October 27, 2016
The ink will be red on many budget bottom lines this year. Jason Henderson, Purdue University Extension director, says his staff, both at Purdue and in every county across Indiana, is focusing on four key areas that they think could make a difference in helping farmers and farm families make it through a tough stretch in agriculture.
EXTENSION RESPONDS TO ‘LOCALLY GROWN’: Urban people are lining up to check out locally raised and prepared foods. Purdue Extension will focus on providing information about the locally grown movement to growers.
The four areas cover a wide range of topics. That’s because Indiana agriculture is diverse, and even typical corn and soybean producers are looking for other ways to generate more revenue, Henderson says. All four areas of current focus may not help any one person. At the same time, everyone should be able to benefit from one or more of the areas that Extension will emphasize in programming over the next few months.
Here are the four areas where Purdue Extension hopes to make a difference.
1. Increase knowledge about nutrient management.
Programs are already underway to help farmers and others become more efficient at using nutrients, Henderson says. Nutrient efficiency helps in several ways. Applying fertilizer where it’s not needed is a cost that could be avoided. Putting fertilizer in the right places could return more revenue for the same or fewer dollars invested in the fertilizer. At the same time, the environment wins because fewer nutrients wash or flow into surface waters
2. Help producers understand new food safety rules.
New federal rules about food handling in food production enterprises will roll out soon. “Our staff is gearing up to help producers understand the new rules, and implement necessary practices,” Henderson says. “There is a lot of interest in local food production in the state. Some 250 people attended a local food summit in Indianapolis earlier in the fall.”
He notes that it’s not just smaller-scale producers who are interested in the local foods movement, and who need to understand what’s involved in meeting the coming new regulations. Larger farm operations are also looking at this area as a way to help reduce revenue risk.
3. Provide information to potential growers of alternative crops.
Requests coming into Extension offices for information about alternative crops are increasing, Henderson notes. Some people are inquiring about how to raise crops like barley and hops, which would largely be used in the rapidly growing craft-brewing industry in Indiana.
“There is interest in other possible crops, too,” Henderson explains. “Indiana has a unique climate and other advantages which fit raising certain types of niche crops.
“Where Extension comes in is in helping people find the information they need to explore these possibilities,” he adds.
4. Develop programming to provide information and tools to assist those managing in tough times.
Purdue's Center for Commercial Agriculture will be at the forefront of developing tools and arranging meetings throughout the winter to help producers attempting to manage their farms in a very tight financial climate, Henderson says.
The center will introduce updated financial tools to help calculate cash rents and crop budgets, he notes. You can also look for meetings on various topics related to financial management to be held around the state.
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