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Missouri farmers will get federal help to cope with and mitigate climate change

Cover crops on a farm in Illinois. More widespread use of the crops could help farmers mitigate climate change and help their bottom line.
Dana Cronin
Harvest Public Media
Cover crops on a farm in Illinois. More widespread use of the crops could help farmers mitigate climate change and help their bottom line.

Missouri farmers will benefit from $25 million in federal money designed to help them cope with and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the money to the University of Missouri to help farmers statewide. It was one of 70 grants across the country the USDA announced last week.

Missouri’s program will focus on four efforts. The first is increasing the number of acres planted with cover crops, which keep soil healthy and prevent erosion when cash crops aren’t on the land.

“Right now we have about a million acres of cover crops, which is like 10% of our cropland. This should help us boost that number considerably,” said Rob Myers, director of the university’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture.

Myers said the projects won’t just be for large farms — even a one-acre operation could be eligible for help.

“It might be, let’s say, a vegetable farmer that wants to make more use of cover crops and pollinators and buffer strips on their farms to help put more carbon in the soil and more overall resiliency,” Myers said.

Other projects for the five years of funding include implementing more precise use of fertilizers and promoting forest land for raising cattle, as well as using more native grasses for grazing.

Lincoln University in Jefferson City will receive $5 million to help commercialize hemp and market climate-smart products made from it. Growing hemp increases carbon sequestration.

“During the life of these projects, we’re hopeful of recording 50 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent reductions and greenhouse gas reductions and carbon sequestration benefits,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in announcing the grants. “That’s equivalent to about 10 million cars being taken off the road.”

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Jonathan is the General Manager of Tri States Public radio. His duties include but are not limited to, managing all facets of the station, from programming to finances to operations. Jonathan grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. He has a B.A in music theory and composition from WIU and a M.A in Public Affairs Reporting from The University of Illinois at Springfield. Jonathan began his journey in radio as a student worker at WIUM. While in school Jonathan needed a summer job on campus. He heard WIUM was hiring, and put his bid in. Jonathan was welcomed on the team and was very excited to be using his music degree. He had also always been interested in news and public radio. He soon learned he was a much better reporter than a musician and his career was born. While at WIUM, Jonathan hosted classical music, completed operations and production work, was a news reporter and anchor, and served as the stage manager for Rural Route 3. Jonathan then went to on to WIUS in Springfield where he was a news anchor and reporter covering the state legislature for Illinois Public Radio. After a brief stint in commercial radio and TV, Jonathan joined WCBU in Peoria, first in operations then as a news reporter and for the last ten years of his time there he served as the News Director. Jonathan’s last job before returning to Tri States Public Radio was as the News Director/ Co-Director of Content for Iowa Public Radio. During Jonathan’s off time he enjoys distance running, playing competitive Scrabble, rooting for Chicago Cubs, listening to all kinds of music and reading as much as he can. He lives in Macomb with his wife Anita and children Tommy and Lily.