May 17, 2016
When it comes to Missouri agriculture, we are fortunate to rank high in nearly every top commodity. Our view from the top did not happen by accident, it's a place we've worked to get to and we will continue to adjust and improve our practices so that we stay there.
The Missouri beef industry is one of the segments where the state thrives. The Show-Me State consistently retains a prominent position in the beef cattle landscape. The state ranks third in the nation for number of beef cows. And Missouri is home to a large number of breed association headquarters and the Animal Health Corridor.
That success is largely based on the intuitive and resilient nature of the more than 50,000 cattle producers in the state. During this month, extra attention is placed on beef because May is National Beef Month. Beef lovers across the country use the month to celebrate an industry that makes a $3.8 billion economic impact in Missouri, and to enjoy a juicy steak or hamburger. After all, one serving of beef (3 oz.) adds up to less than 10% of daily calories, yet provides necessary amino acids and more than half of our daily required protein.
Early in 2015, the department brought together 300 Missouri beef stakeholders (producers, industry, ag leaders, etc.) at the Missouri Beef Summit, convened by Gov. Jay Nixon. Since then, we've been working to lay the groundwork for how we can grow and improve the herd. The recently completed Missouri Beef Value-Added Study determined that for every 10,000 head of cattle retained in the state, there is an additional $6 million in value added to the Missouri economy.
In his 2015 State of the State Address, Gov. Nixon proposed funding research to make the cattle industry more profitable and included nearly $1.2 million in budget. Several months ago, the Missouri Agricultural Foundation received that funding from the Missouri Technology Corporation. The foundation requested proposals and awarded these 5 grants:
1. Covered feeding facilities: Several Missouri universities have been awarded including Northwest Missouri State University, University of Missouri, Lincoln University and Missouri State University.
2. Fescue tolerance: Missouri Department of Agriculture has been awarded a grant to develop a voucher program for beef producers to hair test replacement bulls and heifers for fescue endophyte tolerance. Missouri's thriving cow-calf industry relies on Missouri's number one forage: fescue.
3. Beef research: A proposal from the University of Missouri has been approved for the development of chute-side blood tests for quicker results for bovine respiratory disease and fescue endophyte tolerance.
4. Beef processing: Five small and medium size meat processors have been awarded grants to assist with expansion of processing, equipment, cooler space, packaging and/or upgrades to meet current MDA and USDA inspection requirements.
5. Innovative solutions and economic impact studies: Grassland Beef LLC has been awarded a grant to increase the fabrication capacity of their operation in Canton. Grassland Beef provides further processing/packaging for beef processors that are unable to complete what is necessary for direct retail sales.
The results that will be delivered from these funded projects have the potential to reshape the Missouri beef industry. I think a few years down the road, we will remember the Beef Summit as a turning point for the beef cattle industry. And when we see growth in any one segment of agriculture, all of Missouri agriculture benefits.
Richard Fordyce is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a row crop and beef cattle producer from Bethany.
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