Nevada farmers and ranchers are getting some extra assistance this year with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's new Herds & Harvest program - a series of workshops designed to help agricultural producers who are either new to the business or are thinking about expanding or diversifying their enterprise.
"Herds & Harvest: Cultivating Success for Nevada's Farmers and Ranchers" is a three-year program funded with the help of a $672,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Cooperative Extension is inaugurating the program with a two-day workshop March 15-16 in Lovelock. That session, "Field Crops for Nevada: Old vs. New," will help Nevada growers learn basic and advanced information about the production, marketing and economics of corn, seed crops, grass, hay, teff, alfalfa and biofuels.
"This is for anyone who is new to farming or for more experienced farmers who might want to try a different crop," said UNCE Area Crops Specialist Jay Davison, who will be one of the experts leading seminars at the Lovelock conference. "There might be a producer who's been growing alfalfa for 20 years and he might be curious about corn. This will be good for people like him to attend so he can talk to us about major considerations in profitable corn production."
Along with scheduled discussions on topics ranging from biofuel crop productions and the contrasts between Round-Up ready versus conventional alfalfa, Nevada ranchers will have the opportunity to network with fellow agricultural entrepreneurs and participate in several question-and-answer segments.
"We'll look at everything from marketing to economics, and whether you can potentially make any money off these crops," Davison said. "When people leave this event, hopefully they'll have the information they'll need to decide whether or not they'll try a new crop."
Individuals with no agricultural experience, those involved in agriculture for less than 10 years and those growing a new crop for the first time qualify for this and all other Herds & Harvest programming. Future Herds & Harvest classes, which continue through September this year, will cover the processing and selling of locally grown meat products and beginning tips for produce farmers.
Herds & Harvest events are scheduled in locations throughout the state and include sessions on produce farming and processing locally grown meat. For details about upcoming workshops, check the Herds & Harvest website. All sessions are two-day events that cost $50. For details on registering, contact Jennifer Kintz at (775) 945-3444 ext. 12 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mineral County Extension Educator Staci Emm said the Herds & Harvest program will be a combination of classroom instruction and field trips to show participants the practical applications of the in-class studies. A part of each workshop will be hands-on help in developing useful business practices that help farmers become more profitable.
Herds & Harvest, previously called the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program, is an offshoot of the federal government's concern about the graying of the country's farmers. According to NIFA, more than 60 percent of the farmers in the United States are over the age of 55. As a result, agriculture officials have been scrambling to find ways to bring new faces to the farm and ensure they succeed in maintaining the nation's food production.
"Farmers and ranchers already face some pretty steep odds against success," Emm said. "This program will give them the support they need."
According to UNCE Central/Northeast Area Director Loretta Singletary, providing support to farmers and ranchers is an important economic issue for the state.
"Everyone in Nevada wins when we can trace the origin of our agriculture products," said Singletary, who is also the Lyon County Extension Educator. "Helping Nevada producers ensures that our state can feed itself and that purchasing power stays in our state."