- Education and Training: extension, networking, technical assistance, workshop
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships
In New Jersey, the agricultural industry is extremely diverse in farm size, farm products, marketing, and business models. Each farm has unique needs from agricultural service providers (ASPs). The problem is knowledge and educational training related to base services for farmers, has been lacking and needs to increase to maximize efficient program delivery. This issue is of particular importance for Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Department members who are written into state legislation or are called upon for regulatory interpretation which often results in the need to network with other agencies and NGOs who serve farmers. Many ANR personnel conduct programming not specifically related to commercial agriculture, leaving a void in some areas of the state for farmer services. However, it is still important for local ANR staff to understand agricultural issues and help identify services offered by other ASPs related to farm regulations, risk management, production agriculture, and marketing services. In the past, networking groups and agriculture-related programs provided opportunities for information sharing amongst ASPs. In the last decade, these programs have been discontinued leaving significant gaps in information sharing between ASPs. Services for the agricultural community are essential for farm viability. ASP programming must be effectively managed regardless of programmatic focus to ensure much needed service delivery to the agricultural community.
To support agricultural service providers a series of training sessions will be conducted to 1) train ASPs on the base services for farmers, 2) offer networking opportunities for extension, agricultural agencies, NGOs and others, and 3) provide in-person and on-farm opportunities for ASPs to demonstrate programs and communicate services that may align with other providers to enhance service efficiencies. This project will provide ASPs the platform to improve their knowledge and share the diverse and numerous resources available to assist farmers.
Performance targets from proposal:
Twenty-five ASPs will participate in the program and will improve communications with other ASPs working in various agencies to deliver services more efficiently to farmers. ASPs will demonstrate improved professional networks, collaborations, and services for farmers. Fifteen ASPs will provide services to at least 2,000 farmers through this project.