The Louisiana Master Farmer Program will offer Phase I training on January 12 at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe. Participants will be able to complete the first of three phases of the program at this activity. This event is presented in conjunction with and sponsored in association with Ag Expo. The registration fee includes admission to the 2015 Ag Expo.
“The Master Farmer program allows producers to implement best management practices for all phases of animal and crop production and become well-educated on environmental issues,” said Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor, adding that the program stresses adoption of voluntary conservation practices.
This workshop will complete the first phase, which is classroom instruction. Phase II, which is attendance at an approved field day or tour of a farm operation to actually see conservation practices in place, is offered numerous times throughout each year. Phase II events for 2015 are in the planning process and will begin in late January at various locations
Leonard said farmers will also be able to start on Phase III of the program as part of the workshop. This phase involves planning and implementing a farm’s conservation plan.
Leonard said Master Farmer University resulted from requests by several commodity groups for a concentrated training opportunity. “Louisiana agriculture has two options for the future: additional regulations limiting crop production or voluntary action,” Leonard said. “We urge farmers to take the opportunities of the Master Farmer University to move forward.”
Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said he encourages every producer in Louisiana, regardless of size or commodity, to consider attending Master Farmer University. “You are the best stewards of Louisiana’s soil and water resources, and this is your program,” he said.
Registration online begins December 1 at https://www.regonline.com/lmfuwm2015. Registration will be $30 and includes lunch and admission to the 2015 Ag Expo. Participants are encouraged to register early to accommodate meal arrangements. If anyone has any questions, be sure to contact a member of the LMFP staff.
Master Farmer University will begin at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center, January 12, with registration at 8:30 a.m. Presentations by program partners will cover the latest information on water quality standards and issues, best management practices (BMPs) for specific commodities, programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and numerous other topics relevant to agricultural production and the environment. Producers will be able to utilize this information to concentrate on conservation practices for their specific operations.
Those already certified as Master Farmers will receive three hours of continuing education credits for attending.The Louisiana Master Farmer program began in 2001 with the partnership of the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Farm Bureau, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program focuses on helping agricultural producers voluntarily address environmental concerns as well as helping them enhance the production and resource management skills they need for the continued sustainability of Louisiana agriculture. The program helps producers across a wide range of agricultural and natural resource enterprises by teaching them more about environmental stewardship, conservation-based production techniques and resource management. The program uses a comprehensive approach that includes classroom instruction, observation of LSU AgCenter research-based best management practices and implementation of a comprehensive conservation plan.
For more information, contact Ernest Girouard, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program, Coordinator. Office: (337) 788-7547 or Mobile (337) 852-3986; Donna Morgan, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program, Central Region. Office: 318-473-6521 or Mobile: 318-613-9278; Allen Hogan, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program. Office: (337) 788-7547 or James Hendrix, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program, Northeast Region. Office: 318-766-3320 or Mobile: 318-235-7198.
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program focuses on helping agricultural producers voluntarily address environmental concerns as well as helping them enhance the production and resource management skills they need for the continued sustainability of Louisiana agriculture. The program helps producers across a wide range of agricultural and natural resource enterprises by teaching them more about environmental stewardship, conservation-based production techniques and resource management. The program uses a comprehensive approach that includes classroom instruction, observation of LSU AgCenter research-based best management practices and implementation of a comprehensive conservation plan. It also involves a voluntary producer certification process. To become Louisiana Master Farmer, a producer must complete three phases:
Producer attends classroom instruction on environmental stewardship issues related to:
Producer attends a conservation-based field day where specific best management practices are demonstrated and discussed. This also may include pasture walks, soil quality workshops and other commodity-specific demonstrations that are approved by Louisiana Master Farmer Program faculty.
A producer must request a farm-specific Resource Management System (RMS) level conservation plan through their district conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The producer will be contacted by the district conservationist to schedule an initial meeting to discuss the producer's plans, goals, and take a resource inventory of the farming operation. This plan is written on acreage within a sub-watershed (12 digit HUC), not necessarily the entire farming acreage. The district conservationist will be able to delineate what property falls within each sub-watershed to develop a conservation plan for each sub-watershed if necessary. LSU AgCenter personnel may also be contacted and/or may assist NRCS in the initial steps of the planning process. This process may take a lengthy amount of time depending on acreage, goals of the producer, financial capabilities and overall resource concerns on the selected property. Once the plan is developed and fully implemented, this phase is considered to be complete. The NRCS state conservationist confirms the RMS is fully implemented and recommends that the producer is granted certification. Participants in the Kellogg's Master Rice Grower Program have additional reporting to comply with their companywide sustainability program. Upon completion of all three phases of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program, producers are "presumed" to be in compliance with Louisiana's state soil and water conservation requirements. Continuing Education: Certification is granted for five years, with six hours of continuing education credits required per year. Additional information regarding this is listed under "Continuing Education."
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