Friday, March 30, 2012

A Drought Plan

I know it's rainy this week in much of Missouri but up until the last few weeks we weren't doing well on water. The forecast for the spring and summer is dry and hot -- yes, just a forecast but it doesn't hurt to prepare. Debi Kelly was at the North Central SARE Coordiantors Meeting listening to reports from the SARE train the trainer grant recipients when one mentioned drought.  Then she read the following from an MU extension newsletter and felt it was worth sharing with you. (Blog posted by Mary Hendrickson.)

Last August I toured a portion of south central Kansas on one of the hottest weeks of the summer. At one ranch on the Kansas-Oklahoma border, our ranch host spoke about his operation’s “drought plan.” He didn’t go into great details, but it did make me think about whether any southwest Missouri cattlemen had a well-thought out plan in case of a drought.

I’m not a weather forecaster, but the way our weather has gone since last June maybe we all need a drought plan for 2012. Here are a few basic suggestions for your plan:

 Lease pasture or hay land if it’s convenient and available.

 Consider selling older, less productive cows. Look at your records. Cull cow prices are attractive.

 Management intensive grazing systems improve forage utilization. They need to be started early in the grazing season.

 Wean early and sell calves after they reach an acceptable weight. Yes, selling a light weight (under 500 lbs.) for $2 per pound sounds good but try to add more pounds economically. Heavier cattle are the ones making the most total dollars.

 Store as much hay under cover as possible. If you store outside, review my tips from last month’s letter.

 Buy hay early if necessary.

 Buy by-products in large quantities (DDGS, CGF and soy hulls) and store if the price is right. Consider
partnering with neighbors if you can’t use a whole trailer load.

We all hope for a “normal” summer and there is some promise, but the way the spring is taking off it is a cause for concern to most farmers I visit with.
(by Eldon Cole, Livestock Specialist, Beef Newsletter, March 2012)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beef Cattle Recordkeeping

Many beef cattle producers do not like record keeping. While almost everyone has some type of financial record keeping system for tax purposes, many cattle producers do not keep records on animal production within their herds. Unfortunately for those folks, they are missing important financial or production information that could increase income or assist with management decisions.

Production records do not have to be complicated in order to be useful. Calving records are the first step and there are three options: (1) write down the date the first calf is born, (2) write down the number of calves born each day of the calving season, or (3) individually identify each calf and record its’ date of birth and dam.

Option one opens up age and source verified marketing possibilities. It takes a little planning, time, and effort to do the paperwork and get the ear tags for age and source verification, but the payoff, at least in past years, has been well worth the effort. This is about the closest thing to free money that exists in the cattle business and all that is needed initially is to write a date down on a calendar.

Option two collects information that may be useful in troubleshooting breeding or performance problems. Group calves on paper into 21-day calving intervals. The goal is to have as many calves as possible born during the first or second 21-day period of the calving season. Older calves are almost always the heaviest calves, so having more calves born early in the calving season should increase the pounds of calf sold off the farm. Holes in the calving distribution calendar may indicate bull or cow fertility problems or other management issues needing attention. Calving distribution information allows for formation of management groups, especially for feeding and breeding purposes.

Option three allows for more precise management of the herd. It opens the possibility of using computer record keeping systems to track bull, cow, calf, and overall herd performance. Individual animals can be identified as replacement prospects based on the production records of their dams, or animals can be identified for culling based on performance or other criteria.

The usefulness of production records cannot be overemphasized. However, simply collecting data is a worthless exercise. Records do need to be studied and the information they contain needs to be used in order for the effort to be worthwhile.

If you are looking for a method of keeping production records, many county extension offices have the “Red
Books” available for purchase. These books contain places to record most of the annual activities that occur on a beef operation. Contact your local extension center if you are interested in purchasing a red book.
(by Gene Schmitz, MU Livestock Specialist)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Missouri Drought More than Skin Deep: Dry Subsoil Threatens to Hurt Next Year's Crop Performance

 It may not look it, but many Missouri fields are hiding a deep, dry secret.

University of Missouri soil scientist Randy Miles said dried-out subsoil at depths of 3 feet or more could trouble next year’s crops in Missouri even if there is plenty of moisture in the topsoil.

“For crops like corn it’s not uncommon for roots to extend down 5-6 feet, and it’s the soil moisture there that sustains the crop in the latter part of the growing season,” Miles said. “When we have this deficit of moisture at that depth, we may not get grain fill to the extent of the plant’s potential to perform.”

