Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Phone: 1-800-346-9140 --- FAX: (501) 442-9842
Two sustainable agriculture programs have received "Distinguished Appropriate Technology Awards (DATA)" for their work in sustainable agriculture and the environment. The programs are the Sustainable Food Center of Austin, TX, and the University of Missouri's Forage Systems Research Center at Linneus, MO.
The 4th Annual DATA Awards Dinner was held on Nov. 17 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The awards are sponsored by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), a nonprofit organization that manages ATTRA and several other sustainable agriculture, energy conservation and resource- efficient housing programs.
According to NCAT Board Chairman Jack Young, the DATA awards honor individuals or nonprofit, government or private programs that have found energy-efficient, conservation-oriented appropriate technologies to help low-income individuals and communities.
Sustainable Food Center
The Sustainable Food Center received the "DATA Sustainable Agriculture" award for developing the Eastside Farmer's Market which links nutrition programs, low-income urban consumers, and local sustainable farmers. Used as a model to develop farmer's markets statewide, the market provides local sustainable farmers with a marketing outlet, while bringing fresh, nutritious produce to an at-risk community.
The Center has organized a produce cooperative of women who care for children of low-income families. The woman can buy produce at the market for wholesale prices, thus producing income for farmers and improving nutrition for the children.
In addition, the Center has also launched a community gardening project which will offer 50 garden plots for low-income families.
The Forage Systems Research Center received the "DATA Environmental Protection" award for developing a unique workshop program to train land managers and educators in sustainable grazing system concepts.
Initiated in 1990, the Management-Intensive Grazing Workshop focuses on synchronizing forage livestock production systems with the natural cycles of solar energy flow, water and minerals to increase profitability.
Over 900 people from 22 states and four foreign countries have attended a total of 15 three-day workshops at the Center. Nine two-day workshops with over 300 participants have been held around Missouri. About 60% of attendees have been farmers. Exit surveys show that over 50% of workshop attendees have made major changes in pasture or range management strategies from management- intensive grazing principles learned at the workshops.
Individuals and organizations with nominees for 1995 DATA awards should contact NCAT Vice President Kathy Hadley, P.O. Box 3838, Butte, MT 59702, (406) 494-4572.
Energy, housing awards
NCAT also presented two other DATA awards to programs in New York and North Caroline. The "DATA Energy Conservation" award was presented to the Long Island Lighting Company of Melville, NY, for developing a "one- stop" energy assistance program that provides both energy weatherization services and financial energy assistance.
The Wilson Community Improvement Association, Inc., of Wilson, NC, received the "DATA Affordable Housing" award for constructing a 68-unit subdivision of highly energy-efficient homes for low- income families.
A recent call from USDA scientist Aref Abdul-Baki of the ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland netted another 20 entrants for the upcoming 3rd Edition, Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise. Abdul-Baki, of the Center's Vegetable Laboratory, wanted to know how he and fellow sustainable agriculture researchers there could be included in the directory which is scheduled for publication in late 1995. "Simply by asking" was the ATTRA reply.
A few weeks later, Abdul-Baki returned completed directory nomination forms to ATTRA, along with copies of the newly released USDA farmers' bulletin, Sustainable Production of Fresh-Market Tomatoes with Organic Mulches. ATTRA technical specialists were thankful to receive the long-awaited booklet and will cite it as a source in their sustainable vegetable production casework. Soon, Abdul-Baki and his co-workers will receive surveys on which they may list their special skills and knowledge of sustainable agriculture for publication in the directory.
ATTRA has agressively solicited nominees for the past two editions of the directory, but is receiving more and more requests from people wishing to be included in future editions. As the directory has grown from 717 entrants in its premier print edition in 1993 to 932 entrants in the 1994 electronic version, so has its reputation in the sustainable agriculture community as a one-of-a- kind, valuable resource tool.
The directory links people in need of information with leading proponents of U.S. sustainable agriculture - an assortment of farmers, agricultural scientists, Extensionists, agribusinesses and information providers. To be published in December, this year's print edition is expected to contain a minimum of 1,200 entrants.
The directory is a project of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a nationwide consortium of university, government, business and nonprofit organizations. Funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, it is compiled by ATTRA staff members.
Join the directory
ATTRA is now in the process of mailing surveys to individuals and groups for the 3rd Edition. Entrants included in the first and second Editions will automatically receive surveys in the near future.
If you, your colleagues or organization would like to be included in the 3rd Edition, contact either David Zodrow or Betty Blomberg at: ATTRA, P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702, Telephone 1-800-346-9140, FAX (501) 442-9842.
The newly released 2nd Edition, Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise is now on sale.
This electronic version of the popular directory contains a total 932 individuals and organizations willing to share sustainable agriculture know-how and skills with others. It's available on a 3.5-inch computer diskette (compatible with MSDOS systems) as a Folio "Infobase."
This infobase allows users to browse through the directory like an electronic book, jump from section to section via hypertext links, or search for keywords anywhere within a document. Users can print out desired information or save it to a file. Included on the diskette are an introduction, instructions on how to use the infobase (a completely indexed full-text database) and a list of key terms.
