Governor encourages hunters to Share the Harvest on opening weekend of 2009 firearms deer season
Share the Harvest, a public-private partnership that provides meat to families in need across Missouri, expects to increase its annual collection of venison by more than 75 percent over the next three years, using economic incentives awarded today by Gov. Jay Nixon.
"As Missourians of all ages head to the woods for opening weekend of firearms deer season, I encourage folks to contribute venison to Share the Harvest," Gov. Nixon said, who will hunt in Clark County, Mo., on opening weekend. "Sharing the harvest is a great way to enjoy a time-honored Missouri tradition while also fulfilling a critical need for fresh, healthy meat in food banks across Missouri. By donating a deer to Share the Harvest, Missourians are literally putting food on the table for families in need during the holiday season."
Administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, Share the Harvest encourages hunters to donate their deer to needy Missourians. Share the Harvest reimburses participating meat processors for a portion of the cost of butchering and packaging whole deer donated by Missouri hunters.
To participate, hunters simply take their deer to an approved processing plant and indicate how much venison they wish to contribute, ranging from a few pounds to a whole deer. Local processors store the venison until it is transported to a local distributing agency, such as a food pantry, homeless shelter or feeding center. For each whole deer contributed to Share the Harvest, the Conservation Federation reimburses local processors at a rate established each year.
Because of limited financial resources, the Conservation Federation in 2007 was forced to place a cap on the total number of deer Share the Harvest can accept annually. Once an individual processor's cap has been reached, the processor must turn away potential contributions of deer.
During his stops today, Gov. Nixon announced that the Missouri Department of Economic Development has approved Share the Harvest for about $200,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program economic incentives. The Neighborhood Assistance Program provides these incentives to support the work of non-profit organizations in endangered or underserved communities.
Conservation Federation officials project that with these additional resources, they will be able to generate sufficient private contributions to expand the number of Share the Harvest processors from 125 last season to 135 over the next three years; boost the number of deer processed from 4,729 to 8,169; and increase the pounds of venison distributed from 265,138 to 457,464.
"Each year, I am amazed by the generosity of Missouri hunters, and I'm thrilled that we'll be able to expand Share the Harvest in the years to come," said Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. "Gov. Nixon's support of Share the Harvest means we will be able to accept more deer and deliver that meat to families in need in every corner of the state. Share the Harvest is a win for hunters, the environment, and those in need. The hunting and conservation community thanks Gov. Nixon for his leadership and support."
"Extending a helping hand to Missourians in need and in poverty - in both urban and rural areas - is what the Neighborhood Assistance Program is all about," Gov. Nixon said. "I'm pleased we are able to make these resources available, and I look forward to working with the Conservation Federation and the Missouri Department of Conservation to help Share the Harvest grow even more in the years to come."
The 2009 Missouri firearms deer season opens Saturday. A complete list of participating meat processors is available on the Missouri state Web site. Missourians can simply point their browsers to www.mo.gov and search for "Share the Harvest."