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Ag producers help MSU prioritize research needs
VERONA – On Feb. 19, the nation’s oldest group of its type met for the 56th time at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
The North Mississippi Producer Advisory Council, made up of producers in the northern part of the state, have met annually since 1953 to prioritize their research and educational needs for the coming year. The Council meeting provides a venue in which producers can communicate these needs to Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station personnel.
MAFES associate director Reuben Moore asked producers for directness.
“Evaluate us on where we have been and where we need to go. We want you to be up-front and honest,” he said.
More than 250 producers representing 13 commodities participated in the 2009 meeting. The producers met in breakout sessions for each commodity group and presented their comments and suggestions to the Extension and MAFES representatives at the end of the meeting.
The agricultural commodities represented included aquaculture, beef cattle, cotton, dairy, equine, forestry and wildlife, fruits and vegetables, goats, grain crops, ornamental crops, sweet potatoes, swine and turf grass.
Most of the groups asked MSU to hire additional Extension personnel to focus on their particular commodity area.
The beef cattle representative, Jacob Megehee of Noxubee County, said the group discussed the need for having a better understanding of the future of their industry.
“We would like a comprehensive economic outlook and want to know what we can expect in 10 to 20 years,” he said. “Research into possible issues we may encounter in the future is important because we don’t want to be blindsided.”
Other livestock groups asked for streamlined communication from MSU and additional research programs. Swine producers expressed a need for a small research facility and for programs dedicated to eradicating feral pigs.
The ornamentals group, represented by Sherra Owen of Union County, asked for research on various mulching strategies, assistance with promoting Mississippi’s native plants and more easily accessible gardening information.
“Having planting and gardening instructional DVDs, downloads and other programs available would be a tremendous asset,” she said.
The input from the producers at the meeting will help MSU develop a plan of action for the coming year, said Bill Herndon, head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center.
“This meeting is the most effective way of gathering producers’ concerns and addressing them,” he said. “We are going to integrate the issues we heard about today into our research and outreach as we move forward.”
Writer: Karen Templeton