Extension offers Farm Bill training

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Alabama farmers and producers are facing some challenges in navigating the complexities of the 2014 Farm Bill.

The Alabama Extension Service is offering assistance to area farmers and producers through training workshop that will include a computer lab that will instruct farmers and producers on how to work with Extension and Farm Service Agency professionals, said Grant Lyons, Pike County Extension coordinator.

“The days of using a simple one-page worksheet and a pencil to determine which programs are a farmer’s best option are gone,” Lyons said. “Farmers now need a computer to determine which programs are the best option. The Alabama Extension’s next round of training will show farmers and producers how to use an online decision tool that will help them make more informed choices about the Farm Bill program options available to them.”

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The Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland will host a training workshop on Wednesday, January 14.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. with an overview of the 2014 Farm Bill and a comprehensive presentation on using online decision tools. In the afternoon, producers will be able to work in the computer lab beginning at 1 p.m.  To use the online tools, producers must set up a user identity with a password.

Robert Page, an economist with Alabama Extension, said once producers learn how to use an online decision tool, they will have a chance to familiarize themselves with the program websites and have the opportunity to enter their data using a computer from Extension’s mobile computer lab.

“Extension professionals will be right there to answer questions and show tips and shortcuts,” Page said.

Area farmers and producers who plan to attend the Jan, 14 meeting in Headland are asked to call the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center at 334-693-2363 and register for the morning session, the afternoon session or both sessions. During the afternoon hands-on exercises, seating will be limited so that all participants will have access to a computer.

Page said those who plan to enter data related to their farms should complete a crop information work sheet available on the www.AlabamaFarmBill.com website.

“The work sheet will help farmers gather the necessary data about their farms that will be required to use the online decision tools as well as to apply for programs,” Page said.

Dr. Paul Brown, Alabama Extension associate director, said the upcoming meetings will help producers evaluate the options provided by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Alabama producers grow many different crops,” Brown said. “Because the decisions producers make now will be valid until the Farm Bill expires in 2018, it is imperative that we do everything we can to ensure they make the best choices possible.”

Lyons said each Farm Bill program has specific criteria that must be met and demands different levels and types of documentation. The programs also have different deadline and implementation dates.

For more information, contact the Pike County Extension Office at 334-566-0985.