Governor Blunt calls agriculture a top priority and outlines his farm agenda during the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture held at the Lake of the Ozarks. Blunt ties his agriculture agenda to his higher education agenda by emphasizing plant-science research. The governor notes a good chunk of his MOHELA plan would expand plant science research capacity. The governor will ask the legislature next year to approve a bill that would authorize the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to sell off $350 million in assets to finance capital improvements on college campuses throughout the state. The Blunt Administration calls the proposal the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. The administration says the initiative will expand research and laboratory space, adding 10,000 square feet of research space in the Delta Center in Portageville alone. The plan would also allocate $90 million to the University of Missouri-Columbia for a new plant science center, a new health science center and a new business incubator. Blunt wants the legislature to approve an allocation of $38 million from the Tobacco Master Settlement to the Life Sciences Trust Fund. Blunt will push to brand Missouri beef, a follow-up of the State Agriculture Director’s Working Group for Branding Missouri Beef. A plan is being created to market the Missouri Beef Brand. Under the plan, beef producers will realize premiums for producing quality beef. Other parts of the Blunt farm agenda include full funding for the ethanol and biodiesel incentive funds and a request for $5.1 million to make-up payments to the fund.