“The Master Farmer program allows producers to implement best management practices for all phases of animal and crop production and become well-educated on environmental issues,” said Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor, adding that the program stresses adoption of voluntary conservation practices.
The two-day workshop will include the first phase, which is classroom instruction, and the second phase, which is a tour of a farm operation to see conservation practices firsthand.
Leonard said farmers will also be able to start on Phase III of the program as part of the workshop. This phase involves planning and implementing a farm’s conservation plan.
Leonard said Master Farmer University, which is a compressed version of the program, resulted from requests by several commodity groups for a concentrated training opportunity.
“Louisiana agriculture has two options for the future: Additional regulations limiting crop production or voluntary action,” Leonard said. “We urge farmers to take the opportunities of the Master Farmer University to move forward.”
Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said he encourages every producer in Louisiana, regardless of size or commodity, to consider attending Master Farmer University.
“You are the best stewards of Louisiana’s soil and water resources, and this is your program,” he said.
Pre-registration is available for $30 online at https://www.regonline.com/lmfu2013. Payment can be made online with a credit card or with a check payable to the LSU AgCenter, mailed to Donna Morgan, 8105 Tom Bowman Dr., Alexandria, LA 71302. Registering at the event will cost $45.
The first day of Master Farmer University begins at the Dewitt Livestock Facility with registration at 8:30 a.m. Presentations will made on water quality standards, best management practices for specific commodities and programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Farmers will concentrate on conservation practices for their crops, with sessions scheduled for cotton, feed grains, soybeans, rice, sugarcane and livestock.
The second day starts at 9 a.m. at the Dean Lee Research Station with a field tour of research plots and nearby rice and sugarcane farms. Participants will receive more training on conservation practices, which will include nutrient runoff from winter pastures, remote sensing and calculating crop residue from various crops.
Those already certified as Master Farmers will be able to obtain three hours of continuing education credits for each day.
Another Master Farmer University is scheduled for Jan. 16-17 at the West Monroe Convention Center, said Ernest Girouard, state coordinator for the program.
The Louisiana Master Farmer program began in 2001 with the partnership of the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Farm Bureau, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.