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Programs

Agricultural Programs

Eagles and Agriculture

The seven-year-old Eagles and Agriculture program promotes the benefits agriculture provides wildlife and the community in western Nevada. The program enhances participant knowledge of wildlife habitat and local agriculture.

Issue:

Nearly half of Douglas County’s 450,000 acres is zoned for agriculture, and although county residents enjoy the rural character of the area, many complain about some aspects of it, such as dust, flies, odors and slow-moving farm vehicles. Farmers and ranchers often find themselves in public meetings defending their industry. With the price of land increasing — the price per acre has grown from $1,000 in 1980 to $40,000 in 2008 — and the profitability of farms and ranches threatened by a poor economy, many ranchers are tempted to sell to land developers or prospective home buyers lured to an attractive valley of green pastures, livestock, wildlife and the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada. Although the face of agriculture in Douglas County is changing as land is subdivided, public understanding of the value agriculture provides our communities is critical to its sustainability.

What Has Been Done:

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension teamed up with the Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Carson Valley Conservation District and local ranchers in 2003 to discuss how to promote agriculture. The group focused on the annual migration of bald eagles to the Carson Valley in February, when the birds arrive in significant numbers to feed on the afterbirth left in the fields during the calving season. The phenomenon was already attracting onlookers every year, so the decision was made to produce a safe activity to help people learn about agriculture and the benefits it provides wildlife and the community. Additionally, the Eagles and Agriculture program would encourage the conservation and prosperity of ranching in western Nevada; teach participants about eagle habits and the history of agriculture in Carson Valley; and create a model of agritourism that would enhance the profitability of local farming and ranching businesses.

The program covers two and a half days and includes bus tours of the Carson Valley, an “owl prowl” photo workshop, a reception with guest speakers, luncheon, river rafting and an evening reception with a guest speaker. Cooperative Extension helps coordinate the event, produces the tour brochure and provides bus guides for participants touring the Carson Valley to view bald eagles and learn about the symbiotic relationships between agriculture and wildlife. Five 50-passenger luxury buses tour the Carson Valley and visit five ranches. The groups are hosted by two bird experts from the local Audubon Society, as well as experts in local history, agriculture and folklore. At each stop, the ranchers discuss their operation while the bird experts set up viewing scopes to watch the eagles and other significant birds in the area.

Impact:

Eagles and Agriculture has had a powerful effect on Carson Valley agriculture industry and the relationships between ranchers and the community — from local and federal politicians to conservationists and business leaders. Post-event surveys show that participants gain a better understanding of Carson Valley agriculture and cow-calf production, but also a greater appreciation for the role agriculture plays in providing wildlife habitat. A ranching community 100 miles north of Douglas County now hosts an event titled “Bird, Barns and BBQ” that is modeled after the Douglas County program. State and federal lawmakers help promote the event; the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority provide a grant to help advertise the event outside a 100-mile radius of Carson Valley; and the local newspaper helps educate the public about the beneficial convergence of agriculture and nature. Information about this event published in various magazines, newspapers, newsletters and catalogs reaches an estimated 500,000 readers, helping spread word of the value of agriculture and ranching in the valley.

The event has brought in an estimated $1.4 million in revenue to the local economy over the last seven years. What’s more, elected officials have shown a keener appreciation for agriculture in our communities. Local decision-makers are more attuned to input from members of the agricultural community, and decisions in recent years on master plan issues, floodplain ordinances and land-use planning tools such as conservation easements and transferring development rights have been more favorable to agricultural needs.

This event has helped elevate the sense of pride and purpose in those involved in Carson Valley’s agriculture industry. Eagles and Agriculture has inspired residents to explore other agricultural enterprises. One rancher involved in Eagles and Agriculture from the early years started an antique business and conducts historical tours that include agricultural history. Ranchers have learned that the public wants to support local agriculture and purchase locally grown meat and produce. As a result, a niche livestock marketing group was formed to investigate the feasibility of a slaughter and processing facility.