While supplies last, SAN is offering a two-for-one deal. For the price of $14.95, people may obtain a diskette copy of the 1994 Directory and a print edition of the 1993 Directory. The price includes shipping and handling.
To order, please send $14.95 to Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, Room 12, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. Make check or money order payable to "Sustainable Agriculture Publications." Purchase orders can be mailed to the above address or faxed to 802-656-4656. Special bulk order discounts are available. Questions about directory orders should be directed to Meredith Simpson at the above address or by phone at 802-656-0471.
Travels by ATTRA's busy staff the past quarter took them to places as near as a hotel a few blocks from ATTRA headquarters and far off as Wales.
*Technical Specialist Bob Wilson attended the Excellence in Wildlife Stewardship Through Science and Education Conference from Sept. 20-25 at Albuquerque, NM. Wilson answers questions concerning wildlife management, production and damage control for ATTRA callers. Sponsored by The Wildlife Society, conference topics included sustainable use of Western grassland ecosystems, GIS techniques in wildlife management, and future policies and practices of wildlife damage management.
*While on vacation Oct. 21, Information Specialist Katherine Adam visited the Centre for Alternative Technology at Macnylleth, Wales. ATTRA staffers at a sack-lunch seminar on Nov. 3 learned about technologies on display there.
About 100,000 visitors pass annually through the Centre, which is located in mid Wales. Established in 1974 on the site of an abandoned slate quarry, the Centre is a showcase of working alternative technologies, such as wind, solar and water electricity generators, human waste disposal via reed beds and composting toilets, and low-energy housing. Among the Centre's most popular attractions are its extensive flower, herb and food gardens which use a variety of organic growing methods. A brochure for the Centre notes that "Enormous amounts of human energy have transformed a scar of the industrial age into a catalyst for a cleaner, safer, fairer society." Currently, 14 adults and four children live at the Centre, making decisions in a community-based manner. The Centre operates as an "educational charity" and offers a variety of courses in energy and environmental topics. It is funded largely through admission fees and donations of its 4,000 members.
*The Luebke family of Austria presented seminars on Controlled Microbial Composting (C.M.C.) and Humus Management on Oct. 20-22 and Oct. 24-27 in Lancaster County, PA. Technical Specialist Steve Diver said the seminar included field trips to composting sites on Amish farms. Siegfried and Uta Luebke, who have managed an organic vegetable and dairy sheep farm for 25 years, are well- known in Europe and gaining wider recognition in the U.S. The Luebke system is based on managing soil humus through crop rotations, composts, green manures, microbial inoculants, rock dusts and proper tillage operations.
* Program Manager Jim Lukens, Assistant Program Manager Teresa Maurer, Technical Specialist Guy Ames and Public Information Specialist David Zodrow presented ATTRA materials and attended educational sessions at the Arkansas Department of Rural Advocacy Conference on Oct. 26 at Fayetteville, AR. Ames, who also operates an orchard and nursery, participated in a panel discussion on agriculture and the environment.
*Effects of corporate, large-scale livestock production on family farmers and rural communities was the focus of the Livestock Production for Rural Communities Conference at Kansas City, MO, from Oct. 28-30. Technical Specialist Lance Gegner was among about 150 farmers, researchers and other people who discussed environmental and economic impacts of corporate hog farms. The conference was sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.
*A daylong grower's school kicked off jam-packed events at the annual Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers National Conference and Trade Show from Nov. 9-13 at San Jose, CA. Senior Technical Specialist Chris Rugen said school sessions covered basics of production, cultivar selection, pest management, postharvest considerations, and marketing techniques. Other conference events included tours of fresh and dried flower operations, numerous educational sessions and a well-stocked trade show.
*Technical Specialist Guy Ames co-chaired the sustainable horticulture session of the annual Arkansas Horticultural Society Meeting from Nov. 15-16 at Little Rock, AR. This year's sustainable session focused on lesser known tree crops, such as persimmons and pawpaws.
*Speakers at the ACRES USA Conference at Kansas City, MO, from November 17-19 discussed the links between agriculture and health care in the U.S. Technical Specialist Preston Sullivan said speakers included Dan Hines of the National Corn Growers Association, who talked about the Association's work to promote switchgrass and fast-growing woody crops as energy crops. The Association has proposed extending the CRP program and growing energy crops on CRP land - a practice which would be good for farmers and the environment.
*This year's North American Grazing Conference at Memphis, TN, from Dec. 4-6 was a "sold-out" event, organizers said. ATTRA Technical Specialist Anne Ayers said about 400 people were on hand for sessions on sustainable grass-farming. Speakers included Dr. Lee Buras of the University of Southwest Louisiana who spoke about soils as they relate to pastures; Joel Salatin, a well-known Virginia farmer who demonstrated a manure-collecting winter feeding shed for cattle and managing farm woodlots for increased income; and Gordon Hazard, a Mississippi rancher who runs 1,800 stocker cattle in a low-input operation.
