Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farm Computer Conference Gives Families Updates

An annual Computers on the Farm Conference covers more than computers, says program organizer John Travlos, director of University of Missouri AgEBB.

Farmers, and especially their children, also learn about their smart phones, tablets, digital cameras and new apps for agriculture.

The conference, Jan. 10-11, is at Tan-Tar-A Resort, Osage Beach, Mo.

The technical meetings prove popular with young people, Travlos says. “The kids help parents use new technology. It is a family affair. We give a special welcome to FFA and 4-H members.”

The conference is for all people interested in computer applications on the farm, he adds.

“We have experts telling about computing advances. However, farm users teach as well, sharing ideas and software they developed,” says Travlos, who manages the MU Agricultural Electronic Bulletin Board. AgEBB is part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Classes feature lots of hands-on training. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment.

Exhibits offer more information and potential for hands-on use of technology.

Some of the software and apps developed by MU specialists include weather tools by Ray Massey, Columbia, “precision agriculture” by Kent Shannon, agricultural engineer, Centralia, Mo., and crop nutrient management tools by John Lory, soil scientist, Columbia.

Brad Scharf, MU animal scientist, will return with an update on “Heat Stress in Livestock.” The apps are available for Android and iPhones.

Travlos adds there will be new information on unmanned aerial vehicles. “We try to keep up with the rapid changes going on in agriculture.”

Also added are computer security, update on farm taxes and cloud computing.

Register online at http://agebb.missouri.edu/cotf/details.htm or call 573-882-4827.

The program begins 5:30 p.m., Jan. 10, and ends the following afternoon. Special room rates at Tan-Tar-A are available at 800-826-8272 for those attending Computers on the Farm.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Growing Healthy Communities: Impact of Food Policy and Regional Food System Management on Health

The Missouri Foundation for Health’s Food Policy Conference will occur during the second day of the Missouri Organic Association’s Annual Conference on Feb 6-8 at the University Plaza in Springfield, MO.  This full day of presentations and dialogue on the importance of managing regional food systems will begin at 7:30 am and continue through an evening meal of organic products.  Discussions will center on: Purposeful Community management of food access issues; and ways that Food Policy Councils can play a key role in encouraging the health of a community.

This conference would be helpful for community planners, government officials, public health advocates or healthcare practitioners to develop an understanding of the associations between food policy, food system management and health outcomes.  Topics include:

       Increase knowledge about food systems management and implications to health
       Demonstrate the need for healthy community engagement over food and agriculture policy
       Food issues
       Identify social justice implications of the existing food system
       Understand the implications of lack of purposeful food system management on our health
       Identify the potential impact that food policy councils can have on the health of a community
       Demonstrate the relationship between food policy and healthy food access.

7:30-7:50 am – Registration and Coffee

7:50-8:00 am – Opening Remarks: Angela Jenkins, RD/LD Project Coordinator, Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council (ORFPC)

8:00-9:00 am – Dr. Meera Scarrow, “Creating Optimal Health for Our Communities”

9:00-10:00 am – Melinda Lund RD/LD, “Health Implications of an Industrialized vs. Local Food Systems”

10:00-11:00 am – Dr. Paul Durham, “Epigenetics: Exploring the Impact of Nutrition on the Regulation of our Genes”

11:00-12:00 am – Patty Cantrell, Director of Healthy Living Alliance (HLA)/ YMCA, Significance of Support for Regional Food Systems on Health”

Noon – 1:00 pm – Lunch (On Your Own)

1:00-2:00 pm – Angela Jenkins, RD/LD, Project Coordinator ORFPC, “Review of Efforts since Inception”

2:00-2:30 pm – Dr. Dr. Francis Thicke, “Experiences from Iowa State Food Policy Council”

2:30-3:00 pm – Stephanie Currao, Food Systems Specialist, YMCA, “State Organizational Efforts of MoCAN Food Systems Workgroup”

3:00-4: 30 pm – Mark Winne, “Food Policy Councils: Putting Democracy to Work for Stronger Local Food Systems”

Additional Information:

       Book Signing with Mark Winne following his presentation.
       Registration is $75. Discount rate of $65 if you register before January 15, 2013.
       Please stay for the “Meet the Farmer Reception,” featuring a fantastic meal comprised of local organic & sustainably produced foods immediately following the Workshop (included in registration cost).
       7 CEU’s have been applied for Dietitians.

