Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Lowdown on High Tunnels

If you want locally grown produce in February, you usually don’t have many choices in Missouri other than root vegetables. However, on a chilly February morning at the Columbia Farmers Market, the Thomas family of Share Life Farms is selling not just root veggies but also lettuce, mustard greens and assorted varieties of kale.

Columbia’s farmers' market moves indoors for the winter. Share Life Farms and several other vendors at the market have moved part of their operations indoors too, using high tunnels to lengthen their growing season.
Jim Thomas Sr. (left) and son
Jim Thomas Jr. of Share Life Farms
sell produce grown in a high tunnel.

A high tunnel, also known as a hoop house, is a simple, unheated structure similar to a greenhouse, though crops are grown in the ground, not in pots on benches. A shell of translucent plastic admits sunlight, traps warm air and shields crops from the elements, letting producers plant earlier in the spring and continue harvesting into winter.

“High tunnels can boost production as much as three times by increasing the growing season for fruits and vegetables,” said Jim Quinn, University of Missouri Extension horticulture specialist.

“It can allow a person to make a decent income on small acreage,” said Jim Thomas Jr. of Share Life Farms, Marshall, Mo.

Share Life Farms’ 30-by-96-foot hoop house—which Thomas says is the minimum size to make high tunnel production profitable—will let his family plant and harvest tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers about a month earlier than outdoor conditions would permit.

High tunnels can reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, and shield plants from excessive rainfall, drought and other extreme weather. They can also help protect crops from insect pests and diseases.

Share Life Farms is one of hundreds of Missouri farms that have taken advantage of a federal cost-sharing program promoting high tunnels. Through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reimburses eligible producers for a large portion of their construction costs.

A typical 30-by-96-foot high tunnel might cost $6,000-$8,000, Quinn said. Producers accepted into the NRCS program are reimbursed for about two-thirds to three-fourths of the construction costs after the high tunnel has been built.

While high tunnels aren’t terribly expensive compared to greenhouses, the upfront costs can still discourage the many small operations that are striving to meet the growing demand for locally grown produce.

To make the program more accessible to these operations, the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority is providing short-term loans to producers approved for the federal program.

“The high tunnel loan program steps in to provide funding for those who don’t want to use their own money for purchases and then wait to be reimbursed by NRCS,” Quinn said. “This may be especially helpful to farmers with lower cash flow or individuals on a tight budget.”

Borrowers pay only monthly interest, at an annualized rate of 7.5 percent, for up to one year.

Another obstacle for some producers is that most of the federal funding for high tunnel construction has been available only to organic farms or farms that are transitioning to organic production, Quinn said.

In response to requests from conventional producers, the NRCS in Missouri directed some high tunnel funding to conventional producers as well. Last year, about a third of high tunnel contracts in Missouri went to conventional farms, according to Paul Duffner, resource conservationist with the Missouri NRCS office.

Other states are now funding high tunnels on conventional farms, including Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, Quinn said.

The NRCS program is a pilot project, now in its third and final year. Whether the program continues will depend on evaluations of the program outcomes, government funding priorities and other factors.

“Either way, high tunnels are here to stay,” Quinn said. “They have already proved their profitability to many growers, but this program has really given their usage across the state a real boost.”

Since 2003, MU Extension has helped conduct educational programs on high tunnels, including classes and on-farm construction workshops that have drawn capacity crowds.

For more information about the state high tunnel loan program, go to their website.

For information about the federal cost-share program in Missouri, go to their website .

The application deadline for the last 2012 EQIP ranking period is June1. Contact your local USDA/NRCS field office for EQIP High Tunnel application information.

Information about high tunnel research is available from a joint effort of MU Extension, Kansas State Research and Extension, and University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension.

Kansas State University maintains a high tunnel email list. You can Subscribe or browse archives.

(by Curt Wohleber, Senior Information Specialist, University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Plant Propagation and Production Planning Workshop

The Plant Propogation and Production Planning Workshop will be held at Masters Community Church, 2548 South 42nd Street, Kansas City, KS 66106 on Monday, March 5th from 4 pm to 7:00 pm.

