Friday, July 29, 2011

Dry Summer Makes Some Forages High Risk for Livestock

Dry weather and unusual growing conditions create a number of concerns for livestock producers according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

For example, southwest Missouri had a large acreage of corn planted this spring but cool wet weather followed by hot, dry conditions resulted in corn only three to four feet tall that is tasseling and drying up.

Farmers are also calling county extension offices seeking options and asking if nitrate levels are high enough to cause problems.

“Most extension centers will test corn or sudan forages for nitrates. It is a subjective test based on color change after a solution is placed on the cut surface of fresh stems,” said Cole. “We like to check several stems or stalks to get a representative feel for what risk the field may hold.”

Stunted forages from fields that had high commercial nitrogen levels or animal manures applied have the greatest risk factor according to Cole. A wide variety of plants accumulate nitrates including cool season grasses, bermudagrass, millet and certain weeds like johnsongrass, pigweed and lambsquarter are known accumulators of nitrates.

The “quick test” for nitrates is subjective. Any indication of risky nitrate levels should be followed up with a forage testing lab’s quantitative test ($10 or less) to more accurately assess the risk and feeding practices recommended for its use.

Nitrate Levels
Nitrate levels are reduced from 25 to 50 percent when forages are harvested as silage or haylage whether in a silo or wrapped in plastic.
A dry-weather, stunted corn stalk
shows a high level of nitrates

“It is possible for the forage to lose that much and still be capable of causing poor performance, abortions and even death if the initial level of nitrate was really high,” said Cole. “Forages put up as dry hay do not show the lowered toxicity seen in silage.”

Dilution of silage and hay with non-nitrate bearing feeds can help cattle cope with the high nitrate forage. If the high nitrate forage is to be grazed, dilution is a bit more difficult.

“The option is to limit grazing time each day based on the lab’s nitrate level results. Also, try to allow the animals to only graze the top half of the plants as the leaves will run lower in nitrate than the stems,” said Cole.

Should the forage receive a rain on it before harvest, Cole recommends waiting five or so days before cutting or grazing it because the rain may allow the plant to temporarily accumulate higher levels of nitrate.

There are some who ask if there’s a time of day that might be better to cut hay that could contain nitrates. A number of nitrate tests were made in Oklahoma on forage sorghum cut from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The time of day did not affect the nitrate levels in the resulting hay.

“Nitrates in forages can be scary because they can result in death. However, awareness testing and suitable management can help salvage a high risk crop,” said Cole.

For more information, contact any MU Extension agronomy specialist in Missouri.
(By David Burton, MU Extension)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cultivating Direct and Wholesale Market Outlets

Smart business is all about diversification. As the demand for local food grows, small farmers need to consider all the available marketing options for selling farm products. Many small farmers use direct marketing as their only selling strategy, however this can be limiting. For example, the number of farmers’ market visitors can fluctuate during periods of inclement weather often leaving you with excess perishable produce. It makes smart business sense to cultivate other avenues of marketing. Why not consider wholesaling? Wholesaling can save you time and generate profit. The following tips will help you consider the various options available.