This moisture shortfall isn’t likely to change soon.

Miles estimates that Missouri farms need 16-18 inches of rainfall to replenish soil moisture enough to ensure a good crop next year. That’s more than double normal winter precipitation, and would mean upwards of 13 feet of snowfall.

“People think that if we get a few good rains that the problem is solved,” said Miles. “Those rains will only put moisture into the first few inches of soil. We’ll need extraordinarily persistent rains for the moisture to get down 5 feet where the roots of mature plants live. It could take many weeks and months for water entering the soil surface to move into the 3-5 feet depth of the soil profile.”

In October, the USDA designated 101 Missouri counties as natural disaster areas due to drought. This showed a recognition of crop losses caused by lack of rain and excessive heat during July and August.

At depths of 4 feet, subsoil like this clay mix
normally contains a water table, but sits dry
this fall. Miles said 16-18 inches of drizzly rain is needed
this winter to replenish subsoil moisture to normal.
Although U.S. farmers harvested the fourth-largest corn crop ever in 2011, the bushels per acre planted didn’t quite measure up. Missouri’s average corn yields dropped to 115 bushels per acre, compared to last year’s 123 bushels, according to November crop reports from the USDA. Soybean yields received a similar hit, falling 4.5 bushels from last year’s average of 41.5 bushels per acre. National averages told a similar story, with corn yields falling 6.1 bushels from 2010 and soybeans continuing the downward march to 2.2 bushels per acre lower.

“Missouri has more than 5 million acres of soybeans, so even though that 4 bushels per acre doesn’t sound like much, it adds up to about $300 million in lost value this year,” said Mike Collins, director of plant sciences with MU’sCollege of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

This shortfall hinted at the difference subsoil moisture can make. Crops depend on subsoil moisture, especially during hot, dry periods from June to August. When rain stopped falling in June, corn felt drought stress during critical silking periods, ears struggled to fill out fully and some soybeans in their pods looked more like BB’s than beans.

Crop farmers weren’t the only ones affected by the heat and drought. Cattle farmers saw pastures dry up early, forcing many to start feeding hay far earlier than normal.

Winter rain and snow can recharge the soil, building up its bank of available moisture. However, this winter’s moisture will probably only mask problems that will trouble crops next summer.

“I expect to see next year’s crops be more dependent on current rainfall,” Collins said. “If we don’t get timely rain, I think we’ll see crops shut down much quicker than we did this year.”

(by Roger Meissen, MU Senior Information Specialist, University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Growing Vegetables for Consumption and Profit - April 7

The Growing Vegetables for Consumption and Profit training is aimed at rookie and seasoned vegetable growers. Training will cover best management practices for vegetable production in field and high tunnel (hoophouse). Training will also cover economics of vegetable production and crop budgets.

The workshop will be held April 7th at the University of Missouri Extension Center, 1106 West Main Street, Blue Springs, MO 64015, (816) 252-5051.  Register by March 26th, 2012.  The class size is limited to 35 participants.  Training fee is $45.00 per participant or $75.00 per couple. Fee includes training materials, box lunch, tea and coffee.

For more information about this training, or for an application form, contact Lala Kumar, Horticulture Specialist, at 816-252-5051 or email.

An optional field tour to a local vegetable grower will be on April 14, 2012 from 10:00am - 12:00 noon.  Details will be available during the training.


8:45am - Registration

9:00 - 10:00 - Site Selection, Soil Preparation, Raised Beds and Seedling Production

10:00 - 10:15 - Break

10:15 - 11:15 - Cultural Practices for Vegetable Production and Tomato Production

11:15 - 12:15 - Pumpkin and Sweet Corn Production

12:15 - 12:45 - Break for Lunch

12:45 - 1:45 - High Tunnel Vegetable Production and Irrigation

1:45 - 2:00 - Break

2:00 - 3:00 - Economics of Production and Crop Budgets

3:00 - 3:45 - Open Discussion with Presenters and Evaluation

Directions: From I-70, turn South onto 7 Hwy. Go approximately 2 miles and turn west on Main Street. Go through 2 four-way stops. Extension office sits on the south side of Main in the Ameri-can Community Bank Building.  Parking is in the back.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Early Spring at Farmers' Markets