So you want to be a grower. But what to grow? How much? Where? When? When can you harvest? What will the yields be? What is the best way to get all those crops started? Most importantly, how do you keep track of all this? This workshop will give you the tools to answer these questions.

4:00-4:45 Seed Starting and Transplant Production
Cary Rivard, State Vegetable Specialist, K-State Research and Extension, will help us understand the factors effecting germination and plant growth, options for transplant production and potential problems to watch out for in seedlings.

5:00-6:00 Production Planning and Field Mapping
Daniel Dermitzel and Alicia Ellingsworth, Cultivate KC, will explain their production planning process, field maps, succession plantings and the record keeping that helps them stay on top of 2 acres of diversified vegetable production.

6:00-7:00 Farm Tour, Gibbs Road Farm and Greenhouse
A 2 acre, certified organic farm with multiple high tunnels that models urban farming appropriate practices. A large community greenhouse provides growing space to several area growers.

This workshop is being brought to you by Cultivate Kansas City, a partner of the Growing Growers program. Cost to attend this workshop is $15. To register, contact Katherine Kelly at (913) 831-2444.

Giant Miscanthus Grass - good or bad?

With all the talk of biomass production, I thought this might be of interest to farmers.

Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) hybrid grass is being promoted by several universities and other organizations as a solution to some of our energy needs. Reading articles and watching videos on miscanthus would lead people think it is the best new idea around with no problems. Miscanthus has been evaluated and widely planted in Europe during the past 5-10 years as a bioenergy crop. In spite of perceived positive attributes, there may be negative considerations to planting this crop. More Missouri research is needed to answer these questions.

Some promoted advantages are:

- Miscanthus is a large perennial grass with a great potential for use in alternative energy production for fuel and cellulosic alcohol production.

- Giant miscanthus is widely grown in Europe as a bioenergy crop.

- Fields planted to non-invasive miscanthus can be easily reclaimed for corn/soy bean.

- Miscanthus grass is being promoted as a high yielding, low/no input crop. Mineral nutrients translocate into the plant’s crown in the fall and will continue even after frost.

- Excellent for carbon sequestration and soil building.

- NRCS cost share is available through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) for field establishments.

- Yield estimates are from 10 to 15 tons per acre.

- There is potential for income generation through carbon credits.

- Miscanthus begins growing at lower spring temperatures and stops growing later in the season than other warm season grasses.

Some of the not so commonly mentioned disadvantages or questions are:

- Miscanthus is a large, tall, dense growing perennial grass with few wildlife friendly uses.

- As a hybrid, the seed is not viable but the plant may be invasive through rhizome spread.

- There are concerns that miscanthus may produce an extremely small percent of viable seeds but due to the high density plantings, a few viable seeds may be enough to cause invasive spread.

- More Missouri research is needed on yields, fertilizer needs and ideal soil fertility levels.

- More Missouri research is needed on applying for carbon credits, carbon sequestration and soil improvement.
Pressed Miscanthus core

- Many Missouri fields are poor choices for miscanthus plantings because of erosion potential. Cost share is available from BCAP if the fields do not exceed soil loss requirements. Unfortunately, seed beds should be of loose, tilled soil 4 to 6 inches deep making them highly prone to erosion.

- Miscanthus yields are strongly influenced by water availability of at least 30 inches of rainfall a year.

- MU Agricultural Economists have not completed economic evaluations.

- MU Agronomists have not completed assessments on how miscanthus fits in to Missouri management and agronomic practices.

- There are few alternative uses such as for forage.

- Miscanthus is an exotic plant grown in a monoculture.

- Expensive to plant. Rhizomes are used for establishment plantings. The recommended planting depth is 4 inches.

- Miscanthus has been shown to serve as a host for corn rootworm and other insect pests of commercial crops. What effect this has on pest dynamics in near-by crops is unknown.

