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.
A} Strengthen links of communication among Mississippi Universities, State and Federal Agencies, NGO ‘s, Farmers, and Communities.
B) Seek to establish SARE as a familiar positive concept with farmers, NGO’s and public.
C) Increase efforts to get Extension Specialists, Field Agents and other Agency staff members to incorporate Sustainable Agriculture concepts in educational activities.
D) Increase involvement in the various grant programs.
E) Seek to make both commodity groups and legislative leaders aware of Sustainable Agriculture and its implications to all-Mississippians – both producers and consumers.
Previously, committee members have networked with other agencies and stakeholders to provide support and education and/or research needs for the transfer of information to promote adoption of sustainable agriculture
practices by end users. We intend to continue in these efforts and feel we have made progress with Sustainable Ag concepts over the years. In the coming year, we will utilize new stakeholder involvement to leverage our support and communication to all Mississippians. Also having our program efforts approved as part of the Extension program training for agents will magnify the reach of these programs and provide a template for new program efforts. Although we have made efforts to increase participation in SARE grant opportunities, encouraging Extension and Research Faculty, NGO, Farm Groups, Graduate Students and Farmers to consult with State Coordinators prior to submitting a proposal is a high priority so that proposals are developed for the correct grant opportunity and address the grant protocol.
Specific committee actions for 2016-2017 (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 2016-2017.
d) Committee members will conduct in-service training and workshops in their respective area of expertise and promote Sus Ag practices. Committee members will 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 ofSARE 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 since SARE representatives made a visit to both MSU and ASU in October to discuss the programs, conduct grant workshops along with a meeting of stakeholders. While both groups did not meet at the same time, we believe a lot was accomplished by this visit and provides our program with renewed energy to follow-up with items that were discussed. 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 timelines for proposal submission as well as who to contact for any assistance needed with the development, review and submission of the proposal. Travel to the SAWG Conference was provided for three extension faculty in 2016 to assist them with program development, networking, and build knowledge for ideas to either conduct research or educational programs. For 2017, funding has been provided to send 4 agents to the SAWG Conference to enlighten them to new ideas and information they can share in their local programs. FAMACHA training has been conducted and each were evaluated. 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.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To utilize research-based information to enhance knowledge, skills, experience, and to stimulate hands-on education for limited-resource farmers and other members of the agriculture community concerning sustainable agriculture.
To accomplish the objective, Alcorn State University Extension Production (ASUEP) vegetable curriculum entitled “Guide to Vegetable Production” was used to conduct four (5) hands-on training workshops and three field days on education training as it relates to sustainable vegetable production practices. The curriculum and supplemental educational materials for the lesson content was distributed to the participants. The training sessions emphasize a systems approach to sustainable vegetable production (e.g. the use of biological pest control and promotion of biodiversity). The proposed training topics discussed the essentials of crop production processes, focusing on site selection, soil fertility, composting, crop rotation, cover crops, tillage equipment and field preparation, seeds and transplants, irrigation and spraying systems, harvest and postharvest handling, integrated pest management, and environmentally friendly strategies for managing insects, diseases, weeds, and wildlife. The sessions included hands-on demonstrations of several activities that will assist participants in their farming practices. The hands-on activity also include learning about biological control through an interactive predator-prey game, using microscopes to observe small organisms, devising mechanical methods to monitor or control pests, or reading and evaluating current material on environmental problems to derive solutions for those problems. A total of 300 famers and agriculture professionals attended the workshops, hands-on training activities and fieldays
The project is expected to: (1) Increased capacity by the university to provide research-based information on sustainable production practices in relation to economics and ecological performance. (2) Increased opportunities to apply system approaches to agricultural management practices with practical value to farmers. (3) Ensure that farmers continue to have a guiding role in sustainable crop production practices as it moves from working farms onto land grant experiment stations. (4) Increased number of farmers that engage in good sustainable agricultural practices and farm record keeping (5) Increased financing opportunities for sustainable crop production farmers. (6) Increased networking and collaboration opportunities for farmers, researchers and extension
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
Hands-on training activities, printed materials, workshops, field days and display of SARE program information at educational programs throughout the state hence, was SARE was promoted as a positive concept to farmers, NGO’s and general public