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Risk Management Education

African American farmers and ranchers from Arkansas and Mississippi attended free risk management training funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency. The training program the students attended was made up of six workshops. The workshops were held in Pine Bluff, AR and Jackson, MS in February, March, and April 2012. The final homework assignments were completed in August 2012 and the project was completed on September 30, 2012. The farmers learned how to respond to risk in their farming businesses in five areas: crop and livestock insurance; marketing (strategies and farmers markets); financial (farm management strategies); legal (liabilities and estate planning); and human resource (labor) management.

The 52 students also created individualized risk management responses using a business plan approach that they learned about in class. They used information from their own farms to fill out their business plans and followed up with the trainers to further develop and revise their plans. Each student established a goal in all of the five risk emphasis areas and chose three specific actions they would take during the next year to reach each goal.

The training’s concentrated and hands-on approach to education is designed to lead to long-term behavioral change, consistent with the philosophy that behavior changes are more likely with sustained personal support.

“From this risk management training, the producers worked on case studies that helped them understand and better manage their farm enterprises,” said Kandi Williams, Pine Bluff Extension Associate, UAPB & Silas H. Hunt Community Development Corporation Small Farm Program, Texarkana, AR. “Some of the producers are still working on goals that they agreed to complete after the training. It has been inspiring to see them take information from the workshops and actually achieve short-term goals discussed during the training.”

The Risk Management Education program is designed to help ensure that farmers and ranchers effectively manage their risk through difficult periods, helping to maintain America's robust food supply and the survival of small, limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally underserved farmers. RMA administers these partnership projects as well as the Federal crop insurance program, with funding and authority from the Federal Crop Insurance Act.

Participants and trainer at the Pine Bluff, AR workshops

Participants and trainer at the Pine Bluff, AR workshops.

If you would like to learn more about training that may be available in your area, go to www.usda.gov/strikeforce. If you would like to learn more about the Risk Management Agency or more about risk and crop insurance go to www.rma.usda.gov or to farm-risk-plans.rma.usda.gov.