Educational and mentoring programs and workshops help Nevada’s beginning agricultural producers
Agriculture is the second-largest component of economic stability in Nevada rural communities. At least 95 percent of state land is devoted to farming and ranching, with 4,135 farms.
Most agricultural sales in Nevada include cattle and calf production, followed by hay, other crops, milk and other dairy products, vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Nevada has seen an increase in specialty crop operations, with the U.S. Census of Agriculture from the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service reporting at least 1,000 new farms over the past decade. These producers primarily sell through farmers markets, roadside stands and Community Supported Agriculture projects.
Women, American Indians, Hispanics and operators of more than one race comprise a large portion of the total number of operators. The demographic profile of Nevada’s beginning producers characterizes the need in Nevada for a project that reaches socially disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers and ranchers.
Response/What’s Been Done
Since 2011, through the Herds & Harvest Program, Extension has provided workshops and educational business management and mentoring programs to support over 1,000 beginning agricultural producers, targeting individuals identified and/or recruited through the USDA, most of whom qualify as socially disadvantaged and limited-resource beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2017, 16 workshops educated 392 people on topics such as business strategies, winemaking, hops, small-scale poultry, hoop-house farming, social media marketing, and meat processing and quality.
Herds & Harvest mentoring programs also help beginning producers increase their profitability and sustainability through one-on-one and small group networking. In 2017, 176 mentoring sessions were held on topics such as enterprise budgets and production agriculture, including 21 sessions on Indian reservations serving 315 tribal members. Many other producers benefitted from networking with one another through the program.
Results/Impact and Partners
Since 2011, at least 157 workshops have been offered, reaching 1,098 beginning farmers and ranchers.
Program impacts in 2017 were measured via post-program evaluations. Of the 392 program participants, 126 returned evaluations, of which:
- 96 learned how to improve quality in their products
- 94 learned how to add value to the products they produce
- 91 learned how to increase their income
- 73 learned how to increase yields
- 71 learned how to increase farm and ranch income
Partners included Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency, Nevada Farm Bureau, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, local agriculture producers and wineries.