Restaurants: This may be a good market to start with to get your feet wet. Restaurants don’t typically buy the large quantities that other wholesalers need. You can generally fetch a price closer to retail from the restaurants, so price-wise it might not be as much of a shock.
  1. Never approach a chef during the busy hours, like just before or during breakfast, lunch and dinner time. Instead, go in the restaurant during ‘off hours.’ It is generally a good idea to take samples of your products with you to give to the chef as a gesture of good will so he or she can see the quality of your product.
  2. Some chefs like to see a list of produce you can offer them throughout the entire growing season. Before going into the restaurant, type up a list of your produce and when it will be ready for harvest. Leave this with the chef and make sure your contact information is included along with a brief description of your farm. Get them invested in your story.
  3. Chefs like interesting foods, but they also need the staples like tomatoes and lettuce greens. Ask them if there is something you can grow for them, but don’t make promises you may not be able to keep.
Grocery stores: This is a market that will demand a lot of product. Before approaching a grocery store it is important to know the structure of the business. Is the store able to make independent buying decisions or are they tied to a regional office and therefore bound to one distributor? Once you find that the grocery store is willing to buy from local growers you can approach either the store manager or the produce manager.
  1. Know what the wholesale produce price is when you go in. Know what you want to get for your produce and be flexible during negotiations.
  2. Find out how the grocery store wants you to package your product. Do they want greens individually bunched?  How many pounds would they like their tomato cases to be?
  3. Be consistent with communication and your product delivery, quality and packaging.
Schools: School districts across the state of Missouri are exploring ways to increase student consumption of produce while also supporting their local economies.
  1. Telephone the school district food service director to gauge interest and request a face-to-face meeting. Have a complete product and price list that includes estimated quantities and dates of availability.
  2. Children are generally more susceptible to foodborne illnesses so pay extra attention to food safety practices such as product cleanliness, appropriate packaging and chilled transportation.
  3. Supplying the school salad bar is a good way to get started because it requires smaller volumes of product.
On-line buying clubs: More and more of these groups are popping up in the United States. Some of them are home delivery services and others distribute at an aggregation point. No matter where they distribute, they are all looking for good quality, locally grown produce.
  1. Clean, consistent packaging is key. Build the cost of packaging into your pricing.  If you are certified organic, you need to make sure your packaging fits the protocol.
  2. These groups are typically more flexible with the timing of delivery and how the produce makes it to their commissary or distribution point. Sometimes they may even pick it up.
  3. You, as a grower, need to have at least a week’s worth of storage on your farm and need to follow the proper postharvest handling guidelines.
Aggregators: Produce brokers, or aggregators, purchase local product and distribute it to other venues. They sell to a variety of markets including restaurants, produce stands, hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
  1. Aggregators buy from both farmers who have excess product after their direct market sales, and farmers who have agreed in advance to grow directly for the aggregator. The causal seller needs only to call the aggregator when excess product is ready to move.
  2. Time your communication with the aggregator appropriately so that your product makes the supply list that goes out to their buyers.
  3. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) terminal prices are used as guidelines for pricing, which is often tiered based on volume and cost of transportation.
Some general tips:
  1. Approach these wholesale markets in the winter when you are planning your crop calendar, ask them what they want, and plan to plant twice the quantity they are asking for.
  2. Be consistent with product and communication.
  3. Remember that most wholesalers are not cash on trade. You may have to wait for about two weeks before receiving payment.
Working with wholesalers takes a different kind of planning and preparation than direct marketing. However, these two markets have one thing in common; you need to cater to the customer.  Approach these markets in person rather than on the phone. Just like direct marketing you need to build a personal relationship with your wholesale customer. They want to sell your story along with your produce. Combining wholesaling and retailing can provide you with a more reliable and steady income.

Post harvest handling decision tool
Containers and Packaging Fruits and Vegetables
USDA quality standards for wholesaling

(By Miranda Duschack and Katie Nixon, Small Farm Specialists with Lincoln University's Small Farm Innovative Outreach Program)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

POSTPONED: Direct Marketing Workshop

The MO Beginning Farmer Program workshop “Selling Directly to Consumers” which was scheduled for Wednesday, August 3rd in St. Louis is being postponed. We hope to reschedule the workshop later this fall or early winter.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Accessing Farm Programs Workshop

Have you ever wondered what all those letters meant from the federal agencies that are supposed to help farmers?  Do you know the difference between cost share, grants and loans?  Do you know what it takes to sign up for those government programs to help you with your farm?  If not, then join us for the Missouri Beginning Farmer Program Workshop on "Accessing Federal Programs" on August 18-19 at the Bradford Research and Extension Center in Columbia, MO.

The "Accessing Federal Programs" Workshop is divided into two sessions.  Session 1 will be held August 18th from 1:00 pm to 7:30 pm.  This session is a general overview of government agencies and their programs.  The cost for this session is $15/person.  Session 2 will be held August 19th from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm.  This session begins with a farm tour followed by a working session on how to develop a plan which is necessary in applying for government farming programs.  Assistance from the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) staff will be on hand to assist you in applying for the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program).  The cost for this session is $10/person.  You are welcome to attend either one or both of the sessions.  Click here for the registration form.


August 18th
1:00 - 1:20 pm - Welcome and Introductions

1:20 - 2:00 pm - Overview of FSA, NRCS, RMA, SARE, and MDA

2:00 - 2:4:5 pm - Difference between Loans, Grants and Cost Sharing

2:45 - 3:00 pm - Break

3:00 - 5:00 pm - Curbside Consulting (spend 20 minutes with each of the different agencies - FSA, NRCS, RMA, SARE, RD

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm  - Local Foods Dinner

6:15 pm - 7:00 pm - Farmer Panel (discuss with farmers about their experience with access programs)

7:00 - 7:30 pm - Virtual Tour of Jefferson Farm and Garden from the NRCS Perspective

August 19th

7:30 - 8:30 am - Tour of Jefferson Farm and Garden (see the government programs installed on the farm)

9:00 - 1:00 pm - Components of the EQIP Program and Development of Your Farm Plan (write out your farm plan with NRCS staff assistance)

For additional information contact Lorin at 573-449-3518.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Webinar Tonight - Farmers' Markets

Why should you sell at a farmers' market?  What makes one farmers' market vendor more successful than another?  How do you choose to sell at one market over another?

