NCAT’s Gulf States Regional Office Director Rock Woods and Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Felicia Bell have had the opportunity to discuss an important but often overlooked aspect of agriculture with farmers throughout the south this spring and summer: risk management. While not as flashy a topic as the latest and greatest seed variety or tractor model, risk management practices are invaluable in keeping family farms resilient to the many and varied challenges that can sink an unprepared, vulnerable farmer.
With a grant from the USDA Risk Management Agency, Rock and Felicia have been able to travel to locations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky this year to speak with producers about risk management for different of types farming operations. Kentucky State University’s Third Thursday Thing, a monthly educational event for small producers in the area, offered an excellent opportunity to speak with small farmers in that region. Rock and Felicia presented at the Third Thursday Thing in April and July, and plan more visits in the future. Rock has focused his presentations on risk management and whole farm planning, making the topics approachable with real-life examples from his own experience on his farm.
Felicia spoke about liability issues farmers should be aware of. Her presentation sparked a lot of discussion, with farmers asking questions about their liability when visitors come to their farms. Felicia gave them plenty of food for thought, and a good foundation to make smart, informed decisions for their farming operations. Farmers also received a selection of ATTRA publications that address risk management and business planning.
Rock and Felicia have also been introducing this topic to 4-H groups and Future Farmers of America chapters throughout the region, including both risk management topics and leadership training in their discussions.