Thirteen farmers who completed an LSU AgCenter environmental stewardship training program were recognized at a ceremony Jan. 10.
Members of the 2018 class of Louisiana Master Farmers received certificates during the annual Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts meeting at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Baton Rouge. To qualify, they had to attend educational sessions about research-based conservation strategies and write plans for implementing such practices on their farms.
“It’s very important that everyone understands that these producers are doing everything they can to conserve our natural resources, not only to improve their profitability but also to improve the environment and to leave their farms in good condition for future generations,” said Ronnie Levy, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program. “They understand that we will need good farmers, conservation practices and information to produce our food and fiber for the future.”
Since the program began in 2001, 251 people have earned the Master Farmer designation. Their training is led by AgCenter experts as well as those from the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“This program operates because we all work together as a team,” LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson said during the ceremony.
The newest Master Farmers are Patrick Dwayne David of Lafayette Parish; Jon Marshall Hardwick of Tensas Parish; William Mead Hardwick of Tensas Parish; Joan Lester of Beauregard Parish; Tom R. Lester of Beauregard Parish; Kenneth Primeaux Jr. of Vermilion Parish; Kenneth Primeaux Sr. of Vermilion Parish; William Glen Ragsdale of Tensas Parish; Julie Richard of Vermilion Parish; Beverly Thoman of Natchitoches Parish; David Thoman of Natchitoches Parish; Kevin Volentine of Caddo Parish; and Patty A. Vogt of Plaquemines Parish.
Also recognized were 23 previous graduates of the program who have completed continuing education hours — a requirement to maintain the Master Farmer certification.
Robbie Howard also was presented the Outstanding Master Farmer Award in recognition of conservation efforts on his soybean and corn farm in Lake Providence, La.
“Master Farmer has made me proud of the way we farm,” Howard wrote in an application for the award, describing how it has helped him learn about soil health, irrigation, safely using farm chemicals and more.
“This was the breakthrough that farmers needed to see a better way of farming,” he wrote of the program.
The rigorous training has resulted in other states looking to Louisiana as a model for how to address environmental concerns related to farming, said state agriculture commissioner Mike Strain, who is a graduate of the program.
“It’s hard to become a Master Farmer, but it is a source of great pride to us all,” he said.
Source: LSU AgCenter, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.