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University and USDA lend support to grower-led initiative.

Claudene Wharton, Communications and Senior Marketing Specialist

March 22, 2024

3 Min Read
Winter squash
The Nevada Farm Network aims to help bolster production of specialty crops in the state, such as winter squash which had a banner year in 2023.UCANR

After nearly a year in the works, a grower-led initiative has launched the Nevada Farm Network, a new online hub where Nevada agricultural producers can connect and share information with one another, as well as find resources to help them increase farm efficiency and economic return, while using best practices to sustain their businesses and our natural resources.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Desert Farming Initiative is coordinating the project with funding provided by the Nevada Department of Agriculture from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

“Ag technology is accelerating and resources are available to help support our agriculture industry, but producers often don’t have the time to conduct research or connect with one another,” said Jill Moe, director of the University’s Desert Farming Initiative, which is part of the Experiment Station unit of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources.

“The intent of the Nevada Farm Network is to make it easier for producers to connect and find the resources they need,” Moe said. “We want to harness and make accessible information to bolster Nevada agriculture.”

The Network is open to all Nevada agricultural producers, as well as those supporting the producers in some way. Using the Network is free, but individuals must create an online account.

Organizers are focusing on providing information to boost specialty crop farming during this phase, with the grant fund being administered by the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

But they really want to provide, and encourage producers to provide, information to help support the whole Nevada agriculture sector in the long term. The Network aims to build on the legacy of farmer cooperation and innovation in the state, by helping them connect and find resources online.

“We want to help farms and farm communities thrive for years to come,” Moe said. “Helping to get this Network off the ground fits perfectly into the Desert Farming Initiative’s mission of advancing climate-smart farming and food systems in our state’s desert climate.”

A significant economic driver

According to data provided by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the economic output of the food and agriculture sector in Nevada was $4.71 billion in 2020, with agriculture (ranching and farming) being $787.8 million, and food and beverage manufacturing being $3.925 billion.

State officials have identified it as a significant economic driver in the state that has potential for future growth, but producers need support to connect and to access current technologies and resources in order to sustain and grow their operations. The Network is a grassroots way to provide that support.

“As producers, with how large our state is and the distance between us all, we sometimes struggle to be able to just get together and share what’s working, what’s not, or new methods or technologies we’ve discovered,” said Rodney Mehring of Blue Lizard Farms, one of the producers on the Network’s Leadership Committee. He has been one of the driving forces behind establishing the Network.

“We want to help each other – that’s what we do as producers here in Nevada,” Mehring said. “But, we need a better way of communicating to help each other out. This new online Network should really help us help each other.”

To learn more, visit the Nevada Farm Network website.

[Rachel Gattuso of Nevada's The Gattuso Coalition contributed to this article.]

Source: University of Nevada, Reno

About the Author(s)

Claudene Wharton

Communications and Senior Marketing Specialist, University of Nevada, Reno

Wharton has more than 30 years of experience in collaborative leadership, community engagement, government and media relations, program development and implementation, fund development and fundraising, management and strategic communications for nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education.

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