Last week we heard from Eileen Nichols, Webb City Farmers' Market, a market of about 25 vendors.  Tonight we will hear about the Columbia Farmers' Market which has 90 vendors making the market quite different from the Webb City Farmers' Market.

Join us for Part 2 of "What Makes a Vendor Successful: A View from a Market Manager's Perspective" with Caroline Todd, Columbia Farmers' Market Manager, from 7:00 - 8:30 pm (Central Time Zone)

To join the meeting go to and sign in as a guest.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Burgundy Black Truffle Cultivation

The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry recently published "Burgundy Black Truffle Cultivation in an Agroforestry Practice."  It highlights information about the Burgundy truffle (Tuber aestivum Vitt., syn. T. Uncinatum Ch.) and the Perigord black truffle (T. melanosporum Vitt.), which ahve been determined to be the two best candidate species for truffle cultivation in the south-central US.

The guide not only informs readers about why these truffles are a preferred species to cultivate in the US, but also how to choose a plantation site for the truffles and prepare, establish, harvest and cook with the truffles you plant.  The guide also includes an extensive list of resource sthat would be helpful for any grower interested in truffles. The guide contains the following information:

  • The Burgundy Truffle as a Mycorrhizal Fungus
  • Why the Burgundy Truffle?
  • Choosing a Tree Species
  • Characteristics of a Good Plantation Site
  • Plantation Site Preparation
  • Plantation Establishment
  • Plantation Maintenance
  • Harvesting
  • Cooking with Truffles
  • Additional Resources

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Selling Directly to Consumers Workshop

Have you ever wondered why consumers purchase from one farmers' market vendor over another? Have you thought about trying to sell to a restaurant but weren't quite sure how to get your foot in the door? Come to this workshop to find out:

• What qualities make produce taste great and look visually appealing

• Be able to use a counselor approach to selling your local products successfully

• Understand how to merchandize your product at farmers' markets

• Describe the importance of correct post-harvest handling procedures

• Employ basic food safety techniques for your farm

• Tour a local farmers’ market with a chef

The "Selling Directly to Consumers" Workshop will be held Aug 3, 2011 at Concordia Lutheran Church, 7291 Sarah Street, St. Louis, MO from 3:00 pm ends at 8:30 pm.


3:00 pm - Registration

3:30 pm - Welcome and Introductions

3:50 pm - Explore the Midweek Farmers’ Market

4:20 pm - Return to sessions

4:25 pm - Discussion of the Farmers’ Market Tour

4:35 pm - Evaluating Direct Market Channels – which one works best for you?

5:10 pm - Flavors of Local Food – What are Customers Looking for?

6:00 pm - Post-Harvest Handling and Food Safety – What Do You Need to Know?

6:45 pm - Successful Sales Strategies for Local Foods

7:30 pm - Merchandizing Your Products Successfully

8:15 pm - Conscious Closing, Evaluations

The cost for the "Selling Direct to Consumers" Workshop is $25/person. Registration includes speaker materials and a heavy hors d'oeuvres prepared by a local foods chef who will be the guest speaker for the workshop.  
To download the registration form click here.  For any additional questions you may have, contact Sharon Naylor at 573-882-3776/ Registration is limited to 30 participants. Walk-ins accepted with cost of $30 and no food guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Online Learning Community

The Missouri Beginning Farmer Program’s Online Learning Community is a tool to help beginning farmers learn from each other, essentially it is an online mentoring program.

Presently you will find the archived webinars on topics of "getting started in farming", "pastured poultry", "organic agriculture", "soils", "social media marketing", "selling at farmers' markets" with upcoming webinars on "direct marketing of meat", "SARE Farmer/Rancher grants" and "beekeeping". 

