- Agronomic: corn, cotton, sorghum (milo), soybeans
- Fruits: figs, peaches
- Nuts: pecans
- Vegetables: greens (leafy), sweet potatoes
- Animals: bovine, camelids, goats, poultry
- Animal Products: meat
- Sustainable Communities: community development
The purpose of this project is to investigate the degree of interest that farmers, community leaders, and agriculture and community development technical assistance providers in Northern Louisiana have: (1) in enhancing and developing local markets for produce grown in Northern Louisiana, and (2) in engaging in value-added activities such as processing and agritourism. It will use this information as the starting point to develop projects in the region to improve the profitability of small-scale and limited resource farms and to enhance local markets as an economic development strategy in a low-income, rural region of Louisiana.
The project will have three components: (1) the development of a database of small farmers who are currently engaged in, or are interested in, direct marketing, value-added processing, or agritourism; (2) three focus groups of farmers in order to get input as to the barriers and opportunities that they perceive in marketing or processing in the region; and (3) the development of a committee of stakeholders in the region who are committed to working to improve the incomes of small and limited resource farmers or who are interested in developing local processing or enhanced marketing of locally-grown agricultural products. This committee will have representatives from the major research universities; farmers, extension and other technical service providers; the department of economic development, consumer and community representatives and small business experts. The grant would fund four meetings of this stakeholder group.
Project objectives from proposal:
- To identify and develop a database of producers in the region who are currently engaged in or are interested in direct marketing, adding value to what they produce, or agritourism. In particular we will attempt to identify and include minority farmers who traditionally have been under-served by agriculture assistance programs. To hold three farmer-focus groups that will identify the barriers faced by small and limited resource farmers in the region who are engaged in direct marketing and value-added enterprises, to examine the opportunities that they perceive in agriculture, and hear what assistance they believe would improve their situation. To bring together individuals in the region who have the interest and capacity to work on value-added agriculture and a desire to enhance the productivity and numbers of markets of small farms in the region four times. The purpose of these meetings will be to enhance the degree of collaboration among technical service providers in the region around value-added enterprises, to facilitate the exchange of information, and to develop projects that come out of the needs assessment interviews with farmers.