52 More Farmers Achieve ‘Master Farmer’ Status

Carrie Castille, Coreil, Paul D., Benedict, Linda F.  |  6/28/2007 7:16:48 PM

Nine women were among the group of 52 farmers who achieved Master Farmer status on Friday, June 22, at the 85th annual Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation meeting in New Orleans. Among them were Patricia Avery, left, a poultry farmer from Union Parish, and Dezere Richard, who raises cattle and hay in Calcasieu Parish. At right is Donna Morgan, model farm coordinator for the Master Farmer program.

News Release Distributed 06/22/07

Fifty-two more Louisiana farmers, including nine women, have achieved the status of Master Farmer – a title that means they have not only learned the latest in conservation techniques, but they are implementing them on their farms.

They received their certificates along with a 12-inch by 20-inch sign for their property that says "Certified Master Farmer," on Friday (June 22) at the Farm Bureau convention in New Orleans. They join 13 others who received this honor at last year’s Farm Bureau convention, also in New Orleans.

"The goal for next year is 100 more farmers," said Carrie Castille, who directs the Master Farmer program for the LSU AgCenter. "These farmers had to successfully complete the three phases of the program. And some of these conservation practices, such as precision land-leveling, can cost thousands of dollars."

Nearly 2,300 Louisiana farmers have completed Phase 1 of the program, which involves two 4-hour training sessions. Instructors from the LSU AgCenter and the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) teach best management practices related to environmental stewardship and water quality regulations.

Of that number, about 750 have gone on to finish the second phase, which means they have participated in at least one tour of a farm selected because of its model use of conservation practices, said Donna Morgan, model farm coordinator for the Master Farmer program.

The third and final phase is the most difficult, Morgan said. The farmers have to arrange for a visit from an NRCS agent and devise a conservation plan specific to their farming operation.

Then the farmer has to put this plan into practice, which can involve such things as installing fences to contain cattle or pumps in fields to recycle water. Some of the Master Farmers use GPS equipment to conserve the amounts of fertilizer and pesticides they apply and to improve the drainage on fields through precision land-leveling.

But that’s not all. The NRCS agent has to make a return visit and verify that the conservation prescription is being carried out. Then, and only then, can the farmer apply for certification from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).

"I learned a lot about water quality for the cattle," said Dezere Richard, who raises cattle and hay in Calcasieu Parish. "I put in three new watering systems and cross-fencing to make better use of the grasses."

Richard is among the first women to become Master Farmers. She is also a Master Cattle Producer, which is a spinoff program directed by the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.

Patricia Avery from Union Parish, also among the first women, said she learned what is available and who is out there to help you.

"We’re relatively new in the poultry business – seven years," she said.

The Master Farmer program, which officially started in 2001, was originally triggered by a federal report pointing out poor quality water in parts of Louisiana.

Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and extension director, launched the novel "master farmer" idea with NRCS, LDAF, DEQ and Farm Bureau as partners. The premise is to reward farmers, even with just a title, for voluntarily adopting conservation practices.

"If farmers can do this on their own, they can prevent federal regulators from stepping in and forcing them to implement measures that may be inappropriate for Louisiana," Coreil said. "We know what’s best for Louisiana."

For more information about the program, people may contact their local LSU AgCenter parish extension office or Castille directly at (225) 578-2906 or ccastille@agcenter.lsu.edu.

The list of the farmers alphabetically by parish follows:

Acadia
Michael Hundley 

Allen
David Dean Lavergne
William Eric Unkel 

Avoyelles
Larry K. Sayes 

Beauregard
Sara Meadows 

Bossier
Shannon Mendenhall 

Calcasieu
Jim Paul Dupont
Dezere Richard 

Catahoula
Richard Price 

De Soto
Floyd Wayne Medlin
Martha Jean Rogers 

Evangeline
Dale Reed
Anthony Rozas 

Grant
Dennis Courtright
Paula Courtright
Dana Shuff 

Iberia
Gregory Durand
Benson Langlinais
Josh Romero
Nolan Romero
Shane Romero 

Madison
Jay Bailey 

Natchitoches
Gary Lirette 

Ouachita
Roy Robert 

Rapides
John Lance Harris
Clay Robertson

Red River
Roger Wilson
Jack Wimberly
Jimmy Windham 

Sabine
Theresia Strahan 

St. Landry
Angela Hebert
Roylee Hebert 

St. Martin
Daniel Durand
Edgar Durand
Jeffery Durand 

Tangipahoa
Larry Miller
Louis Wittie
Sheila Wittie 

Union
Patricia Avery
Angelia Murphy 

Vermilion
B.M. Boudreaux
Dwyer Griffin
George Sagrera
Mark Sagrera
Sherrill Sagrera
Allen Schriefer 

Washington
Leslie Boudreaux, Jr. 

West Baton Rouge
Leo LeBlanc
John Tilton III 

West Carroll
Tommy Roberson
Clifton Vining III

Winn
Don Price 

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Contacts:
Carrie Castille at (225) 578-2906, or ccastille@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083, or pcoreil@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937, or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu

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