July 7, 2015 – South Georgia farmers seeking information to improve their operations, gathered at the James H. Gray Civic Center in Albany June 18, to attend a workshop co-hosted by Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program.
The workshop called, “Summer Outreach Workshop for Farmers, Ranchers and Veterans” took place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 60 attendees listened to presentations from representatives of federal and state agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Services Agency (FSA) and Georgia Grown. They covered topics ranging from securing low interest federal loans to marketing locally grown products.
Charlie Grace, FVSU’s Dougherty County extension agent, said the workshop was a great success. “It provided an opportunity for farmers to gain a wealth of knowledge as it relates to all of the USDA, NRCS, and FSA programs,” Grace said
Frances Martin, a member of the workshop’s programming committee, said the workshop is needed in the Albany area because of the Marine base, the high number of farmers in south Georgia, and the interest of grocery outlets such as Winn-Dixie and Kroger to sell locally grown products.
Martin added the workshop is a platform to educate farmers on terms used in the marketplace, update them on methods to increase crop production, introduce them to effective marketing plans and show them proper methods to achieve certification for their products. She said the information helps them overcome roadblocks preventing their crops from being sold at retail stores or farmers markets. Such shortcomings include not knowing about federal registration numbers and meeting certification standards set by the Georgia Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices Programs used to prevent disease and contamination.
“I’m hoping that they are taking away something that they can implement on their farm to increase their productivity and sustainability,” Martin said in describing the desired impact of the workshop on farmers.
Cornell Green, a produce farmer from Worth County, said the workshop is impressive and found the information very useful. Green said he attended the workshop to learn more efficient farming methods and get his product to market, and plans to use the information he received in his everyday operations. He said the program put together by FVSU was excellent, and he plans to attend more workshops in the future.
This is the third in a series of four workshops co-sponsored by FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program and the South Georgia Seeds of Prosperity. The final workshop is scheduled for July 30 in Tifton at the University of Georgia’s Conference Center. Admission is free and includes lunch.
The South Georgia Seeds of Prosperity is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc. is a group dedicated to helping farmers get their products to market.
For more information about upcoming workshops, contact Grace at (478) 235-7091 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: (From left) Charlie Grace, Fort Valley State University’s Dougherty County extension agent; Cornell Green, a farmer from Worth County and Frances Martin, member of the planning committee of the Summer Outreach Workshop for Farmers, Ranchers and Veterans, review meeting notes at the Albany Civic Center June 18.
FVSU Agricultural Communications Department