Sustaining western rural landscapes, lifestyles, and livelihoods through agricultural enterprise diversification: a collaborative partnership.

Project Overview

EW00-024
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2000: $80,880.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $99,734.00
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (other)
  • Vegetables: garlic, onions
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bees, fish, ratite, shellfish
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms

Practices

  • Animal Production: herbal medicines, grazing - multispecies, range improvement
  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, wetlands, wildlife, hedges - woody
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    This project created training materials and events for NRCS and Extension personnel who work directly with agricultural producers. A few Wyoming Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, and Wyoming Business Council personnel also participated in the training events. Additionally, approximately 25% of the training event participants were producers. The goal of the technical materials and training was to better enable agricultural professionals at the field (i.e. county) level to provide consistent technical assistance to farmers and ranchers interested in agricultural enterprise diversification. The target constituency of agricultural professionals and producers for this project were located in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.

    A resource guide on agricultural enterprise diversification was the principle technical material developed through this project. It gives agricultural professionals a template to use when providing agricultural enterprise diversification technical assistance to producers. Initially, a survey of 205 Extension and 564 NRCS agricultural professionals in the 5-state target area was completed to determine the awareness of and the amount of technical assistance being provided for agricultural enterprise diversification. It also identified specific aspects of enterprise diversification where more technical information is desired and/or needed. 154 completed surveys were returned, for a response rate of 20%. These results were included in determining the needed technical contents of the draft resource guide. The draft resource guide was subsequently used as the handbook for each training event.

    Five workshops for professionals and producers were completed. A total of 79 professionals and 26 producers from the target states participated. Each workshop consisted of one day in the classroom, where an overview of the contents of the resource guide was presented. This was followed by an evening speaker discussing their value-added diversified farm or ranch enterprise, and a ½ day tour of a diversified ranch the next day. On completion of each workshop, participants were asked to take the draft guide home, use it to assist producers interested in diversification, and to provide us with constructive criticisms on the guide's effectiveness as well as suggested improvements. These comments were considered in the development of the final version of the guide.

    A Wyoming Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) seminar was sponsored through the project in December, 2001, during which 17 members of the class (9 professionals, 8 producers) were provided training on agricultural enterprise diversification and each was issued a copy of the draft resource guide.

    A web site for the project, www.agdiversity.org, was launched in March, 2001. It highlights each of the major components of the project, and contains contacts for additional information. The contents of the final version of the resource guide will be available on the site in pdf format.

    A West-wide conference "Sustaining Western Rural Landscapes, Lifestyles, and Livelihoods: Diversify Your Agricultural Operation" was held in Sheridan, Wyoming, in September of 2002. 63 professionals and 86 producers from 13 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada participated in this 3-day event, which featured concurrent technical sessions, round-table discussions, and tours. The goal of the conference was to give producers the tools necessary to take the first steps towards diversification. Proceedings from the conference were published.

    A project display was completed and used to market the project at numerous agriculture-related events. Two versions of a brochure were developed to aid in awareness of the project, one highlighting the workshops, and the other focussing on the West-wide conference.

    Project objectives:

    1. Communicate the benefits of agricultural enterprise diversification for economic and community viability, and establish a connection to natural resources stewardship.

    2. Achieve a basic level of agricultural enterprise diversification competency among professionals that serve the agricultural community.

    3. Provide awareness to agricultural producers and small rural communities that enterprise diversification information/assistance is available and who provides it.

    4. Develop/obtain tools that will enable professionals to provide technical assistance for agricultural enterprise diversification.

    5. Establish consistency in services related to agricultural enterprise diversification that are provided by professionals to producers.

    6. Create opportunities for professionals, producers, and rural communities to share ideas, information, and experiences related to agricultural enterprise diversification.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.