Training for Agricultural Professionals on Sustainable Agriculture Programs Available to Limited Reosurce Farmers and Ranchers

Final report for ES14-123

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $79,875.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2017
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:
Kenneth McMillin
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
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Project Information

Abstract:

Underserved and small farmers and ranchers are disadvantaged in accessing information and understanding about available assistance programs. Interpretation of specific program requirements often is hindered because intermediate resource personnel in extension, governmental agency, and trade associations may be uninformed and not be able to provide usable recommendations. The project goal is to train intermediate resource personnel and selected farmers or ranchers on available and appropriate governmental and non-governmental resources for sustainable agriculture through formal presentations of the program descriptions, followed by explanations of appropriate application processes and procedures and with case study presentations by farmers successful in receiving assistance. It was intended that small ruminant and horticultural crop enterprises would be used as examples in trainings will be conducted by cooperating university, extension, and federal agency personnel in five southern states. Because of delayed communications among the cooperators in the states, trainings were delayed until an extension of the project. The development of training materials continued until the time for scheduling of training sessions. There was a positive response from only one state that the materials and training would be useful to their resource personnel so the project was discontinued for lack of interest. This project was intended to revitalize sustainable agriculture training in Louisiana and supplant training in other southern states.

Project Objectives:

The project participants would learn of available assistance programs on sustainable agriculture and resource management and be linked in a network of support when advising their clientele on technical areas and practices. The project was intended to result in more farmers and ranchers applying and receiving assistance in sustainable agriculture and resources so that sustainable practices on farms would be improved and increased and agricultural service personnel would gain capacity to assist their clientele.

The behavioral objectives were

  1. Training of extension, federal agency, and trade association resource personnel in southern states on sustainable agriculture and resource utilization programs available for farmers and ranchers using appropriately developed training materials and resources.
  2. Anticipated support of the trained individuals with follow-up communications and personal assistance in their interactions with their clientele during program applications and with technical information as requested.
  3. Surveying of the trainees and their clientele on training and resource material effectiveness and usefulness and document success rates through mail, electronic, and telephone surveys.

 

Introduction:

Information was gathered on available and appropriate governmental and non-governmental resources for
sustainable agriculture by searching websites and obtaining information from personnel conducting sustainable agriculture projects. The information was partially assembled into paper and presentation formats to facilitate discussion of the materials and their use as resources for training of intermediate resource personnel from extension, governmental agencies, and trade associations in workshops in five states. The workshop format was organized into four primary components to provide sources of information on technical aspects of sustainable production and practices, resources specific to the region or location of the workshop, information on financial assistance available for various sustainable practices, and individuals providing information on their experiences in obtaining financing for sustainable agriculture projects. The project was discontinued due to lack of ability of investigators to schedule training sessions in all but one of the targeted states.

Education

Educational approach:

The educational approach was to gather and summarize the diverse and numerous sources of information on sustainability of agriculture, develop the materials into cohesive presentation and workbook formats for training programs of extension agents, government agency personnel, farm organizations, and loan entities, and to survey the trainees and their clientele to evaluate the impact and success of the materials and trainings.

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Materials on sustainable information that might be applicable and useful to limited resource agricultural personnel were summarized.

Participation Summary

2 Researchers

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The outcome of the project activities was procuring and summarizing information on sustainable agriculture programs that might assist limited resource farmers and ranchers. The materials were not developed into final presentations and printed handout documents because training workshops were not able to be scheduled and held. This difficulty precluded the assessment portion of the planned project.

1 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
Recommendations:

The intended activities of the project were proposed with honorable intentions, but the scope of the project and needed coordination with multiple individuals was underestimated in terms of time and financial resource requirements to successfully complete the project.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.