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National Institute of Food and Agriculture Funded Projects

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

1) Enhancing the Viability and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers and Ranchers through Collaboration, Mentoring and Whole Farm Planning

  A century ago, George Washington Carver developed the Jesup Wagon at Tuskegee Institute to get information on farming methods to remote areas, and today Tuskegee University joins Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, National Young Farmers Education Association, Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, and Alabama Green Industry Training Center to create the Consortium for Agricultural Newcomers Access to Learning (CANAL) as a vehicle to serve beginning farmers and ranchers.

CANAL’s virtual Jesup Wagon will reach at least 300 beginning farmers and ranchers - especially those in underserved populations and regions - through joint Information Forums and information integrated in periodical publications and websites of CANAL partners. Within the framework of CANAL the consortium management team - and other consortium partners - will provide the most appropriate training to beginning farmers and ranchers while ensuring a focus on a team approach. CANAL will establish a Mentor Academy to prepare mentors to guide participants along a pathway to success. CANAL will also help participants advance along their pathways through leadership programs including opportunities for recognition through the National Young Farmers Education Association’s LEAD to Seed (Local Emphasis Agricultural Development) Program. We believe this approach will transform the way support providers work in the state and truly enhance the economic viability and sustainability of Alabama’s beginning farmers and ranchers. 

2) Community Outreach and technical Assistance for Small and Limited Resource Farmers and Ranchers

  Knowledge and information are critical in generating high quality management and coping with uncertainty associated with farming. Farmers and ranchers with access to farm management information and the knowledge to use it have the key to profitable and competitive farm operations. The problem is that small and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers often struggle to find and use appropriate information. Most of them experience frustrations of not being able to locate answers to specific questions, not understanding the information presented, and being overloaded with too much information to filter through to find what they need. As a part of this project's overall strategy for effective community outreach, the requested funding will be used to develop and maintain an information management database for access by socially disadvantaged farmers so that they can make informed production, marketing and financial decisions, thereby minimizing risk and improving farm efficiency and profitability. The project complements and strengthens our existing outreach efforts; and it targets specific priority areas that maximize the project's benefits per unit dollar invested. The project builds on existing information networks and offers innovative activities. The project will continue to identify and assist minority farmers and ranchers who have traditionally not been able to access federal programs and services administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This audience includes socially disadvantaged individuals who operate small farms, often with limited resources, It targets youths, women, African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, small, limited resource and other socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in Alabama's under-served communities. The proposed educational and outreach training will prepare producers to be able to identify the various farm and business management tools or strategies available, know where to obtain such tools, understand how each tool operates, and be able to select the strategies that best meet their needs. The four specific objectives are to

  1. provide community outreach training and technical assistance in areas of agri-tourism, urban agriculture and youth development, organic production, alternative enterprises, value-added agriculture, available federal programs and farm diversification as a means enhancing farm incomes and overall profitability;

  2. explore market opportunities for sustainable meat goat production and provide education, technical assistance and community outreach training to small-scale and beginning meat goat producers;

  3. provide entrepreneurial community outreach training and technical assistance to existing and emerging small agribusinesses and entrepreneurs to ensure business survival, profitability, and overall sustainability; and

  4. develop a community outreach training and technical assistance video and fact sheets in Spanish to promote awareness of and increase participation in USDA programs and services by Alabama's increasing Hispanic population.

The stated objectives will be accomplished through a series of targeted and well planned educational workshops, group meetings, field days and one-on-one farm visits by project staff and extension specialists. The project will work very with Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN) who will enter into a formal contractual agreement with Alabama A&M University. We will also engage the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and other partners and substantially draw on their rich and varied collective experience working with socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in underserved communities. Finally, this project will embrace the concept of "holistic approach" to community outreach and technical assistance.


3) Enhancing and Sustaining Profitability of Minority and Underserved Farmers and Ranchers in Alabama

  This state-wide project is designed to conduct outreach training and provide technical assistance to minorities and socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in Alabama's economically depressed and underserved communities. The target audience which includes youth, women, Asians, African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, and other minority groups, has traditionally not had access to federal programs and services administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The groups operate small farms, usually with limited resources. The project blends unique approaches to outreach, and it targets specific priority areas, which maximize benefit per unit dollar invested. It also develops information and training modules for producers, identifies key strategies to deal with risk and other problems, encourages efficient resource use, enhances farm profitability, and promotes sustainability. This submission seeks funding for AAMU's continued provision of information and outreach training for minority and underserved producers in Alabama. The four specific objectives are to:

  1. develop/disseminate educational materials and resources; conduct training workshops on production and use of biodiesel and other alternative energy sources, as a means of coping with farm energy problems faced by limited resource and underserved farmers and ranchers;

  2. develop training modules and provide specialized education and technical assistance in farm financial management, business planning, enterprise budgets and budgeting, estate planning and retirement security for Alabama's minority and underserved producers;

  3. promote direct marketing, and provide marketing planning and economic analysis assistance, as a means of adding value to horticultural businesses owned and/or operated by minority and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers; and

  4. establish new outreach training initiatives, strengthen and enhance existing ones, including women-in-agriculture programs, farmer-to-farmer learning, beginning/new-farmer mentoring, summer youth camps, field days, and local demonstration farms, to ensure effective outreach delivery, enhance farm profitability and encourage adoption of improved technologies by women, beginning and underserved farmers and ranchers.