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.
Specific committee actions for 2017-2018 (A-E):
a) MSU committee planning meeting, September.
b) MSU & ASU committee meeting, October.
c) Increase number of grant proposals submitted by MSU and funded for 2017-2018.
d) Committee members conduct in-service training and workshops in their respective area of expertise and promote Sustainable Ag practices. Committee members provide State Coordinators and/or Program Assistant summary information for annual report & evaluation.
e) Increase use of display at educational programs to increase awareness of sustainable agriculture concepts to improve the quality of life for MS farmers and their communities.
Expected outcome of these specific objectives (A-E) are:
a) Better coordination of resources; increased awareness of the SARE program and facilitate distribution of SARE resource information.
b) Increased adoption of sustainable agriculture concepts.
c) Increased use of SARE resources in educational programs.
d) Increase development of new sustainable agriculture practices and information delivery to farmers and communities and to promote regional, multi-state involvement. Improve scope of Sustainable Ag programs and evaluations reported in the annual report.
e) Increases awareness of sustainable agriculture concepts that improves the quality of life in Mississippi communities.
For last years’ objective (a- e), the functions of the committee were informally met for MSU and the Joint Committee to discuss the programs. SARE grants in MS are lacking when compared with other states and additional effort will be taken to make sure people know of the grants and time lines for proposal submission as well as who to contact for any assistance needed with the development, review and submission of the proposal. For 2018, funding has been provided to send 4 University Extension and Research Professionals to the SSAWG Conference to enlighten them to new ideas and information they can share in their local programs. In addition, funding was provided to send 2 Extension Professionals to the 2018 National SARE Conference. FAMACHA training has been conducted and each were evaluated and is a program option for agents in-service training. Pasture Pig program is currently offered through Extension Program Training for Agents as well as to producers or potential producers. Future development of this may include establishment of demonstrations and basic production publications. Educational programs and research is being developed for the use and management of Cover Crops and small farm animal mortality disposal. State committee funds will be used to support existing and new educational programs through agent in-service, travel for conferences or workshops for agents or providing resource materials as needed.
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, MSU ADS 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.
As a result of evaluation feedback from participants in the FAMACHA trainings, a small ruminant production workshop was held at Mississippi State University on March 17, 2018. The goals of the workshop were to provide basic information related to the production of small ruminant livestock to participants. The program assistant also provides updated information on the MSU Extension website listed below:
A Small Ruminant Production Workshop was held at Mississippi State University on March 17, 2018. The goals of the workshop were to provide basic information related to the production of small ruminant livestock to participants.
This event was organized by Rocky Lemus of the Department of Plant and Soil Science and Kipp Brown and Erdogan Memili of the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. The workshop was attended by goat and sheep producers from across Mississippi as well as a few producers from other states including Alabama, California, and Louisiana. The speakers empowered the participants in key areas including marketing, budgeting, forages, parasite control, breed selection, reproduction, poisonous plants, and carcass breakdown for selling sheep and goat meat products. In addition to the presentations, the program also included a producer panel that provided real time hands on testaments on production in our state as well as a display of the various forage species that can be grown in our state for small ruminant production.
This event was a collaboration of Mississippi State University Extension Service(MSU-ES), Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES), Mississippi Farm Bureau (MFB), Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Extension (SSARE), USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), USDA-Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA), Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission (MSWCC), and the Mississippi State Center for Forage Management and Environmental Stewardship (CFMES).
Participants attending this workshop were provided information by expert speakers related to Beginning a Goat/Sheep Operation, Marketing Strategies, Animal Health, Nutrition, Reproduction, Integrated Grazing Management, Toxic Plants, Meat Quality and Farm Assistance Programs. There were over 110 participants in attendance. Participants were given a pre-test at the start of the workshop and a post-test and evaluation instrument at the conclusion of the day.
Information about small ruminant production agriculture and the workshop can be found at the extension website under Agriculture/Livestock/goats and sheep (http://extension.msstate.edu/agriculture/livestock/goats/publications#pp) and at the MS Forages website (http://mississippiforages.com).
Since this workshop, a new budget program has been added to the MSU Extension website listed below.
