The goal is to help agricultural producers succeed. They'll learn the latest financial management tools, develop entrepreneurial skills, receive on-the-ground training and support in production agriculture, and get help marketing their products.
Staci Emm assembled a team of faculty who applied for and received a standard Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project grant through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in August 2011. This project, called “Herds & Harvest” was renewed in 2014. Funding on the three years ended on December 14, 2017, and an application for a three-year project renewal was submitted in February 2018.
The long-term goal of this project is to create and enhance the sustainability of Nevada’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (BFRs) through education, mentoring, and outreach to own, operate, and sustain an agricultural operation. Herds & Harvest offered 55 training programs serving 1,098 Nevada beginning farmers and ranchers over the three-year project period ending in 2017. In 2017, there were 16 in person training workshops on business strategies, meat slaughter and processing, hops, small scale poultry, viticulture, vegetable farming and social media marketing.
There were 126 program evaluations returned from 392 program participants in the sixth year of the program. The viticulture trainings were the most highly attended in 2017. There were 11% of participants that served in the US Military. There were 38% of participants that had been farming or ranching less than one year, and 18% that had been farming less than 2 years. Sixty-two percent were farming or ranching 5 acres or less. Seventy-six percent learned how to improve quality in their products, and 75% reported they learned how to add value to the products they produce. Seventy-two percent reported that they learned how to increase their income. There were 58% of participants that reported the training taught them how to increase yields, and 57% reported they learned how to increase farm and ranch income.
Mentoring activities are an integral part of the program and were designed to encourage producers to create enterprise budgets for new businesses and/or the diversification of existing ones. There also was an effort in Las Vegas with Community Roots in the third year of the project to provide expertise in vegetable production to increase yields to serve Las Vegas communities. There were 69 one-on-one sessions creating and discussing a BFR enterprise budget over the three-year project period. There were 12 new farms that participated in the mentoring program, five were researching new product development in 2017.In, 2017, there were 167 one-on-one sessions between a mentor and a producer discussing production agriculture. There were an additional 21 mentoring sessions on Nevada Indian reservations serving 315 tribal members.
The original proposal, funded in 2011, projected reaching 300 Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (BFRs), with 60 BFR’s consistently participating in the 3-year project which included 24 workshops developed, conducted and evaluated. We recruited continuously at statewide agricultural association meetings and existing Extension program events. The resulting BFR mailing list grew steadily, from a baseline of zero in 2011 to more than 3,000 producers in 2017. The project funded in 2014 continued to work with 600 BFRs but made an effort to increase BFRs in Nevada by 400. At the end of the project in December 2017, the project had a producer contact list of 3,010 producers; 2,873 mailing list and 949 producers via e-mail. Of these producers, 1,025 were self-reporting as BFRs.
The overall aim of the program is to:
- Help develop the agricultural entrepreneurship, business and financial management skills of Nevada's beginning farmers and ranchers, providing the tools necessary to own, operate and sustain an agricultural operation.
- Improve beginning farmers and ranchers capacity to manage water resources effectively.
- Help beginning farmers and ranchers implement sustainable agricultural management practices.
- Help beginning farmers and ranchers develop a marketing strategy that ensures the competitiveness of their agricultural operation.
- Provide a support network to help beginning farmers and ranchers achieve project objectives.