May 29, 2003

Extension To Host Agriculture Meetings In June

A meeting to provide information on the new Country of Origin Labeling law will be held on Tuesday, June 10th, at the Green City Livestock Market at 7:00 p.m.

The law, which was passed as part of the new Farm Bill, goes into effect September 2003 in the voluntary phase. The law then becomes mandatory in September 2004. Under this law retailers "who sell covered commodities shall inform consumers at the final point of saleof the country of origin of the commodity."

A packer who supplies the commodity to a retailer must "provide information to the retailer indicating the country of origin of the commodity."

Dr. KC Olson has been the contact person at MU on what is taking place with this law and has agreed to be present to discuss the effect on the two commodities in this area that the law will affect, beef and pork.

What does this mean to the average beef or pork producer in north central Missouri? No one is quite sure right now, as this whole issue has stirred up a lot of questions. One thing is for certain; the only way for a packer to supply that information to the retailer is if they get it from the producer who raised the animal. If they are going to be forced to have that information then they must force us to provide it. If this occurs, it could mean documentation has to be provided when this spring's calves are sold.

Early June is a very busy time with haying, baseball games and if it keeps raining soybean planting," said Chris Zumbrunnen, Livestock pecialist with the Sullivan County University Outreach and Extension Center. "We scheduled this meeting at this time to get you the information ahead of something going into effect so that you can be ready for what may be ahead."

The second meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 11th, at the Community Center in Milan at 7:00 p.m.

Debi Kelley from the Missouri Alternatives Center and Allan Benjamin from the Missouri Department of Agriculture will be present to discuss and answer questions on such topics as identifying and working with niche markets, branching out into other areas of agriculture production and identifying potential small farm enterprises. They will also discuss resources and assistance that is available for existing and new producers.

"There has been quite a bit of interest this spring in exploring alternative agriculture options and enterprises," said Zumbrunnen "This interest has come for a wide range of reasons. Some of it has to do with wanting to bring another person or child into the operation, some due to increased unemployment, some to a slow rural economy and some due to wanting to increase farm revenue and profitability."

Zumbrunnen said the purpose of the meeting is not to promote that we all go back to a 1940's style of production agriculture. The meeting is to explore options to help enhance the well being of the base of the whole economy in north central Missouri, agriculture.

For additional information contact the Sullivan County University Outreach and Extension Office at 660-265-4541.

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