Master Farmer certifications awarded at conservation meeting

Olivia McClure  |  3/8/2018 3:55:56 PM

(01/12/18) ALEXANDRIA, La. — Ten people who have completed Louisiana Master Farmer Program training were recognized Jan. 11 at the 72nd annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts in Alexandria.

Dwain J. Broussard, of Vermilion Parish, and Barry D. Lacasse, of Acadia Parish, were named Master Farmers. That designation has been bestowed on 238 people since the LSU AgCenter-led program launched in 2001.

Other organizations involved in the Master Farmer Program include the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Louisiana has made great strides in improving water quality, sediment loss, and proper use and application of fertilizer,” said Ronnie Levy, coordinator of the program. “The Louisiana Master Farmer Program has been recognized as one of the best, if not the best, program in the nation.”

Program participants have to attend educational sessions and develop conservation plans for their farms. The goal is to help farmers voluntarily implement research-based management practices that allow them to maintain productivity while protecting natural resources.

After graduation, Master Farmers must complete annual continuing education hours. Recertification is required every five years.

Eight previous Master Farmer graduates were recertified at the meeting. They are Elliot Bizette, of Pointe Coupee Parish; John “Jack” Dailey, of Franklin Parish; Ernest Girouard, of Vermilion Parish; Gary Hollier, of Pointe Coupee Parish; Josh Romero, of Iberia Parish; Nolan Romero, of Iberia Parish; Shane Romero, of Iberia Parish; and Rickey Womack, of Franklin Parish.

Dezeré Richard, who produces cattle and hay on more than 1,800 acres in Calcasieu Parish, was presented the Outstanding Master Farmer Award. She is the first woman to receive the award.

AgCenter associate vice president Rogers Leonard said Richard has made significant improvements in the areas of nutrient management and soil health at her operation, where she employs agriculture college students.

At the ceremony, Louisiana agriculture commissioner Mike Strain spoke about how the Master Farmer Program helps participants implement sound management practices at a time when farmers are under pressure to feed a growing world population.

“Between now and 2050, we must produce more food than since the dawn of time, and do it with less land, less water,” Strain said.

“Your land-grant university is taking that seriously,” Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, said of using scientific research to boost food production along with conservation principles.

Kevin Norton, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, called the Master Farmer Program participants leaders in both conservation and the agriculture industry.

“These individuals have dealt with all the issues relative to their soil, water, air plants, wildlife and energy,” Norton said. “They’ve crossed all those natural resource issues, and they are operating at the highest level of environmental stewardship that science affords today. That’s amazing.”

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Kody Meaux, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, center, accepts a plaque and sign on behalf of Acadia Parish farmer Barry D. Lacasse, a newly certified Louisiana Master Farmer. From left to right are Ronnie Levy, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program; Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; Meaux; Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture; and Kevin Norton, state conservationist with the NRCS. The presentation took place Jan. 11, 2018, during the 72nd annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts in Alexandria. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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Mike Perry, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, center, accepts a plaque and sign on behalf of Vermilion Parish farmer Dwain Broussard, a newly certified Louisiana Master Farmer. From left to right are Ronnie Levy, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program; Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; Perry; Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture; and Kevin Norton, state conservationist with the NRCS. The presentation took place Jan. 11, 2018, during the 72nd annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts in Alexandria. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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Calcasieu Parish farmer Dezere' Richard, center, was presented the Outstanding Master Farmer Award Jan. 11, 2018, during the 72nd annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts in Alexandria. Richard, who produces cattle and hay, is the first woman to receive the award. From left to right are Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture; Stephen Austin, president and CEO of Louisiana Land Bank; Ronnie Levy, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program; Richard; Kevin Norton, state conservationist with the NRCS; Bobby Simoneaux, public affairs manager of Gowan; and Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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Farmers who have completed Louisiana Master Farmer Program training were recognized Jan. 11 at the 72nd annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts in Alexandria. Pictured from left to right are, front row, Ronnie Levy, coordinator of the program; Calcasieu Parish farmer Dezeré Richard, recipient of the Outstanding Master Farmer Award; and Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Back row, Vermilion Parish farmer and retired Master Farmer Program coordinator Ernest Girouard; Franklin Parish farmer Jack Dailey; Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president; Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture; Kevin Norton, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Bobby Simoneaux, public affairs manager of Gowan; and Stephen Austin, president and CEO of Louisiana Land Bank. Several other farmers who had completed training were recognized at the ceremony but were unable to attend. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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