Couldn't make it to any of the workshops this year or last.  Not a problem, you will find PowerPoint presentations, handouts materials and pictures of the farm tours from the 2011 Workshops as well as from the 2010 Workshops.  2011 Workshops include "high tunnel production and installation", "getting started in organic agriculture", "berry and grape production" with 2010 workshop materials "growing for local markets", "berry options and productions", "tractors 101", "direct marketing".  Upcoming workshop materials will be added after each event.  Upcoming workshops include "direct marketing to the consumers", "accessing federal programs", "cheese making for profit", blueberry production", organic agriculture for the beginning farmer".

Got a question and don't know the answer but sure would like to have the answer.  Don't sweat it.  Log onto the Online Learning Community and ask your question on one of the farmers forums.  The farmers forum includes 3 different threads of topics at this time: "tractors and equipment", "grass-based farming", and "beginning farmers".  Just email and we can add a new thread for discussions between beginning farmers, experienced farmers and experts in the field.

• To join the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program Online Learning Community you will need to create a passport (registration with a login name and password) to the Online Learning Community.

• Here is video to assist you with the creation of your passport.

• Search for Missouri Beginning Farmers Program and you will find the Online Learning Community.

• Here is a video to assist you with signing up for the online learning community

You can also follow us on Facebook at Missouri Beginning Farmers Program.  Also check out our website for publications and additional information.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Online Resource Helps Producers Get Products to Market, Bolster Local and Regional Economies

Just because a producer works at a smaller operation doesn’t mean he or she can’t sell on a bigger scale. And the size of a farm shouldn’t limit a producer’s ability to feed local foods to local people. But how can such an operation connect the dots to successfully market its products?

One answer lies in a new kind of business model known as food hubs, which are emerging as critical pillars for building stronger regional and local food systems. A food hub centralizes the business management structure to facilitate the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.

Small and mid-size producers often don’t have access to their own processing, aggregation, distribution, or storage facilities. They might not be able to develop relationships with critical buyers or have the resources to develop strong marketing campaigns. This sort of infrastructure is necessary to growing businesses, not to mention the ability for regional food systems to thrive.

That’s why the USDA is investing in food hubs and food hub research. The new online food hub resource, part of the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) website, contains the USDA’s latest findings, funding opportunities, a list of operational food hubs, and a library of other relevant resources, articles and materials about food hub development. USDA is also preparing a comprehensive Resource Guide for Food Hubs to be released in the fall. It will serve as a useful online tool for anyone interested in food hub development—whether they are producers, buyers, consumers, researchers, academics, or policy makers.

The USDA isn’t the only one committed to food hub success. Just last month, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, under the leadership of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, adopted a proclamation in support of food hub development across the country. This week, President Obama invited members of the newly formed Rural Council to meet “Champions of Change” at the White House, which included Deborah Kane, Executive Director of, a successful online food hub servicing the Pacific Northwest. Food hubs are clearly taking hold all over the country and are business models to watch. Follow their progress at

USDA’s work is part of the National Food Hub Collaboration, a partnership among USDA, the Wallace Center at Winrock International, National Good Food Network, National Association of Produce Market Managers, and Project for Public Spaces. The Collaboration collects and analyzes the latest data, research and activities related to food hubs and works to ensure the success of existing and emerging food hubs in the United States. More information is available at

(copied from Know Your Farmer Know Your Food blog from July 12th, 2011 by Arthur Neal, Deputy Administrator, Transportation and Marketing Programs, AMS)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Webinar Tonight

Join in on the MO Beginning Farmer Program for our Monday webinars tonight.

WHAT: Farmers’ Markets: What Makes a Good Vendor from a Market Manager Perspective

WHO: with Eileen Nichols, Market Manger of the Webb City Farmers’ Market

WHEN: Monday 18 July, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

HOW: To join the meeting go to and sign your name in the guest location.

SARE Project Reports: Now Printable in PDF Format

SARE research is now more accessible than ever with a new text-to-PDF feature of the SARE projects database. With a few clicks, users can peruse the database, select reports of interest and then convert them to PDF format to make them more easily shared and printed.

This new feature means you can:

• print out research findings and share them at workshops, tours and conferences;

• create electronic or print collections of SARE findings for record keeping or archiving;

• take SARE research with you in an easy-to-read format when you don't have an internet connection.

The text-to-PDF converter, along with SARE's online Learning Center, is part of SARE's ongoing effort to make its research and education materials more accessible and easily shared.

To start your PDF collection of research findings, visit the SARE projects database. To find out what grants have been awarded in Missouri click here and scroll down to Missouri where you will find links to the portfolio summary and listing of grants.

