[Image: LA Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award]
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program focuses on helping agricultural producers voluntarily address environmental concerns as well as helping them enhance the production and resource management skills they need for the continued sustainability of Louisiana agriculture. The program helps producers across a wide range of agricultural and natural resource enterprises by teaching them more about environmental stewardship, conservation-based production techniques and resource management. The program uses a comprehensive approach that includes classroom instruction, observation of LSU AgCenter research-based best management practices and implementation of a comprehensive conservation plan. It also involves a voluntary producer certification process. To become Louisiana Master Farmer, a producer must complete three phases:
Producer attends classroom instruction on environmental stewardship issues related to:
The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972
National and Louisiana water quality standards
Total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs
Effects of nonpoint source pollution on the coastal zone and the Gulf of Mexico
Best management practices, also known as BMPs
Role of conservation districts in conservation planning and implementation
Resource conservation planning processes
Farm bill conservation programs
Spill prevention control and counter measures, or SPCC
Producer attends a conservation-based field day where specific best management practices are demonstrated and discussed. This also may include pasture walks, soil quality workshops and other commodity-specific demonstrations that are approved by Louisiana Master Farmer Program faculty.
A producer must request a farm-specific Resource Management System (RMS) level conservation plan through their district conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The producer will be contacted by the district conservationist to schedule an initial meeting to discuss the producer's plans, goals, and take a resource inventory of the farming operation. This plan is written on acreage within a sub-watershed (12 digit HUC), not necessarily the entire farming acreage. The district conservationist will be able to delineate what property falls within each sub-watershed to develop a conservation plan for each sub-watershed if necessary. LSU AgCenter personnel may also be contacted and/or may assist NRCS in the initial steps of the planning process. This process may take a lengthy amount of time depending on acreage, goals of the producer, financial capabilities and overall resource concerns on the selected property. Once the plan is developed and fully implemented, this phase is considered to be complete. The NRCS state conservationist confirms the RMS is fully implemented and recommends that the producer is granted certification. Participants in the Kellogg's Master Rice Grower Program have additional reporting to comply with their companywide sustainability program.
Upon completion of all three phases of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program, producers are "presumed" to be in compliance with Louisiana's state soil and water conservation requirements.
Continuing Education: Certification is granted for five years, with six hours of continuing education credits required per year. Additional information regarding this is listed under "Continuing Education."
For more information, contact Ernest Girouard, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program, Coordinator. Office: (337) 788-7547 or Mobile (337) 852-3986; Donna Morgan, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program, Central Region. Office: 318-473-6521 or Mobile: 318-613-9278; Allen Hogan, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program. Office: (337) 788-7547 or James Hendrix, LSU AgCenter, La. Master Farmer Program, Northeast Region. Office: 318-766-3320 or Mobile: 318-235-7198