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Farmers learn information, share experiences at meeting in Albany

Published: 11/24/2015 7:44AM
By: booner


Charlie Grace, Fort Valley State University’s Dougherty County extension agent, addresses farmers during the Small Farmers Train the Trainer Outreach and Initiative Workshop in Albany Nov. 19

Loans, crops and farming methods dominated the topics of discussion at the Small Farmers Train the Trainer Outreach and Initiative Workshop in Albany Nov. 19.

The event, sponsored by Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program, drew more than 90 small farmers, gardeners and homeowners to the Dougherty County Extension Office.

During the program, attendees listened to representatives from various agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Representatives shared information about programs to assist small farmers. Workshop participants also received congressional and Farm Bill updates from Kenneth Cutts, a representative from Congressman Sanford Bishop’s (D-GA) office.

Charlie Grace, FVSU’s Dougherty County extension agent, organized the workshop. He said the purpose of the workshop is to help farmers improve credit, maintain accurate records and gain eligibility for loans and programs sponsored by the FSA and NRCS. Grace also added the workshop is designed to provide the farmers an opportunity to learn how to move their products to market, and make sure those products are certified using Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) required by the USDA.

In addition to having representatives from the USDA and Congress relay information, Grace arranged for other farmers to share their experiences and methods in crop production and marketing to the audience. “I try to encourage my farmers when they attend educational events, such as this workshop, to communicate, collaborate and share innovative ideas with each other so they can take it back to their farms,” Grace said.

Willie Hudley, a vegetable farmer from Albany, is ecstatic about the information he learned at the workshop. “Everything is wonderful, I plan on using a lot of it (information). I highly recommend that one attend these workshops because there are so many things you can pick up, learn and share with others,” Hudley said.

Grace said that in the future, he plans to have quarterly round table discussions with farmers in his targeted counties, which include Dougherty, Lee and Worth counties. “I need to know some of their problems so I can help them improve in the areas of marketing, credit reports and record keeping,” Grace said.

For more information about future workshops, contact Grace at 229-436-7216 or gracec@fvsu.edu.