Be on the lookout for upcoming information about the Sept 12th webinar on the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grow Your Farm Scheduled to Begin Sept 12th in St. Clair

Participants who enroll in the Grow Your Farm course will have an opportunity to:
  • Tap into the knowledge of skilled, innovative farmers.
  • Network with other farmers and make friends.
  • Learn critical farm management skills such as creative financing and innovative marketing strategies.
  • See local farming practices being used on real farms under a variety of conditions.
  • Learn to view a farm as an interconnected system and learn how goals determine farming practices.
  • Craft a tailor-made farming and business plan.
  • Meet farmers who have diversified their products.
Training and support for beginning farmers and others who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Participants will attend a set of practical seminars and field days to learn and network. Instructors and farmers teach the sessions.
  • Build networks 
  • Create a mission
  • Set goals
  • Plan for profit
  • Explore new agricultural alternatives
  • Study practical legal issues
  • Tour farms
  •  Obtain new resources
  • Gain technical advice
  • Learn sustainable practices
Session 1: Identifying Values & Creating Goals, Monday, September 12th, 6:30 pm  - Dean Wilson, MU Ag & Rural Development Specialist along with Eric & Kathy Lober, Grass-fed beef, poultry, CSA
Session 2: Planning Your Farm, Monday, September 19th, 6:30 pm - Greg Tucker, MU Small Business Development Specialist along with Karen Davis, LU Horticulture Regional Educator, former producer of specialty cut flowers to over 30 local florists

Session 3: Farm Tour, Saturday, September 24th, 9:00 am TBA – Tentative schedule includes visit to farms with CSA, grass fed beef, natural pork, poultry and vegetable production

Session 4: Assessing Opportunities, Monday, September 26th, 6:30 pm - Miranda Duschack, LU Small Farms Specialist along with Todd Geisert, Pasture pork, roadside vegetable stand

Session 5: Recordkeeping, Monday, October 3rd, 6:30 pm - Ron Mueller, MU Small Business and Development Specialist along with Sheria Yancey, Farm Service Agency

Session 6: Walking the Farm, Monday, October 10th, 6:30 pm - David Price, LU Small Farm Specialist

Session 7: Farm Tour, Saturday, October 15th, 9:00 am - Stan & Sue Koch, Beef cattle, goats, Jersey cows, chickens

Session 8: Marketing Your Farm Products, Monday, October 17th, 6:30 pm - Connie Cunningham, Goose producer and GYF alumni Paul Krautmann, Organic vegetables, dry beans

Session 9: Understanding Legal Issues Monday, October 24th, 6:30 pm - Ken Bolte, MU Ag Business Specialist along with Debi Kelly, Missouri Beginning Farmers Program

Session 10: Presenting Your Farm Plan, Monday, October 31st, 6:30 pm

Who: Prospective farmers, beginners with limited experience and experienced farmers who want to make a "new beginning" with alternative methods.

Fee: $200 per farm business (2 people) Fee includes seminar materials, speakers, and a subscription to "Ag Opportunities" — a monthly e-newsletter from the Missouri Alternatives Center.

Registration Deadline: Friday, September 9, 2011 (Enrollment limited to 20 farms) Make checks payable to Franklin County Extension and mail to Franklin County Extension Center, 116 W Main Street, Union, MO

For more information, contact Dean Wilson, Ag and Rural Development Specialist, 636-797-5391.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grape Production Workshop

Join University of Missouri Extension for a day of learning in the classroom and in the vineyard on Saturday, July 23rd.  Extension personnel and grape growers will be on hand to provide information on growing grapes in Missouri, including how to grow premium grapes, grapes that wineries are buying, best vineyard practices, and more.

Participants will hear from a producer who grows grapes for the wholesale market. After the workshop, participants are invited to visit Jubilee Vineyard to get first-hand knowledge about what producers are doing in the vineyard in July.

After the classroom portion of the workshop, participants are invited to visit Jubilee Vineyard, a wholesale winegrap vineyard.  Located 10 miles southwest of the Platte County Fairgrounds, this local vineyard will provide an additional opportunity for discussing the business of growing quality grapes and producing quality wines.

The workshop will be held in the Platte Purchase Building on the Platte County Fairgrounds from 10:00-12:00. After that, participants will head out to a local commercial vineyard to learn first-hand how to apply what we learned in the classroom. We should wrap up in the vineyard by 2:00 pm.