- Typical forage harvesting equipment on farms may not be compatible or efficient for miscanthus bioenergy harvesting.
Miscanthus rhizomes

There are a number of giant miscanthus grass plantings planned this spring in central Missouri. More will be learned about miscanthus, bioenergy crop establishment and production through these and other plantings.

Dr. Emily A. Heaton, Assistant Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University, has stated that the ideal dedicated biomass crop is a perennial that efficiently uses available resources, stores carbon in the soil, is an efficient user of water, has low fertilizer requirements and is not invasive. Giant miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) possesses many, if not all, of these characteristics.

By Jim Jarman, MU Extension Agronomy Specialist. Information came from the University of Missouri and other land grant universities, USDA, NRCS’s Technical Note No. 4, “Planting and Managing Giant Miscanthus as a Bioenergy Crop”, and videos from the US and Europe.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What are your trees worth?

Establishing a timber tax basis can save you money, says MU economist.

This time of year Larry Godsey gets a lot of calls from woodland owners asking for advice about taxes on timber they have sold.

Godsey, an economist with the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, usually starts by asking, “What is your basis?”

A lot of woodland owners don’t know, and that means they could be selling their timber for too little, and paying too much in taxes.

Put simply, the basis, also known as the tax basis, is what you invested in an asset. “Basically, it’s what you paid for it or its fair market value on the day it was acquired,” Godsey said.

While many woodland owners probably have the basis for their entire property—which might include cropland and buildings as well as forest—they may not have established what portion of the original purchase price went to acquiring the timber.

Timber is usually taxed as a long-term capital gain, so you can subtract the cost basis when figuring your tax liability. But if you don’t have the basis, you have to pay tax on the full amount of the sale.

Flooding and tornadoes took out a lot of trees in 2011, and you can declare those trees as a casualty loss—but again, only if you have a basis.

It’s possible to establish a cost basis retroactively by hiring a forester to cruise the timber and “ungrow” the trees, but that can be expensive.

“When you acquire the property, hire a consulting forester to estimate the volume and value of your timber,” Godsey said. You can adjust your basis to reflect additional investments—including the forester’s fee.

If you have inherited the woodland, and therefore didn’t pay anything at all to acquire your timber, you can still establish a cost basis using the appraised market value of the timber, he said.

Call before you cut

“Never sell timber without assistance from a consulting or professional forester,” Godsey said. “A lot of landowners may not know what their timber is worth. Don’t sell to the guy who knocks on your door and says, ‘I’ll give you $3,000 for your timber.’

“Call someone who knows about forest taxes and say, ‘I’m ready to do a timber sale. What do I need to know?’ That way, if you have to go back and establish a basis, you can do that before the trees are cut and gone instead of looking at stumps and trying to estimate if they’re oak or walnut or what.”

For more information about timber and taxes, Godsey recommends Internal Revenue Service publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide.

Woodland owners might be interested in these MU Extension publications, which are available for free.

G5051, Selling Timber: What the Landowner Needs to Know

G5055, Determining Timber Cost Basis

G5056, Managing Your Timber Sale Tax

AF1014, Understanding Casualty Loss of Timber

AF1004, Tax Considerations for the Establishment of Agroforestry Practices

AF1013, Succession Planning for Woodland Owners

(by Curt Wohleber, Senior Information Specialist, University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Farmstead Arrangement

If you are thinking about adding a structure to a current farmstead or planning a new farmstead, there are several things to consider and certain factors to place in an arrangement.

Farmstead Map

1. Review present situation for existing problems
2. Assess near-term needs
3. Provide for long-term goals and future expansion
4. Give thought to personal objectives:  
    - Improved performance or production
    - Greater capacity
    - Expansion of facilities
    - Better use of time

There are also a few rules of thumb to follow when planning a farmstead. Those include but are not limited to:

- Don’t build in a hole—drainage off the site is critical
- Don’t create bottle-necks
 - A structure in the wrong place is a 20, 30 or more year problem
 - Mistakes can be corrected on paper much easier than on the ground after concrete is poured.
 - Is a new structure financially feasible
 - Don’t let “we’ve always done it this way” rule your thinking
 - There’s always more than one way to develop a farmstead

Planning factors

Remember vehicle turning radius can affect spacing between buildings and the amount of space allowed in the middle of the farmstead. A semi with a cattle pot or grain trailer generally has a 55’ to 65’ turning radius. A twin-screw with a sleeper cab might be more than that. A one ton dually can have a radius of as much as 52’. Add a fifth wheel trailer and it could be more.

