1996 Progress Report
SECTION II - Annual Report
1. Teach ranchers/farmers a process of integrated managementWestern Integrated Ranch/Farm Educationin three western states: Wyoming, Montana, and Utah.
2. Develop in-depth follow up training in specific resource areas, to meet needs identified by program participants.
3. Evaluate the program in terms of adoption of management concepts and resource sustainability following implementation of the WIRE process by selected cooperators.
Over the past year, five courses were offered by the Montana WIRE Teams, 1 course by the Utah Team, and 3 courses offered by the Wyoming Team. Indicative of the growing demand for WIRE programs in the Western region, a course was requested/offered in Swift Current, Saskatchewan; as well as one in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
In addition to the offerings of the integrated management course, follow up courses on financial management and marketing and risk management were also offered in Wyoming. Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) and other educational programs were also provided for those looking to intensify the management of their operations.
In depth training on property transfer, goal setting, and other programs were offered to graduates of Montana courses. The Montana WIRE team also held an instructor training session, training an additional 11 faculty members. This brings the total number of WIRE instructors in Montana to 24.
The Wyoming WIRE team pursued additional funding through the SARE-FRG program to assist a few participants with implementation of the WIRE management process. Two grants were awarded and these producers implemented some or all of the WIRE technique in the management of their operations.
Finally, a USDA Managing Change in Agriculture mini-grant program provided funding for a satellite broadcast to North America on WIRE and integrated management. This coupled with the development of a case study video tape program (funded by SARE) helped to raise the awareness of integrated management programs available.
C. Specific Project Results
1. Findings and Accomplishments
The first objective of the project is to teach ranchers/farmers a process of integrated management. This objective has received most attention and effort to date. Over the past year 5 courses were offered by the Montana WIRE Teams, 1 course by the Utah Team, and 3 courses offered by the Wyoming Team. Indicative of the growing demand for WIRE programs in the Western region, one Wyoming course was requested and offered in Swift Current, Saskatchewan; as well as one in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It appears producers and other participants find courses spread out over several weeks more appealing than more intensive, multi-day sessions.
Evaluations of the 1995 courses (MT-2 and WY-1) showed that participants felt WIRE courses rated a 3.91 on a scale of 1-4. The 1996 courses (MT-5, UT-1, and WY-3) provided an overall rating of 3.44 out of a possible 4. For all WIRE courses offered to date under the SARE project, the overall course rating was 3.55 of a possible 4 points.*
Other evaluation scores enumerated for WIRE-SARE courses show that 97%* of participants would recommend the course to their neighbors at the same fee level, 74%* indicated they have begun to identify strategic goals, and 66%* indicated that they are starting to evaluate their operations enterprises and resource requirements, as well as have started thinking in terms of individual enterprises rather than all enterprises together. In addition, participant response to the following questions resulted in the corresponding scores:
- To what extent did the program meet you expectations? 3.91 of 5*
- How clear to you is the purpose of an integrated approach? 4.29 of 5*
- How much of the information will you be able to use on your operation? 3.97 of 5*
- How valuable was the program in terms of money you invested? 4.19 of 5*
- How valuable was the program in terms of time you invested? 4.08 of 5*
* All reported scores are averages weighted by number of course participants.
Under objective two of this project, follow up training is offered to supplement the integrated management courses for graduates interested in more in-depth, discipline-oriented programming. Follow up courses on financial management and marketing and risk management were offered in Wyoming. These in-depth, follow up courses are designed to provide additional information in the financial resource area. Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) and other educational programs were also provided for those looking to intensify the management of their operations.
In depth training on property transfer, goal setting, and other programs were offered to graduates of Montana courses. Many participated in these programs and have testified to their usefulness. In addition, the Montana team developed and distributed a Teachers Guide for County Agents, as well as received certification for Montana courses as satisfying FSA borrower training requirements (as are Wyoming courses). The Montana WIRE team also held an instructor training session, training an additional 11 faculty members. This brings the total number of WIRE instructors in Montana to 24.
The Wyoming WIRE team pursued additional funding through the SARE-FRG program to assist a few producers implement the WIRE management process. Two grants were awarded and these producers implemented some or all of the WIRE technique in the management of their operations.
Finally, a USDA Managing Change in Agriculture mini-grant program provided funding for a satellite broadcast to North America titled WIRE: A Proven Integrated Management Process for Agriculture. This coupled with the development of a case study video tape program (funded by SARE) helped to raise awareness of the WIRE integrated management program and associated management concepts.
3. Site Information N/A
4. Economic Analysis N/A
2. Dissemination of Findings
To date the findings of this project have been disseminated by several methods: popular press articles, WWW pages, satellite and video tape presentations, and through the offerings of WIRE courses. Popular press articles reaching producers mailboxes across the West have been published on the WIRE program. Articles on WIRE were also included in a recent USDA publication titled Managing for Todays Cattle Market and Beyond. In addition, this past year saw the development of a WWW page advertising the WIRE programs in the region (http://www.uwyo.edu/ag/agecon/wirepage.htm).
