LSU AgCenter county agents met Aug. 16 to learn about changes in the Louisiana Master Farmer Program that will expedite the process for farmers to become certified.

Under revisions to the program, a producer’s farm conservationplan may now be developed through the LSU AgCenter. Previously, farmers had only one option through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This is a priority program for the AgCenter,” Dwight Landreneau, LSU AgCenter assistant vice chancellor for extension, told the county agents. “We in the AgCenter are here to help farmers.”

Farmers who want to participate in the program will contact their county agents, who will arrange for Louisiana Master Farmer Program personnel to tour farms and develop a farm-specific conservation plan.

If the plan is fully implemented, it will be recommended to Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for Extension, who will then review the application and forward it to Mike Strain, State Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, who makes the final decision on certification.

Ernest Girouard, Master Farmer coordinator, said current conservation practices already being done by farmers will be included in conservation plans required for the final phase. Activities such as attendance at approved field days and farm clinics are requiredcomponents of the certification process. These will also count toward the continuing education required to remain certified.

Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter Southwest Region director, said rice farmers who obtain Master Farmer certification could have a good chance of being considered for the Kellogg’s Master Rice Grower program. “The biggest part of the Kellogg’s program is the Master Farmer Program.”