Classes offered for new landowners
Owners of small farms and ranches now have access to Web-based help for managing their land.
Four online courses designed for agricultural novices will be offered by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service beginning July 6, said Rebecca Parker, AgriLife Extension's Dallas-based regional director of programs in agriculture and natural science.
The courses were organized to meet the demand for information from the growing group of small-acreage landowners, said Parker, who cited the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 census of agriculture.
The USDA figures show all farms or ranches under 100 acres in Texas rose from 48 percent in 2002 to 52.6 percent in 2007, Parker said. Farms or ranches smaller than 50 acres rose nearly 5 percent to 37.9 percent during the same period.
The new landowners are often city dwellers who buy rural property for retirement, as an alternative source of income or a lifestyle change, Parker said. Unlike traditional farmers and ranchers, the landowners have jobs that provide primary sources of income.
These small-scale farm and ranch operators often search for information and educational opportunities concerning enterprise choices, basic production guidelines, marketing strategies and legal issues, she said.
"They don't have an ag background, and they don't know how to decide what to do with their land," Parker said. "There's a whole group that we're not getting to because they don't have time for face-to-face educational programs."
The four course topics include resource inventory, beef cattle management, pasture management and enterprise budgeting.
Landowners should take the resource inventory course first, Parker said.
"It answers the question, 'I've got this land, now what do I do with it?' " Parker said. "We consider that the most important course."
The course subjects were chosen based on the demand from landowners for information about those particular topics, Parker said.
The courses cost $50 each. They are offered on the following dates:
Resource Inventory: July 6-31; Sept. 14-Oct. 19; and Nov. 30-Dec. 30.
Beef Cattle Management: July 27-Sept. 4; Oct. 4-Nov. 13; and Jan. 4-Feb. 12.
Pasture Management: July 6-Aug. 7; Aug. 14-Sept. 14; and Nov. 2-Dec. 4.
Introduction to Enterprise Budgeting: July 20-Aug. 7; Sept. 28-Oct. 16; and Jan. 11-29.