A case study video tape was also developed over the past year (funded by SARE) which is designed to facilitate discussion on the subject of integrated management. A satellite program funded by a USDA Managing Change in Agriculture mini-grant program was broadcast across North America. This mini-grant also paid for the distribution of case study video tapes to over 55 registering sites for the broadcast; yet another way of disseminating information about the WIRE program and integrated management techniques.
Also, through the annual regional coordinating committee meetings, state team leaders have shared experiences of participants and teachers from WIRE courses. These experiences and learning have been incorporated into the offerings of WIRE courses, thus immediately benefiting course participants.
Finally, meetings with other producer audiences have also provided forums for disseminating information about the WIRE program and techniques. Posters, presentations using the WIRE case study video, television advertisements, and other techniques have generally made producers in the participating states more aware of the availability of the integrated management program.
D. Potential Contributions
1. Positive Benefits or Impacts
A follow up evaluation of all 139 Wyoming WIRE course graduates (1992-1995 courses, one offered with SARE funding) was conducted during 1996. This evaluation resulted in some of the following testimonials:
- "Has helped develop a structure for long term planning for a ranch in transition from a subsistence cow/calf operation to a public land ranch used for the extended family (public) recreation. Decisions can be based on facts rather than emotion".
- "We have begun to use SPA analysis, have developed a business plan, have broken our operation into different livestock enterprises, are beginning new range management, and are developing additional water sources for better range utilization".
- "I took the workshop in anticipation of purchasing and managing a ranch. The subject matter has been very helpful in evaluating possible enterprises".
- "The WIRE program has really helped me to be more conscious of comparing enterprises, profitability of enterprises, relationship with employees and family, and also encouragement to be resourceful in exploring new ideas. We have placed a lot more emphasis on debt reduction in order to be able to endure low prices. We do use the information and training. Sometimes we get so bogged down in running the every day operations that we dont stand back and evaluate or improve management. I have really appreciated the WIRE training".
- "The WIRE course has been very helpful in my ranch operations. With the hard times in livestock production and marketing for the greatest profit, it helps to be able to fall back on the reference material and look for help. In my operation I work full-time off the ranch and still have a full-time job when I come home. I need to cut all the corners that I can and WIRE has been a great help".
- "We rated pastures by AUMs, did cross fencing, and more pasture rotation. It has improved".
Testimonials from Montana ranchers attending courses in that state indicated that:
- Participating in the WIRE course showed a marginal ranching operation, with three college graduate sons all trying to make a living on the ranch with dad, how to set goals and work as a ranch team. This resulted in two sons getting jobs off the ranch and the ranch terminated a pure bred herd enterprise because of their lack of time and ability to properly market the offspring as breeding stock.
- Another ranch adopted a rest-rotation grazing system by dividing 5 pastures into 10 and by developing a new reservoir. The owner figures this has allowed him to support 15 percent more cattle, even while experiencing a recent drought. (See attached newspaper article.)
2. Farmer Adoption and Direct Impact
a. Changes in Practices N/A
b. Operations Recommendations N/A
c. Farmer Comments
Testimonials and participant comments gleaned from evaluations of Montana, Utah, and Wyoming WIRE programs offered under the SARE project include:
- "You are to be commended for your planning implementation and dedication to this project. We appreciate your enthusiasm, too. And how you relate to those of us working with you".
- "Workshop was excellent. Would have enjoyed it anytime, would recommend it to young farm couples on a family ranch or anywhere. You gain valuable ideas in all areas and excellent tools for monitoring and assessing. My biggest goal as a result of this workshop is to use more time to utilize these materials for the growth of ranch. Based solely on getting started and continuing a "written" monitoring program that we can pass down to sons".
- "Excellent program which has provoked much thought on how I am doing things throughout the year. Thanks B great course"!
- "Being new to range and livestock enterprises, those areas demanded more attention & work - having a business background made those areas fun and enlightening in their application to all enterprises. Our first attempt at a ranch strategic plan we looked at resources and enterprises and dollars and developed our own tools - so the forms will be very useful".
- "The WIRE program is intensive. It is also extremely valuable. Finally, we have a program that really does tie everything together. I especially appreciate the goal, goal cost, and human resources concepts".
- "It was worthwhile for me as a manager. New ideas, new tools, a new process. I really enjoyed every person involved. The Team concept was effective to me. Sometimes a change is like a rest, although I didnt get much rest".
d. Producer Involvement
Number of growers/producers in attendance at:
__ Field Days
379 Other events (specify): Presentations to producer organizations, extension meetings, and other publicity efforts
3. New Hypotheses