The workshop fee is $10.  To register for the workshop, contact the Platte County MU Extension Center at (816) 270-2141. Register by Wednesday, July 20, 2011.  Check the Platte County MU Extension Website for more information and directions to the workshop.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farmers Need to Remember Dangers of High Heat and Take Necessary Precautions

Summer’s high temperatures and humidity have been relentless in southwest Missouri. As heat advisories continue, farmers should remember the dangers of high heat as they head to the fields, according to Amanda Marney, agriculture preparedness specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

“Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real risks for people exposed to excessive heat,” said Marney. “Heat can cause direct harm if you get so hot your body can’t handle it and it also adds to the stress that can be a big contributor to accidents.”

Here are some tips to help keep you safe during hot weather:

Drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty. “In hot weather that means at least eight large glasses a day; and more if you’re really working up a sweat,” said Marney.

Wear cool clothes. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibers like cotton will help you stay cool. Socks made of materials such as Polypropylene and Thermex will help your feet stay cool and dry. A wide-brimmed hat can help you stay comfortable in addition to shielding your face and neck from the sun. Farmers also need to remember to use sunscreen.

Take time to cool off. “Splash yourself with water occasionally and take breaks in the shade. Five minutes spent cooling off is less time from work than a trip to the emergency room – or months in physical therapy due to a stress-related accident,” said Marney.

Plan around the heat. “Think about the heat forecast as well as the rain forecast. Avoid strenuous work if it is very hot; save it for a cooler day,” said Marney.

Watch the sweat factor. “Sweat helps cool your skin as it evaporates. However, it can also make your hands slippery and impede your vision. Be extra careful when performing everyday tasks when you are sweaty,” said Marney.

Think about safety basics. Make sure all tractors have rollover protection. Replace missing shields, maintain and use lights, flashers and reflectors on machines. Replace slow-moving vehicle signs as needed. Keep machinery in good working order.
(by David L. Burton, MU Civic Communication Specialist)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raising Goats on a Small Farm

Lincoln University's Innovative Small Farm Outreach Program will be hosting a workshop on raising goats on Thursday, July 21, 2011 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Beacon of Hope Church Farm - Smith Hall, 1315 East Walnut Street (Hwy 58), Raymore, Missouri 64083

Presentation Topics include:
  • Create a Meat Goat Budget 
  • Pasture Improvements
  • NRCS Cost Share Programs
  • Farm Tour
  • Question & Answer Panel
  • Ask a Farmer
  • Ask a Meat Goat Buyer
DEADLINE TO REGISTER is Monday, July 18, 2011.  Seating is limited so registration is required.  To register, call or email Jeff Yearington at (816) 899-2181.
Register early to guarantee your seat!  Cost is FREE.
If you need accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform us immediately.

Monday, July 11, 2011

MBFP Webinar - Tonight - Farmers' Markets

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in July with a presentation by Andy Larsen, "Farmers' Market Vendors: The Pro's and Con's". The webinar will be Monday July 11th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm with a PowerPoint presentation. There will be two additional opportunities to learn about how to be a great vendor at a farmers' market. On Monday July 18th we will hear from Eileen Nichols, market manager of the Webb City Farmers' Market. On Monday, July 25th we will hear from Caroline Todd, market manager of the Columbia Farmers' Market. Both Eileen and Caroline have been market managers for many years. They will discuss their market, what works and what doesn't work at a market as well as what are some key concepts they see in their most successful vendors at their markets.

Meeting Name: Farmers' Markets: The Pro's and Con's
When: Monday July 11th, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting go to

Meeting Name: Webb City Farmers' Market
When: Monday July 18, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting go to

Meeting Name: Columbia Farmers' Market
When: Monday July 25, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting go to

Friday, July 8, 2011

Basics of Organic Seed Production

An on-line tutorial on the basics of organic seed production produced by Pacific Northwest experts is now available. The course covers the fundamentals of seed production for onions, beets and chard, brassicas, carrots, and wet seeded crops. It also covers climatic requirements for seed crops, important diseases, and seed quality. The course is designed to be appropriate for individuals with a basic knowledge of seed saving and organic production. Those who are seeking basic seed saving information may wish to read Organic Seed Alliance’s Seed Saving Guide for Farmers and Gardeners.