On Saturday I shopped at the opening day of the Columbia Farmers' Market outdoor market. Unlike opening days in the previous three years, there was no snow – instead it was beautiful. Sunny, warm -- and lots of great products available.  I got spinach, large green garlic, spring salad mix, green onions (large ones), and eggs.  I picked up a breakfast burrito and some cinnamon rolls to take home for breakfast. And that doesn't count the organic pork and eggs, natural beef, fresh goat cheese and lots of flowers that were featured in different booths. Amazingly 39 vendors were out with great product -- read about it here:

So what is so amazing about Saturday's experience? First, the amount of product available 3 DAYS AFTER THE OFFICIAL START OF SPRING was astounding.  Yes, we have an early spring this year but the array of products available Saturday also shows how farmers have been successfully using season extension tools like hoop houses, low tunnels, row covers and other techniques to get great product to the market early. And there is no better time to adopt some of these techniques as both NRCS and MO Department of Agriculture have funding available to help offset the cost of putting up a hoop house. Second, farmers have really upped their game in terms of marketing at the farmers’ market.  I saw booths using baskets to showcase produce, great signage with easily identifiable price lists, banners promoting the farmers’ name and brand, and wonderful use of sampling of products to entice customers to buy. 

And finally it was great to see so many beginning farmers set up at the market! Dan and Laura Pugh were there with produce and eggs – and already sold out of eggs by the time I wandered through about two hours into the market.  Bluebell Farm from Fayette was using a great mix of marketing techniques – everything from a creative display of for-sale note cards featuring photos of their farms to accepting credit cards with an ingenious smart phone app -- to showcase their farm products.  (For more information on using credit cards at farmers’ markets see this story from a Virginia farmer and this story in Growing for Market

And yes – I’m crossing my fingers that we don’t get any frost that kills this amazing bounty!

n  Posted by Mary Hendrickson

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wholesale Success Workshop for Fruit and Vegetable Growers

Wholesale Success Workshop for Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Food Safety Training, and Farmer/Wholesale Buyer Panel!

The workshop will feature a presentation on Wholesale Success: a Farmer’s Guide to Selling, Postharvest Handling and Packing Produce.

Participating producers will receive a free copy of the Wholesale Success Manual (a $50 value): Developed by this 256 page four-color publication is a leading source of information to help farmers scale up and sell into wholesale channels. The evening will conclude with a Farmer/Wholesale Buyer Panel.

Learn about:
• Post harvest handling
• Food safety needs of wholesale buyers
• Packing and grading
• Maintaining the cold chain

Meet wholesale buyers and start building relationships

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
1:30-5:30 pm – Selling into Wholesale Markets Workshop
5:30-6:15 pm – Dinner (provided)
6:15-7:30 pm – Farmer/Wholesale Buyer Panel

Where: Warren County Extension Center
107 W Walton, Warrenton MO 63640
RSVP: by April 12th
Cost: $15/person. Make checks payable to University of Missouri

Presented by: University of Missouri Extension and

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I am heading to England today with a colleague and 25 ag students from MU for a 10 day study abroad class.  We'll be visiting a number of farms, ag related businesses and of course lots of tourist sites.  I hope to post from there from time to time.  In the meantime, Mary Hendrickson will keep everyone up to date on information.  debi

Controlling Worms in Small Ruminants during the Spring

Presently, the ground has been relatively dry as rain has been below normal for the last few months. But spring is here and warmer weather is around the corner and the expected spring showers. May usually has the highest rainfall of the year.

Worms, or internal parasites, are one of the biggest problems of small ruminants and especially meat and dairy goats. Worms not only kill both young and old animals, they contribute to poor growth rates, an unthrifty appearance, coughing, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, bottle jaw. Lack of control of worms can destroy a herd or flock. In order to control worms, you must set up sanitation and deworming programs and then adhere to them. To minimize contamination of uninfected goats, maintain a dry, clean environment to reduce worm growth. Depending on location and density of animals in the field, deworming may have to be repeated at different times during the year. Sanitation programs to control worms in small ruminants include sound manure management with frequent removal of manure. The facilities need to be clean to minimize potential contamination with parasitic eggs in the manure. Rotate pastures at least every three weeks to break the life cycle of the worms if possible and decrease stocking rates when the livestock density is too high. Taller pastures for goats will minimize exposure to larva of internal parasites. Depending on the type of forage, goats should graze four to six inches above the ground to minimize exposure to larvae of internal parasites which are primarily located in the bottom four inches of grass.

