By Sydni Walker
The Texas A&M University-Commerce Department of Agricultural Sciences “Northeast Texas Initiative for Cooperative Development (NTICD)” by Dr. Jose Lopez (Project Director, Assistant Professor of Agribusiness) and collaborators Dr. Bob Williams, Dr. Jim Heitholt and Dr. Curtis Jones, has been selected for funding for the amount of $175,000 from the FY2012 Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG).
The NTICD will reach out to community members and help develop relationships among socially disadvantaged producers in Northeast Texas. A&M-Commerce will partner with Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization (TSFR/CBO) to provide a series of outreach events and activities throughout 2013.
“The Department of Agricultural Sciences is very excited about this project,” Lopez said. “We are all there to help and want to make a positive contribution in our society.”
The goal of the outreach events is to provide small producers with technical assistance in areas that are relevant to them, including: product and service improvement, feasibility, sustainability, marketing, finance, profitability and business management. The events will also help develop an interest in starting and organizing cooperatives.
These events will be whole- or half-day events in the form of seminars, workshops, and field days.
“The general objective of the project is not only to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged producers, but also that the producers and farm associations improve communication among them and expand their scope of business and networking relationships,” Lopez said. “When appropriately managed, cooperatives usually gain competitive advantages acquitting inputs and services, processing agricultural commodities, and distributing and marketing their products.”
A&M-Commerce will be collaborating with TSFR/CBO, and with many other experts, including regional agencies, governmental offices and farm associations such as Farm Service Agencies, Rural Development Offices, Texas AgriLife Extension Agencies, Natural Resources Conservation Service Offices, regional cooperatives and similar outreach programs.
Since 1998, TSFR/CBO has been providing information and education on agricultural issues to underserved agricultural producers. They are dedicated to assisting traditionally small producers by creating opportunities for developing agricultural markets, increasing technology transfers, providing educational programs and improving environmental conditions in rural Texas.
For more information on NTICD or the Department of Agricultural Sciences go to http://www.tamuc.edu/academics/colleges/scienceEngineeringAgriculture/departments/agriculturalSciences/default.aspx, or contact Dr. Jose Lopez, Project Director and Assistant Professor of Agribusiness at Jose.Lopez@tamuc.edu.