Wind direction can direct noise, odor, dust and snowdrifts toward the house, so pay attention to prevailing winds. In southwest Missouri, summer winds are mostly from the south. Some are from the southwest and southeast. Winter winds are primarily from the direct north and slightly northeast. If you consider all wind for 365 days for the five-year period of 2006 to 2010, the combined average is roughly 15° southeast of south (data from the University of Missouri Commercial Ag weather station located at Lamar).

Where will you store chemicals and locate secondary containment of pesticides, fertilizers and fuel?
Is the view from the house acceptable to other members of the family?

Is the view from the road acceptable to family members as viewed by passersby? In other words can people driving by see into your machine shed? Can they tell whether or not you’re home or away?  Can vandals see into buildings without pulling into your farmstead?

What about security? Can vandals get in and out of the farmstead without having to drive past the house?

When planning a farmstead, there are four zones recommended. The first zone is within the first 100’ of the house. That’s the area for family activities. The next 100’ is zone two and would be considered an area for machinery storage and probably a shop. Zone three is the next 100’ and would be for grain storage and small livestock structures such as a flock of laying hens, maybe a pen of goats, pigs or calves. The fourth zone would be for large livestock facilities such as confined poultry or hogs.

For a sizeable operation, you’re probably looking at utilizing four or five acres of land for a farmstead. If you have multiple enterprises, or farm several thousand acres, the land area necessary for the farmstead could be much larger.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 Helps Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Get Started

We know that America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. There are hundreds of programs and resources available to help meet these efforts.  However, sometimes it’s hard to know where to look.  To overcome this challenge, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Library, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, has created an online database connecting beginning farmers and ranchers with available programs and resources. allows potential and beginning farmers to search for programs and resources for training, financing, technical assistance, and business-to-business support.  The database, which includes hundreds of records, is searchable by geographical area or by topic. Additional features include a ‘Thinking about farming?’ tutorial, and an event calendar. was funded via the NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), a competitive grant for America’s new farmers and ranchers. In 2009, the first year of NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, three-year grants supported training for 5,000 beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2011, it is anticipated that these grants will have supported training for more than 10,000 beginning farmer and ranchers. In addition to offering resources and information for new and beginning farmers, will coordinate the efforts and stories of all BFRDP grantees.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cover Crop Workshop

A cover crop workshop will be held Monday, March 12th from 9:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m. at the Isle of Capri Hotel, Flamingo Bay Ballroom, 100 Isle of Capri Blvd., Boonville, MO.  Admission is Free with donuts and coffee provided in the morning.  Lunch is on your own.

Join us for an all day event targeting farmers and cover crop service providers. The featured speaker will be David Brandt.  Brandt farms about 2,000 acres divided into thirds of corn, soybeans, and winter wheat. He switched to no-till farming in 1971 and started experimenting with cover crops in 1979. He liked what he saw, and in the 1980s expanded and experimented with a variety of cover crops to improve soil structure, add nutrients, and increase yield for the next crop in the rotation.

Early Registration ends March 5th. Registration will be allowed the day of the event if seats are still available. Please register with the Cooper County Soil and Water Conservation District by calling (660)882-5647 ext. 3, by emailing or by visiting the Cooper County USDA Service Center at 17066 Hwy 87, Boonville, MO.

Sponsored By: Pilot Grove Coop, Isaac Christy Farm, LLC, Mid MO Premium Beef and Grain, LLC

In Cooperation With: Missouri Adult Ag Educators, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Cooper County Soil and Water Conservation District

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gases and Grasses

University of Missouri receives grant to study cover crops and greenhouse gases.

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

Bradford Farm
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.”

