Promoting Environmental Stewardship

MDA Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program rewards responsible stewards

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has always put a strong focus on commending farmers, producers, ranchers and landowners who are good stewards of the resources in their care.

The Missouri Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program was unveiled in 2015 to acknowledge and reward those responsible stewards.

MDA has certified nearly 90 farms across the state thus far, including the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon. Farms can be verified in seven different categories: grassland, livestock, forestry, farmstead, specialty crop, energy and cropland. Southwest is verified in farmstead, grassland and livestock.

“This program is a great opportunity to showcase your resources, as well as tell your story,” Southwest Superintendent David Cope said. “Our goal at Southwest is to lead by example and practice what we preach. We focus on being good stewards of the land and practice sustainable agriculture in everything we do.

“We’re happy working with MDA, and we’ll continue to take care of the resources in our care.”

The Southwest Research Center is verified in farmstead, grassland and livestock. The Center is hoping to be verified in forestry soon.The Southwest Research Center is verified in farmstead, grassland and livestock. The Center is hoping to be verified in forestry soon.

Cope added that he is hoping to be verified in forestry soon.

The process of becoming certified is simple. An application can be filled out online or downloaded and printed out. Once the application is received someone from the department will reach out to the landowner to schedule a farm evaluation visit.

Landowners who receive certification will receive a sign with placards listing the categories of certification to display on their property.

“The process is simple and straightforward,” Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. “Once the application is submitted, a staff person will call to gather a few more details and schedule a visit, during which they will conduct a windshield tour with the landowner.

“We also want to reiterate that this is a completely free, voluntary program. The idea behind this program is to be proactively engaged in promoting environmental stewardship, and the good things our farm families are doing to ensure their land can be handed down to the next generation.”

The focus is to reward individuals who are going above and beyond in caring for their land, livestock, forests, crops or water.

Tim Reinbott, assistant director for the CAFNR Agricultural Experiment Station, said they are currently working to have all of the CAFNR Research Centers verified.

“ASAP gives us an opportunity to really look at where we are at in terms of how we manage our land,” he said. “We try to be as environmentally conscious as we can when we conduct research and begin programs. It’s great to be recognized for the work you’re doing and ASAP not only does that, it also allows you to reflect on your land and work toward making improvements.”

For more information about the program, visit the ASAP website or contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture at (573) 751-4762.