To register for the Food Policy Conference go to http://www.moaconference.org/mht-one-day-food-policy-conference-registration. For inquiries regarding the conference contact Angela Jenkins RD/LD, 417-827-3851.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Missouri Aquaculture Workshop

The Missouri Aquaculture Association will meet on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at Lincoln University's Carver Farm in Jefferson City, MO. Plan to join other aquaculture farmers for an informal dinner gathering Friday evening at 6:30. No need to let them know you are coming and no worries about last minute changes, just show up, visit with friends, and enjoy the buffet. They will meet at Golden China which is at 2021 Missouri Boulevard in Jefferson City.

A brochure with the agenda and registration information is at http://moaquaculture.org/2014MoAAbrochure.pdf. The registration form just needs to be completed and mailed with payment to: Missouri Aquaculture Association, c/o Crystal Lake Fisheries, Route 2 Box 528, Ava, MO 65608.

The MoAA membership application is also available online at http://moaquaculture.org/moaa/moaaapplication.pdf. It is important to complete this form since it is used throughout the year to provide information to members and to update listings in the MoAA directory.

Directions to Carver Farm are available at http://www.lincolnu.edu/web/cooperative-research/carver-farm-directions. All the information necessary to register and find Carver Farm are also available on the MoAA site at http://moaquaculture.org/.


8:00-9:00      Registration

9:00-9:15      Welcome, Kevin Flowers, MoAA President, Flowers Fish Farm

9:15-9:45      Hatcheries and Their Role in Fisheries Management for the Missouri Department of Conservation, Brian Canaday, Fisheries Division Chief, Missouri Department of Conservation

9:45-10:15    2013 Census of Aquaculture, Melissa Cruit, Census Statistician and Bob Garino, MO State Statistician, USDA-NASS Missouri

10:15-10:45  Renewal of MO-G130000 Permit, Amanda Sappington, Industrial Permits Unit Chief, MO Department of Natural Resources

10:45-11:00  Break

11:00-11:30  Split Pond Production Systems, Matthew "Rex" Recsetar, Extension Aquaculture Specialist, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

11:30-12:00  Economics of Split-Pond and Intensive Aeration Systems, Ganesh Kumar, Research Associate, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

12:00-1:15    Lunch and Tour of Aquaculture Facilities

1:15-1:45      Integrating Aquaculture Production and Marketing in Missouri, Dr. Jim Wetzel, Associate Professor of Aquaculture, Lincoln University

1:45-2:15      Crappie for Dinner, Chuck Hicks, Research Investigator, Lincoln University

2:15-2:30      MoAA Business Meeting
2:30-2:45      Wrap up, Kevin Flowers, MoAA President, Flowers Fish Farm

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advanced Year-Round Vegetable Production Workshop

An Advanced Year-Round Vegetable Production Workshop will take place as part of the Missouri Organic Association’s Annual Conference from February 6-8, 2014 in Springfield, MO.