(by Roger Meissen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Women in Ag Conference Set for March 9

The ninth annual Women in Agriculture and Ag Landowners Regional Conference is scheduled for Friday, March 9, at the Martin Community Center in Marshall, Mo.

In 2011, this popular event drew 300 participants from 29 Missouri counties.

This year’s quilt theme, “Stitching life’s pieces together,” pays homage to women agriculturalists striving to hold everything together, and to the conference’s effort to bring together the “pieces” of farm life through concurrent tracks on farm business management, rural development, family and gardening.

Keynote speaker Sharon Oetting, a Missouri Master Farmer award winner from Concordia, Mo., will inspire attendees in a talk titled “Telling Your Story.”

Luncheon speaker Chris Chinn, who manages production and financial records on her family’s hog farm near Clarence, Mo., will explain how communicating through social media like Facebook and Twitter is a vital part of “Standing up for Agriculture.”

Attendees can mix and match from the four tracks of breakout sessions throughout the day.

“Men shouldn’t let the title of the event put them off,” said Cynthia Crawford, a conference organizer and University of Missouri Extension family financial education specialist. “This outstanding event presents a wealth of information in a fun environment. While the focus of the conference is placed on women agriculturalists, anyone and everyone is invited. Many men have attended in the past, and we look forward to seeing them again at this year's conference.”

Providing musical entertainment will be the Roadkill Clarinet Quintet. The ensemble’s motto is, “If we miss something, we’ll back up and run over it again.”

A light breakfast and first-rate lunch is included with the registration fee. Register by March 1 for $15 or at the door for $18.

All conference details, including how to register, are available on the conference’s website, . You can also follow the latest updates on Facebook.

In addition to Crawford, conference organizers include Parman Green, Rebecca Malter, Becky Plattner, Jared Singer, Nadia Navarrete-Tindall, Allen Voss and Steve Wooden. Organizers represent MU Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information, contact Cynthia Crawford at 660-886-6908.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Missouri Farm to School Program

Getting Started in selling your products to Schools!

Some farmers, farmers’ markets and orchards have already started expanding their markets by growing and selling produce, fruit and other locally grown products to schools, hospitals, and other institutions. If you haven’t already started thinking about working with a farm to school or farm to table program, here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Market your wares. Food service directors can’t source from you and your farm if they don’t know what you have. Assess your farm and develop a marketing packet that tells your story, highlighting what you grow or raise, what your availability is like and how to best get in touch with you. Check out some terrific marketing resources from Michigan.

2. Start small. If you find a school or vendor who wants to source from your farm, try contracting to provide one or two items, first. This will give you the time to work out logistics, from contracts to delivery.

3. Look within your community. Farmers often already have connections with schools or vendors. When you find a school food service customer, it’s also a good idea to evaluate if you’re a good match. Check out our question sheet.

4. Get advice. Across the state, many farmers and vendors are already working with schools, universities and hospitals to create farm to school programs. You can find out what is working well for them and get feedback on your potential plan. Details on standards, grading, GAP certification and more are also available in our resources section.

• Missouri Farm to School has a revamped website!

• Looking to start a farm to school program in your community? Are you a farmer that wants to start selling to local schools? We recently completed our “how to get started” resource manual for Missouri Farm to School. Get started now by downloading the manual.

• We’ve also began a web project to connect schools to farmers called “Farm Fresh Connect”. The site is being built to help farmers create a profile of what they grow and where they’re located as well as a section for schools to list what product they are looking for. Think of it as E-Harmony for farmers and schools. Be on the watch for more details to come soon!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Webinar tonight - Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Food Safety, Part 2

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's February webinars will be on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Food Safety. Marlin Bates, Regional Horticulture Specialist with University of Missouri Extension will be the presenter. Good Agricultural Practices can be defines as production and farm level practices that ensure the safety of fresh produce for human consumption. GAP production and post-harvest handling guidelines are designed to reduce the risk of food borne disease contamination on fresh produce. These voluntary procedures can be tailored to any production system.

