Texas’ Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee meets annually to oversee the state program for training agricultural professionals in concepts of sustainable agriculture. 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.
Another approach of the Texas Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee is to support travel of selected professionals to regional and national conferences on sustainable agriculture, with the intent of participants gaining knowledge and skills that they will share with other agricultural professionals in Texas.
Program evaluation will be accomplished with pre- and post-tests designed to measure knowledge gained by participating in educational programs. A subset of attendees will be mailed an additional survey instrument four to eight months after the training to determine if participants have adopted any of the sustainable concepts presented. The aim of the evaluation is assess knowledge gained and to determine whether new knowledge will be applied in future programs for their clientele.
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.