Printable Program Impact

Contact: Steve Lewis, Extension Educator, 775-782-9968

Agricultural Programs

Programs Program Information

Beef Quality Assurance

The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, a national initiative, is dedicated to teaching beef producers safety and quality assurance practices in all aspects of their production.

Cattlemen’s Update

Cattlemen’s Update is University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) annual educational program offered for beef cattle producers to learn about issues affecting profitability and product quality in the Great Basin region.

Coffee Shop email helps ranchers make money

Nevada agriculture specialists have taken the traditional producer coffee-shop discussions into cyberspace. Cooperative Extension’s coffee shop is a national subscription email designed to provide a two-way communication network for livestock producers. The question-and-answer service provides answers to livestock production and marketing questions.

Eagles and Agriculture

The seven-year-old Eagles and Agriculture program promotes the benefits agriculture provides wildlife and the community in western Nevada. The program enhances participant knowledge of wildlife habitat and local agriculture.

Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program

The purpose of Nevada’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) is to improve the ability of Native American farmers and ranchers to manage their agricultural enterprises effectively, efficiently and profitably.

Herds and Harvest

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and IR-4 program

This program is to test potential pesticides necessary for producing forages in Nevada and submit requests for federal testing and registration from the IR-4 program, which is a federal cooperative program established in 1963 to help the producers of minor crops obtain clearances for pest control materials on those crops. The purpose of IR-4 is to work with farmers, agriculture scientists and Cooperative Extension personnel to carry out research and petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to obtain tolerances for specific pesticide uses needed by minor-crop producers.

People of the Land

Historically, American Indian agricultural producers and natural resource managers have not actively participated in programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — even though tribal leaders have indicated the need to strengthen agriculture on Indian lands. Meanwhile, federal professionals have described the difficulty they have reaching American Indian agriculture producers and natural resource managers on reservations. The situation is sometimes referred to as the "Indian situation." The goal of this program is to train agricultural professionals to better understand Indian culture and make them more effective in helping American Indian producers strengthen sustainable agriculture and natural resource management on the reservations.

Pesticide Safety Education Program

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program provides Web-based training for pesticide applicators seeking to apply restricted and general use pesticides safely, properly and according to the law. Pesticide licensure and certification is administered by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

Processing and Marketing of Local Meat Products: A Feasibility Analysis

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed a feasibility study to find ways to improve financial stability for Nevada livestock producers through processing and niche marketing.

Risk Management

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) develops and delivers a comprehensive risk management education program to livestock and forage producers in Nevada.

Sustainable Agricultural Practices

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension conducts several sustainable agriculture programs including researching alternative crops, introducing sustainable biodiversity/multiple use of rangelands, and increasing the number of pest control materials labeled in and increasing the knowledge and implementation rate of IPM practices in Nevada.

Tef Crop Production

The purpose of this program is to introduce Nevada farmers to and help train them in the cultivation of tef, a small-seeded grain and forage crop that requires less water than alfalfa and can be more profitable. There is a strong market for tef seed, which is made into flour to make an Ethiopian flat bread known as injera, as well as for tef hay as a high-quality horse hay.

Weed Prevention and Management

Integrated weed management is based on economically viable and environmentally friendly weed management tactics that combine judicious use of herbicides with other control tactics, such as mowing, burning, tillage, grazing and revegetation. By taking steps to prevent weed invasion, land owners/managers and other stakeholders can avoid the economic and environmental impacts of noxious and invasive weeds.

Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training

The Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training Program is held several times a year, usually in late winter or spring. This eight-hour, two-day introductory-level training introduces participants to the principles of Integrated Weed Management and focuses on improving ability to identify noxious weeds of local importance. A small fee is charged for program materials, and the class can be videoconferenced to other locations upon request. Each year, several dozen people go through the training and become certified Weed Warriors. Pesticide applicators receive six Continuing Education Credits for attending this course. Each year in May during a community event in the Truckee Meadows, Weed Warrior volunteers help rid parks and riverfront areas of invasive thistles.