Progress report for SMS19-002
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 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.
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. Each year we involve different extension faculty and agents that may not be familiar with SARE and the programs and opportunities available for their use in their educational 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.
- (Educator and Researcher)
- (Educator and Researcher)
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To educate small and limited-resource farmers on how to: (a) sustainably produce quality vegetable; (b) expand small farm access to local and regional markets
Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) through its extension programming activities worked with small and limited-resource farmer’s to address the fundamental problems of sustainability and profitability of small farm operations. This project allowed us to address some of the challenges faced by small farmers. Through this project, agriculture agents and specialists worked with producers/participants to assess the conditions of their operation, identify the numerous opportunities and priorities, and assist producers based on the needs to improve the farming operation. Therefore, the scope of the project is to improve the sustainability of the producers farming operation through the utilization of appropriate programs and resources. By reducing the risks associated with farming, producers will also improve the overall economics of the farming operation. Four sites were identified as demonstration sites including the Universities demonstration farms. The farms were utilized to demonstrate conservation systems that promote soil health such as nutrient, pest, and residue management for both crop and vegetable production. Additionally, producers were educated on soil and soil moisture relationships including how to manage cover crops and irrigation water for crop production. For livestock the demonstration farms were used to demonstrate improved grazing systems such as rotational grazing and forage harvest management. For alternative crop production, demonstrations included the use of High Tunnel Cropping Systems and/or transition to organic farming. These farms also displayed the use of programs, resources and opportunities available through value added, energy, sales, marketing and other economic elements that lead to economical sustainable operations. Participating farmers including other members of the agricultural community were also trained farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Good Handling Practices (GHPs), pesticide usage and safety, selecting the right pesticide, and equipment calibration and optional tests for participants interested in becoming certified (or recertified) applicators of restricted pesticides). Farmers and Extension staff were also introduced to Specialty crops such as shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus and P. pulmonarius) mushrooms as a potential sources of fresh food that can minimize the impact of food insecurity and also provide additional income for underserved farmers and forest landowners (UFFL). Thus, the availability of humongous waste woods from timber harvest and thinning in addition to various agricultural residues (corn stover, wheat, rice, and small grain straws) was used as substrates for mushroom production. Hence, two hands-on training workshops utilizing wheat straw as substrates were used to educate UFFL on Oyster mushroom production.
- Farmers will effectively utilize their improved production and management skills and resources to produce quality produce.
- Improved skill & knowledge in harvesting grading and packing.
- Increased profits for farmers.
- Improved coordination in production techniques.
- Improvement in marketing and fiscal management.
- Enhanced awareness, improve knowledge and rate of adopt in sustainable agricultural practices.
- Increased networking and collaboration between farmers, researchers and Extension
- 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.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Emphasis was placed on GAP, GHP, BMP, food safety standards and food safety certification requirements, effective production techniques such as soil health, forest health, harvesting, grading, farm financial management, and insurance/product liability.
We will continue to work with farmer association partners to develop and expand sustainable agriculture extension work in the State. We believe in establishing a strong relationship and network within the farming community by providing solid, realistic marketing collaborator with the United States Department of Agriculture through its efforts as a land-grant university, and continue to significantly impact the national farm policy
Face of SARE
SARE program information were displayed at educational programs throughout the state such as printed materials, workshops, field days. SARE was promoted as a positive concept to farmers, NGO’s and the general public.