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Producers provide input for education, research
RAYMOND – More than 150 central Mississippi agricultural producers gathered Feb. 18 to discuss priorities and ideas with Mississippi State University experts.
Producers and industry professionals met with MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station agents, specialists and researchers to provide input and direction for educational programs and research.
“We are here to address your needs,” Sherry Surrette, head of the Frank T. (Butch) Withers Jr. Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, told the group. “We have a commitment to you, and our ability to serve you well depends largely on your candidness. So please don’t hesitate to express your research and Extension needs here today.”
The annual Central Mississippi Producer Advisory Council meeting is held in conjunction with Alcorn State University’s Extension Program and Hinds Community College.
“Through research, we are producing new knowledge at an amazing rate,” Reuben Moore, associate director of MSU’s Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, told the crowd. “We want to continue to deliver that to you, our clients, so you continue to be profitable. But we need your valuable insight to help guide us in the process.”
The eight commodity groups represented were apiculture or beekeeping; beef, forage and equine; dairy; forestry and wildlife; agronomic crops; fruits, vegetables and nuts; ornamentals; and small ruminants and swine.
Bill Herndon, associate vice president for the MSU Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, said the meetings help administrators allocate funding.
“We greatly value your input and have used it to make investments in personnel,” Herndon said. “We now have a honeybee specialist, which you asked for, and we now are working to hire regional specialists for corn and soybeans. Our growers have set records with yields on a number of different crops, and the advantage we have over neighboring states is our specialists. They work with you to make sure you have the most up-to-date, accurate information, and they help you apply it.”
The apiculture group suggested making improvements to MSU’s bee website. They also wanted information on growing plants that attract bees and methods to increase youth interest in beekeeping. They wanted continued research on disease and pest management.
Beef and equine producers requested research and education on breed longevity, feed efficiency, forage production and feed costs.
Dairy producers asked for expanded research and education on grass-based production and opportunities for sustainable milk markets in Mississippi. They also requested a standardized procedure for collecting and analyzing milk samples for quality testing.
The forestry and wildlife group asked for more information on forest taxation, the best herbicides for wildlife, and road access during harvest. They also said continued research on timber markets is helpful.
Agronomic crop producers requested more education and continued research on wild hogs and more research on new cover crops.
Fruit, vegetable and nut growers want educational programs on crop insurance and high-tunnels for small truck crop farmers, certification programs for hydroponic crops, and more educational programs on various food safety certification programs.
Commercial horticulture producers asked for more information on soil preparation, planting and unusual crops, such as tea. They also asked for a nursery certification program offered through community colleges to increase interest in horticulture programs.
The small ruminant group asked for educational programs on marketing, the best water sources for consumption, and best practices for parasite control.
For more information on MSU’s Frank T. (Butch) Withers Jr. Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, visit http://extension.msstate.edu/central-ms-research-ext-center.