Progress report for LS20-325
The purpose of this project is to improve the economic sustainability of minority and limited resource farmers in Mississippi and adjacent states. NCAT will educate farmers on a wide range of topics that will enable them to reach new markets through institutional wholesale buyers, or direct markets. We will help farmers achieve this by eliminating barriers to these markets through 12, two-day trainings, held in the Northern, Central, and Southern regions of Mississippi over the two-year project period (six trainings per year). The workshops in the first year will focus on specialty crop production and the workshops in the second year will focus on livestock production.
The training model will include one day of peer-to-peer on-farm trainings led by farmers who are successfully operating at scale; and one day of interactive classroom work led by NCAT specialists and other local experts, including a Meet the Buyer panel discussion with local institutional purchasers. Over the course of the two-day training, farmers will learn about the following:
- Commercial-scale production practices,
- FSMA and GAP/GHP rules and regulations and practices,
- Farm business management strategies,
- Legal requirements for selling to institutions, farmer’s markets, and other possible markets,
- Financial assistance available to farmers,
- Value-added product marketing, and
- Mississippi Cottage Food Law.
The buyers’ panel discussion will provide opportunities for producers to understand institutional needs, purchasing requirements and pose questions to purchasers.
NCAT’s project team will use their extensive experience developing and conducting other successful training programs, as well as their own experience as farmers, to create this comprehensive curriculum and conduct this program.
The objectives of this project are:
- Develop a detailed curriculum for the “Scaling Up Production and Local Marketing for Minority and Limited Resource Farmers” project’s two-day workshops. General topics will include:
- legal requirements and venue-specific requirements for selling to various marketing outlets, including direct-to-consumer, institutional, and wholesale buyers
- GHP/GAP rules and regulations
- the Mississippi Cottage Food Law
- market demand for local products
- product pricing practices for profitability
- state, regional, and national grants and cost-share programs available to support the growth of farm businesses and/or adoption of sustainable practices (e.g. NRCS’s EQIP, RD’s VAPG, SARE Producer Grant, etc.)
- Conduct “Scaling Up Production and Local Marketing for Minority and Limited Resource Farmers” workshops in three regions of Mississippi over the two-year project period. Train at least 240 minority and limited resource farmers at 12 two-day workshops (20 participants per workshop).
- Host workshops on successful, sustainable operations in order to utilize farmer-to-farmer training model in demonstrating ecologically sustainable practices.
- Encourage networking and collaboration among minority and limited resource farmers to strengthen local farming communities through interactive workshop sessions.
- Increase economic development in rural communities by building connections between farmers and local institutions through Meet the Buyer panel discussions with local institutional buyers at each two-day workshop.
- Create publication, Accessing Intermediated Markets in Mississippi, as well as at least 3 videos and 3 podcasts based on the workshop curriculum to support participants’ learning and to share the information with a broader audience beyond the life of the project. It is estimated that at least 500 beginning farmers will access the online materials.
- Provide one-on-one technical assistance to participants beyond the timeline of the project.
- Conduct evaluation of “Scaling Up Production and Local Marketing for Minority and Limited Resource Farmers” training program and the impacts made.
Day One Workshop Curriculum Topics for both produce and livestock/meat:
- Legal requirements for selling to various markets, including:
- farmers markets and CSA-style direct-to consumer
- institutions (e.g., public schools)
- restaurants and wholesale buyers
- Farmer-led tour, discussion, Q & A period
Day Two Workshop Curriculum Topics for both produce and livestock/meat:
- Value-added production rules, and the Mississippi Cottage Food Law (for both specialty crop and livestock producers)
- FSMA and GAP/GHP rules, regulations, practices
- Value-added producer grants and other funding sources, interactive work
- Meet the Buyers Discussion Panel with local wholesale buyers (e.g. from preschools, restaurants, schools, food hubs)
Educational & Outreach Activities
This project has not been initiated because of the country's pandemic crisis of 2020. Our organization has asked for an extension to see if one day we could pursue a face to face model as desired in the proposal. We are open and willing to create online webinars to accommodate our obligation for this funding. At the time of the required annual report no workshops or farm tours have been done for this project.