To assist Extension and Research Faculty or Extension Agents to attend the SSAWG 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 2018, Dr. Snyder, Professor & Extension Vegetable Specialist coordinated the travel and conference participation of 3 other extension professionals (Dr. Joy Anderson, County Agent/Director; Dr. Christine Coker, Associate Research & Extension Professor, and Dr. Leslie Hossfeld, Professor and Head of Sociology Department) to attend the SSAWG conference. Dr. Snyder stated “the 2018 SSAWG Conference in January 2018 in Chattanooga, TN was another example of a well-run conference, coordinated by growers, mostly presented by growers, and attended mostly by sustainable, commercial growers from throughout the southeast as well as quite a few other states. Attendance was around 1,500. This is a very applied conference and each year it provides me with information that I can use to help our sustainable growers in Mississippi”.
Dr. Hossfeld lead two sessions at the conference, one the State Networking Session for Mississippi and the SERA-47 information session. Dr. Hossfeld stated she attended numerous, highly informative sessions. “The entire conference provided insight and technical assistance for the work we are doing in Mississippi. Of particular importance were the sessions dedicated to farm policy and advocacy, which I have used since returning.”
1) SERA-47 – Learning Community – Land Grant Universities in the Southern Region. Informed monthly meetings in February, March, and April. In attendance Extension agents, and Researchers from 13 land grant universities in the southern region coming together to address local food systems development/sustainable agriculture in the southern region.
2) Informed monthly community foods meetings Oktibbeha Food Policy Council. Monthly meetings February, March, April – Total: 48. In attendance: Extension agent, health department leaders, researchers, farmers, farmer cooperative leaders.
3) Informed Conference held March 28th at Mississippi State University. All day Symposium on “Leveraging Local Food Systems to Create Self Sufficiency”
76 people in attendance including: USDA FNS SERO Director; TANF Director; HHS Director SERO, Nutritionists, Agricultural Extension, researchers, university representatives from regional universities, Hunger Consortium representatives, community leaders, farmers, farmer cooperative leaders; SNAP E&T Director. Addressed developing food systems research and praxis for sustainable development in meeting food insecurity needs.
4) Informed Mississippi Food Policy Council meetings – February, March, April 30 people. Community leaders, farmer cooperative leaders, non-profit leaders, researcher, Farm to School Director. Monthly Meetings address sustainable agriculture practices and policy to develop strong local food system in Mississippi.
5) Informed conference session paper at Southern Sociological Society Annual Conference held in New Orleans April 6, 2018 “Persistent Poverty in The South workshop” – 30 people in attendance at workshop on local food systems as economic developing to alleviate hunger and poverty in rural communities through sustainable development.
6) Informed grant submission USDA Local Food Promotion Program to address food access and local sustainable agriculture food production in Oktibbeha County, MS. Grant Submitted in the amount of $99,518.
To assist Extension and Research Faculty or Extension Agents to attend the SARE conference to introduce them to Sustainable Ag Practices and network with other sustainable ag programs or researchers.
This conference provides the opportunity for Ag Professionals to network and learn from research projects and programs from around the nation as well as federal policy related to sustainable agriculture.
Dr. Snyder indicated the talks were all very high quality and research based. There was a strong focus on all aspects of sustainability including profitability to the producer. Among all aspects of production, one of the unifying practices was the need for cover cropping; this applies to all types of growers – organic, sustainable, conventional, etc. Networking with colleagues from other universities as well as producers was excellent. We all learned quite a bit about sustainable practices that can be shared with growers and other Extension professionals.
Dr. Anderson stated the conference was also an interesting conference to attend. Instead of the regional view and flavor this was a national perspective and a more political view. Sustainability, transition from conventional farming to sustainable practices, medium to small farmers sharing what works in their part of the nation.
- Vendors at the conference had good information. The Xerces Society had information that I am using in programming this summer with families and youth on the importance of native pollinators.
- The session on Federal Policy and sustainable agriculture had information about the farm bill 2019 and beyond. They had suggestions on how to collaborate with other nonprofits, business and farmers to let their voices be heard during the process of debate as Congress decides what will be appropriated for the farm bill and ultimately for farmers.
- I attended the session on the state of soil health and the latest insights on soil biology. This session was research being presented covered cover crops, the role microorganisms play in the soil and the importance of organic matter to soil health. We have very little research that I have heard about here in Mississippi to even be able to discuss this with producers. I plan to learn more about specific cover crops that can be used regionally for small producers.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Our Model State Program has focused on small ruminant management in recent years, the collaboration with other groups, and promoting sustainable agriculture practices to University Extension and Research professionals. Interest in small ruminants and FAMACHA training have continued to grow with request for additional training covering more topics. Agents have participated in many of the scheduled trainings and have been enabled to deliver programs in their respective county programs.
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.