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North-South Institute Fall Regional Echo Workshop Series Held in Dale County

Conservation Showcase

 

Dr. William Puckett addresses group.
Dr. William Puckett (l), Alabama NRCS State Conservationist, talks to the group about conservation practices available to help Limited Resource Farmers.

By Alice Love, Agricultural Outreach Liaison, NRCS, Auburn, AL 

The North-South Institute hosted a workshop on October 15, 2012, in Dale County, AL.  Highlighted were good agricultural practices, food safety, producing and marketing specialty crops, and tax planning. 

Barbara Shipman, Executive Director of the Cottage House in Arition, AL, was instrumental in the planning for the workshop.  There were 27 participants from southern Alabama.

Presenting at the work shop were Dr. Samuel Scott, North-South Institute; Dr. Motley, Horticulturist, Tuskegee University; Dr. McConnell, West Virginia University, and Dr. William Puckett, Alabama NRCS State Conservationist.

Participants received information relating to good agricultural practices, food safety, composting, record keeping, pesticide certifications, soils, tax planning, growing greens for school lunch programs, USDA Programs/Farm Bill status, and other information designed to assist in farming and marketing operations. 

Dr. Scott provided the Good Agricultural Practices Models, where participants were encouraged to conduct an assessment of their farming operation to evaluate components such as worker hygiene, training, water (irrigation and quality), chemical use, manure use, and appropriate onsite restroom facilities.  These were stated to be very important factors to consider when preparing to market farm produce.

Dr. Motley talked about producing greens for the School Lunch Program in Alabama.   Tuskegee University (TU) is working to bridge gaps between Limited/Disadvantage Producers and various markets.  Dr. Barron Vaughan, at TU, is working with targeted groups to secure Producer Certifications, as needed.  Eighty producers are actively participating in the initiative between TU and Wal-Mart to market and sell local produce.

Local markets Dr. Motley identified in Dale County, Alabama, displaying a great potential for the School Lunch Program were:

Dale County, Alabama – School Status Number of Schools Per Status
Elementary School 8
Middle School 4
High School 5
Community College 2

Dr. McConnell presented valuable tax components producers should consider when filing tax documents relating to farm operations.

Dr. Puckett provided educational materials about to Seasonal High Tunnels (hoop-houses), RC&D Councils, and the Farm Bill.  He indicated that in September 2012 the 2008 Farm Bill expired.  Mr. Puckett give an overview of extended vs. non-extended programs as outlined in the department’s continued resolution.  Other NRCS staff present were Richard Collier, NRCS ASTC-Field Operations-East; Alice Love, NRCS Agricultural Outreach Liaison; and James Currington, ACES Employee and Wiregrass RC&D Executive Director.

This workshop provided a forum for information and education exchange through conservation partnership outreach efforts to enhance Limited/Disadvantage producer's knowledge, farming operations, and stewardship of the land.