training expert Lyle East of Clinton, Mo.

The Missouri Livestock Symposium will feature a trade show on Friday, a classic tractor contest and display, and entertainment Saturday evening by Becky Blackaby. Those attending will eat a free beef meal at 6 p.m. Friday, free donuts and drinks Saturday morning and free lunch Saturday.

No pre-registration is required and the all programs are free.

For a full schedule and information on hotel accommodations and speakers, go to More information is also available on the Missouri Livestock Symposium's Facebook page, or by calling 660-665-9866 or 660-341-6625.