Feb 13-Webinar - Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to and sign in as a guest

Friday, February 10, 2012

Acidified Foods Workshop - March 26-27

If you are interested in adding value to the products you grow and selling them you need to check to be sure if you need to take the Better Process Control School (BPCS) in order to be in compliance with food regulations.

Some products such as salad dressings, sauces, marinades and similar foods depend on the presence of acids to prevent spoilage. This acid may be naturally occurring from foods such as fruit juices or tomatoes, or the food may be formulated by combining acid foods with other foods to achieve the desired acidity. Some foods such as vinegar and certain pickled vegetables may have developed acidity from microbial fermentation.

Some microorganisms which cause foodborne illness may grow in foods without adequate acidity; government regulations address the manufacture of these products. Title 21 of the code of Federal Regulations, Parts 114 and 108 (21CFR114 & 21CFR108) regulate acidified foods.

Categories of Foods Preserved by Acids

Naturally acidic and fermented foods, along with jams, jellies, preserves and certain dressings and sauces, are exempted from the provisions of 21 CFR114. Generally, if a food is formulated from predominately acid foods it meets the exemption. If, however the food contains a mixture of acid and low acid foods, it falls under the regulation.

Foods preserved with acids are required to have a pH of 4.6 or below. At these levels, the production of toxins by the deadly organism causing botulism is inhibited. We refer to foods that have readings of greater than pH 4.6 as low-acid foods. Most vegetables and meats fall into this category. Most fruits and tomatoes have pH values lower than 4.6 and are considered acid foods.

Now that you have a better idea of what types of value added production requires attendance at a Better Process Control School, you can decide if you need to take the course.

On March 26-27, 2012 a Better Process Control School (BPCS) will be held in Columbia MO on the campus of the University of Missouri. This class is specifically designed for processors of acidified food products and meets the requirements of 21 CFR Part 114 for FDA regulated food manufacturers. Please contact Dr. Andrew Clarke at the University of Missouri Food Science Program (573-882-2610) if you have any questions about the Acidified Food Workshop.

Processors of low acid canned foods should attend a Better Process Control School event designed for thermal processing (retorting) of low acid products such as one offered at Oklahoma State University on May 21-24, 2012 or at the University of Arkansas on November 5, 8, 2012.

The registration fee is $400 for the first person from a company and $300 for each additional person. All participants will be provided with workshop materials as well as lunches and refreshments during breaks. Registration is limited to 100 participants. Registration deadline is Mar. 12, 2012.

To register, please send an e-mail with your contact information (participant name, company name, address, telephone and e-mail).

We will confirm your registration and provide directions to the meeting location by e-mail reply. If you have any questions or do not have e-mail access for registration, please contact JoAnn Lewis, 573-882-4113.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Goat Forum (Meat and Dairy Conference)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Beacon of Hope Church, Raymore, MO (Hwy 58, East of J Hwy)

9:00 am - Registration

9:45 am - Managing Your Goats for Profit, Dr. Steve Hart, Langston University Goat Extension Specialist

11:00 am - Kidding Obstetrics, Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert, Lincoln University, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

12:00 pm – Lunch

1:00 pm - Marketing Fresh Milk, Mr. Don Falls, MO Dept. of Ag, Dairy Manufacturing Program Director

2:00 pm - Managing the Lactating Dairy Doe, Dr. Jodie Pennington, Lincoln University Regional Small Ruminant Educator

3:00 pm - Wrap Up and Evaluation

Please RSVP (by February 21) at the Cass County University Extension Office (816-380-8460).

