Carrie Mendoza, Merrill, Thomas A., LeBlanc, Brian D., Morgan, Donna S., Morgan, Johnny W. | 11/22/2006 1:51:20 AM
News Release Distributed 11/21/06
The LSU AgCenter recently brought beef producers from around the state together at the Bald Cypress Cattle Co. in Amite for a field day designed to demonstrate scientifically based and environmentally sound management practices they could implement.
Model farm field days such as this one on Nov. 3 ordinarily are the second phase for agricultural producers working to become certified under the Louisiana Master Farmer Program. They give program participants a chance to see a variety of conservation practices where they have been implemented on a farm.
In this case, the 50-plus cattle producers are involved in one of the Master Farmer Program’s offshoots – the Louisiana Master Cattle Producer Program. They have completed the eight hours of classroom instruction on conservation practices that are a core of the Master Farmer Program, and many of them have done additional work toward the 30 hours of educational sessions required to be certified as Master Cattle Producers under the program operated by the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.
Carrie Mendoza, the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program coordinator, said several years ago cattle producers saw the success of the Master Farmer Program, particularly in the area of agricultural crop production, and decided that they wanted to have a program tailored to their industry.
This Master Farmer Model Farm Field Day in Amite was the 16th to be held in the state. Each of them is conducted to display where scientifically based, environmentally sound best management practices have been implemented on a farm.
"These model farms provide a great opportunity for producers to learn first-hand about BMP adoption and conservation planning," Mendoza said. "Hank Schumacher and his family are one of the first of 13 certified in the Master Farmer Program this year and are displaying some of the improvements they have implemented as a result of going through the program."
Implementation of such practices – or at least development of farm-specific conservation plans – is the third phase required of participants who want to be certified as Louisiana Master Farmers.
"It is wonderful to see a father and son involved in conservation because Louisiana farmers are so passionate about passing their operations to their children," Mendoza said. "They have learned so much from each other and are willing to share new information and technologies in environmental stewardship."
Dan Tallion, along with his parents, Hank and Karen Schumacher, own and operate the 145-acre Bald Cypress Cattle Co.
Tallion said they keep 50 cows and 50 heifers on the place and that they buy heifers when they’re short.
"We operate mainly as producers of replacement heifers more than as beef producers," Tallion told the group. "We have Brahman cows with a Hereford bull. All of the steers we sell for beef, but we keep the heifers until they are two years old and sell them as bred heifers."
Donna Morgan, the LSU AgCenter extension associate who teaches the Master Farmer lessons and coordinates the Model Farm Field Days, said this is the 16th model farm tour in the state since the Master Farmer program began.
Other model farms represent crops ranging from cotton to crawfish.
"We try to make sure that every crop in the state is represented by these model farms," Morgan said.
In addition to touring the Bald Cypress Cattle Co. farm to see the latest innovations, the producers also heard presentations on topics that will help their operations. Topics covered included best management practices for cattle production, pasture weed control, winter forages, updates on the cattle market, animal health issues and more.
Participation in both the Louisiana Master Farmer Program and the Louisiana Master Cattle Producer Program is voluntary. Those seeking Master Cattle Producer certification must complete additional educational classes related to their field – aside from the three phases of the Master Farmer curriculum. Those classes cover such topics as pasture management, breeding, reproduction, animal health, animal handling, nutrition, and financial management.
"The Louisiana Master Farmer Program has been such a success that other states are beginning to model programs after the one in Louisiana," said Dr. Brian LeBlanc, an LSU AgCenter associate professor of water quality who works in southeastern Louisiana. LeBlanc said the voluntary participation in the program demonstrates that agricultural producers are trying to be good stewards of the land.
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program is coordinated by the LSU AgCenter and sponsored by the Louisiana Farm Bureau, American Sugar Cane League, Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, La. Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Rice Growers Association, Louisiana Soybean Association, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Potash and Phosphorus Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council.
The Louisiana Master Cattle Producer Program began in 2004 as a follow-up to the Louisiana Master Farmer Program, which began in Vermilion Parish in 2001. The Master Cattle Producer program is designed specifically for cattle producers, but still retains components of the Master Farmer Program, such as the focus on Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Resource Management Systems (RMS).
The state’s Master Cattle Producer Program is intended to enhance the profitability of beef producers by equipping them with the information they need on all areas of beef production. The classes are taught by experts from the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For additional information on the Louisiana Master Farmer Program, the Louisiana Master Cattle Producer Program or a variety of other topics, contact your parish’s LSU AgCenter office or go to www.lsuagcenter.com.
Carrie Mendoza at (225) 578-2906 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Morgan at (318) 473-6521 or email@example.com
Brian LeBlanc at (985) 543-4129 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or email@example.com
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or firstname.lastname@example.org