During summer months, it is critical that height of forage be monitored closely as lack of rain may slow growth of the forage and the pasture may quickly become too short. Other sanitation methods include having feed goats in troughs or racks that are sufficiently high above the ground to prevent manure contamination and thus exposure to parasitic eggs. A bar down the middle of the feed trough prevents goats from playing in the trough and dropping manure in the feed. Watering troughs should be constructed to prevent manure contamination. A concrete pad extended around the base of the trough can prevent goats from getting close enough to get manure in the water. Utilize high, well-drained pastures, especially when the ground is wet, and avoid low, wet pastures when rains are frequent.

There are different types of deworming programs that can be effective for goats. One of the most effective programs includes monitoring the level of parasite eggs in the feces, i.e. fecal egg counts (FECs), which provides an indication of the quantity of worms (and also coccidia, a protozoan parasite in the small intestine). You or your veterinarian may conduct FECs either on a routine schedule or when an animal is suspected of having worms and then deworm animals that have high FECs.

Fecal egg counts can be used not only to monitor the level of infestation of internal parasites in goats but also to determine the effectiveness of the dewormers used to treat the goats. Many producers now use a dewormer until it is no longer effective before switching to another dewormer. This technique is believed to save effective products of unrelated compounds for future use in the parasite control program. For beginning goat owners, it is best to work with your veterinarian or an experienced goat owner on internal parasite control in the herd. For producers who deworm all goats on a 4 or 6 week schedule, there is greater risk of build-up of parasite resistance to a dewormer than with less frequent deworming. Goats that consistently need deworming should be culled from the herd.

Some experienced caretakers may be able to deworm only 20 to 30 percent of the herd by routinely watching goats for signs of abnormal appearance and/or behavior plus monitoring levels of anemia in the mucous membrane of the eyelids, gums, or vulva. One approach, called the FAMACHA system for monitoring of the mucous membranes of the lower eyelid (not the eye), works well with a knowledgeable caretaker and when Haemonchus contortis, or the barber pole worm, is the primary internal parasite. H. contortis is a blood sucker, and heavy infestation results in anemia. Other techniques include monitoring the pigmentation of the vulva or gums to determine level of anemia.  However, if tape worms, Trichostrongylus, or other worms are the primary worm infecting the herd, monitoring anemia levels may not adequately diagnose the problem, since these worms are not primarily blood suckers.

In summary, worms in small ruminants can be controlled by good sanitation and a deworming program. Goats and sheep should be dewormed only as often as needed to control worms. However, the need for deworming varies greatly among herds, depending on sanitation, forage management, and observation skills of the caretaker.
(By: Jodie Pennington, LU Small Ruminant Specialist)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grants Available for Farmers from MO Dept of Ag

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for funding to increase the production, processing and or distribution of Missouri's specialty crops. The Department anticipates receiving more than $350,000 in grant funding for fiscal year 2013 from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Missouri.

"Specialty crop grants provide assistance to Missouri producers in reaching their goals and paving their way to increased opportunities in agriculture," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "We continue to look for every opportunity to assist and support our state's agricultural producers. This funding is one more way to reduce some of the financial hurdles of bringing these products to market and help farmers grow their businesses.

Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The Department's goal is to use the grant program to expand local, regional and international markets and distribution channels for specialty crops, as well as for education, marketing and infrastructure development.

Applications for the 2013 fiscal year must be submitted to the Department no later than May 11, 2012. A list of previously funded projects is available on the Department's website.

Applications are available online, or by contacting the Department's Agriculture Business Development Division at For more information on the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for funding to increase the production, processing and or distribution of Missouri's specialty crops. The Department anticipates receiving more than $350,000 in grant funding for fiscal year 2013 from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Missouri.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

River Hills Spring Poultry Expo 2012

Saturday April 14, 2012
Beginning at 7:30 a.m.
at Silex R-1 School in Silex, Missouri

The day will feature:
- A large farmers’ market with poultry and small stock, one of the largest of the year.
- Demonstration on laying hen selection
- Displays of rare and heritage poultry and livestock
- An egg hunt and special youth auction
- Poultry show
- Country auction
- Raffle
- Many free educational material handouts

No admission charge.  Plenty of free parking.  Food will be available on the grounds.

The farmers’ market that day will feature a wide range of farm goods including; heritage breeds of poultry and small stock, hatching eggs, plants, crafts, baked goods, garden supplies, poultry equipment, cages, and much more.

The market is open to all farmers and growers. The vendor’s fee is $10.00, free to market members.

A highlight of the day will be some of the rarest of poultry breeds and many prize winning birds have been bought at this event in the past.

