Program deserves chance

Published 6:32 pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

A new deer-management program offers more than just a way to keep deer from damaging farmers’ crops and costing the money. It also helps feed the hungry.

Farmers Manage Deer is working toward reducing crop loss caused by deer in Beaufort and Pitt counties.

“The goals of the program are to help landowners and farmers to work cooperatively with hunters to establish antlerless deer management goals. The objective is to effectively control deer numbers effectively over the long term and in a way that not only supports the farmers’ agriculture objectives but also gives them some additional income through responsible sports hunting practices,” said Judy Gardner with the N.C. Wildlife Federation, which supports the program. “We’ve got some best-practice tools and strategies to help them implement a hunting program successfully.”

This new program is worth checking out. It could provide area farmers a new tool in their battle against deer that eat their crops.

“Deer are the chief culprits in causing an estimated $29.4 million in damage to North Carolina crops,” wrote N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steven Troxler in his letter of support for the project.

The program’s goal is to introduce sport-hunting programs on row-crop farms as a long-term deer management strategy for the benefit of the farmer, who could see both higher crop yield and new income through hunt programs. Each landowner/farmer will be paid for hosting a 15-day antlerless hunt in 2013, receive guidance and support for the next two years and be provided with tools that will promote a safe hunting program. Processing fees for excess venison harvested will be paid by this program to N.C. Hunters for the Hungry processors, that they may return much needed protein to their communities.

A town hall-style meeting to discuss the program will be conducted from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Beaufort County Agriculture Center, 155-A, Airport Road, Washington. Landowners and row-crop farmers are invited to attend the meeting. Registration is requested because meals will be served. To register call the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s Washington office at 946-0111 or Guy and Judy Gardner at 919-552-9449.

A program that helps farmers and feeds the hungry is at worthy of support — if it’s effective and cost-efficient.