Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Phone: 1-800-346-9140 --- FAX: (501) 442-9842
Eleven southern farm families are raising "pastured poultry" in a project to help these limited-resource farmers boost incomes and diversify operations by growing, processing and marketing chickens on their farms. The farmers will also become founding members of the new American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) which will help producers around the country network with others.
Funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and sponsored by Heifer Project International (HPI), the three-year project employs the proven methods of the Joel Salatin family of Swoope, VA, authors of the popular book, "Pastured Poultry Profits: Net $25,000 in 6 Months on 20 Acres."
"In the Salatin pastured poultry model, chickens are raised in floorless pens which are moved daily to fresh pasture," says Anne Fanatico, a technical specialist with ATTRA who is serving as project outreach coordinator. "The chickens receive exercise and fresh air while foraging for plants and insects, and their manure is spread evenly onto the pasture. They are fed a concentrated feed, usually non-medicated."
Salatin farm training
As a kick-off, the 11 farm families, from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina, participated in a hands-on training session at the Salatin farm in June 1996. During the three-day workshop, the families learned about brooding, pen-building, processing, food safety, and marketing. A summary of legal regulations affecting on-farm processing was presented, along with a survey of the experiences of producers who have already adopted the Salatin model.
After training, the families received a grant from HPI in return for agreeing to raise a batch of 100 chickens in 1996 on their farms, to keep a notebook monitoring income and expenses, labor, pasture management, and any difficulties encountered, and to train another farmer in pastured poultry production.
Poultry is direct-marketed
According to preliminary information, production to date has gone well for the farmers. The chicken is processed on-farm and direct-marketed to customers mainly by word of mouth.
"Not only did we make a few dollars, but I am very happy that we can open the freezer and see 40 chickens we can eat this winter, " farmer Kim Brinson of Livingston, Kentucky, said.
Fanatico said over the next two years the project will incorporate at least eight new farmers per year, as the first set of farmers help to train the second and third sets. Local Extension agents working with the farmers also are trained to provide technical support, and several universities (Kentucky State, Tuskegee, and Southern) are establishing demonstrations. ATTRA will publish case studies which will be available to the public when the project concludes.
For more information on the "Integration of Pastured Poultry Production into the Farming Systems of Limited Resource Farmers," contact Skip Polson at HPI (1-800-422-1311). ATTRA can provide further information on range chicken production. For information on APPPA, its newsletter, and membership, contact Diane Kaufmann (715-723-2262).
USDA Secretary Dan Glickman has issued a "Memorandum on Sustainable Development" as an agency-wide policy directive expressing USDA's commitment to sustainable agriculture. According to an article in Alternative Agriculture News, the memorandumendorses sustainability throughout the USDA's programs, and culminates the year-long work of the 50-member interagency Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, which examined barriers to adopting more sustainable farming methods. It also responds to recommendations from the President's Council on Sustainable Development.
"The purpose of this memorandum is to state the Department's support for policies, programs, activities and education in sustainable development, including sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry and sustainable rural community development, and to establish a mechanism to coordinate these efforts across the Department," the memorandum reads.
"USDA is committed to working toward the economic, environmental and social sustainability of diverse food, fiber, agriculture, forest and range systems. USDA will balance goals of improved production and profitability, stewardship of the natural resource base and ecological systems, and enhancement of the vitality of rural communities," it states.
In its report, "Toward a More Sustainable American Agriculture," the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group identified 33 ways for the USDA to overcome barriers to sustainable agriculture, including:
*Promoting systems-based research and education efforts by developing scholarships for post-graduate research and education programs on sustainable ag, continuing support for the SARE program, and establishing awards programs to identify and reward university and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists who incorporate systems-oriented approaches in their programs.
*Involving producers, especially those with sustainable agriculture expertise, in developing research priorities, making funding decisions, conducting research projects and implementing education efforts based on research results. This might include planning, conducting and evaluating research within the ARS and the National Research Initiative.
*Examining the use of current research reporting mechanisms, such as Current Research Information System (CRIS), for documenting sustainable agriculture research. Where CRIS or other systems are used in research evaluation, such as in the ARS, the use of sustainable agriculture-relevant criteria in project planning and reporting should be considered.
*Encouraging agricultural scientists to include relevance to sustainable agriculture in their research activities, and encourage collaboration on interdisciplinary systems projects.
