Dothan, AL - “Small farmers are very challenged right now and trying to compete with corporate farms,” says Miles Robinson, director of small farms at Tuskegee College of Agriculture.
And Miguel Otero knows that all too well. He has a small operation in Pansey raising cattle and poultry.
“There’s a lot of good programs to help me out. They have helped me out with my water lines and my fences and cross fencing,” he said.
He’s considering planting a crop of cantaloupe and watermelon this year.
Otero adds, “Diversify is the way I look at things. You’ve got to make your land work for you. Enjoy it and make it produce for you.”
Otero was just one of nearly 200 farmers from around the tri-state at Thursday’s outreach workshop. The producers heard the latest on governmental programs offered to help manage their operation. Many were interested in learning more about the micro-irrigation.
“Put the plastic and the tubing down where you can actually irrigate your crops with water during the drought,” says the executive director of Wiregrass Resource Conservation and Development.
With these new irrigation techniques, farmers say they can grow the crops better and that means better market opportunities.
“Part of Wal-Mart’s buy fresh buy local initiative to help small producers move their product. This past year Wal-Mart has agreed to buy watermelon, peas, greens,” says Robinson.
Even with the help of Wal-Mart and new technology there are still some factors out of farmers’ control.
“It’s just like the flow of the economy you know. You do your best and at the end of the day if you look back and can tell yourself I did 100 percent, that’s enough for me,” says Otero.