For many, working in agriculture goes beyond just a paycheck it’s a way of life. It’s a lifestyle many take pride in.
“Short of being a preacher, there isn’t a more noble occupation that you could have than being a farmer,” says David Cope. “You are providing food to folks and giving something to your community.”
Growing up on a farm outside of Wheelerville in southwest Missouri’s Barry County, David helped with the family’s cattle operation and became enamored with agriculture. He raised cattle through FFA projects, studied agribusiness in college and worked with producers across the Show-Me State through MFA, Inc.
Now he will help spread his devotion to agriculture as superintendent of the Southwest Research Center. David starts work July 7 at the center in Mount Vernon operated by the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
“I am glad to come back to the Mizzou family and be able to tie MU with agriculture in this part of the state,” David says. “This is a dream come true for me to work for my alma mater and to give something back to those involved in agriculture.”
David graduated from MU in 2001 with a degree in Agribusiness Management and again in 2007 with an MBA. While at MU he interned for MFA, Inc and after graduation in 2001, David began full time and continued working for the Midwest-based regional farm supply and marketing cooperative for more than seven years. He worked through their Health Track and Beef Alliance, which enhances producer profitability by increasing net return per cow.
“I also was marketing manager for beef, swine and dairy feed,” adds David. “I helped put together marketing materials and worked with producers at trade shows, meetings and countless farm visits.”
Recently he worked as a loan officer at a local bank.
“I enjoyed helping people and their businesses but missed getting out and talking with producers,” admits David. “There is something special about the tight-knit agriculture community. There are so many great people around here that can truly benefit from the research going at the Southwest Research Center.”
Current projects at the center include studies on the popular GrowSafe cattle feeding systems, wine and table grape variety trials, dairy efficiencies with feed and production, walnut crop research and the growing trend of elderberries.
“To me, research centers are all about efficiency and that is really the end goal of all research — trying to find more efficient ways to utilize your resources,” David says. “Farms also are looking towards being more diverse. We have wide ranges of research here to help people and I am anxious to see where research goes on some of these new agriculture products. Pawpaws for example could be a great crop in the future as the research progresses here.”
David lives near Aurora with his wife, Jana, and two kids and have a cattle herd of their own. “The kids are our most important crops right now,” laughs David.
The new superintendent hopes that locals and other Missourians across the state come out to visit the center for tours or attend the annual Field Day, which will be held on Sept. 12.
“Our biggest goal in agriculture right now should be education,” stresses David. “We need to get people out to our farms and see where their food comes come. And if we are able to increase the profile of the Southwest Research Center, then we might be able to influence more kids to go to college or be involved in agriculture.”
To contact the Southwest Research Center, call 417-466-2148 or visit the center’s new website at http://southwest.cafnr.org. The center also can accessed through CAFNR’s new iPhone app, available for free through the iTunes Store or by clicking http://bit.ly/cafnr-app.
The center is located just west of Mount Vernon. From Interstate 44 take Exit 44, head south on Highway H for about two miles and the center will be on the left.
To download high-resolution, press-quality portraits of David Cope, visit CAFNR’s Flickr Stream at http://bit.ly/DavidCope. For images of Southwest Research Center, visit http://bit.ly/SWcenter.