Location: At Silex R-1 School on Hwy. UU on the western edge of Silex, Missouri. Silex is 30 minutes north of I-70 at Wentzville and just 5 minutes off Hwy. 61 on Hwy. E. Silex is less than an hours drive from St. Louis.

Sponsored by: River Hills Farmers Markets in Silex, & Troy
For more information call 573-485-7261 or 660-456-7565

Monday, March 19, 2012

Understanding and Managing Soil Quality Workshop

The Understanding and Managing Soil Quality Workshop will be held at Kansas Community College, Leavenworth Campus, 225 Cherokee, Leavenworth, KS on Saturday, April 14th from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

Crimson Clover
Healthy soil is the basis of a productive farm. This workshop will help participants understand the processes that take place in their soil and what management practices will help maintain its fertility and productivity. Organic management practices will be emphasized.

10:00-11:30 am Understanding Soil
Rhonda Janke, K-State University, will review the basics of soil structure, type, processes and nutrients that effect how crops grow.

11:30 Lunch (provided)

12-1:30 pm Rhonda will discuss how to calculate crop nutrient needs and show participants some at-home tests of soil quality. Laboratory soil test results will also be reviewed. Participants can bring their own soil test results to discuss and share.

1:30-2:15 pm Cover Crops
Paul Conway of Conway’s Produce will discuss how he uses different cover crops to increase and maintain soil quality on his farm.

2:30-3:30 Farm tour of Conway’s Produce

This workshop is being brought to you by K-State Research and Extension, a partner of the Growing Growers program. Cost to attend this workshop is $30. To register contact Cary Rivard at 913 856-2335.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Colorado Potato Beetle

With the warm winter we have been experiencing, insects are likely to be more of problematic than usual. Colorado potato beetle is a huge problem in vegetable gardens and is hard to control. It is found in most regions of the country and feeds exclusively on the foliage of cultivated and wild plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. It is a major pest of potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes with alternate hosts of weeds such as horse nettle.

Colorado potato beetle overwinters in the soil as an adult and emerges about April to feast on potatoes, which is usually the first host plant during the cool spring temperatures. Female beetles may lay several hundred eggs in her lifetime, 30 to 60 at a time on the underside of plant leaves. The eggs hatch within four to nine days and start feeding immediately. The larva mature in two to three weeks before going in a pupal stage that last five to ten days before becoming adults in June. The higher the temperatures are, the faster the lifecycle completes.

Adults and larva feed on the foliage in the same manner, consuming large portions of the foliage. Large larva and first generation adults are the stages that do the most damage. They can completely defoliate the host plant and feed on the stems. Loss of foliage weakens the plant and results in a reduction of yield, whether it is tubers or fruit.

There are some biological control options but they are not effective on large populations. Spined soldier bug, two-spotted stinkbug, ladybird beetle, and carabid beetles are beneficial predators that prey on eggs and larvae. Crop rotation and thick straw mulch are cultural control measures that help. Since Colorado potato beetles have a high reproductive rate and they feed on only a few plants, they have the ability to become resistant to insecticides. Rotating chemicals with different modes of action helps prevent resistance.
(By Katie Kammler, MU Extension Regional Horticulture Specialist)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pastured Poultry Workshop

As part of the Growing Growers Kansas City 2012 Market Gardening Workshop Series the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program presents: Pastured Poultry Workshop

When: March 17th Saturday 1-3pm
Where:  Barham Farm, 16600 NE 128th St, Kearney, MO
Cost: $5.00 per person

Picture courtesy of Truman State University
Details: Join us for a walking tour and overview of pastured poultry. Barham Cattle Company raises pastured poultry, eggs, turkey and beef for retail sales at farmers' markets, and through their meat CSA .

Materials will be supplied by Lincoln University Innovative Small Farm Outreach Program and ATTRA.

To register or for more information contact:
Jim Pierce, LU Farm Outreach Worker, 660-232-1096 or Katie Nixon, LU Small Farm Specialist, 816-809-5074,  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SW Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference March 24; Fecal Egg Count Workshop March 23

The Southwest Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference is planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 24, at the New-Mac Electric Community Room, 9 Mustang Lane (near corner of Hwy 76 and 71B), Anderson, MO.

If you want to raise sheep or goats for meat or milk, you can learn how to raise them successfully at this conference. The conference will provide the basic information participants would need to work with sheep and goats, including hands-on training in the afternoon.

