By: Morse Brown, Multicultural Farmers Program Manager
November 2006: Southwest Michigan farmers recently participated in a series of workshops on risk management in agricultural production. Larry Swain, certification and IPM manager for Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Antonio Castro-Escobar, manager for worker protection standards for MDA, along with yours truly, continued our efforts to provide programs that farmers need to reduce the risk of loss on their farms.
The latest workshops raised farmers’ awareness of pesticide use and safety. These workshops, held on September 9 and 23, were aimed at those farmers who wish to become Private Pesticide Applicators but are not yet certified. The two workshops yielded a dozen farmers.
One of the side benefits was that one of the participants, Arnold Baber, requested a field visit as a result of a new job responsibility due to the recent passing of his brother, Harold Baber, who was the farm manager for the Hawkins’ Blueberry farm. Arnold will now be the Farm Manager and wanted to visit a couple of fields to look at some specific pest problems.
This field visit resulted in us scheduling a “Post Harvest Blueberry Workshop” and a field visit for all of the farmers in the multicultural farmers program. This workshop took place on October 19, at Steve and Paula Hawkins’ Maggard farms in Covert, Mich. This workshop, like all of the multicultural farmers programs, was open to all, regardless of race, gender, religion or national origin.
On September 30, 20 farmers participated in a Risk Management and Financial Records Workshop. This workshop aimed at teaching farmers the value of risk management insurance, especially federal crop insurance. Morse Brown introduced the program and answered the question, “Why Risk Management Insurance?” Only three of the 20 farmers in attendance indicated that they had crop insurance. Morse decided that he was talking to the right group.
This workshop included a presentation by Lynn Farmer, State Farm Insurance agent from Bangor, Mich., and provider of risk management insurance for farmers. The presentation by Morse and Lynn let the farmers know why they needed crop insurance and good insurance for their farms, period. Morse indicated that the “why” of his presentation was for the following reasons:
• Loss would result in economic hardship.
• Sufficient number/quality of crop units must be exposed to the same peril.
• A definite event in time/place and measurable with reasonable accuracy.
This workshop also addressed record-keeping. Tim Perry, specialist with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), presented record-keeping to the farmers and provided each farmer with a nice record book for keeping track of their farm operations. He also provided a PowerPoint presentation and a three-ring notebook with the complete presentation. This showed FSA’s business plan format as well as how to become a participant on their Web site’s “Web Equity Manager” record-keeping system.
The farmers indicated by their responses that they learned a lot from the programs and would like more on record keeping and plan to participate in Risk Management Insurance’s Federal Crop Insurance Program in the future.