Secretary Glickman has also established a USDA Council on Sustainable Development to follow up on the recommendations of the Working Group and the President's Council. Copies of "Toward a More Sustainable American Agriculture" are available from USDA/CSREES/Partnerships, Room 3868 South Bldg., 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250, 202-720-5203.
More than 40 people from the southern U.S., Mexico and Canada attended the Sustainable Beef Management Workshop, which was sponsored by ATTRA and the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC) last Oct. 22-24 at Linneus, MO. Because of its success, two additional workshops are being planned for next fall at Missouri FSRC and the Highland Rim Experiment Station at the University of Tennessee at Springfield.
Held at the MU Cornett Farm, the workshop centered on creating a farm plan, goal setting and resource evaluation.
Workshop speakers included Fred Martz, FSRC director, several FSRC beef/forage researchers, Stevie Forbes, a purebred beef cattle producer from Excelsior Springs, MO, and ATTRA technical specialists Ron Morrow, Anne Wells, Alice Beetz and Preston Sullivan.
People interested in attending sustainable beef workshops next fall can be included on a mailing list by calling either Ron Morrow or Anne Wells at (800) 346-9140.
The Fund for Rural America, a $100 million program launched by the USDA in January, is designed "to aid critical rural development programs; to boost agricultural, rural telecommunications, and other high priority research; and assist beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers," according to a story in Alternative Agriculture News.
One third of the fund is dedicated to rural development programs and another third to research through competitive research grants. USDA Secretary Dan Glickman can use the remaining one third at his discretion for rural programs, research, or both.
Over $40M targeted
Glickman said he will "target approximately $20.5 million in 1997 to rural development, and $10 million to research on key Secretarial priorities like concentration, food safety, nutrition and gleaning, as well as $2.8 million for a new research initiative that will investigate the special needs, applicability, and use of cutting-edge technologies for rural and agricultural-based information users."
The research part of the fund will be awarded on a competitive grants basis, through a request for proposals (RFP) which focuses on three objectives: international competitiveness, environmental preservation and improvement, and rural community enhancement; priority will be given to projects that address all three objectives simultaneously.
The RFPs for both the general research grants and the Secretary's telecommunications grants have been published in the Federal Register and are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.reeusda.gov, or by calling Pat O'Brien at (202) 401-1761.
ATTRA IPM Specialist Chris Rugen has been named to serve on the 1997 Southern Region SARE Technical Advisory Committee. SARE is the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
Rugen will be among 20 reviewers who will meet from Feb. 21-22 in Atlanta to evaluate grant preproposals from farmers and other individuals for sustainable agriculture research and education projects. The Technical Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from the agricultural community, including farmers, researchers, Extension personnel, and USDA and NRCS personnel.
Recommendations by the Technical Advisory Committee on the preproposals will be forwarded to the Southern Region SARE Administrative Council. The Council will select some preproposals for development to full proposals.
The region in 1995 received 97 preproposals, of which 41 were selected for development to full proposals and nine were eventually chosen for funding. In 1996, the average total budget request for selected proposals (one to three years in duration) was $142,161.
Bob Gray, who for the past decade has represented the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT administers the ATTRA program) in Washington regarding sustainable agriculture and rural development issues, has accepted an appointment to the 1997 President's Council of the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture.
Wallace Institute President Anne Vidaver said Gray will assist the Council, which was formed six years ago, to provide guidance and support for Wallace Institute activites in promoting more sustainable agricultural systems in the U.S. and abroad. Founded in 1983, the Wallace Institute publishes the American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of research on alternative agriculture.
Former Secretary of Agriculture and NCAT Board Member Bob Bergland is one of the three newly-named recipients of this year's $150,000 Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture. Named for Eldon Siehl, a business executive interested in production agriculture, the Siehl Prize is awarded every two years by the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences of the University of Minnesota. The prize consists of three separate categories. Bergland won the production agriculture award. Other winners were Donald Rasmusson of the University of Minnesota, for academics, and the Bailey Family and Bailey Nurseries, Inc., for agribusiness.
Bergland served for two years on the NCAT Board of Directors until 1996. NCAT is a national nonprofit which administers ATTRA and several other public programs dealing with sustainable agriculture, low-income and resource-efficient housing, energy conservation and sustainable community development.
by Teresa Maurer
ATTRA Program Manager
The notebook is very full as the new year begins, and here are a few from the mix to share, personal and professional.
