Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Model Plan of Work is a culmination of the involvement of the State Sustainable Agriculture Committee. This committee is composed of representatives from both 1862 & 1890 Extension Organizations, Federal and State Government Agencies, NGOs, and farmers. A program assistant has been employed to assist the state coordinators and the members of this committee in carrying out the training objectives set forth in this model plan. The main objective of this plan is to include all of the various SARE programs into a seamless program. This plan includes more public awareness of SARE through either individual contacts made during regional/district/county workshops or a state wide Sustainable Agriculture conference. Training goals will be reached by means of in-service education, conferences, workshops, demonstrations, field days, tours, and publications. The different media sources of the stakeholders will also be used to help reach the different focal groups set forth in this plan. Training materials developed by SARE will be incorporated into the training for extension staff. Attendance at National/Regional Conferences will be encouraged as a means of further professional development in sustainable Agriculture. Some training may be conducted jointly between both land grant universities in the state. Evaluation will be done using the logic model by the evaluation team. All institutions and agencies involved are committed to this plan and have committed resources of time, money, and personnel to carry it out.
The main objective of the Model State Program is to incorporate all aspects of SARE into our State outreach program to expand knowledge and promote the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices to all farms and farmers regardless of size and type of production throughout Mississippi. The State Sustainable Agriculture committee, which has been functioning since 1995-96 revised our state strategic plan to reflect objectives of the Model State Program and implemented the plan through involvement of the State Sustainable Agriculture committee comprised of Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University extension personnel, NGO’s, NRCS, FSA and other stakeholders. Efforts will be made to incorporate additional involvement in the Model State Program by contacting new organizations or individuals to enlist their support for sustainable agriculture programs in Mississippi. The Committee will evaluate the objectives of the Model State Program and prioritize the programs and training that meets the most crucial needs in our state. Efforts will be made by the committee to leverage other resources with our funds in order to most effectively meet these needs. To accomplish our mission our specific objectives are:
A) Strengthen links of communication among Mississippi Universities, State and Federal Agencies, NGO’s, Farmers, and Communities.
We encourage committee members to participate with other organizations such as:
Mississippi State University Extension Service, Alcorn State Extension Program, Southern Sus Ag Working Group (SSAWG), MS Sus Ag Network (MSAN), MS Department of Agriculture, MS Farm Bureau Federation, etc. to network and communicate within our State among the various Stakeholder Groups to provide education, research development and information transfer, to promote adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by farmers, and provide outreach into Mississippi Communities.
B) Seek to establish SARE as a familiar positive concept with farmers, NGO’s and public.
Committee will seek to promote Sustainable Agriculture as a familiar positive concept with farmers, NGO’s and general public through use of distant education resources, printed materials and display SARE program information at educational programs throughout the state. Members will use their contacts with different media to reach different audiences. The committee will identify and facilitate distribution of resource materials for use by stakeholders and promote the use of educational resources that utilize all of Mississippi’s Agricultural systems from SARE, University Extension & Research, other state and federal agencies and farmers.
C) Increase efforts to get Extension Specialists, Field Agents and other Agency staff members to incorporate Sustainable Agriculture concepts in educational activities.
The committee encourages Extension Specialists, Field Agents and other Agency staff members to incorporate Sustainable Agriculture concepts in meetings, workshops, field days and other appropriate educational activities by conducting in-service training for Field Staff of Alcorn Cooperative Extension Program, Mississippi State University Extension Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist using SARE materials from Chapter 1 and Chapter 3 grants focused specifically on Sustainable Agriculture systems and how Agents can apply this information in their respective areas of responsibility. Training will involve scheduled In-Service for Extension agents; presentations at NGO area meetings, as appropriate; and encouraging attendance at SARE related meetings by providing some funding for travel to these meetings.
D) Increase involvement in the various grant programs.
State Coordinators will distribute information to appropriate individuals to inform them of SARE grant opportunities and work with interested individuals in the development and submission of their proposals. Assisting with various grant proposals may help link similar projects to broaden the scope of a project or encourage regional or multi-state cooperation. Results from funded projects can be used within the state in sustainable agriculture educational
E) Seek to make both commodity groups and legislative leaders aware of Sustainable Agriculture and its implications to all-Mississippian’s – both producers and consumers.
Our committee will seek to make both commodity groups and legislative leaders aware of the Sustainable Agriculture program and its implications to all Mississippian’s both producers and consumers. By building upon the contacts and relationships each committee member has throughout the state we can establish new ties with organizations and state leaders to leverage the promotion of sustainable agriculture programs.
