News Release Distributed 07/22/14COLLINSTON, La. – Members of the Morehouse Parish Black Farmers Association and the National Black Growers’ Council, along with others interested in agriculture, braved torrential rains to learn new information at the 13th annual Black Farmers Field Day at Harper Armstrong’s farm on July 18.
Southern University extension agent Odis Hill, field day coordinator, said this event is a way to let people know there are still African-American farmers and to provide the latest information on equipment, technology, seed and chemicals to these growers.
Armstrong, who farms more than 2,500 acres of corn and soybeans, said he’s been in the farming business all of his life, and he does it because he loves it.
“I want to encourage all of the young people here to do a good job in their education,” Armstrong said. “Do good in your work, and you will be successful.”
LSU AgCenter regional horticulture agent Rafash Brew discussed the use of plastic mulch and drip irrigation as a means of conserving water while continuing to sustain and improve yields.
“When we use the plastic mulch, it helps us with weed control, it heats the soil up faster, and it allows us to produce a crop faster than without it,” Brew said.
AgCenter soybean specialist Ronnie Levy said not being able to get into the field because of rain was no excuse for not showing off some of the plants from Armstrong’s farm. So he brought some soybean plants from the field under the shed where he gave his talk.
“I want to encourage you to come to the field days that are held at the LSU AgCenter research stations across the state,” Levy told the group. “It’s important because the research is available to help you to improve your production practices.”
AgCenter corn specialist Dan Fromme discussed this year’s corn crop.
“In Morehouse Parish, the trend seems to be the same as in other parts of the state where low cotton prices have caused growers to turn more to feed grain crops,” Fromme said.
Gina E. Eubanks, who is an associate vice chancellor at the LSU AgCenter and vice chancellor at Southern University, told the group about some of the programs that are being conducted by both organizations to make life better, not just for farmers, but also for farm families.
“We know we have some problems, such as bullying and obesity, and we’re working on that,” she said. “We also know that in order to win we must remember that teamwork makes dreams work.”
Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor and program leader for plant and soil sciences, said this was his first time to attend the field day, but assured participants it would not be his last.
“By 2050, we will need to double food production in the world,” Leonard said. “The U.S. is already leading the world in production, but we may have to generate three to four times what we have out there today.”
Donna Thaxton, a retired mental health worker, said she is not a farmer, but she attended the field day because she has been involved in agriculture since a community garden was created in her area.
“This is not only important for the farmers who are here, but it also is important for the kids to get involved in growing things and to keep the farms going because that’s where our food comes from,” Thaxton said.
The field day concluded with awards given to Rufus Martin, of Bonita, for his 60 years of farming and to Willie B. Richardson, also of Bonita, for her 50 years as a farmer.
“And they both are still farming,” Hill said.Johnny Morgan
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