Q&A Tuesday: Survey sets the stage for agriculture programs | NevadaAppeal.com

Q&A Tuesday: Survey sets the stage for agriculture programs

Jean Dixon/University of Nevada, Reno Professor Loretta Singletary gives an tour of agricultural areas in Mason Valley to University of Nevada, Reno administrators.
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Water and weeds are top concerns for the state’s agriculture producers, according to a statewide survey conducted by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Professor Loretta Singletary said the survey will set the agenda for the cooperative extension’s s agriculture research and educational programs for the next few years. Singletary conducted the survey and analyzed the results.

The survey found the area’s agriculture producers listed their top priorities as: legal considerations for water rights protection, 91 percent; impacts of water transfers within and outside basins, 89 percent; impacts of water rights sales, 87 percent; impacts of environmental regulations on water use, 83 percent; and noxious weed identification and control, 83 percent.

What was the reason for this survey?

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension periodically surveys the public to better focus our educational programs. Also, cooperative extension has a history of working with agriculture producers on timely issues.

What do you hope to accomplish with the survey?

I hope that the results will be useful to university faculty and other agriculture and resource professionals in developing programs that address residents’ priorities. Clearly, water supply and water quality management are critical issues facing Nevada’s agriculture producers.

Also, producers are interested in educating urban residents about the value of the agriculture industry.

Many may not be fully aware that Nevada is world ranked in the production of fresh market onions (organic as well as certified pesticide-free) and high-quality alfalfa, dairy products and beef.

This level of global trade in the agriculture industry has important implications for the economy as well as the economic health of rural communities.

What areas did the survey include?

Randomly selected Nevada producers as well as agriculture professionals such as cooperative extension faculty, the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Farm Bureau, and the Nevada Farm Foundation.

Respondents were asked to rate issues of importance, including water; plant, crop and pest; livestock; rangeland health; and agriculture and socioeconomics. Of the top five issues rated as priorities, four dealt with water. These were: Water rights protection; impacts of water transfers within and outside basins; impacts of water rights sales; and impacts of environmental regulations on water use. The fifth ranked issue dealt with noxious weeds.

Why was socioeconomics included in the survey?

The section of the assessment, titled “agriculture and socioeconomics,” addressed agriculture labor issues, measuring the value of agricultural lands, educating urban residents about agriculture, and global trade and profits. This section requested by producers and agriculture professionals.

What actions will the extension now take as a result of this survey?

Results will help cooperative extension faculty members and other agriculture and natural resource management professionals evaluate research and education outreach programs and identify and explore new programs. The college is advertising and interviewing candidates for two new faculty positions, an extension state water quantity specialist and a state weed specialist. We have a state water quality specialist and area water quality specialists.