Share the Harvest program to help thousand of families

Gov. Jay Nixon said a major expansion of the "Share the Harvest" program this fall will put donated deer meat on the dinner tables of thousands of additional Missouri families.

An avid hunter himself, Nixon stopped by the Bass Pro Shop in Columbia to buy his 2010 deer tags.

"Hunters have always been the people that put food on the family table, Bass Pro Shops Manager David Smith said. Share the Harvest is a way for us to build on this tradition.

For nearly two decades, the "Share the Harvest" program has subsidized the cost of processing deer meat donated to Missouri TMs food pantries. Last year, the state provided $277,000 tax credits to the conservation federation to stimulate the donation of some 4,200 deer. This year, the Missouri Association of Food Banks has partnered with the administration to pump another $350,000 into share the harvest.

We've also made it cheaper and easier to contribute a deer to Share the Harvest this year by increasing the re-imbursement to processors by $60 per deer, Nixon said. That higher re-imbursement lowers the cost hunters pay to contribute to the program.

As a result, the program will be able to subsidize the processing of 10,000 deer, more than twice the total in 2009.

"It won't happen by accident, never does, Missouri Conservation Federation Dave Murphy said. It takes all of us doing our part. It's up to us to make the decision to be safe, to be responsible, and to be effective in our harvest.

Firearms deer season in Missouri will open Nov. 13.

Conservation officials said as many as half a million hunters can be expected to participate on opening day.