The Basics of Organic Seed Production is broken into a series of modules each covering one main topic followed by additional resources. It was created by Organic Seed Alliance through a grant from Western SARE. It is based on materials from organic seed intensive workshops held as part of the 2011 Organicology conference. Modules for the course include:

• What seed crops grow in your climate?
• Onion Seed Production
• Beet and Chard Production
• Brassica Seed Production
• Carrot Seed Production
• Lettuce Seed Production
• Wet Seeded Crop Production
• Seed-borne Diseases
• Seed Quality
• Other References, Resources, and Links

The course is free and located on the national eXtension website.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The SARE Learning Center - One-Stop Online Shop for Ag Educators, Farmers and Ranchers

Have you heard about the new Learning Center at It's a treasure trove of books, videos, online courses and other information products about sustainable agriculture from A to Z.

Perhaps you're interested in starting up a pastured poultry operation, or generating on-farm energy? Maybe you need more information about direct marketing or value-added products before you take the plunge? Considering incorporating a cover crop rotation? Well, pull up a chair, turn on the reading light, and browse the Learning Center, where you'll find free online access to hundreds of products, conveniently browsable by type or topic:

o practical books, including SARE's signature cover crop and ecological soil management guides

o how-to bulletins and factsheets, such as how one SARE grantee developed a method to avoid using chemical dewormers on sheep and goats

o online courses for ag educators help them share information with producers about best practices, business planning and more

o a wide range of products developed by grantees during their research, including papers, presentations, tools and more

o videos of innovative practices at work in the field, with related resources for digging deeper

o regional newsletters with news and profiles from each of SARE's four regions

o inspiring profiles of successful farm and ranch researchers

...and so much more!

Other great features at include:

o easy navigation to grants and education information on any of SARE's four regional sites

o a nationwide sustainable ag events calendar

o 20 years of research results in SARE's public projects database

o purchasing hard copies of our information products at the SARE WebStore.

Interested in applying for a SARE grant? To learn about grant opportunities and groundbreaking research funded by SARE, visit

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Value Added Producer Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is accepting grant applications to assist small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers and cooperatives in rural areas to spur job creation.

“The Obama Administration is working to help small-scale producers add profit and efficiency to their operations so they can grow, thrive and create jobs,” Vilsack said. “These investments will provide small business owners with the assistance they need to serve their communities and train a new generation of rural Americans.”

Almost $3.5 million in grants are available through USDA Rural Development's Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant Program (SSDPG), which was authorized in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill). It is part of the Department's ongoing effort to expand outreach to rural residents to ensure that all communities have equal access to USDA programs and services. Funding is available to cooperatives or associations of cooperatives where at least 75 percent of the governing board or membership are small, socially disadvantaged producers. Grants can be used for product improvements, business plan development or economic development activities. The maximum grant award per applicant is $200,000.

The grants assist eligible producers like Frank Taylor who returned home after college and established the Winston County Self-Help Cooperative in Mississippi, a consortium of local farmers that pool their resources to receive training in business development, conservation and health. The Cooperative also has a youth program, which teaches skills to the next generation of Winston County farmers. For the last four years, Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, whose motto is “Saving Rural America,” has received USDA funding to expand operations into the surrounding counties of central Mississippi. For more information about the success of this Cooperative, visit Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook’s blog post.

In southeastern Minnesota, with the help of an SSDPG, the Hillside Farmers Co-op of Northfield assisted Latino farmers by partnering with established farmers who, together, are committed to producing sustainable foods and building healthier communities. The co-op pairs immigrant families with established farmers in the area who rent out their land for gardening and poultry production. The SSDPG awarded in 2010, is helping the co-op conduct a feasibility study, develop a business plan, provide training and help pay for other related expenses in developing a coordinated network of local businesses in the free-range poultry industry. This is the first SSDPG awarded in Minnesota.

Applications for Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grants are due August 15, 2011. Application materials may be obtained at the Rural Development website or by contacting the Missouri Rural Development State Office. For additional information, see the June 29, 2011, Federal Register.

In June, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. In order to better coordinate Federal programs and maximize the impact of Federal investment, the White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.

Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Click here for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dealing with Diseases and Disorders of Tomatoes

Each year I receive numerous calls and emails from home owners regarding sick tomato plants. Most of the time it is Early Blight or Septoria Leaf Spot that is affecting the plants. With all the rain we have had the last four years, it’s no wonder these diseases are so prevalent. Here are some of the most common diseases and disorders I see on tomato plants and how to treat them.
early blight

