U.S. Forest Service Co-sponsors Magazine’s 8th Anniversary Conference

Minority Landowner Magazine publisher Victor Harris (left), Southern Research Station assistant director Jennifer Plyler (center), Winston County Self-Help Cooperative team leader Frank Taylor (right). Photo by Teresa Jackson, U.S. Forest Service.

More than 220 farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and natural resource professionals from across the United States attended “Family Farms Strengthen the Local Economy,” the Minority Landowner Magazine’s annual conference held this year in Greenville, South Carolina.

“Through the feature articles in Minority Landowner and through our annual conference, we introduce farmers and forest landowners to the science that can positively and negatively impact their land management operation,” said Victor Harris, publisher and editor of the Minority Landowner Magazine and conference host. “This year Dr. James Vose from the Forest Service Southern Research Station gave an excellent presentation and answered many questions regarding climate change. It was very well presented and very well received, resulting in a productive dialogue.”

“The partnership we share with Southern Research Station continues to be instrumental in the success of our conference, and in equipping farmers and forest landowners with tools and knowledge to make their operations productive,” said Harris. “We could not produce such a high caliber conference without them, and we’re proud to have the Southern Research Station as a strong sponsor and supporter.”

Harris, a registered forester and former Forest Service employee, has published the Minority Landowner Magazine since 2006, providing limited resource farmers, ranchers, and landowners with resources needed to be productive and profitable, and to maintain land ownership.

Over a three-day conference, participants heard from speakers and presenters from USDA and state agencies, the Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Farm Credit, and their peers. They spoke one on one with exhibitors and rotated through four concurrent breakout sessions on Financial Planning, Farmers Markets & Community Supported Agriculture, My Land Plan, and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs.

This year’s conference encompassed a group of participants who had not only a strong desire to learn and glean all the information they could from workshop presenters, conference speakers, exhibitors, and panelists, but also an unselfish willingness to share their stories, successes, and challenges with others. From banquet speaker Frank Taylor, team leader of the Winston County Self-Help Cooperative based in Louisville, Mississippi, to luncheon speaker Hezekiah Gibson, founder and president of United Farmers USA based in Manning, South Carolina, everyone was eager to impart knowledge to help others improve their operations and become better land managers.

SRS assistant director Jennifer Plyler, project leader of the SRS Center for Integrated Forest Science Jim Vose, public affairs specialist Teresa Jackson, and cooperative forestry management analyst Cheryl Bailey from the Washington Office, represented the Forest Service.

Plyler gave a general overview of the Forest Service and SRS as she spoke on the importance of keeping land forested and in the family, invasive species, non-timber forest products, water resources, and forest inventory and monitoring. Jackson staffed the SRS booth and provided participants with information on Forest Service products and services.

Vose presented information on climate change and climate variability, touching on vulnerabilities to forests, changes in the earth’s climate system, and the establishment of the Regional Climate Hubs. As a Washington Office representative, Bailey participated on a panel of natural resources professionals, and provided information on the “Know your farmer know your food” program, ecosystem services and markets, the Renewable Energy Project, and the National Agroforestry Center.

The Minority Landowner Magazine is the largest distributed magazine of its kind, with more than 5,000 subscribers. In addition to the Forest Service, the conference was co-sponsored by USDA Southern Agriculture Research & Education, Risk Management Agency, Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, and NRCS, all of which were well represented.

For more information, email Teresa Jackson at teresajackson@fs.fed.us

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