Agriculture grants available, aim to grow Missouri beef industry

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JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday morning applications for beef initiative grants are open to the public.

The grants, a part of the Missouri Agricultural Foundation, are designed to grow the Missouri beef industry.

Richard Fordyce, Missouri Director of Agriculture, said the grants will affect a lot of people.

“There are different categories available to apply for,” Fordyce said. “We want to look at feeding additional cattle in Missouri. We want to look at how we can increase the herd and increase the quality of the herd in Missouri. Ultimately, we know if we are going to continue to add value to beef cattle in Missouri, we think it’s pretty important to process cattle as well.”

Fordyce said a study found 1.8 million calves are born in the state each year. By the time they get to ideal processing weight, 70,000 remain.

He said he believes the grants can to lead to developments to retain more cattle in Missouri.

“If we're able to retain the cattle in the state longer and grow that 1.8 million, you could see significant growth in the economy.”

Mark Russell, Missouri Beef Industry Council Executive Director, said he hopes the grants will not only impact beef demand in the state of Missouri, but also create jobs in agriculture.

“The beef industry is super important to ag industry in the state of Missouri,” Russell said. “If we start seeing an opportunity to process more animals, what that does is it will generate more jobs.”

Russell said the impacts of these grants can go anywhere from production, to technology, to genetics, to genomics, to a lot of science that helps develop that technology.

“From farm to fork or pasture to plate, there’s going to be many opportunities throughout that food chain to be able to add more jobs from the person that’s raising the cattle to the person that ultimately gets that food.”

Missouri ranks third in the nation for beef cow numbers, with Oklahoma second and Texas first.

Applications are due Monday, December 7. Recipients of the grants will be announced in January 2016.

To apply for a grant from the Department of Agriculture, click here.