Recognizing the importance of cattle to the economy and environment in Southwest Missouri, Blunt also worked with Texas Congressman Henry Bonilla to secure $1 million for research to make cattle more efficient in the feeds they consume and more environmentally friendly in the waste they produce. The beef research will take place at Texas A&M and University of Missouri's Southwest Center at Mt. Vernon. Bonilla, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, is a major proponent of the research.
Congressman Blunt said, "This futuristic research will look at what the $40 billion beef industry can become. The pasture and field research in large part can be conducted at the Southwest Center, which is the center of the largest number of cow/calf herds in the U.S. The Southwest Center is recognized internationally as a leader in forage research. The new research goal is to develop genetics in cattle that use forages more efficiently, resulting in less waste excreted and more forages left on the ground. Both of those goals are of particular interest to Southwest Missouri where the livestock producers use and are dependent on the natural water resources of the area."
The "Economic and Environmental Sustainability of US Beef project will select beef cattle that are genetically superior in feed efficiency, likely requiring a repopulation of the beef herd at the Southwest Center. Recent findings have shown that some cattle can eat less, grow bigger and produce less waste. The research will identify those cattle and their impact on markets and the environment.
The 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes $431,000 for the fourth year of operations of the South Missouri Water Quality Office at Ozark. "Since it began operating in 2003," Congressman Blunt said, "the South Missouri Water Quality Office has established an impressive body of work. Their early successes reinforce my belief that partnering government and voluntary water conservation efforts based on sound science works better than fines and new governmental regulations."
Project Team Leader Steve Hefner said, "By working voluntarily with local people, practical conservation solutions have been and are continuing to be implemented. For example, over 4,000 acres of rural forestry assistance and 150 urban lawn nutrient management plans were provided through the project office in 2004. Additional assistance provided across the 21-county project area included rural nutrient management planning, well decommissioning, and urban storm water education for various cities in the basin."
Originally created by legislation sponsored by Congressman Roy Blunt, the South Missouri Water Quality Project provides advice to the public about the best way to integrate water quality protections with economic development. The office staff provides useful information on protecting water quality, forestry and land management to private individuals, farmers, developers and city and county government planners. The office employs 5 professionals in geography, urban planning and agronomy to implement voluntary rural and urban water quality conservation. The South Missouri Water Quality Project serves an area comprising 14.7 million acres of land in 9 watershed areas.