Topics that will be discussed include:

  Season Extensions – High Tunnel Production Systems & Strategies

  Types of Farming Businesses/ Prices/ Profits & Business Strategies

  Farm Economics vs. Crop Economics – $ / Sq. Ft. / Weeks

  Breaking through Concrete

  Using and Maintaining the Correct Tools and Farm Machinery

  Components & Designs of Successful Farms – The Nuts & Bolts of Year-Round Farming

  Tools & Techniques for Intensive Vegetable Production

  Seeds / Soil / Compost / Crop Rotations/ Cover Crops

  Implementing the Bio-Extensive Method for Market Farming

Presenters include:

  Mike Bollinger – (formerly with Elliot Coleman),  Four Seasons Tools, Decorah, IA

  Joel Dufour – Earth Tools, Frankfort, KY

  Greg Garbos – Four Seasons Tools, Kansas City, MO

  Katherine Kelly, Executive Director – Cultivate KC, Kansas City, MO

  Michael Kilpatrick – Kilpatrick Family Farms, Middle Granville, NY

  George Kuepper – Director, Kerr Sustainable Center, Poteau OK

  Adam Montri – Hoophouse Outreach Specialist- University of MN

  Edwin Monty– Executive Director EAT South, Montgomery, AL

As part of this event you will be receive a “How-To” Manual written by the presenters, a $30 value.

To register just for this workshop, the cost is $65 which includes a meal or get a Double Deal - Buy 1 Regular Price, Get 1 Half Price - $97.50 or stay for the whole conference.  The Early Bird Special continues through January 15, 2014 - Buy 1 Full Price, Get 1 Half Price. For full conference details and registration click here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cover Crop Workshop

A Cover Crop Workshop will be held Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 from 9 am - 3 pm at Lincoln University’s George Washington Carver Farm, 3804 Bald Hill Road, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

The workshop will offer presentations on cover crop production and management a cover crop management demonstration.  Each participant will receive a copy of Managing Cover Crops Profitably.

Registration is required.  A registration fee of $30 per person will include the cover crop handbook and lunch

For more information or to register, contact Kristina Norris at (573) 681-6189.


9:00 a.m.                     Welcome and Administrative Announcements

9:20 – 9:50 a.m.          Benefits of Cover Crops

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.      Building Soil Fertility with Cover Crops

10:40 – 11:10 a.m.      A. Selecting Cover Crops for Your Farms
                                    B. Selecting Cover Crops for Your Home Garden

11:20 – 11:50 a.m.      Winter Cover Crop Management

11:50 – 12:30 p.m.      Lunch

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.        A. Grazing Cover Crops
                                    B. Terminating Cover Crops

1:10 – 1:40 p.m.          A. Summer Cover Crop Management
                                    B. Gardening with Cover Crops

1:50 – 2:20 p.m.          Cover Crop Demonstration

2:30 – 3:00 p.m.          Wrap-Up and Evaluation


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Plan Ahead for Marketing your Sheep and Goats

Goats and, to a lesser degree, sheep have exhibited seasonal price and production patterns that trace back to data that is recorded since the 1940’s. Traditionally, seasonable prices during the year usually vary at least 25% price difference, with the highest price being in March-April and the lowest market price in October. However, in recent years, the shortage of goat meat has resulted in greater changes from this price pattern. For the last 2-3 years, the price may vary by 50% from the highs before Easter to the lowest prices of the year. Much of the price fluctuation relates to the holidays of the ethnic calendar where meat consumption increases.

