The program involves a multifaceted effort that provides training opportunities for County Extension Agents, FSA personnel, NRCS personnel, producers, and other agricultural professionals and also incorporates concepts of sustainable agriculture in existing, state-wide training efforts. These training opportunities include conferences, field meetings and workshops held at various locations in Texas.
Projects designed to train Extension agents from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension will meet agents requests for sustainable information to assist local farmers. Concepts of sustainable agriculture have been and will continue to be disseminated through new agents’ training, leadership training, seminars, workshops, farm tours, publications, websites, manuals, videos and other events (e-mail, telephone contacts, farm visits, etc.).
Sustainable agriculture training for agents, agency personnel and mentor farmers should show impacts across Texas with advances in the areas of food and fiber production, environmental awareness and protection, organic, IPM and alternate production methods, marketing, farmer cooperation and development of multi-disciplinary teams to reach common goals. Administrative success stories and awards should reflect these programs teaching sustainable practices.
Extension agents and other Extension personnel will indicate an increased knowledge of sustainable agriculture and sustainable production techniques by reporting contacts, outcomes and narratives regarding educational activities on monthly state-wide reports available to program coordinators in the form of contacts, subject material, narratives, evaluations and on-farm contacts or sustainable demonstration projects.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Annually conduct training for new employees of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (AgriLife) and the Cooperative Extension Program (CEP) at Prairie View A&M University regarding sustainable agricultural practices and Southern Region SARE programs. Goal of training 20 new employees.
- Annually include USDA – Farm Service Agency (FSA), USDA- Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Credit System personnel in seminars and trainings regarding sustainable agriculture practices and Southern Region SARE programs held locally or on a state-wide basis. Goal of training 20 USDA and Farm Credit personnel.
- Annually participate in three outreach efforts, such as field days and industry conferences, to inform producers and agricultural professionals regarding the SARE program. Goal of reaching 500 agricultural professionals.
- Maintain a website to provide timely and updated information related to SARE and the SARE grant program to Texas clientele. Goal of 500 “hits” on updated website.
- Annually conduct training for Extension agents and agency staffs to learn to instruct socially disadvantaged farmers, landowners and community leaders, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, women and persons who have limited resources of land, labor and capital regarding sustainable agriculture practices and Southern Region SARE programs. Goal of training 20 Extension agents and/or agency personnel.
Expected outcomes from Texas SARE program
- Forty AgriLife and CEP Agents will increase knowledge in sustainable systems and the SARE program through participation in PDP activities. Agents will also be introduced to the SARE grant program and encouraged to submit appropriate proposals as requests for proposals are called.
- Thirty USDA and FCS staff will increase knowledge in sustainable systems and grants available for agriculture producers for establishing sustainable practices on their operations.
- At least 500 Texas citizens, who are not employed by USDA, will become more knowledgeable of Sustainable Agriculture practices through active participation in the Texas Sustainable Agriculture Program. Although certain in-service training sessions will be limited to USDA employees, farmers and landowners will be invited to participate in most of the SARE-PDP training programs held in 2021-2022.
- Although the primary audience is Extension agents and agency staff, 75 socially disadvantaged farmers, landowners and community leaders including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, women and persons who have limited resources of land, labor and capital, will also be invited and will become more knowledgeable and accepting of Sustainable Agriculture practices through active participation in the Texas Sustainable Agriculture Program. At least five of these minority farmers will submit SARE Producer Grant proposals during 2021-2022.