Early Blight is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. It survives in infected leaf or stem tissues on or in the soil. The first symptoms usually appear on the older, lower leaves of the plant and consist of small, irregular, dark brown to black, dead spots ranging in size from a pinpoint to 1/2 inch in diameter.  As the spots enlarge, concentric rings may form as a result of irregular growth patterns by the organism in the leaf tissue. This gives the lesion a characteristic "target-spot" or "bull's eye" appearance. There is often a narrow, yellow halo around each spot and lesions are usually bordered by veins. When spots are numerous, they may grow together, causing infected leaves to turn yellow and die. If not controlled, the leaves dry up and drop from the plant as the disease progresses up the main stem. Recommended practices include mulching plants with straw, rotation, removing lower leaves that touch or are near the ground, and the use of fungicides. Daconil, Maneb, and Mancozeb are recommended for control, or any product containing Chlorothalonil. Always read the label directions before applying any pesticide.

septoria leaf spot
Septoria Leaf Spot: Numerous, small, watersoaked spots, which are the first noticeable characteristic of Septoria leaf spot, appear on the lower leaves after fruit set. Spots enlarge to a uniform size of  approximately 1/16 to 1/4 inch in diameter. They have dark brown borders and tan or light colored centers. 
Yellow haloes often surround the spots. Severely infected leaves die and drop off. Septoria leaf spot is easily distinguished from early blight by the uniform, small size of the spots and the lack of concentric rings in the spots; however, Septoria leaf spot is sometimes confused with bacterial spot of tomato.  The presence of fruiting bodies of the fungus, visible as tiny black specks in the centers of the spots, confirms Septoria leaf spot. Control weeds in and around the edge of the garden. Preventative practices include mulching plants with straw, rotation, removing lower leaves that touch or are near the ground. Fungicides containing chlorothalonil such as Daconil and Maneb are recommended for the homeowner.

bacterial spot
Bacterial Speck/Spot are bacterial diseases of tomato that can cause localized epidemics during warm (spot) or cool (speck), moist conditions. Bacterial spot can cause moderate to severe defoliation, blossom blight, and lesions on developing fruit. Foliar symptoms of bacterial spot and speck are identical. Small, water-soaked, greasy spots about 1/8 inch in diameter appear on infected leaflets. After a few days, these lesions are often surrounded by yellow halos and the centers dry out and frequently tear. Lesions may coalesce to form large, irregular dead spots. In mature plants, leaflet infection is most concentrated on fully expanded and older leaves and some defoliation may occur. Spots may also appear on seedling stems and fruit pedicels. Unlike Early Blight that occurs on the lower leaves, Bacterial spot and speck will occur all over the plant. Applications of mancozeb plus copper soon after transplanting may help retard development and spread of bacterial spot and speck. Rotate tomatoes with non-solanaceous crops with at least 2 to 3 years between tomato crops. Avoid rotation with peppers, which are also susceptible to bacterial spot. Plant only seed from disease free plants or seed treated to reduce any bacterial population.

Cracking is a physiological disorder caused by wide fluctuations in soil moisture. Tomatoes often start to crack during warm, rainy periods, especially if this weather comes after a dry spell. The tomatoes expand too fast and are most likely to crack when they have reached full size and are beginning to turn color. Some resistant varieties include Early Girl and Jet Star. Be sure to apply adequate moisture throughout the growing season to avoid the problem.

 Catfacing is another physiological disorder of tomatoes. Tomatoes develop unusual swelling and streaks of scar tissue. It is caused by abnormal development of the tomato flower at blossom time. Cold weather at the time of blossom set intensifies the deformities. Catfacing is not a disease. It is most common in the large-fruited beefsteak type tomatoes.

blossom end rot

Blossom-end rot is a disorder that occurs on the bottom or blossom end of the fruit. It appears as a sunken, water soaked spot. The spot turns brown or black, and dry and leathery as it grows larger. It is not an infectious disease. It affects both green and ripe tomatoes and is caused by a calcium deficiency, which is usually the result of wide fluctuations in soil moisture. Keep tomato plants well watered so they can take up the calcium from the soil.

sun scald

Sunscald develops when high temperatures retard the development of good color. Tomato fruits exposed directly to the hot sun may scald. Sunscald is localized damage to the tissue often accompanied by discoloration. Good foliage cover is helpful in preventing scalding.

Heat Stress: Yellow Shoulder is caused from high temperatures and causes the shoulder or top of the tomato to turn yellow. Hard white cores in tomatoes are also a heat stress disorder. Keep plants well watered and consider erecting a shade cloth over your plants.

Many of the disorders are quite common. They are not caused by insects or disease and are not infectious. Little can be done for most of them, but the fruit may be eaten if the affected portions are removed.
(by Jennifer Schutter, Horticulture Specialist, Adair County, University of Missouri)
(photos are from various locations)