Underserved and limited resource farmers face unique obstacles in diversifying their farming practices. Lack of knowledge on the awareness and benefits of agroecological practices makes it less likely that farmers will adopt practices that could lead to more environmentally sustainable and financially beneficial practices. The proposed project is an exploratory study with the objective of informing underserved beef producers on silvopasture practices and measuring their awareness, knowledge and interest in the practice. Additionally, the researcher will collaborate with University of Missouri faculty and extension specialists to provide University of Missouri Animal Science undergraduate students experience collaborating with researchers and underserved beef producers. The objectives of the project are 1) Building collaboration between University of Missouri and Extension researchers and students by working with underserved farmers on identifying strategies to improve their beef production operations 2) Exploring farmers awareness, knowledge and interest in adopting silvopasture practices for their beef cattle operations.
The project seeks funding for four to five University of Missouri Animal Science undergraduate students to travel to the Southwest Missouri region over Spring Break 2022 where they will work with University of Missouri faculty, extension specialists and Hispanic beef producers to identify strategies for improving beef operations among Hispanic farmers. Additionally, researchers will conduct semi-structured interviews with the identified beef producers to first assess their awareness and knowledge on silvopasture, followed by a ono-on-one training where the researcher will provide informational handouts on silvopasture and its benefits. The interview will explore their initial perception of the practice along with perceived barriers. The researcher will also observe current operations by looking at practices for management of livestock, site characteristics (what kind of preparation would be needed for silvopasture), and identify producers short and long term goals for their operations. A scholarship to attend the Center for Agroforestry’s annual Agroforesty Academy in summer 2022 will also be given to one producer who has interest in learning more about agroforestry practices.
The outcomes of the project include increased collaborative relationships between underserved beef producers and University of Missouri faculty and extension specialists that benefit the producer, increased understanding of beef operations of beef producers and barriers they face in adopting silvopasture, increased knowledge of agroecological practices among beef producers, increased cultural competency and experience for future leaders in beef production and students and researchers increased understanding of the barriers underserved producers face and strategies to help them optimize their beef operations.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project presents many learning opportunities for researchers, extension specialists, students, and underserved beef producers. The primary goals are informing producers on silvopasture and how they can enhance their operations, for researchers and technical advisors to learn about beginning underserved beef producers and how they can more effectively reach farmers and tailor information based on farmer characteristics related to agricultural practices and enterprises. Specifically, outcomes for producers will be that 3 farmers increase their interest in silvopasture adoption and all 10 producers increase their knowledge and awareness of silvopasture and its benefits. These will be measured through a post-survey follow-up. An additional outcome is that one producer will attend the Center for Agroforestry’s annual Agroforestry Academy that provides farmers/landowners with an education and hands-on training in agroforestry practices through on-farm demonstrations, workshops, and classroom activities. The goal of the academy is to increase the adoption of agroforestry and allow for networking among diverse producers and natural resource professionals.
For researchers, outcomes include increased awareness of the barriers to adoption and management producers face in silvopasture adoption, specifically for underserved farmers. Also, what social networks producers use when seeking information or have questions about production practices. This will be measured through qualitative interviews and follow-up surveys that will then inform case studies, publications and outreach programs tailored to the characteristics of beef producers.