This past December, I had the opportunity through South Carolina Farm Bureau to travel to Washington DC with a few other Young Farmer and Ranchers from across our state to meet with our legislators, government ag agencies, and Farm Bureau staff. It was eye-opening and humbling to see how policy for our country is made. We had the privilege to sit down with policymakers and tell them exactly what we do as well as the challenges we face as farmers. They were eager to listen and provide feedback on legislation that will keep Agriculture the number one industry in our state. Many of the discussions led back to farmland loss as we learned that South Carolina is 8th for the fastest loss of farmland. That was statistic was alarming. I work with many multi-generational farmers that have no succession plans. I also work with first-generation farms that are clawing to get access to land. Both are affected by the increased urban sprawl in our state. This trip was a reminder to help my producers to be able to tell their stories and communicate with people who don’t understand farming. Also, this sparked a renewed interest in promoting ways to keep the farm viable to keep farmers on their land. This past December, I hosted a workshop on Farm Successional Planning that presented information on how to strategically transfer the business and the land. We also discussed conservation easements and other strategies to keep farmland affordable for new farmers as well as veteran farmers. As we look forward to the Spring, we will continue with programs that focus on the business aspect of farming because we know that profitable farms with good succession plans don’t give way to strip malls and townhomes nearly as easily.
Back Yard Poultry Processing Grant Update:
We had a very successful first workshop with our mobile processing grant. Despite the hurricane-force wind and rain, we harvested 100 broilers. Participants were able to grow the birds for 7 weeks and then learned safe and humane practices for harvesting the chickens. We teamed up with the 4H and the Food Safety team to offer a day-long program on harvesting techniques, food safety, and the economics of raising boilers. Our next program is scheduled for May. We look forward to a productive Spring, thank you for continued support of our programs.
Chris LeMaster, Area Livestock and Forages Agent
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