Topics for the conference include herd health management including foot rot, internal parasite control, sheep and goat nutrition including pasture and forage management, and co-grazing of small ruminants and cattle.

After lunch at the McDonald County Fairgrounds, the conference also will include an information-exchange panel of sheep and goat producers who will answer questions from the audience. Panel members include Todd Schubert, Manager of White’s Sale at Diamond; Pam and Garry Bartkowski, goat and cattle producers from McDonald County; Cecile and Tim O’Neil, cattle producers who are adding goats to their operation from Barry County; Rachael Kennedy, Newton County meat goat producer; and Christy Cole, Newton County dairy goat producer and 4-H leader.

Hands-on practices will include deworming, FAMACHA, vaccinations, foot trimming, body condition scoring, and selection of breeding stock.

Other speakers include Dr. Helen Swartz and Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert from Lincoln University Extension in Jefferson City. Swartz is a sheep and goat specialist who has worked with small ruminants for over 40 years. Clifford-Rathert is a small ruminant veterinarian who routinely works with goat diseases and internal parasites.

Additionally, the University of Missouri and Lincoln University Extension are hosting a Fecal Egg Count Workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm, Friday, March 23 in HS2 (basement) of Smith Hall (Newton County Extension Center) on the campus of Crowder College, Neosho, MO, at the corner of Hwy D and Doniphan Ave.

Worms are the primary internal parasite of small ruminants and remain one of the biggest problems of meat and dairy goats. They can also be a problem in sheep but not to the same extent as goats. In order to control worms, you must set up a deworming and sanitation program and stick to it. Worms not only kill both young and old goats, they contribute to poor growth rates, an unthrifty appearance, coughing, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, bottle jaw.

For those who pre-register before March 19, the cost is $10 person. Simply mail your registration information to the Newton County Extension Center, 601 Laclede, Smith Hall (Crowder College), Neosho, MO 64850. Registration is $15 at the door the day of the event. You also may contact the Newton County Extension Center at 417-455-9500 or email to register or for more information.

(by Jodie Pennington, Lincoln University)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tonight - Financing for Beginning Farmers Webinar, Part 2

Join us this evening for Part 2 of Financing for Beginning Farmers webinar.  Tonight hear from 3 funding sources.  The first wil lbe FSA (Farm Service Agency) and learn about their farm programs for beginning farmers.  Second, hear from MDA (MO Department of Agriculture) and learn about the beginning farmers loan, alternative ag loan, agrimissouri, high tunnel loan, and more.  To end the webinar, you will learn about the cost share programs available from NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service).

March 12-Webinar - Financing for Beginning Farmers, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to and sign in as a guest

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Forage Systems Research Center hosts summer pasture workshop, March 19

The past few summers have been dry and hot across much of the Midwest, leaving many livestock producers short of pasture in July and August. Producers can learn the latest strategies to ensure healthy summer pastures at Forage Systems Research Center’s summer pasture workshop, March 19 at 1:30 p.m.

Located near Linneus, Mo., the Center is one of 17 around the state at which the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri conducts impactful research benefitting Missouri farmers.

A few cows of the herd at the FSRC.
The workshop will begin with presentations, but Superintendent Dave Davis said much of the afternoon will be an open dialogue between producers and researchers. Weather permitting, attendees will take a short tour of FSRC’s pastures.

Robert Kallenbach, MU professor of plant science and forage specialist, will present his research on a variety of summer annual forages, including sorghum-sudangrass with a brown midrib trait, which makes the fiber more digestible by livestock, and the dwarf trait variety that produces less stem and more leaf, making it highly palatable and nutritious. Kallenbach will also discuss interseeding strategies and optimal pasture management to prepare for dry, hot conditions.

Davis said they’ll address the do’s and don’ts of cover cropping as well. “We want to make the mistakes so producers don’t have to,” he said.

Allen Powell has a cow/calf operation near FSRC and sits on its advisory board. Powell said there are many producers in Missouri looking for grazing strategies for the challenging conditions they’ve experienced the last few years. “If we develop healthy soils, that will mean healthy grass, healthy animals and healthy people,” Powell said.

The event is free and open to the public. To register, contact David Davis at or 660-985-5121. For driving directions and other information about FSRC.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Missouri Receives More Than $1 million for Season High Tunnel Initiative Funding

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has allocated a nation-high $1,065,000 for distribution to the 2012 Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative in Missouri. High tunnels, made of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, capture solar energy and enable farmers to grow crops in climates at times of the year in which it would otherwise be impossible. High tunnels reduce pesticide use, keep vital nutrients in the soil and extend the growing season which in turn extends yields. The nearly $1.1 million in federal funding will assist in building approximately 177 high tunnels in Missouri over the next year.

