Christian Richard, who farms 2,000 acres of rice, soybeans and crawfish in Kaplan, La., was named 2010 Outstanding Louisiana Master Farmer, and nine newly certified Master Farmers were recognized at the 65th annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts on Jan. 13.
The newly certified Master Farmers are: Shannon Daboval of Jefferson Davis Parish, Charles Fondren and Jamie Howington of Madison Parish, Gene Foster and Jeff Foster of Lincoln Parish, Algy Irvin and Mary Irvin of Lafourche Parish, Norwyn Johnson of Vernon Parish and Phillip Sneed Jr. of Sabine Parish.
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program is an environmental education program designed to help farmers and ranchers identify and adopt best management practices.
Richard, who worked as an intern at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in 2000, has a degree in agribusiness from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. He is a 2005 USA Rice Leadership Development class graduate and was in the LSU AgCenter Ag Leadership class.
His other activities include serving as president of the Louisiana Rice Growers, member of the board of the Vermilion Soil and Water Conservation District, on the executive committee of the Vermilion Farm Bureau Federation and assistant chief of the Indian Bayou Volunteer Fire Department. Richard has also has been recognized as Vermilion Rotary Club Farmer of the Year and with the Vermilion Woodmen of the World Environmental Award.
Richard is in a program to test new tractor equipment and currently is working with an LSU agronomist on a test plot to study the effects of zinc.
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program -- which got its start in 2001 as a way for farmers to learn up-to-date, research-based conservation practices in a comprehensive manner -- is a partnership of the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
All together, 124 farmers have earned Master Farmer status, which means they have not only learned the latest in conservation practices but also are implementing them on their farms, said Ernest Girouard, LSU AgCenter coordinator of the Master Farmer Program.
To become a Master Farmer, participants must successfully complete the program’s three phases. The first involves classroom instruction on such topics as pesticides, nutrient management, hypoxia and nonpoint-source pollution. The second phase includes tours and field days at model farms that already have implemented some of the practices that Master Farmers are to duplicate.
In the third phase, the farmer must put together a conservation plan and timetable for implementation of best management practices. The farmer does this in cooperation with the NRCS in Louisiana.
All phases of the program are voluntary, and the farmer determines the length of time to complete each phase, Girouard said.