Conservation Reserve Program Public Issues and Policy Education for Sustainable Agriculture Through Forestry
David J. Moorhead, Associate Professor of Forestry,
R. Beck, ed. Proceedings: Approaches to Extension Forestry: Experiences and Future Developments. Proceedings of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations Working Party S6.06-03 Extension Symposium, Freising, Germany. Publications No. 1, 1997 pp 93-108.
Georgia has the largest commercial forest in the U.S. almost 24 million acres, 65% of total land area. Forestry in Georgia ranks number one in employment, output, and value added of all manufacturing industries. Georgia's 1994 total value of timber harvested was almost 30% of the $2.9 billion total value of agricultural crops and timber. A 1988 study showed that of Georgia's agricultural crop acres, 1,864,000 were marginal for crop and pasture production, including 659,000 acres of highly erodible cropland, and would yield higher landowner returns if planted to long-term sustainable forest crops. In Georgia, 645,931 acres of pine plantations were established between 1986 and 1992 under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Georgia Cooperative Extension Service Specialists in forestry recognized that landowners considering planting trees under provisions of the CRP were in great need of help for economic analysis of enterprises and decision making. To meet this need they developed an education program with seven sequential goals: economic comparison between common agricultural crops and trees; enrollment of qualified landowners in the CRP; analyses CRP scenarios; assess the economic efficiency of controlling weed competition in pines; examine CRP sign up acres; management assistance as contracts near expiration; evaluate impacts of the CRP. Audiences included county extension agents, qualified landowners, involved agency and organization staff, forest industry, forestry professionals, policy makers, governmental units, and extension, teaching and research faculty. Teaching methods and activities included the use of international, national, regional, state, area, district, multi-county, and county extension meeting formats with: 13 training meetings for 400 extension agents; 36 public meetings for 1,639 landowners; 2 training meetings for 75 Georgia Forestry Commission district foresters; and, 3 international, 5 national, and 28 regional papers, plus 4 poster presentations. Publications include: 3 journal articles, 6 extension bulletins, 15 CRP leaflets, and 21 professional meeting proceedings.
Key Words: Afforestation, pine plantations, extension forestry, forest managment