Caney Creek Ranch in Oakwood, Texas was the site of the recent 2014 Outreach, Feed and Forage Workshop which attracted upwards of 200 attendees. The ranch is owned by the Wesley Ratcliff family who are members of the 100 Ranchers association which hosted the event, along with the Texas Small Farmers & Ranchers CBO and the Landowners Association of Texas.
The event provided an opportunity for outreach to historically underserved agriculture producers in an effort to educate attendees about best-management production practices that support a sustainable operation. Topics such as soil analysis, forage and brush management, along with beef cattle management were covered by experts from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and Rozell Sprayers.
Guest speakers included Joe Leonard, USDA assistant secretary for civil rights in Washington, DC. "This may be one of the larger farm groups I've spoken to in Texas. This is what USDA should be about," Leonard said.
A 2014 Farm Bill panel discussion and forum was held with representatives from USDA's NRCS, Farm Service Agency (FSA), Rural Development (RD), and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Prairie View A&M University. This proved to be a valuable opportunity for constructive discussion between the panelists and the crowd. Some of the discussion included how to access financial assistance through NRCS, FSA, and RD programs and national initiatives, such as the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity.
Kanand Brooks, NRCS assistant state conservationist, participated on the Farm Bill panel.
"I think the main purpose we are here is to do some extra outreach emphasis. The more people can learn about the different programs the agency has to offer them, the better opportunity they have to participate," Brooks said.
Workshop sponsors were the USDA-NRCS, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Southern Rick Management Education Center, Texas Farm Credit, Prairie View A&M University, Landowners Association of Texas, Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers CBO, Rozell Sprayer Manufacturing Co., Ag-Power Inc., 100 Ranchers, and Animal Health International.