Final report for SMS18-001
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 a series of SARE programs focusing on small ruminants, forage management, and organic beef cattle programming. 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 focus 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.
Sustainable Agriculture has long been associated with either environmental, organic production, or only limited resource farming practices. While sustainable agriculture encompasses these issues it involves much more. Traditional agriculture producers benefit and utilize sustainable agriculture practices that prove more economical and/or improves the quality of life and the community in which they live. A primary training objective is to assist all agriculture producers with a better understanding of sustainable agriculture and fulfill the mission of the S-SARE program: “to expand knowledge and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices that are economically viable, environmentally sound, and good for all members of the community.”
We plan to meet this objective by conducting a demonstration of economically viable and environmentally sound practices that work as the best method to increase the adoption of those practices by farmers. In general, Farmers tend to accept information more readily from other farmers through field days, farm tours, or individual discussions. Other target audiences for this training objective include educators, researchers, commodity organizations, agri-business leaders, community leaders, and the general public with program delivery through workshops, seminars, conferences, in-service training, and mass media. Each committee member has the expertise to share with people they interact with and through participation in group gatherings.
Based on the need for implementing new agricultural and livestock programs that include sustainable practices and novel management strategies for better performance in the southeastern United States, Mississippi State University focuses on expanding producer awareness and increasing sustainable farm business opportunities. The increased use of SARE resources in educational programs will have a direct impact on the increase of sustainable farming in the state, as well as the development of learning programs for sustainable small ruminant milk production for small landowners. The increase of awareness related to sustainable agriculture also improves the quality of life of rural communities.
Small Ruminant Workshop: Participants heard presentations on (1) beginning a sheep/goat operation, (2) marketing strategies, (3) animal health, (4) nutrition, (5) reproduction, (6) integrated grazing management, (7) toxic plants, (8) meat quality, and (9) farm assistance programs. The topics were presented by Mississippi State University Extension Specialists, State, and Federal Agencies and they were available to answer questions and provide detailed information on each of the subjects that were covered. There was a total of 115 participants across 56 counties in Mississippi and Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Fifty-four percent of workshop participants (N= 115) were male and 46% female. Sixty-five percent of the respondents are under the age of 50.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Update knowledge for sheep and goat farmers by providing them with basic information in key areas including marketing, budgeting, forages, parasite control, breed selection, reproduction, poisonous plants, and carcass quality.
The Small Ruminant Workshop was held at MSState in March 2018, with the participation of Dr. Rocky Lemus, Erdogan Memily, and Kipp Brown. With the idea of empowering sheep and goat farmers with important and updated information for having more productive and sustainable farms. The topics discussed were related to reproduction, marketing, nutrition, and meat production.
Twenty-four percent of the participants (N=72) indicated that agriculture is their primary occupation, and the rest are part-time farmers. Eighty-two percent of the attendees indicated that they have been in agriculture less than 10 years and 43% are meat goats, 39% dairy goats, and 18% sheep. Participants indicated that they like to adopt the new management practices in their farms. Sixty-five percent plan to incorporate new forage varieties and 87% plant to do more routine inspection for parasites. Twenty-nine percent of the respondents also indicated that they knew some of the information presented at the event while 36% will use some of the information and 74% will use a lot of the information. On average, respondents indicated that would earn approximately $830 in additional income per individual based on the information received and the knowledge gained by attending this program. This expectation resulted in an approximate cash flow of $95,450.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Sustainable Agriculture has long been associated with either environmental, organic production, or only limited
resource farming practices. While sustainable agriculture encompasses these issues it involves much more.
Traditional agriculture producers benefit and utilize sustainable agriculture practices that prove more economical
and/or improves the quality of life and the community in which they live. One training objective is to assist all agriculture
producers with a better understanding of sustainable agriculture and fulfill the mission of the S-SARE program: “to
expand knowledge and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices that are economically viable, environmentally
sound and good for all members of the community.” Demonstration of economically viable and environmentally sound
practices that work is the best method to increase the adoption of those practices by farmers. In general, Farmers tend
to accept information more readily from other farmers through field days, farm tours, or individual discussions. Other
target audiences for this training objective include educators, researchers, commodity organizations, agri-business
leaders, community leaders, and the general public with program delivery through workshops, seminars,
conferences, in-service training, and mass media. Each committee member has the expertise they share with people
they interact with and through participation in group gatherings. Knowledge is often transferred through these
Our State Sustainable Agriculture Committee has determined specific training topics based upon the critical needs
of the State. Most educational programs and research efforts already focus on critical issues of Mississippi and
incorporate sustainable agriculture concepts into the plans. In Mississippi, there is a close working relationship
between the Universities, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency,
MS Dept. Ag and Commerce, MS Farm Bureau, Board of Animal Health, Commodity Organizations, and Dept. of
One topic previously identified by the committee involves parasite management for small ruminants. The Program
Assistant provided leadership for the agents that received out of state training and coordinated the follow-up in service
training programs and assist with educational programs by agents delivered to producers in the state.
Additional FAMACHA training, as well as the establishment of alternative management programs, are planned across
the state that focuses on Parasite Control, Pasture Management, Marketing Strategies, development of small
ruminant dairies, with FAMACHA hands-on training and cover crop demonstrations.
Interest in pasture pig production has increased in MS and farmers new to raising pigs especially on pasture require
training on issues such as general management, nutrition, health, housing, marketing, genetics, environmental
regulations and conservation practices, forages, fencing, etc. Last year was a struggle to develop regular training in
this area. As this is still a production system of value in Mississippi, we will expand our work with NGO groups and
extension agents, to develop training that supports the creation of small sustainable pasture swine operations.
Another issue that has been brought forth is the need to educate livestock and poultry farmers on proper mortality
disposal for small-scale production enterprises. The Board of Animal Health has encouraged the establishment of a
demonstration for small-scale economical methods to dispose of animal mortality that can be used for agent
training to transfer the preferred means of mortality disposal for small-scale operations. Demonstration of this
process across species is being conducted and educational delivery to agents continues.
We will expand these demonstrations to Southern Mississippi counties that have not had access to
demonstrations sites located in North Mississippi.
The benefits of the use of cover crops are not new to our state, but there is a limited amount of state research
available to develop state cover crop recommendations and the benefits to producers. Currently, this topic is of
interest to researchers and extension specialists in MS. Our goal is to support the development of cover crop
research proposals and the delivery of educational programs that assist farmers with the knowledge to use and
manage cover crops on their farm correctly.
Rabbit production systems have the potential to have a significant economic impact on the State of Mississippi,
we plan to expand the growing demonstration focusing on creating a sustainable
closed system that recycles all nutrients. As part of the educational program, we will expand the harvest and
processing portion of the program to incorporate “organic” marketing and export.
Other topics to be considered by the committee for programs include: 1) Farm Business (Record keeping /
Budgeting /Planning); 2) Organic Marketing and policy; 3) Food Safety and Bio-security (Local Food Supply), some
of these topics are being addressed by others at MSU.
Face of SARE
SSARE gave funds for the development of these workshops, so farmers got to know the programs and grants SARE had for farmers in the Southern US.