Sponsored by:
University of Missouri Extension – Cass County
Lincoln University Small Farmers Outreach Program
Beacon of Hope Church

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Holistic Management Workshop - Feb 25

What: Tools for Innovation in Land Management Workshop
Location: Forage Systems Research Center, 21262 Genoa Road, Linneus, MO 64653, 660-895-5121
Date: February 25, 2012
Time: 10 AM – 5 PM

This workshop will focus on the following topics:
• Enterprise stacking for diversifying production
• Innovative strategies and tools for increasing land health and farm profitability
• Land-manager developed plans for taking action and implementation

The agenda for this seminar will be as follows:

10:00 – 10:10 - Logistics, administrative details and introductions
10:10 – 10:20 - Introduction to tools for innovation in land management
10:20 – 10:40 - Introduction to Keyline*
10:40 – 12:00 - Perennial Farm Systems, Pasture Cropping, Livestock & Perennial Farming**
12:00 – 1:00 - Lunch
1:00 – 1:30 - Using Google Earth for Land Planning
1:30 – 5:00 - Breakout planning and design sessions

* Keyline design is a technique for maximizing beneficial use of water resources of a piece of land.

** Pasture Cropping is a technique, developed in Australia, of sowing crops into living perennial pastures and having these crops grow symbiotically with the existing pastures. We will also discuss adding fruit and nut trees and integrating that with a grazing operation.

Holistic Management International helps to improve your land and your life.  At HMI, our mission is to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future. We accomplish this by delivering a variety of programs and services designed to educate and support farmers, ranchers and land stewards in their efforts to enhance the land through Holistic Management, a Whole Farm/Ranch Planning System that, naturally, mimics nature. We believe that people count, healthy land is essential, and money matters.
Frank Aragona will be our speaker at this year’s seminar. Frank is the Director, Research and Development for Holistic Management International.  He is from Albuquerque New Mexico. Frank graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Master’s of Science in Forestry. From 2000 to 2003, Frank worked on agroforestry projects as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small agricultural village in Bolivia. In 2004 he created a small consulting company with the mission of integrating Information Technology and sustainable agriculture.  Frank began working with HMI in 2008.  In his free time Frank host the Agroinnovations Podcast, an online audio program that discusses permaculture, agroforestry, appropriate technology, and Holistic Management®.
From US Highway 36:  Turn north on State Road FF 1 1/2 miles west of Brookfield. Follow FF about 6 miles to end of blacktop and turn west (left) on Genoa Road.  Follow signs 1 1/2 miles to office building on south side of road.
From MO Route 5:  Turn east on State Road P at Linneus. Proceed 2 miles east until Rte. P turns sharply north where Finn Road exits on the curve. Follow Finn Road south 1 3/4 miles to Genoa Road. Turn east on Genoa and follow to office building on south side of road.

If you have any questions please call Tim at 817-929-4405

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

High Tunnel Loan Program

Under the High Tunnel Loan Program, Missouri producers who have been approved by USDA NRCS, through either the USDA NRCS EQIP Seasonal High Tunnel System Initiative or the EQIP Organic Initiative for a seasonal high tunnel reimbursement, will be eligible for a short term loan from the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority. Loans will be available at a fixed rate of 7.5 percent interest for the amount obligated to the producer by USDA NRCS for a term of up to one year.

Producers must first apply at their local USDA NRCS office. Once approved by NRCS, producers may apply for the High Tunnel Loan Program. Upon receipt of the required documents loan funds will be dispersed for the purchase of the high tunnel. The producer applying for the loan will be responsible for the monthly interest plus a one-time filing fee of $10.00.
What is required?
  • Copy of EQIP contract and obligation from USDA NRCS
  • Copy of estimate or contract from the high tunnel vendor
  • Application for High Tunnel Loan Program Get Adobe Reader
  • In the case the amount of the high tunnel exceeds the reimbursement amount the borrower may need to show proof of payment or the ability to pay the difference in the two amounts.
  • Upon approval, borrower will be required to provide an Assignment of Payment for NRCS. (NRCS-CPA-1236)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Webinar tonight - Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Food Safety

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's February webinars will be on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Food Safety. Marlin Bates, Regional Horticulture Specialist with University of Missouri Extension will be the presenter. Good Agricultural Practices can be defines as production and farm level practices that ensure the safety of fresh produce for human consumption. GAP production and post-harvest handling guidelines are designed to reduce the risk of food borne disease contamination on fresh produce. These voluntary procedures can be tailored to any production system.

