Winter meetings give farmers needed up-to-date information

Duane Dailey

Winter ‘tis time for farmers to meet. One after another, farm events stack up. There are MU Extension events, farm organization meetings and even heifer sales. Now, the Governor’s Conference for Agriculture is back.

An old assumption is that big jobs are done down on the farm. That means time to get away for a couple of days. Meetings provide new knowledge to keep up with changing times, as farming grows more complex.

Supposedly harvests are done with grain in the bin. Cattle still graze fall stockpiled grass with less hay feeding. Those might not be happening this year.

I was shocked to see soybeans still in the field, unharvested. Snow hid ground between the rows. I’d not seen that before.

I saw late harvests on a trek across North Missouri going to winter meetings. Climate and tradition no longer match. Something’s askew.

Before Christmas was a great Extension Crop Management Conference. It’s a highlight that keeps getting better, I think. I was pleased to hear at lunch the last day advisor say “This is the best conference yet.”

This meeting for certified crop advisors now welcomes farmers. Advisors pay to attend to update their certificates. They go home to spread the word on the latest Extension recommendations.

The change is a shift to farmers who learned of the meeting. Now farmers pay a discounted rate to come to Columbia to get the word.

At the start, I asked a farmer about the cost. He said, “If I don’t learn enough to grow 10 more bushels of soybeans, I’m at the wrong meeting.” He knew learning has value.

This year, soybeans were a major part of Scott Brown’s economic talk. He told of tariffs and their impact on Missouri farms. Missouri is hit hardest by China’s shift. Their leaders knew who to hurt, those who voted big time for Trump.

Scott’s money tip was to not fail to sign up by Jan. 15 at FSA for the federal crop subsidy. It’s not enough to offset lost trade, but better than no payment.

Kevin Bradley, MU weed scientist, leads program planning for the conference. So, his tips on weed control and keeping weed killers at home are difficult.

I hope more farmers come to future meetings. They are vital.

That conference was for crops. Next up are cattle. A new one is still to come. Show-Me-Select annual meeting comes to Columbia, Jan. 4. This free add-on starts the big Missouri Cattlemen’s Association meeting. Owners of cow herds come a half-day early. MU Extension beef specialists will teach. SMS farmers share their wisdom along with their veterinarians who tell their support.

This should do for cattle producers what crop conference does for corn, bean and wheat growers.

There are many more meetings. The Governor’s Conference is back, Jan 10-12, at Tan-Tar-A, Lake of the Ozarks. I missed it when not held a couple of years. We learn policy there.

Some cattle farmers may not know that Show-Me-Select heifer sales are Extension educational meetings. Attend a sale to see the value of better management and genetics. The visual aids are alive. It’s a big deal. The heifers are amazing. But best, there’s a catalog given out free that teaches genetics and reproduction. The data adds value, not seen before.

Prices paid by return buyers add education in itself.

The spring heifer sales still to come are another possibility. The 2019 dates are not set yet. But, search on the web for AgEBB Show-Me-Select sales.

Last year they ran from April to early June for fall-calving herds.

Those dates may tangle with crop work, but the trip is worth it for beef farmers. They are free, if you don’t take home a trailer load of replacements.

When it comes to education, the need never ends. The old way of saying “I learned from Grandpa” doesn’t work today.

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