What does it take to solve problems in agriculture—or any problem for that matter? According to one youth leader it takes cooperation between people of all ages. Serving as the National FFA Central Region Vice President will allow South Dakotan native Wyatt DeJong the opportunity to work with FFA members across the country as well as the current leaders in the agricultural industry. DeJong says cooperation between ag youth and ag leaders will be essential in solving the issues the industry faces today.
Thirteen ag projects were granted federal funds through the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop fund last week. More than $300,000 goes to projects that increase specialty crop use in the state. Eileen Nichols, the director of the Webb City Farmers Market who received a portion of the grant plans to help producers AND consumers with the funds.
“We’re looking at this as a way to not only benefit the farmers, but a way to benefit the citizens by increasing their vegetable and fruit intake,” Nichols said.
Nichols will use the grant money to educate consumers through social networking sites and a cooking show on television. Some of the other grants go to the Catholic Charities of St. Louis to provide vouchers to low income families to spend at farmers markets, the University of Missouri for research in various specialty crop fields and the Missouri Department of Ag to build a mobile flash freezing unit to educate growers about the process. The one-year grants are administered through the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block grant program.
A new virus has been confirmed in switchgrass by researchers at the University of Illinois that has the potential to decrease photosynthesis and switchgrass yields. Although switchgrass is not widely used in ethanol production, USDA researchers say it has the prospect of being refined more efficiently into ethanol than corn. The virus was discovered through a new experimental process allowing scientists to screen for viruses without knowing what they are looking for. Researchers can’t tell yet whether the switchgrass virus is capable of infecting other crops.
The 83rd National FFA Convention began the week by commemorating the anniversary of the New Farmers of America merger 45 years ago. Twelve former members of the NFA, a program for black agriculturalists, were presented with a brick to be placed in the walkway of the FFA Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Recipient Eddie Moore says the dedication was full of acknowledgment, recognition and celebration.
Two Missouri FFA members were selected to receive the National Agri-Entrepreneurship Award at the 83rd National FFA Convention last week. Dustin Stanton from Centralia and Lydia Buck of Glasgow were chosen to be part of only ten students from across the country to receive the award and $1,000. The Agri-Entrepreneurship Award recognizes students who start or are planning to start their own business. Stanton says hard work and dedication are what have made him successful.
“I’ve been doing this for 11 years,” Stanton said. “I do it every day repetitively. If one day I just get tired and quit, everything you work for will just go to pieces. You have to be able to keep on building and make a life out of it.”
Stanton produces more than 450 dozen eggs every week and grew his project from a dozen chickens to an operation of more than 5,000 laying hens. Buck also owns her business of raising quail which she started because of the low population of quail in Missouri. She highly recommends other FFA members aspire to owning their own business.
“Communicate with your advisor, tell them ‘hey, I’m interested in this program and I really, really want to do this’,” Buck said. “Then just go for it. If you have an SAE, if you have an idea for a project then just go for it.”
The Agri-Entrepreneurship Award is a special project of the National FFA Foundation and USDA Rural Development.
Receiving the American FFA Degree is a milestone for many FFA members across the country. One Indiana family is celebrating the milestone– times four. Malena, Primmer, John and Lucia Zook are quadruplets from the Carroll FFA Chapter and ALL were awarded with the American FFA Degree at the recent National FFA Convention. The two brothers and two sisters were all involved in FFA throughout high school and have chosen to attend separate colleges to pursue their degrees ranging from nursing to informatics. More than 3,500 students from across the country were awarded the degree this past week.
Past National FFA President Paul Moya has remained busy in the year following the completion of his office. Besides going back to school at the University of Notre Dame and spending the summer working at an orphanage in Honduras, Moya is launching a public speaking career through a website showcasing his work.
“Since that time I have continued to speak, but here recently I just launched a new website that allows me to connect with audiences involved with FFA, but also outside of the FFA as well so I can continue to hopefully inspire more students around the country,” Moya said.
Moya hopes his speaking will encourage people to overcome the fear of failure and to go for the things they want the most in life.
In less than one month, more than 500 college students from across the country will gather in Kansas City, Missouri to attend the annual Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference. This event allows students to prepare themselves for the workforce and increase their knowledge of the agricultural industry while networking with sixty representatives of agricultural companies.
The conference begins November 4th and will focus on the theme “Agriculture: Our Voice. Our Vision.” Participants will be challenged to establish a unified voice for agriculture as well as develop themselves as professionals.
HillCo Technologies has partnered with John Deere and Iowa State University to develop a cob collection system for the STS combine. This system has the capability to clean leafy material out of the cobs and deliver the biomass directly to a cob wagon or tractor pull cart.
“It’s a little different than some of the other technologies that have been out there because it’s actually a two piece system,” said Lenny Hill, a co owner of HillCo Technologies. “We have the versatility with this design.”
The equipment also allows farmers to change from corn to soybeans with just one switch. There is limited availability of the system this harvest season, but HillCo plans to have greater production numbers available within the next year.
There was a “dog eat dog” atmosphere at an organic restaurant in Columbia, Missouri earlier this week where Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), promoted Missouri’s ballot initiative – Proposition B – otherwise called the “Puppy Mill Bill.” Pacelle spoke to a group while more than two-dozen protestors picketed the event across the street. Sami Jo Freeman, a student at the University of Missouri and opposes the initiative, attended Pacelle’s presentation.
“HSUS did a pretty good job of mocking the protestors and not really paying attention to the issues they were bringing up,” Freeman said. “Instead they kind of focused on HSUS issues and supporting Proposition B and also focusing on making fun of those protestors.”
Agriculture opponents are concerned that Proposition B is a first step by HSUS to try and place restrictions on livestock operations in the state. Proposition B restricts the maximum number of dogs a licensed dog breeder can own and breed and sets new standards for living conditions. Missouri voters will decide the issue in the November general election.