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A cowboy on a horse surrounded by livestock during a cattle drive

By J. SHANNON NEIBERGS – Director, Western Extension Risk Management Education Center

The Western Extension Risk Management Education Center (Western Center) at Washington State University (WSU) has a 17-year history of administering the Extension Risk Management Education Grants Program; delivering risk management education to agricultural producers via a diverse group of public and private organizations who are instrumental in helping farmers and ranchers in the West improve their ability to manage risk. This is a critical need. Agricultural risk is intensifying across the West as global economic conditions, trade and excess supply have depressed commodity prices that widely increase financial risk magnifying the multitude of risks farmers and ranchers must be able to manage.

With ERME funded projects our goal is to work with project teams to create environments that support learning, enhance collaboration, and build partnerships to develop and deliver programs that improve agricultural producers’ ability to manage risk and improve their economic viability. Our mission to strengthen the farm safety net is realized through our results based projects; with outcomes and impacts that increase net farm income and support rural community prosperity. We are committed to a philosophy of continuous improvement and engagement to support the ERME Program and to be in alignment with USDA’s strategic objectives.  As part of these goals we have introduced Performance Measures, which utilizes a systems approach meant to improve our grantees’ capacity to demonstrate the economic, societal and public value impacts of our programs with the investment of NIFA funds.

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to our funded projects – project directors, teams and collaborators, whose partnership networks with their established expertise, resources and programs have made a significant difference towards building the risk management capacity of agricultural producers in the West. ERME projects support small scale and conventional farmers, as well as Special Emphasis audiences including Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Hispanics and Women in Agriculture.