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The information presented on this page was originally released on January 31, 2000. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Thriving Farmers Must Manage Production Risks
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farming has always been risky business and current economic pressures mean more is at stake with each decision farmers make, but Mississippi farmers can get additional assistance through a new Extension Service effort.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service has always worked with the state's farmers in whatever conditions exist. Today, that emphasis is turning to managing the risks associated with farming.
Dr. Michael Ouart, Extension state program leader for agriculture and natural resources, said Mississippi's crop producers are facing special challenges from higher input costs and lower prices they receive for their products.
"The key to coping with this situation is to pay close attention to management and marketing strategies," Ouart said. "Because of years of low prices and weather problems, we have some farmers in Mississippi who are facing especially difficult times."
Risk Management 2000 is a new emphasis the Extension Service is placing on farm management. While Extension agents and specialists continue to offer specific, tested techniques and tips to help sustain thriving farm operations, a Feb. 11 teleconference is scheduled for six statewide locations spelling out key risk management tips.
"These key management tips and principles may be more important than ever because of the economic situation we're in now," Ouart said.
The event is free and open to the public. Agricultural producers, suppliers and lenders are encouraged to participate in the interactive teleconference. Teleconference locations are at Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburg, Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Dorman Hall at MSU, Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead, Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale and North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
The interactive teleconference will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 11, with registration from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and a discussion and question session from 11 a.m. to noon.
Dr. Will McCarty, leader of Extension Plant and Soil Sciences, said the Risk Management 2000 agribusiness program focuses on managing cotton, grain and oilseed crops.
"We're trying to call people's attention to the fact that commodity prices are low, input costs are up and the growers' exposure to risk is at levels like they've never been before," McCarty said. "For this reason, growers must look at their management and farm practices to evaluate the efficiency of their overall farm operations, and not just look at one commodity."
Dr. Charlie Forrest, Extension agricultural economist, said these techniques help farmers combine the best of existing farm practices with the best new technologies to create a total management plan.
"We've identified practices we need to focus on for the major commodities during these hard times so we can take some control of costs and make sure we're doing everything we can to fine tune our management plan," Forrest said.
In addition to the six planned teleconferences, a brochure has been published listing specific management practices. These have been divided into whole farm management, successful agronomic management, and cotton, soybeans, rice, wheat, corn and grain sorghum management tips.
Starting Feb. 15, a web site dedicated to these risk management issues can be found at www.ext.msstate.edu/special/risk2000. A toll-free help line, 1-877-361-FARM (3276), will be manned from Feb. 15 to April 1 by Extension agents and specialists who can provide additional information. Contact the local county Extension office for more information.