Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently collaborated to offer more than 85 farmers, landowners and ranchers training to apply for federal loan applications.
From November 15-17 participants attended the Conservation Planning, Recordkeeping and Programs Education, Outreach Classroom Training Series in Albany, Georgia. They each received a certificate on December 6 for successfully completing the program.
Charlie Grace, Georgia state coordinator for USDA-NRCS, said that it is vital that farmers, landowners and ranchers maintain accurate records.
“In order for underserved farmers to be successful with USDA programs such as the Farm Service Agency, NRCS or the Rural Development, and Risk Management Agency, they must keep proper documentation to enroll or sign up for such programs,” Grace said.
The NRCS coordinator said he relies heavily on FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program to help inform farmers about programs available through the USDA.
“We complement each other. FVSU has professors, researchers, administrators and county Extension agents that have expertise in the area of USDA programs. This is beneficial to farmers and ranchers as it relates to outreach and education,” he said.
Furthermore, Grace said that Stefan Price, FVSU area Extension agent for Bulloch, Burke, Screven and Tattnall counties, played a beneficial role in the program by teaching the classes.
One of the participants successfully completing the program was Alfred Greenlee. Greenlee owns a 52-acre farm in Dougherty County where he grows hay and raises cattle.
“This record keeping class will equip me with the ability to keep the proper records for each individual entity that’s on my farm,” Greenlee said. The south Georgia farmer said it was necessary for him to take the class because he wanted to become more efficient in the agribusiness field. He also said it will help him have accurate data when applying for loans and tracking his farm’s progress.
“I would 100 percent recommend that a farmer take this class,” said Carolyn Edwards-Ford, owner of more than 334-acres of farmland in Sumter and Lee Counties. She grows long leaf pine trees, produces lumber and raises cattle. “Even if you are a beginning or veteran farmer, the class gives you an opportunity to really improve your record keeping,” Edwards-Ford said.
Additionally, the south Georgia farmer said anytime an individual is working with USDA-NRCS, it is to the farmer’s benefit because it helps organize records that are helpful when conducting business. She also said it is rewarding to know that FVSU Cooperative Extension is giving back to their community by offering educational opportunities by collaborating with USDA-NRCS.
For more information about programs sponsored by FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program, call (478) 825-6296.