While agenda alterations were necessary, cloudy skies and a day of off and on rain showers couldn't dampen the enthusiasm at the 2014 Annual Farm Tour hosted by the Southern University AgCenter, the LSU AgCenter, the National Black Growers Council and the Morehouse Black Farmers and Landowners Association.
The event hosted special guests — seven farmers from Africa — and two local recipients of special recognition, Rufus Martin, a man who has farmed for 60 years, and Willie B. Richardson, a woman who has farmed for 50.
As Martin and Robinson were honored, emcee Dawn Mellion Patin PhD and Agriculture Specialist with the South University AgCenter, encouraged all farmers in attendance to record their history and their farming experiences to ensure that the history of the black farmers and all farmers is chronicled for posterity.
The special guests from Africa were selected by the U.S. embassy in South Africa from approximately 50 applicants and after three interviews to visit America on the trip. The University of Missouri also applied for the opportunity to host the guests and Kenneth C. Schneeberger, PhD and Assistant Dean for Special Programs at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri believes what helped his organization secure the nomination was the proposal for the field trip and meet-up with the Black Grower's Council.
"The last two days have been field deals with the Black Grower's Council," Schneeberger said. "On the first day we toured outside of Pine Bluff and today we were up at the Harper Armstrong farm."
Schneeberger also provided the Enterprise with additional information about the guests.
"We have six farmers from South Africa and one from Mozambique. They were here for two weeks learning about biotech crops and genetically modified corn and soybeans," Schneeberger said. "There are two women and five men. One of the women was runner up for outstanding farm woman of the year in South Africa and the other has almost 1,000 acres in crops and 150 cattle. All of the men are outstanding leaders in South Africa, as are the women. Their farms range in size from about 60 acres to 1,000 acres."
Rapeta Vincent, Tepsy, Khambi Malela and Motlatsi Musi, who are all also members of TATT, the Truth about Trade and Technology, remained on-hand for the luncheon and are featured in a photograph in today's Enterprise.