Because goats (and also sheep) are seasonal breeders coming into heat primarily from September to December, goat production leads to most kids being born five months later in late winter to early spring. The kids then are weaned in late summer or fall. This creates a market kid (hence fresh goat meat) shortage during the late winter-early spring months, and gluts the market during late summer and fall. Coupled with that, Easter (the Western or traditional Easter) has the strongest goat meat demand in the U.S. Usually, market kid and goat meat prices tend to reach their peak just before the Western Easter (March-April), drop significantly during June, continue trending downward through October-November, then begin rising toward the Christmas season (December). Fresh goat meat shortages force the prices to continue upward until they peak again during the Easter season (March-April). Lambs follow a similar pattern but with less variation in prices.
Latinos tend to eat goat meat as their traditional meat. They are the nation’s largest minority group, also the fastest growing population, and provide a significant consumer base for goat meat products. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2013), the Latino population in 2012 was 53 million, making up 17% of the U.S. population. Latino population growth between 2000 and 2010 accounted for more than half of the nation’s population growth. Much of the goat meat is consumed around festivals around holidays and birthdays. Holidays celebrated include New Year’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo (May 5), July 4, and Christmas. One concern with the Latino or Hispanic population is that they will grow accustomed to less expensive hamburger and decrease goat consumption.
The Muslim population makes up about 3-4 percent of the U.S. population, thus having a significant impact on goat and sheep meat consumption. Ramadan is a month-long holiday where Muslim/Islamic families celebrate the beginning and end of Ramadan. Festival meals take place each night since no food is consumed between sunrise and sunset. Male or female kids that are less than one year old and weigh 60 pounds are desired, but weaned kids between 60-120 pounds may be acceptable. Between the beginning and end of Ramadan, meat consumption is omitted from the diet, thus decreasing consumption of goat and lamb. Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. For the past few years, Ramadan has coincided with September - November, the months when most kids are weaned and sold (during the period when monthly prices fall or “bottom” due to seasonal weaning and sales production pressures); however, for the next few years, Ramadan will be earlier in the calendar year (beginning on June 28 in 2014 and moving earlier).
The movement of Ramadan toward summer and spring months (due to the lunar calendar) may improve the prices of kids sold during this period. Traditionally, Ramadan is a period of lower sheep and goat prices.
Since Ramadan will move earlier in the upcoming years, commercial producers may want to breed for fall-early winter kidding to take advantage of the improved late winter-early spring market. They may also want to breed to sell market kids at the beginning and end of the Ramadan season, particularly in the upcoming years as Ramadan moves to months that are earlier in the calendar year when market kid prices are historically higher. It is important to consider that the weather can be a major factor in determining baby kid survival during the winter months. Additional facilities may be needed to keep the does and kids protected from the weather.
How the changing dates of Ramadan and the increased demand for goat meat will affect the best times to market goats remains to be seen. Yet, producers should plan their marketing strategies around the traditional ethnic holidays—which means marketing 2-4 weeks before those holidays.
(by Jodie Pennington, Small Ruminant Specialist, Lincoln University)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Food Hub in Kansas City

The Greater Kansas City Food Hub Working Group and the Douglas County Food Policy Council need your input as they work together to explore the feasibility of developing food hubs in the region.  The goals of any newly developed food hubs would be to increase farm revenue, expand the production of fresh local food, and support the vibrant communities and local economy in Kansas and Missouri.

Please complete this 20 minute survey to help these organizations understand your current growing practices, interest level in selling into a food hub, and concerns about wholesale operations.

The survey will be available until January 17th, 2014.  To compensate you for your time in completing this survey, all survey respondents will receive a $15 coupon to Morgan County Seeds or Johnny's Select Seeds.

Your input is critical to determining whether or not the region should move forward with the development of foods hubs, and if so, what services and features the food hubs should offer.

Questions/concerns: Contact Emily Lucas (Local Project Coordinator for the Greater KC food hub feasibility study) at emiller@kchealthykids.org or Eileen Horn (Sustainability Coordinator for Douglas County/City of Lawrence) at ehorn@douglas-county.com."

For the Buyers survey the language is a little different as we are not compensating them for taking the survey:

"The Greater Kansas City Food Hub Working Group and the Douglas County Food Policy Council are working together to explore the feasibility of developing food hubs in the region. The goals of regional food hubs are to increase and improve the supply of regionally grown produce, meat, dairy, grains and other goods.

Please complete this 20 minute survey to help us learn about your current food purchasing practices and interest level in purchasing from a local food hub. The survey will be available until January 17th, 2014.

Survey input is critical to determining whether or not the region should move forward with the development of foods hubs, and if so, what services and features the food hubs should offer.

Contact Emily Lucas (Local Project Coordinator for the Greater KC food hub feasibility study) at  or EileenHorn (Sustainability Coordinator for Douglas County/City of Lawrence).

