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Extension offers Tuesday Q&A for farmers and ranchers

Staff Reports
A Ranch One cow stands in the middle of a field glittering with ice crystals on a chilly morning.
Kurt Hildebrand

 The nation’s farmers and ranchers are accustomed to weathering storms in their industry – droughts, floods, wildfires and price fluctuations, to name a few. But, the COVID-19 pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges for many of today’s producers. To help them through this daunting time, University of Nevada, Reno Extension is offering free online updates and question-and-answer sessions with various experts 10–11:30 a.m. Tuesdays.

Douglas County Extension Educator Lindsay Chichester put together the series, “Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic,” which begins today. Known as “Dr. Lindsay” to many in the country’s agriculture industry and on social media, Chichester understands the ups and downs of farming and ranch life, growing up on a cattle and sheep ranch in northern California, and going on to earn a master’s degree in animal science and a doctorate in agricultural sciences. Lindsay said this is truly a baffling time for many of the nation’s agricultural producers.

“There are so many unknowns right now, our farmers and ranchers are struggling to navigate a market where the supply chains have been disrupted and to understand how our current events may impact their future viability,” she said. “Talking to colleagues and friends from around the country, I realized we are all asking the same questions and wanting more guidance. So, we’re providing this online series to bring in boots-on-the-ground, grass-roots speakers who are involved in their respective industries to offer some insight and support.”

The sessions will be offered online via Zoom. Chichester will open each session with a brief introduction about the current issues surrounding that session’s topic, followed by brief presentations by the speakers. Then, the majority of each session will be driven by questions from participants.

The first session is “Ag Risk and Ag Law,” 10-11:30 a.m. April 28. It’s free, but participants need to register at https://unrextension.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcscuGhqDsqG9fxvOWenHv-40iIrvC9mihM. Speakers/panelists include:

·        Joylyn Harmer, a partner at Smith and Harmer, LTD, Attorneys at Law. Born in Winnemucca, Nevada, and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Harmer practices primarily in estate planning; corporate counseling; contracts; and land, water and mineral rights.

·        Dave Goeller, a consultant with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Farm Hotline, providing assistance to farmers and ranchers. Goeller recently retired from farming, and from the University of Nebraska, where he was deputy director of the North Central Risk Management Education Center and an Extension farm transition specialist for many years. His emphasis is on beginning farmer programs, business transition, estate planning and farm financial management. 

·        Brenda Freeman, professor of counseling and educational psychology in the College of Education and Extension specialist at the University of Nevada, Reno, will be on hand to offer guidance and resources for participants who may be experiencing stress or mental health issues. Freeman has over 30 years of experience in the field of counseling.

Future session topics include:

·        May 5 – Meat packers, pricing and availability

·        May 12 – Backyard poultry production

·        May 19 – Pork industry update

·        May 26 – Dairy: milk dumping and National Dairy Month

Details on future sessions will be posted at https://extension.unr.edu/program.aspx?ID=186, where those interested in participating can also register. For more information, email Chichester at lchichester@unr.edu or call 775-782-9960