A grassroots effort to develop funding for grassland research and education will be discussed by Missouri grassland farmers at their annual meeting Oct. 30, 31 at the Lake Ozark, MO.

National and state leaders of the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) will present a half-day symposium during the two-day meeting of the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council (MFGC).

"This promises to be very helpful to Missouri grassland farmers," said Fred Martz, Columbia, MO, MFGC president-elect.

Steve Baima, Clark, MO, state chair of GLCI, says he foresees a "marriage of meetings" between the two organizations. Baima noted Missouri grassland farmers are already active and organized through the MFGC. "I see no need for two separate organizational meetings. By meeting together we can reduce costs."

The groups hope to organize grassland farmer support for more private- and public-based research on forage-livestock systems.

Baima, a cow-calf farmer who uses management-intensive grazing, says the GLCI was created, but not funded, by the 1996 Farm Bill. Phase one activities of the group provided technical assistance to farmers.

"That was funded through support by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)," Baima said. "Now, we are ready for phase two, promotion of more research and education."

Jerry Nelson, MU forage agronomist, is a member of the national advisory board to GLCI, will speak on the research needs that have been identified.

In a position paper Nelson points out "Grasslanders do not have the priority within the research and education infrastructure that is enjoyed by row crops and animal components of grazing land systems."

Nelson points out that grassland systems are complicated to manage and that research is needed on systems management. He called the research in the area "challenging."

In addition, economic evaluations of grazing systems are needed, Nelson said. "It will take long-term, interdisciplinary research efforts on specific high priority problems."

One of the most popular parts of the annual program is the producer panel, Martz said. This year, the farmers will be Mike John, Huntsville, MO, on beef production on warm season grass; Greg Judy, Sturgeon, MO, on custom backgrounding of beef calves; and Charles Fletcher, Washburn, MO, on grassland dairy.

Jimmy Henning, formerly of the University of Missouri and now at the University of Kentucky will speaking on "Managing Forages for Profit."

Advance registration for the meeting, at the Lake Ozark Holiday Inn, is required. Non-member registration is $100 per individual and $145 if spouse attends. For registration and information, contact Joetta Roberts, PMB 225, 2000 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201-6091. Or, call (573) 499-0886.

Room reservations in advance at the Holiday Inn are $49, single or double. The phone is 1-800-532-3575.)

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