As Virginia Cooperative Extension agent Twandra Lomax was shopping in a Richmond Farm Fresh, she was recognized by a previous student.
“You taught my homebuyers class at Southside,” the woman said. “I closed on my first house last week.”
She was one of 34 students in the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Homebuyers Education class that went on to purchase a home in the City of Richmond in 2015.
The class, formed in collaboration with Richmond’s Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation, focuses on credit, personal finances, the role of the lender and realtor, home maintenance, home inspection, home appraisal, the closing process, foreclosure, and the Fair Housing Act of Virginia.
Two sessions of the class are held each month and are taught by experts in the field. Participants leave the class prepared to start working on credit concerns that could prevent them from qualifying for mortgage loans. At the end of the class, students work directly with a counselor to address any lingering concerns.
Jason Grant, director of the Center for Agricultural Trade
The new Center for Agricultural Trade at Virginia Tech is paying big dividends for the commonwealth and the nation.
Recently the center found itself in the midst of the highly contested international trade relations negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The topic? The heavily protected global dairy market.
The center relentlessly produced up-to-the-minute export models during the negotiations, which were under discussion until the eleventh hour. The models provided clear-cut export scenarios that put the realities of trade tariffs into sharper focus. The International Trade Commission and the Office of the Chief Economist — a political body that reports directly to the president of the United States — used the models.
Part think tank, part classroom, and part idea incubator, the center’s mission is to become the leader in creation and dissemination of information on agricultural policy for legislators, educators, and industry leaders.
Continue reading >>
Sheep producers are finding new ways to put dollars in their pockets with some help from Virginia Tech’s Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Mandy and Chris Fletcher, of Abingdon, Virginia, have purchased rams from the ram test sale for the past four years and have improved their flock’s genetics by selecting for growth and parasite resistance. As their flock’s genetics have improved, the Fletchers have seen a decrease in health care costs and flock mortality.
The center, located in Glade Spring, is home to the Southwest Virginia Forage-Based Ram Test. The ram test, now in its fifth year, is the only program in the U.S. that evaluates rams through a forage-based performance test designed specifically to quantify growth and parasite resistance. The test provides a mechanism for ram lambs to be evaluated and compared to rams from other flocks in a standardized environment. At the conclusion of the test, the ram lambs that are offered for sale come with a vast body of production data.
“Internal parasites are among the leading health concerns for sheep,” said Scott Greiner, Virginia Cooperative Extension sheep specialist and professor of animal and poultry sciences. “They can pose dramatic economic losses for many producers, especially those in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the U.S. where forage-based production is an ideal management system for livestock.”
Continue reading >>
Economic woes and balancing personal finances can be challenging for anyone, but it can be doubly hard when someone is living in poverty or doesn’t speak the native language.
So the local Virginia Cooperative Extension offices in Chesterfield, Virginia, are equipping people with knowledge that helps them create a better economic future.
More than 6 percent of Chesterfield County lives below the poverty line. In homes where a single mom is raising kids, that number creeps as high as 31 percent. People living in these situations are especially vulnerable to losing control of their finances.
Continue reading >>
VSU becomes first HBCU licensed to teach USDA/FSA Agribusiness Production and Financial Management Program
Ettrick, Va. – Until last year, Virginia farmers applying for a USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan were required to take an on-line Agribusiness Production and Financial Management Program offered by private companies for $300-$600. The program offers valuable financial management and crop production skills aimed at boosting farm profitability and income, but many farmers find it costly and inconvenient to take online.
Three years ago, representatives from FSA and Virginia State University’s Small Farm Outreach Program, a Virginia Cooperative Extension program, met to discuss a better way to assist Virginia farmers in meeting the mandatory FSA financial and production management borrower training requirements. Both organizations agreed that the current process could use improving.
“Many farmers don’t like the idea of taking online courses, let alone in the evening after putting in a day in the field,” said Mike Wooden, assistant director, VSU Small Farm Outreach Program. “It was hard for them to wrap their minds around balance sheets, cash flow and marketing principles after putting in a full day’s work.”
As a result of that meeting, Virginia State University (VSU) applied to FSA to be a licensed program vendor, or teacher. The University met the criteria and was approved two years ago to administer the course, making it the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to be certified in teaching the FSA’s Agribusiness Production and Financial Management Program. In addition, VSU applied for and received from the FSA a three-year grant in the amount of $250,000 to administer the program, which is designed especially for limited resource farmers.
Continue reading >>