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Volume 11, Number 8 - August 2005

This Month in Ag Connection

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Youth Labor in Agriculture

During the summer months, farmers often turn to youth to provide supplementary labor for their farms. Both employers and employees should be aware of the labor standards pertaining to youth workers. Immediate family members are exempt.

In Missouri, hired agriculture youth workers must be at least 14 years of age. Child labor laws protect youth under the age of 16 from working too long, too late or too early. Maximum work hours for 14 and 15 year olds are set for different times of the year. For the summer months (from June 1 to Labor Day), 40 hours per week is the maximum amount time per week, 8 hours maximum per day and no more than 6 days per week. Summer work cannot begin before 7 a.m. and must end by 9 p.m.

Restrictions also exist on the type of work that youth under the age of 16 can do. In Missouri, youth may not handle or apply pesticides, work from a ladder or scaffold, or drive any vehicle for transporting passengers. Other restrictions include not driving, riding, or assisting in the operation of a tractor or forklift or using any power-driven equipment such as a chainsaw or hay baler. A complete list of restrictions is available from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Proper safety training and supervision is important. Every year, over 100 youth die from agricultural work injuries in the United States and thousands more are seriously injured. Almost 80% of all workplace injuries occur because youth were not properly supervised and 50% occur because they have not received proper training.

Youth are an excellent resource for labor during the summer months. Young people are eager to learn and ready to gain work experience. However, employees should be aware of extra safety measures that may need to be taken with younger workers.

The rules for agriculture youth workers change during the school year. These can be found at:

(Authors: Jessica Robertson, MU Ag Econ Masters Student and Mary Sobba, Ag Business Specialist)

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Making Hay From Fall Regrowth Reduces Fescue Endophyte Toxins

University of Missouri research evaluated alternative options for harvesting fall regrowth of endophyte infected tall fescue. The research was conducted at The University of Missouri Southwest Experiment station near Mt. Vernon. The high endophyte infected fescue was fertilized with 75 lbs/acre of nitrogen in August, then harvested in mid-October. The four harvest methods studied were: greenchop, ensiling, baling, and ammoniating bales.

Ensiled forage was allowed to wilt to 55% moisture, wrapped in air-tight bags and stored for six weeks. Hay was allowed to sun-cure to 16% moisture and baled. Ammoniated hay was made by sun-curing the hay to 16% moisture, baled, wrapped in air-tight bags, treated with 3% anhydrous ammonia, and stored for six weeks.

Tall fescue produces symptoms of toxicosis when ergovaline, the most highly concentrated ergopeptine alkaloid, reaches 200 to 300 parts per billion (ppb). The green chop tall fescue contained 1,240 ppb ergot alkaloids and the ensiled tall fescue contained 972 ppb. The high concentration of ergot alkaloid in silage offers an explanation for poor performance when calves are fed ensiled endophyte infected tall fescue. It also indicates that an entire class of alkaloids is preserved in the ensiling process. The fall baled hay averaged 373 ppb ergot alkaloids, which is lower than typically seen in spring hay.

The researchers speculated that the lower alkaloid level was probably due to its lack of endophyte containing stems and seed heads. The ammoniated hay contained 247 ppb of ergot alkaloid which indicates there is no advantage to ammoniating fall harvested regrowth. This is in contrast to documented advantages of ammoniating summer harvested hay to reduce ergot alkaloid levels.

(Author: Wayne Crook, Agronomy Specialist)

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Taxation Tidbit: Standard Meal Allowance

Many farmers traveling away from home on business trips fail to adequately document the cost of meals and incidental expenses. For taxpayers not able or wanting to document these types of expenses - the IRS allows the use of a "standard meal and incidental expense allowance" (M&IE). This standard allowance can be utilized instead of itemizing and documenting the actual costs of meals and incidental expenses. Incidental expenses include expenditures for tips given to porters, bellhops, etc.; transportation between lodging and places where meals are taken; and mailing costs associated with filing travel vouchers. So for most people this allowance is a standard meal allowance.

The "standard meal and incidental expense allowance" (M&IE) is $31 per day for most of the United States. However, many of the larger cities and tourist areas have a higher dollar limit. The highest M&IE allowance for travel in the United States is $51. The following areas in Missouri have higher "standard meal and incidental expense allowances":

Even though this provision does not require documentation relative to the cost of meals and incidental expenses - records must be maintained to prove the time, place, and business purpose of the trip. Further, just as you would be limited to deducting half your actual meal expenses, you are limited to deducting half of the "standard meal allowance" amounts.

The IRS considers you are traveling away from home if your duties require you to be away from the general area of your tax home for a period substantially longer than an ordinary work day, and you need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away.

Travel for days you depart and return. For both the day you depart for and the day you return from a business trip, you must prorate the standard meal allowance. You can use one of two methods.

Travel destinations with "standard meal and incidental expense allowances" (M&IE) greater than $31 can be found in IRS Publication 1542 "Per Diem Rates":

(Author: Parman R. Green, MU Extension Ag Business Management Specialist)

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MU Diagnostic Services

Many tests and diagnostics services are available through County Extension Centers. The list below are some of the more common tests. Many other diagnostic services are available. Contact the local extension center for additional information.

See this web site for more information:

Type of Test


Soil and Plant Testing
Regular Soil Fertility Test (N,P & K) call local extension office for price
Plant Tissue Analysis $17 for N, P, K, Ca, Mg

Additional $6 for Zn, Fe, Mn
Greenhouse Media Package $16

Additional $6 for micro-nutrients
Compost Analysis Complete Package $4
Water Analysis Special Tests $35 - $45
Plant Nematology
Soybean Cyst Nematode Egg Count $15 per sample
Plant Parasitic Nematode Identification $20 per sample
Soybean Cyst Nematode HG Type "Race" Test $50 per sample, Missouri
Plant Diagnostic
General Diagnosis $15 per sample (including commercial and residential turf)

$50 per sample for putting green
*Additional tests may be necessary to arrive at the diagnosis. *The following fees are in addition to the general diagnosis fee.
Fungal Isolation $10
Bacterial Isolation $10
Virus Testing $10
Insect Identification $15 per sample
Plant Identification $15 per sample
Veterinary Med. Diagnostics Lab - Toxicology
This is a small list of the most common tests. Contact local extension office for complete list.
Aflatoxin in feedstuffs (qualitative) $20.50
Cyanide (qualitative) $15.50
Herbicides screen $25
Mycotoxin screen in feedstuffs (aflatoxin, ochratoxin A, vomintoxin, zearalenone) $31
Manure Testing
Manure testing labs are listed at the following web site:

(Authors: Jessica Robertson, MU Ag Econ Masters Student and Mary Sobba, Ag Business Specialist)

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Microscopes to Assist Producers in Answering Soybean Rust Questions

With the possible threat from (Asian) soybean rust (SbR), the Central Missouri agricultural extension specialists have acquired microscopes to assist producers in determining if they have a SbR problem. All the regional agronomists have microscopes as well as several additional counties with larger soybean acreages.

Binocular microscopes are important in identifying SbR from other similar, but much less damaging, diseases. Depending on the growth stage of the infested soybean, SbR could mean yield losses of up to 80%. Rapid identification is essential so farmers can spray fungicides to control SbR.

Central Missouri Regional agricultural specialists have been trained in identifying SbR. With binocular microscopes located in several counties over the region, we are prepared to quickly and accurately assist farmers. Already, the less serious but similar appearing septoria brown leaf spot has been identified in Central Missouri Region soybeans.

(Authors: Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist and Jim Jarman, Agronomy Specialist)

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.