Both MSU and ASU Coordinators, Program Assistant and committee members interact with numerous agents, organizations, agencies and farmers throughout the state providing the opportunity to encourage and promote sustainable agriculture practices. Mississippi State University Extension provides agricultural educational programs, workshops, field days, seminars and resource materials for citizens of the State. By working with leaders within the University, Organizations, State and Federal Agencies and Mentor Farmers we can leverage the promotion of sustainable agriculture practices to improve economic return and quality of life for the end users and consumers.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To educate Agents, Animal Health Technicians and Small Ruminant Mentor Farmers throughout our state how to use FAMACHA to determine if parasite treatment is needed in the small ruminant and provide educational information of forages and pasture management as well as general management of small ruminants.
FAMACHA Training of Agents and Small Ruminant Mentor Farmers have been a part of MSU-ES Model State Program objectives in recent years. The Program Assistant provided leadership in selecting a few Agents to be trained and certified to deliver the FAMACHA program in MS. Agents that were trained and certified in FAMACHA have delivered five training programs this year to Agents, Vet Students and Mentor Farmers in MS. The success of these trainings and increased interest of producers to avoid un-necessary use of de-wormers have generated more demand for training programs for small ruminant farmers. This training has been incorporated into the MSU Extension Service Agent in-service training curriculum. Participants in the programs are evaluated and provide feedback useful for developing future trainings.
Participants were taught about small ruminant management and how to use FAMACHA to determine the need for parasite control. Most participants have expressed interest in attending future workshops or trainings for additional information. Agents, Students and Mentor Farmers are more aware of small ruminant management issues and the use of FAMACHA so they can consult with other small ruminant farmers to assist them on their farm.
To assist Extension and Research Faculty or Extension Agents to attend the SSWAG conference to introduce them to Sustainable Ag Practices and network with other sustainable ag programs or researchers.
Each year our committee budgets some funding to encourage extension and research professionals to attend the SSWAG conference. The objective is to provide the opportunity of these professionals to gain insight into sus ag practices, issues, programs, or research so they can learn new approaches to challenges faced by farmers, innovative programs or research projects, and to network with professionals and/or farmers in other states.
In 2017, Dr. Snyder, Professor & Extension Vegetable Specialist coordinated the travel and conference participation of 2 other extension professionals (County Agent and Area Horticulture Agent) to attend the SSWAG conference. As a result of attending this conference, the County Agent learned about food networks and now has established a County Food Policy Council made of community stake holders that meets once a month at the Extension Office or during the summer the meeting was at the Farmers’ Market. Also he has organized summer workshops for K-12 students to provide hands on trainings utilizing raised bed gardening. The Area Horticulture Agent shortly after the conference had the opportunity to participate in a Produce Safety Alliance Training (PSA) dealing with FSMA rules and requirements that impact growers, packers, and industry suppliers. She is currently working with other PSA Trainers to offer the Grower Training Course (GAP) to Mississippian’s. The Good Handling Practices training and certification were good building blocks for a in-depth look at risky produce growing methods. The GAP and PSA courses deal with 2 of the 5 issues identified at the conference; soil health and food safety/certifications.
The objective of the SARE Team visit was to raise the profile of SARE among administrators, faculty, agents and other clientele; to provide help and support; and to receive feedback from stakeholders.
Five SARE team members visited Mississippi State University in October. While on campus the team met with Faculty to provide SARE program update and obtain feedback from Faculty. This session included video conferencing to the R&E centers. Later the Team met with both the Extension Director and MAFES Director along with Associate Directors for a round table discussion. In the afternoon, the Team conducted a grants workshop (included video conferencing across the state) for faculty, agents, ag leaders, and others that wanted to participate. The next morning SARE Team members met with Stakeholders invited to participate in person and/or video conferencing before departing to Alcorn State University.
Faculty, Administrators, Agents, and Stakeholders had the opportunity to interact with the SARE Team and learn more about SARE and SARE programs. The SARE team also were able talk with University personnel and stakeholders in person and receive feedback, as well as explore ideas. The visit by the SARE Team was good for both the University and Stakeholders.
The Extension Director invited the MSU Coordinator to the next Extension Administrative Council meeting to discuss the SARE program with Department Heads and Research & Extension Heads, and Extension Leadership Team. Another outcome resulted in a stakeholder group securing travel funds that allowed farmers to attend the 2017 SSWAG conference.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
MSU Model State Program Committee works to provide specific training programs and outreach within each committee members subject matter expertise and incorporating sustainable agriculture practices. In addition to promoting sustainable agriculture practices the committee encourages other ag professionals to utilize sustainable ag resources in their respective programs and activities. State coordinators work with individuals seeking grants to assist them with the correct grant for their proposal and assisting them with review of their proposal prior to submission. The coordinator also is the contact for questions about SARE and directs these inquiries to the appropriate faculty member to address the question. On occasion the coordinator assist individuals, groups, organizations, Ag professionals to network on common issues or projects.