"I'm pleased that Missouri has received such a significant amount of funding for the high tunnel initiative," NRCS State Conservationist J.R. Flores said. "It speaks to both the interest and the need of the landowners in our state. The farmers who sell their produce locally benefit from the extra income that comes from a high tunnel and the community benefits from the availability of fresh, locally grown food."

$15 million will be distributed across the nation for seasonal high tunnel funding with Michigan receiving the second-highest share behind Missouri with $969,000.

NRCS offers financial assistance, $2.57 per square foot or $3.08 per square foot for beginning or historically underserved farmers, for high tunnels up to 2,178 square feet through the Environmental quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Landowners may construct larger high tunnels, but any square footage greater than 2,178 is at the landowner's expense. Since 2010, 162 Missouri producers have installed high tunnels through EQIP. NRCS has paid $715,000 to those producers.

Applications for seasonal high tunnels are being accepted on a continuous basis although three application period cutoffs have been established to evaluate and approve those received to date. The dates for the remaining two application periods are March 30 and June 1. Those interested in applying for a seasonal high tunnel may submit an application to their local NRCS service center. NRCS can be found in the phone book under "U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture," or online.

Under the High Tunnel Loan Program, Missouri producers who have been approved by NRCS through either the USDA NRCS EQIP Season High Tunnel Initiative or the EQIP Organic Initiative for a seasonal high tunnel reimbursement may be eligible for a short term loan from the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority. Loans are 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. Contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture for more information at 573-751-2129.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Food Safety - Field to Market Workshop March 22

The workshop is from 1:00 to 4:00pm on Thursday, March 22, 2012 at Missouri State University's Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove, MO.  The workshop will take place in Faurot Hall 102.

Topics to be covered:
  • What is Food Safety
  • Importance of Food Safety 
  • State Regulations for Selling to the public
  • Food Safety Concerns in the Field:  Field preparation & planting, manure usage & crop cultural guidelines
  •  Irrigation Methods and Associated Issues
  • Harvest and Post-Harvest Safety
  • Food Safety- Field to Market
  • GAP - Good Agriculture Practices on the farm
Russell Lilly, Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services
Patrick Byers, Horticulturist, University of Missouri Extension, Greene County
Tony Bratsch, Horticulturist, University of Missouri Extension, Phelps County
John Avery, Fruit Grower Advisor, Missouri State University

Participants who complete the workshop will receive a certificate of completion and a laminated sign for display at their market stand.

Hosted by Missouri State University Fruit Experiment Station Mountain Grove, Missouri

There is no fee, but please call 417 547-7533 or e-mail to register if possible.  Walk-ins are welcome. 

Directions:  From Hwy 60, take second Mtn. Grove exit (Hwy 95). Turn north, go past Wal-Mart. Take next right (Red Spring Rd).  9740 Red Spring Rd. Mtn. Grove, Mo

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tonight - Financing for Beginning Farmers Webinar

Please join the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program for their monthly webinars.  This month we will be visiting with different agencies about how beginning farmers can get financing for their farm.  Tonight we will hear from FCS Financial (Farm Credit Service).  FCS also has a beginning farmers grant and are working with beginning farmers.  Learn what FCS is, what programs they have for beginning farmers and what they look for from beginning farmers when they apply for funding.

March 5-Webinar - Financing for Beginning Farmers, Part 1, 7-8:30 pm. Go to  and sign in as a guest

March 12-Webinar - Financing for Beginning Farmers, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to  and sign in as a guest

Friday, March 2, 2012

10 Reasons Why Farmers’ Markets are Better than Supermarkets

Summer and fall are a time when farmers’ markets are operating in most cities and towns. A good farmers’ market makes for better shopping experiences, and usually better eating for your family. Here are 10 reasons why that is so.