For guidance on how far to reach out, our food hub group has defined local (loosely) as 250 miles from the hearty of Kansas City.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Soil Health 2014 Webinar Series

The National Soil Health and Sustainability Team, located at the USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center, are pleased to offer a series of soil health webinars in 2014.  Start time for our soil health webinars is 1 pm (Central time).  For the full list of webinars, please click here.

The series starts on January 16, 2014 with the first webinar: "An Experimental Case Study for Soil Health." Other topics include:

* February 11 – The Biology of Soil Compaction

* March 11 – Soil Health and Production Benefits of Mob Grazing

* April 8 – Managing for Soil Health on Dry Land – A Farmer's Perspective

* May 13 – Using RUSLE2 to Evaluate Soil Health Planning Principles

* June 10 – Managing for Soil Health in the Piedmont Area of the Southeast – A Farmer's Perspective

* July 8 – Managing for Soil Health when Raising Potatoes – A Farmer's Perspective

* August 12 – Managing for Soil Health on an Organic Farm – A Farmer's Perspective

Our webinar topics in partnership with NRCS' National Energy Team and for "Understanding Organic and Sustainable Agriculture" will be released soon! Bookmark Planned Conservation Webinars for the most up-to-date schedule of conservation webinars presented by USDA NRCS Science and Technology.

Visit the Science & Technology Training Library to participate live and to replay webinars.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Soil Health Workshop: The Keys to Soil Health

You can unlock the secrets within the soil and improve crop yields by learning the key ingredients to managing soil at the Soil Health Workshop. This workshop will give basic knowledge of how soil works and how management practices affect the services that soil provides. Knowing the secrets to your soil will help you determine the practices that best fit your farm and your management goals.

Topics include:

       Soil Biology demystified - learn how microbial life is needed for crop nutrient uptake
       Dynamic properties of soil translated - managing for soil structure can help crops withstand drought
       Cover Crops rationalized - a great tool for improving soil health but just one part of the whole picture
       Management techniques analyzed - learn how to protect the greatest resource on your farm

January 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Vandalia MO at the First Baptist Church Multipurpose Building 111 Main Street, Vandalia, MO.  Deadline to register is January 1, 2014.

January 27, 9 am to 4 pm – Edina MO at the Knox County Community Center, 207 N 4th Street, Edina, MO. Deadline to register is January 13, 201.

Additional workshops in other areas of the state are being planned.  Towns and dates include (specific locations to come):

February 3 – Marshall, MO (Saline County)
February 11 – Butler, MO (Bates County)
March 4 – Kennett, MO (Dunklin County)
March 11 – Lamar, MO (Barton County)
March 18 – Sikeston, MO (Scott County)
March 25 – Albany, MO (Gentry County)

Registration:  $10 – lunch provided.  Make checks payable to “Soil Health Workshop” and mail to Jill Staples, Soil Health Workshop, MU-BREC, 4968 Rangeline Rd. Columbia, MO 65201.

Brought to you by the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center sponsored by NRCS.

For any questions contact Jill Staples at 573-239-2179.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Local Beekeeping Clubs Announce Spring Workshops

Did you know that there are 28 beekeeping clubs across Missouri? Did you know that many of them offer beekeeping workshops?  Below is a listing of beekeeping clubs offering workshops this winter and spring.  Can't find one close to you listed below then check out the full listing of Missouri beekeeping clubs.

Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association (EMBA) will offer its 7th Annual Beekeeping Workshop on Saturday, February 8th, at Maritz in Fenton. This is an all day workshop with tracks for both beginning and experienced beekeepers, led by nationally renowned researchers and educators. Registration opens in December at http://www.easternmobeekeepers.com/
Three Rivers Beekeepers will offer its Beginning Beekeeping Workshop on Friday and Saturday, February 7th & 8th, at the University of Missouri Extension Center in St. Peters. Details and registration will available soon at http://threeriversbeekeepers.com/

Quad County Beekeepers will offer a Beginning Beekeepers Workshop on Saturday, March 1 in Troy. Watch for details and registration at http://quadcountybeekeepers.com/

Midwestern Beekeepers will conduct a Beginning Beekeeping Workshop on Saturday, March 8 in Blue Springs. More details will be available soon at http://www.midwesternbeekeepers.org/

Western Missouri Beekeepers are having beginning beekeeping classes on each Saturday in the month of January.  To be held at the Franklin P Norman Community Center, 200 North Ash, Nevada MO 64772 from 9:30 to noon. Free to the public! Contact Caroline Phillips at bcphillips81@gmail.com for more information.

Mississippi Valley Beekeepers Association of the tri-state area will have its beginners beekeeping class on Saturday, March 1, at the U of I extension building, 330 S 36th St., Quincy IL. The one-day class will start at 9:00 am and will end at 3:00. After the class we will be placing orders for package bees and other equipment. Contact Bernie Andrew for further details.

Boone Regional Beekeepers announce the following Saturday workshops:

·       January 25, 2014, 8:30 am to 6:30 pm in Columbia. Presented by Boone Regional Beekeepers Association. Email Marty for more information. Beginning Beekeeping class includes hive building, lunch, honey-themed dinner, membership to both BRBA and the MSBA (restrictions apply) and a raffle drawing for the hive built during class.

·       February 8, 2014 9:00 am to 4:30 pm at Columbia Area Career Center. Presented by Jim ‘n’ I Farms. Email Valerie for more information. Cost includes lunch, membership to both BRBA and the MSBA (restrictions apply) and a discount on beekeeping supplies.

·       April 26, 2014 8:30 to 4:30 pm in Marshall, MO, at Saline County Career Center. Presented by Amy Giffen and Jim and Valerie Duever from Boone Regional Beekeepers Association. Email Michelle Hanson for more information. The cost will include lunch, hive building, membership to both BRBA and the MSBA (restrictions apply), and a discount on beekeeping supplies. We also taught a class on Dec 5th in Clinton, and that one filled up. We cap our attendance out at 30 students.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Farm Records

This is the time of year many are working on farm records and making business decisions. Good financial records allow for more informed decision making. Financial records begin with farm records and accounting information. There are many types of farm records with various features. MU Extension has a website with several choices.

If you are considering making a change in accounting systems or researching the best fit for your needs, it is important to consider how you plan to use the records. Each accounting system has features and limitations and of course a price tag.

County Extension offices have paper copies of the Missouri Farm Business Record Book, developed by University Extension and Ag Education. It contains receipts, expenditures, summary, and enterprise forms needed for one year of records. Refill pages are available and can be printed from the above website.

Computer software programs are another choice. There are basically two types of programs: 1) programs designed specifically for farm accounting and 2) generic programs designed for accounting.

Farm accounting packages
The website above lists a package called PC Mars. The company that created it is located in Iowa and the software is available through the Iowa Farm Business Center. A few features include inventory tracking, livestock and crop production data and enterprise allocations.

Other popular farm accounting software not listed on that webpage includes AgCHECK, AgManager, AgMIS, Easy Farm, Farm Biz and FarmWorks. These are some of the more popular packages, but it is not inclusive. A web search can find the company sites for these accounting packages. Many of the packages may have free demo programs, so potential buyers can try the software before purchasing.

Generic accounting packages
The website above lists a couple of popular software packages. The website mentions tools that can help customize these packages to make them easier to use for farm accounting.

There are several choices in accounting systems, so it may be helpful to make a list of the items you want in a package before you begin searching. It is important to choose a system that makes the task of entering records user-friendly to facilitate keeping your records current. Farm accounting is an important foundation of your farm business, so time spent researching accounting software can be very beneficial.
(by: Mary Sobba, MU Extension Ag Business Specialist)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Year-end Activities for Beef Producers

The end of the year is rapidly approaching. Many cattle producers are in the process of evaluating their herd productivity and doing business-related planning for the upcoming year. The following are a few items to consider for the upcoming winter season and new business year.

