(Photo by Leonna Essner, Staff)
Although the rain dampened the soil, it apparently didn't dampen the spirits of the Center's staff. One presenter even added a little humor, welcoming people to the "Delta Center's Raining Field Day."
"It's been a very good day," noted Jake Fisher, superintendent of the Delta Research Center. "Of course, the rain made us cancel all of our field tours, but our breakfast attendance was actually above average. I'm very pleased with the turnout."
All of the Center's researchers presented nine main projects along with their current research. Some of the issues discussed Tuesday included weed control, irrigation, cotton replant decisions, pest and insect management, rice input management, crop production issues and flood tolerance in soybeans.
As many attendees listened to the speakers and roamed from vendor booth to vendor booth inside the Rone Building, others were witnessing the check presentation by the USDA Rural Development to the Missouri Soybean Association taking place in the Museum Room of the Rone Center.
The Missouri Soybean Association was a awarded a Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $81,648 to assist the Missouri Food and Fiber Inc. near Charleston. Missouri Food and Fiber Inc. specializes in identity preserved premium quality crop production for the Asian market.
Dale R. Ludwig, Missouri Soybean Association executive director/CEO, explained the grant will buy a color sorter for the Missouri Food and Fiber Inc., which is a group of 143 farmers who have come together to do specialty-type crops and grains, specifically soybeans.
"What they'll be able to do with this color sorter is make a super-premium soybean that will go into export markets. It's especially important when you have years like this year and last year, where you have drought conditions and the quality of the beans isn't quite as good as you want it to be," Ludwig said.
Soybeans can be run through the color sorter and improve the quality, helping get the super premium required by those customers in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.
The acquisition of a color processor is essential for increased profitability for Missouri Food and Fiber Inc. because the primary differentiating characteristic between a food-grade and super-premium food-grade soybean is color. A super-premium bean must be nearly 100 percent pure white, while a standard food-grade soybean is allowed a greater degree of imperfection.
"Value-added is what we have to have -- it's what we've heard about all morning -- and this will be a small step in that direction," said USDA Rural Development State Director Greg Branum about the grant. "In the next two weeks, we'll be able to announce between $40 and $50 million in new money in the label for value-added across the country for agriculture."
U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and Tom Schulte, a representative of U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, were in attendance for the presentation.
"Evidently the Japanese want tofu that's just exactly a pure color -- and to do that, they've got to have super premium beans, and if we're gonna give them that, we've got to have this sorter," Talent said. "This is exactly kind of system we need to go forward with the future."
Talent said the future is to produce the commodity and to also produce a number of other products farmers get from the commodity. So when the world price for the commodity goes down, it just means farmers make more money on the other things, he explained.
"If commodity price is up, then farmers will make money on beans, and if it's down, then they'll make money on the tofu they're selling to the Japanese or beer they're selling around the world," Talent said. "That's the key, and it's just wonderful to see that future blossoming here in Missouri."