During the holidays my husband and I share with both branches of our family. Special food we share is central to the celebrations. My husband's mother in Kansas grinds poppyseeds, mixes them with cream and rolls that filling into dough for a unique after-dinner treat (though they don't relegate it to dessert!).
A measure of whether I'd "make it" into the family was my response to this treat on one of my first visits, and this year she has been teaching her grandsons to make it. My mother in Ohio presents a sweet Christmas bread, made from scratch, never quite duplicated by me or my sisters, and the struggle for the last few pieces is serious business for my brothers.
Linking this to sustainable agriculture, I muse about whether the loss of "taste" diversity should be regarded just as seriously as the loss of crop and livestock diversity. What happens as time passes, and the diverse taste memories of these good things are lost and the comparisons people remember are only among different grocery store brands? A loss to the cultural part of agriculture, I think.
Within a few weeks, ATTRA will take in its 100,000 th request! What will/should the 200,000 th one look like? From past newsletters you know that we continue to seek feedback on our service and information.
We now want to "up the ante" a bit. At the suggestion of my staff members, I'd like to encourage constructive feedback by sponsoring an "ATTRA's Next Decade" contest. If you'd like to participate, please send a 1-2 page letter or essay (limit 1000 words, photos optional) on any or all of the following topics. "How I put ATTRA information to work on my farm or in my work as an information provider"; "What information (and in what form) should ATTRA provide in the next decade"; "Improvements that would help me continue putting ATTRA's information to work".
The winner will be sponsored for participation at one of ATTRA's 10th anniversary special events during 1997. Deadline is March 31, 1997, and entries should be addressed to "ATTRA's Next Decade," PO Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702.
The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) has a new homepage on the Internet, located at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/san/.
SAN's presence on the Web continues its commitment to use all available technologies for the exchange of scientific and practical information. The SAN Web project is spearheaded by Kevin Gamble, Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina State University.
The SAN homepage features most of SAN's publications, press releases for new publications, information about the four regions of the SARE program as well as information from the national SARE office, grant funding schedules, information from individual SARE projects, and educational materials for sustainable agriculture.
SAN is the communications and outreach arm of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE is a USDA-funded initiative.
The Direct Marketing Resource Notebook, which contains more than 100 pages of practical direct marketing information for farmers, educators and ag organizers, is available from the Midwest Sustainable Ag Working Group (MSAWG). The notebook explains, explores and promotes sustainable agriculture marketing.
In the directory, readers will find:
*Four sections which provide a basic overview to help people get started in direct marketing.
*A general information section which discusses direct marketing options, how to identify marketing possibilities, evaluating markets, making the needed contacts with other food systems, and pondering pitfalls.
*Success stories from people who have developed their own successful ag marketing enterprises. Farmers relate specific steps they took to launch livestock, grain and vegetable enterprises.
*FDA and USDA contact information for federal regulations on farm products marketed across state lines, and a list of federal marketing resources.
*A co-op directory, organic certification groups, co-op warehouses, community supported agriculture resources, and contact info for university programs, organizations and publications.
The Direct Marketing Resource Notebook can be ordered for $20 from:
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
P.O. Box 736
Hartington, NE 68739
Make checks payable to "Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society." Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. Nebraska residents, please add $1 sales tax per copy.
Growing Shiitake Mushrooms in the Mid-South is a newly-released video from the Shirley (AR) Community Service and Development Corp. Produced through the Cooperative Extension Service, the 27-minute video comprehensively covers the essentials of shiitake mushroom production on hardwood logs.
Covered in detail are log and spawn selection, innoculation, spawn run, soaking, fruiting, harvesting, grading, and packaging and shipping. The video emphasizes high-quality production using sustainable and organic methods. The Shirley CDC produced the video for its specialty ag-training program at the Shiitake Mushroom Center and in conjunction with its rural economic development project.
To order, send $19.95, plus $3.00 shipping and handling, to:
Rt. 1, Box 0
Shirley, AR 72153
"USDA is committed to working toward the economic, environmental and social
sustainability of diverse food, fiber, agriculture, forest and range systems.
USDA will balance goals of improved production and profitability, stewardship
of the natural resource base and ecological systems, and enhancement of
the vitality of rural communities."
- USDA Secretary Dan Glickman in his recent "Memorandum on Sustainable Development"