This is a good time of year to review rental or lease arrangements. Terms of these agreements tend to be very specific to the parties involved; therefore, general recommendations may not be particularly useful. However, several resources are available to assist producers with this process. MU guide G302, “2012 Custom Rates for Farm Services in Missouri” may be helpful in determining the value of services. Extension ag business specialists have sample lease agreements available which may be helpful in developing arrangements satisfying all parties. Remember agreements should be in writing and signed by all parties involved.

Beef cattle producers who have sold the spring calf crop are in a position to evaluate whole-herd performance. A general assessment of cow herd productivity is to divide total weight of calves sold by the total number of cows exposed to bulls. This average pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed is a useful benchmark to assess current productivity and guide future management decisions.

Producers with individual calf weights can get much more specific production data on their cow herd. Actual weaning weights need to be adjusted for age of calf at weaning, cow age, and sex of the calf. Then direct comparisons of productivity between cows can be done, since calf performance variables are standardized. Standardized adjustment formulas are available from the Beef Improvement Federation or MU Extension livestock specialists. These comparisons assist with current culling decisions and breeding decisions next spring.

One last thing to consider is an item for the upcoming calving season. The Sandhill’s Calving System was developed to help producers combat scour outbreaks in baby calves. The system is described below.

Prior to the start of the calving season, all cows are placed in a single pasture. Beginning two weeks after the first calves are born, all cows that have not calved are moved to a new pasture. Cows that have calved stay in the original pasture. After one week in the second pasture, all cows that have not calved are moved to a third pasture while cows that calved in the second pasture stay there. The process of moving pregnant cows to new pastures continues on a weekly basis. Cows and calves remain in their original pastures until the youngest calves are four weeks old, then these groups can be co-mingled back together.

With this system, most calves are born on clean pastures that have not been contaminated with scour causing pathogens from older calves. In addition to reducing pathogen exposure, this system helps with animal management. Pregnant cows are together in one pasture which reduces the amount of area a producer must cover when checking cows for calving problems. Most scour problems occur in calves 1 to 3 weeks old. Since calves are segregated by age and location, the time needed to track down and check the health condition of the calves is reduced. Attention can be focused on the groups most susceptible to scour problems.

Producers who have adopted this system have generally been very enthusiastic about the results. It takes some forward thinking and planning, so begin trying to figure out how this might be implemented on your operation if this idea is of interest.

(by Gene Schmitz, MU Extension Livestock Specialist)


Friday, December 6, 2013

Food Donations to Food Banks/Pantries and FSMA

I had a question come into my office the other day asking about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and how it will affect community gardens, demonstration gardens and farmers in general who donate produce to local food pantries.

I checked in with Marlin Bates, University of Missouri Regional Horticulture Specialist in the Kansas City area.  Here is his response.

“Basically, what should we be concerned with in regards to the FSMA?”

Great question. I’ll attempt to answer it in two parts:

As for what you (or anyone like you who grows fresh fruits/vegetables strictly for donation) need to be concerned about as it relates to FSMA:
My best interpretation is that the proposed rule would not apply (not to be confused with being exempt from the rule) to your operation because your farm on average (in the previous 3 years) sold less than $25,000 worth of food products.

As for your other concerns about liability:
Thank you for astutely pointing out the potentially exploitable hole in the armor of the organization. There are steps that you (and other groups that grow food for donation) could take to reduce the likelihood of microbial contamination of the food you produce/donate. It’s probably not a bad idea to have some sort of plan in place to ensure these contamination reduction measures are consistently executed. However, even this doesn’t eliminate liability (but it does reduce the likelihood of contamination and provide evidence of due diligence in the event of prosecution/suit).

Next learn as much as you can about developing a food safety plan.