1. Always Fresh. Foods purchased at farmers’ markets are fresh, having been picked on the day you buy them or a couple of days before, at most. Supermarket foods, even when marketed as fresh, are usually picked and processed, stored, and then spend days or weeks getting to the supermarket where you buy them.
2. Local Variety. A farmers’ market is likely to have varieties of fruits and vegetables native to your area that you would never find in a supermarket. This is due to difficulties in storage and transportation for some varieties, and because some do not lend themselves to large scale production.
3. Flavor. Since the foods you find in farmers’ markets are fresh-picked and ripened in the field or garden, the flavors tend be much more intense and varied than those you find in supermarket foods.
4. Nutrition. Because foods sold in farmer’s markets are fresh and have ripened in their natural state, the nutritional values tend to be higher than those of processed or artificially ripened foods.
5. Local Economic Impact. When you buy your vegetables, fruits, poultry and meat at a farmer’s market, you know that the money you spend is going to a local farmer or gardener. This helps your local economy to remain healthy and strong.
6. Energy Independence. We often hear our politicians speak of weaning the nation from dependence on foreign energy sources. By buying your food at a farmers’ market, you are saving the energy that it takes to bring non-local foods from faraway locations.
7. Less Packaging. The fact that most of the food that you will buy at a farmers’ market is not processed and packaged, there will be less waste to end up in the local landfill. Referring back to number 6, there will also be less energy used in order to create packaging for the food you buy.
8. The Great Outdoors. Most farmers’ markets, though sheltered, are located outside. Shopping for your food outside helps you feel more connected to nature and to the environment in which your food is grown. It’s also a more pleasant experience to smell outdoor air and the produce around you than it is to breathe the cooled and conditioned air of a supermarket.
9. Socialization. There is something about a farmers’ market that encourages conversation. You tend to meet up with neighbors while shopping, and you probably know the producers from whom you are buying your food. A well attended farmers’ market helps to build a strong community.
10. No Bad Recorded Music! This may be the most important advantage of farmers’ markets over supermarkets. Who picks the endless loops of really bad music that play over and over in supermarkets everywhere? Is it a requirement that supermarket music be universally bland and awful so that all can be equally annoyed? The few times that I’ve been in a farmers’ market where music was playing, it was performed live by local artists, and was at least interesting to hear, even if it’s not of the highest quality.
So there we are; 10 reasons to take your family down to the local farmers’ market while the season is ripe. You’ll enjoy the experience, love the food, and will likely be eating more nutrient-rich food than you otherwise would.
(by Jessica Jackson, summer nanny jobs)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass

Are you a farmer, rancher or food business entrepreneur interested in local and regionally-produced food?

Are you a community leader wondering how local and regional food systems can help your local economy?

Are you a consumer interested in learning more about where your food comes from?

Now you can learn more about USDA’s support of local and regional food through the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. The Compass is an online multi-media narrative with stories, pictures and video about USDA’s support for local and regional food systems and an interactive map of USDA-supported local and regional food activities in all 50 states. With the Compass, you can navigate USDA resources for local and regional food ; meet farmers, ranchers, businesses and communities in your state that are participating in local food chains; and learn about local and regional food projects across the country.

Released today, the Compass showcases USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative. The Initiative was launched in 2009 to coordinate the work of USDA’s 17 agencies and many staff offices that invest in local and regional food systems. Since then, USDA has supported nearly 4,500 seasonal high tunnels (or “hoop houses”) to help farmers extend their growing seasons. We’ve also seen the number of number of farm to school programs jump from 400 in 2004 to over 2,300 in 2011 and the number of operating farmers markets blossom from 4,685 in 2008 to over 7,100 in 2011.

But we at the USDA know that local food is about so much more. It’s about places like Idaho’s Bounty Food Coop in Ketchum, Idaho which received a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to expand delivery of local food from warehouse to retail. It’s about Ohio State University in Cleveland Ohio which used a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant to expand BEAN’s (Beginning Entrepreneurs in Agricultural Networks) ability to train new farmers and to develop 3,300 city acres into food enterprises. It’s about the Diamond B Farm in New Durham , New Hampshire where farmer Meghan Bickford secured funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to create a rotational grazing plan for her herd of Belted Galloway and Angus cattle, build a ground gutter and grassed waterway to treat barnyard runoff, and implement a forest stand improvement plan. You can read these and other stories here.

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a valuable resource documenting the innovation, entrepreneurship and impact of local food systems across the country. It is driving job growth, keeping farmers and on the land, and keeping wealth in rural communities. We invite you to dive deep into this new tool, and be inspired by the stories it tells and the ideas it can spur for you and your community.

You can also join us for a “virtual conversation” on Twitter about local and regional food on Monday, March 5 from 2:30-4:00 pm. Follow hashtag #KYF2 and tune in at 2:30pm ET.