SWCD and VCE to launch program

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Halifax County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was awarded $161,778 by the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission for its Agribusiness project titled Southern Virginia Pasture Infrastructure Program (SVPIP).

The program is a joint effort between Halifax, Lake Country and Southside SWCDs, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and Halifax County Agricultural Development covering the following eight counties: Amelia, Brunswick, Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward. 

SVPIP utilizes a 25 percent cost-share incentive to encourage producers to establish new pasture and increase the ability of livestock producers to implement rotational grazing, along with converting endophyte-infected tall fescue pastures into novel-endophyte tall fescue or warm season grasses. 

The primary goal of the program is to install practices that increase the ability of producers to graze their livestock (cattle, goats, sheep) more efficiently. 

The fencing portion of the program is based around increasing the number of grazing acres and the ability to intensively manage livestock for enhanced forage utilization.

The conversion of traditional endophyte infected tall fescue pastures into novel-endophyte tall fescue or warm season grass pastures will further enhance grazing efficiency and livestock productivity.

By implementing these practices, producers will improve utilization of pasture and decrease reliance on supplemental feed, resulting in an increase in net farm income.

By increasing herd efficiency, this project allows producers to capitalize on greater profitability. 

In times where cattle markets have been unpredictable, this program plans to educate on and implement practices that have been continuously proven to have high returns on investment.

Along with this, consumer demand for locally raised, grass-finished or pasture raised beef is rising, creating a need for more grazing acreage to finish livestock.

Southern Virginia is ideally located 800 miles from 75 percent of the U.S. population, allowing us to take advantage of these value-added markets.

In order to apply and be eligible for cost share funds, interested producers must first attend an orientation session. Four sessions will be offered throughout the region as follows:

Halifax Ag Marketing Center: May 25, 6-9 p.m., 1001 Farm Way Lane, Halifax.

Keysville Volunteer Fire Department: June 2, 6-9 p.m., 500 Osbourne St., Keysville.

Participants who plan to attend the meeting on June 2 in Keysville must pre-register by Friday with the Southside SWCD, by contacting the district office at (434) 542-5405.

For additional information about the program or the orientation sessions, producers should contact their local SWCD or VCE office. Charlotte and Lunenburg residents, contact Southside SWCD at (434) 542-5405.