Feb 6-Webinar - Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices, Part 1, 7-8:30 pm. Go to and sign in as a guest

Feb 13-Webinar - Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to and sign in as a guest

Friday, February 3, 2012

Farm Business Start-Up Checklist

This checklist is derived from the “Occupational Profile for Northeast Small Scale ‘Sustainable’ Farmer.” It lists tasks that established farmers believe are important to do before you open for business on “day one.” See the complete profile click here.

  • Secure farm business location(s) (i.e., purchase, rent or lease)
  • Complete farm planning process (production, marketing and financial plans)
  • Select and develop farm product and/or service mix
  • Establish farm legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, cooperative)
  • Register farm business; obtain business certificate
  • Obtain tax identification numbers for the farm business:
      1. _____ Sales Tax
      2. _____ Employer’s Tax
  • Acquire necessary permits, licenses and certifications; prepare to comply with all relevant regulations
      1. _____ Local
      2. _____ State
      3. _____ Federal
  • Purchase necessary insurance (e.g., liability, property, workers’ compensation)
  • Secure necessary financing (farm capitalization and operating); establish credit with key suppliers
  • Establish farm management team and job descriptions (e.g., family members and partners; employees; lawyer, accountant, other consultant services)
  • Open farm business bank account(s)
  • Set up farm business office; obtain necessary supplies and equipment
  • Set up farm bookkeeping and record keeping systems
  • Establish farm policies (personnel, safety, visitor)
  • Establish distribution channels/markets for farm products
  • Produce promotional and advertising material
  • Establish farm work plan; hire and schedule farm labor

Are you in business? You are if you answer yes to all the following:

  • I have products and/or services to sell
  • I have “announced” my presence (e.g., through signage, advertisements, word of mouth, attendance at a farmer’s market)
  • I have customers
  • I intend to make a profit from what I sell
  • I intend to file taxes as a business
  • I have chosen a legal structure for my business (e.g., sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, LLC) and have registered it as required
  • I have acquired all licenses and/or permits required to operate my business
(copied from the New England Small Farm Institute)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Farmers' Market Workshop in Southwest Missouri - Feb 18

A Farmers' Market Workshop will be held Saturday, February 18th from 9 am to 4 pm at Central United Methodist Church,6 South Pennsylvania, Webb City, MO.

There will be two simultaneous tracks.  Both will be in English with one fully translated into Hmong.

English language track
9:00 am - Food Safety from Farm to Market - Patrick Byers, UM Extension, & Russell Lilly, MO Department of Health

Noon - Lunch - Patrick Byers discusses 2011 challenges & solutions

1:00 pm - Customer Relations - Lane McConnell, Agri-Comm Services

2:00 pm - Detecting counterfeit money - Shon Bishop, Lincoln U Extension

2:30 pm - Using the internet & social media - Lane McConnell, Agri-Comm Services

Hmong language track
9:00 am - Customer Relations - Lane McConnell, Agri-Comm Services

10:00 am - Detecting counterfeit money - Shon Bishop, Lincoln U Extension

10:30 am - Using the internet & social media - Lane McConnell, Agri-Comm Services

Noon - Lunch - Patrick Byers discusses 2011 challenges & solutions

1:00 pm - Food Safety from Farm to Market - Patrick Byers, UM Extension, & Russell Lilly, MO Department of Health

There is no charge for the workshops, but reservations must be made by February 17th by calling 417-483-8139 or emailing

The workshops aresponsored by the Webb City Farmers Market with support from the USDA Specialty Crops grant program and Lincoln University and University of Missouri Extension.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grow Local: Production and Marketing Workshop - Feb 18

Missouri State University
William H. Darr School of Agriculture
Grow Local: Production and Marketing
Saturday, February 18
8:30am to 4:00pm

Learn about animal and produce enterprise opportunities as well as direct and wholesale marketing possibilities in Springfield and the surrounding area. HyVee, an employee-owned food store and catering facility operating at 230 locations in the Midwest, will share its vision on including local foods in retail grocery stores.

$15.00 per person, lunch included.

Registration form or call 417-547-7533 or 7500 to register with credit card.