Davis: Winter School starts Jan. 24

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

By David Davis

Clark County Extension Service

For many years, the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service has conducted Winter School. This event has been a tradition for many of our farmers and their families.

Winter School is designed to address ongoing issues or topics related to horticulture, agriculture and natural resources in Clark County through a series of educational sessions.

This year’s Winter School has been planned by the Clark County Extension Agriculture Advisory Council. It will take place on the evenings of Jan. 24, 26 and 31.

The first night of Winter School, Jan, 24, will be focused on farm finance, available cost share programs for farmers and farm management in a tough marketing environment. Agriculture is a major contributor to the local economy in Clark County. For farmers, it can be tough to survive in farming with increased input costs, higher land purchase costs and volatile markets. These factors also make it very difficult for new or beginning farmers.

We will discuss farm financing options, programs to assist new and beginning farmers with overcoming the learning curve of the early times in farm management, decision making on the farm in a tough marketing environment and available cost share programs that are designed to increase environmental stewardship and diversity of farming operations.

Beef night of Winter School will be Jan. 26. It has been a very difficult year as beef cattle markets have greatly changed from record highs to low prices over the past year. Dr. Kenny Burdine will help producers to understand what has happened to the beef cattle market, and help our beef cattle producers plan for the future by sharing expected future market trends.

Dr. Les Anderson will also highlight some of what has been learned through the “learn by doing” East Kentucky Beef IRM program as part of demonstrations conducted in Clark County and Eastern Kentucky. This program has primarily focused on initiating a timed calving season and shortening the calving season, but has also addressed many other management practices on beef farms.

Austin Arndt, a host on the 2016 Clark County Cattlemen Fall Beef Tour in Wisconsin, will also participate. He is a beef producer and feed lot operator in Wisconsin. He will be discussing quality calves from the feedlot perspective.

The final night, Jan. 31, will focus on small farm and backyard farming. Berea College farm manager Bob Harned will  discuss pasture pork, small poultry flocks and small ruminant production.

Jennifer Howard, Clark County Extension Agent for Family Consumer Science, will discuss ways to preserve food produced on the farm. We will also discuss garden vegetable production for both direct sale and for home use. This discussion will focus on the production of vegetables for selling them at farmers market and also utilizing raised beds.

Each Winter School session will begin at 6 p.m. at the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service. A meal will be served each night. There is a $10 cost to attend any or all of the sessions to help cover the cost of materials. Registration will be available at the door or pre-register to help us better prepare for meals. Payment can be made at the door. Those who pre-register will receive a second door prize ticket.

This program would not be possible without our generous sponsors and community partners. Thank you to the Clark County Farm Bureau and the Clark County Cattlemen Association for each providing a complete meal.

For more information, call the extension service at 744-4682.

David Davis is the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.