With assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension is hosting a local workshop to help small farmers become more successful.
“Linking Small Farmers to USDA” is scheduled for 1:15 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Powell-Melvin Service Center, 450 Smith Circle, Elizabethtown. The purpose of the meeting is to provide information and education about programs that can give financial assistance on farms.
James Hartsfield, area farm management agent, works with small-scale growers in Sampson and Duplin counties. For the upcoming event, he’s ready to assist farmers from those areas and other places such as Bladen and Robeson counties as well.
“It’s open for anybody that wants to come,” Hartsfield said. “This program is for small farmers and beginning farmers and we’re going to mainly talk about some of the USDA programs that are available.”
During the regional outreach meeting, officials will help link farmers and landowners with available resources. Some of the program include USDA’s Farm Agency, Rural Development, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Risk Management Agency, and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement programs.
Attendees will also receive information about the Cooperative Extension Small Farms programs and the production of bamboo, a woody grass which is mostly grown in the tropics.
Another topic during the meeting is the opioid crisis and its effect on rural communities. According to the USDA, more than 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, with the overwhelming amount involved an opioid in 2016.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that rates of overdose deaths are rising in rural areas and passing rates in urban locations. A survey released in that same year by the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation, found that more than 70 percent of farmers have been directly impacted by the crisis.
According to the USDA, several grant programs are available to address the problem. One of the listed program is the Rural Communities Opioid Response-Planning Program, which awards funds for prevention and treatments. Another is the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant which helps applicants retain workers in communities impacted by opioid addiction.
With refreshments and transportation being provided for the upcoming event, officials are asking for participants to register by Tuesday, Sept. 18.
For more information or to sign-up, contact Hartsfield by calling 910-592-7161 or by email at email@example.com.