Farmers, ranchers and veterans recently traveled to Albany, Georgia and participated in listening sessions and graduation ceremonies sponsored by Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program.
From 8 a.m.-3 p.m., more than 90 people attended the Small Farmers’ Training Conference and Public Listening Session at the Dougherty County Extension Office. Attendees also witnessed 33 farmers earning their medallions and certificates of completion during the Simplified Record-Keeping Graduation ceremony.
Representatives from FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program, local farmers and the Southern Farmers Collaborative Group made presentations.
Topics covered included Developing Personal Risk Management Plans, Congressional Farm Bill Updates, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) Marketing Strategies.
Charlie Grace, FVSU area Extension agent, explained the importance of conducting listening sessions to his clients. “These workshops allow small farmers to strengthen their accounting skills to determine crop projections, income and expenses, profits or losses,” Grace said.
“It is vital that farmers develop an efficient form of record keeping. Accurate records are needed when applying for loan and cost-share programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS),” Grace said. He also said accurate documentation can provide farmers data when making insurance claims and preparing taxes.
“By knowing what to do in order to achieve GAP, GHP and Food Safety Certification required by the USDA, a farmer can be more productive in getting their products to market,” Grace said.
The FVSU Extension agent said he also wanted to inform farmers about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Product Safety Rule. This rule sets science-based minimum standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for people to eat.
Ola M. Brown, a retired educator and a resident of Albany, completed Series 1 of the Simplified Records Keeping Class. Brown said she learned how to use the computer to keep up with financial record keeping, resources and production in filling out spreadsheets. She said she will recommend to her friends that if they want to get into farming, they need to take the course.
The Albany resident also said the class will help individuals keep track of their home expenses and help them with information needed for tax returns. She’s very pleased with her experience in taking the class provided by FVSU Extension.
“I think it’s wonderful. I enjoyed meeting the (FVSU) people. They don’t care what your age is, and they are willing to help you learn,” Brown said.
For more information about future record keeping classes, contact Charlie Grace at (478) 235-7090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.