*Using electronic technologies to link farmers and rural communities with needed information was the theme of a conference held Dec. 9-10 at Cornell University at Ithaca, NY, titled "Highest Denominator Agricultural Information Systems: Implications and Issues." Senior Resource Specialist Carol Warriner said about 100 agricultural information professionals explored the technological, sociological and economic implications of using Internet to store and access farm information. Demonstrations were given of World Wide Web (using Mosaic browser technology) as an interactive system capable of delivering text, photographic, graphical, and audio/video-based material over the Internet.
*Technical Specialist Rex Dufour participated with fellow researchers from the USDA and Rodale Institute in a workshop to assess current and emerging agricultural technology from Jan. 11- 13 in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the USDA's "Agricultural Science and Technology Review Board (ASTRB)," the workshop's purpose was to refine or develop a new technology assessment matrix that better captures the benefits or detrimental consequences of a technology. ASTRB was established by the 1990 Farm Bill to provide technology assessment of agricultural research and technical transfer initiatives within the public and private sectors for the 21st Century.
*Program Manager Jim Lukens attended the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's (SAWG) "4th Annual Conference and Trade Show" from Jan. 13-15 at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Among highlights of this year's event were 18 workshops, meetings of sustainable agriculture interest groups, field hearings on the 1995 Farm Bill, and a trade show.
ATTRA Program Manager Jim Lukens joined fellow sustainable agriculture advocates from Jan. 23-25 in Washington at the "Sustainable Agriculture and the 1995 Farm Bill Conference."
Sponsored by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), which is an association of professional and scientific societies that address agricultural and related issues, the conference focused on the research and education aspects of these issues in the 1995 Farm Bill.
Notes of speakers and panel discussions at the event will be available soon through CAST headquarters. (See address at end of story.)
Several administration officials and Congressmen who will play key roles in development of the Farm Bill spoke at the conference, including U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, House Committee on Agriculture; Karl Stauber, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics; Richard Lugar, Senate Committee on Agriculture; and Paul Johnson, Director of Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Conference objectives as outlined by a series of speakers from the academic community and panel discussions included:
Six panels at the conference consisted of environmentalists, scientists, consumer advocates, administrators, agricultural industry executives, producers and Congressional staff members.
Speakers and panelists presented reviews of:
For additional information or a draft of meeting notes, please contact:
4420 W. Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014-3447
Members of "The Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture" are undaunted by outcomes of the November elections which some pundits say may spell trouble for sustainable agriculture. By mid- January, they had recruited over 400 organizations nationwide to help shape the 1995 Farm Bill and other national agricultural issues.
And to spur further publicity efforts, Campaign organizers announced that Greg Watson, former president of The Nature Conservancy, has been hired as media director. He will publicize efforts of participating groups, develop publicity materials, and bring increased visibility to the Campaign.
"Many of our friends in Congress lost power and several new Committee Chairman have promised to scale back farm programs and environmental regulations," Campaign member Kathleen Merrigan of the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture said. "Although we are facing a tough battle this year, we plan to wage it strategically on many fronts."
Merrigan said Campaign members through such measures as lobbying Congressmen at district offices must be ready to counter attacks on existing programs "where we have gained ground."
"Political pundits say that environmental groups have lost power because they no longer have grassroots support," she said. "Luckily, this is the Campaign's greatest strength."
Strength in numbers
Amy Little of the National Campaign Office at Goshen, NY, says sheer numbers of people and the national scope of the 400-plus groups involved in the Campaign will have the hoped-for effect.
"Our strength in numbers and our broad grassroots participation will help give us the power to make gains on our issues," she said. "Our power is demonstrated by the wide range of groups that have signed onto the Campaign, representing family farm, environmental, consumers, rural and community groups, social and racial justice, farmworkers, religious interests, and animal protection."
"The sign-on list," she said, "shows Congress, the Administration and others that sustainable agriculture is an important issue on the minds and in the hearts of a variety of constituencies, and we will be working in partnership throughout the country and in Washington to support family farms, protect the environment and foster a sustainable food system."
Campaign priority issues for 1995 are:
Created in 1994
The Campaign was launched in early 1994 by regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating Council (NSAAC), a group of 26 people representing farm, environmental, social, food and health, and natural resource conservation groups. The SAWGs and NSACC enlisted over 200 diverse groups nationwide to join the "National Dialogue for Sustainable Agriculture." In that Dialogue, the groups identified 20 top sustainable agriculture campaign topics.
The Campaign in 1995 will work in three main arenas: 1995 Farm Bill (offensive or defensive), Appropriations, and Administrative Policy. Above chart shows arenas providing the best opportunities for the issues.
During the past several months, the Campaign has focused on urging select Congressmen via letters, personal visits, press releases and action alerts to draft legislation pertaining to those 20 topics.
For additional information or to join the campaign, individuals and organizations may contact: National Campaign Office: Amy Little, 32 N. Church Street, Goshen, NY 10924, phone (914)294- 0633, fax (914)294-0632.
ATTRA Technical Specialist Anne Ayers, who serves as a board member of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), is reviewing the manuscript of a new ALBC handbook. With a working title of "The Conservation Breeders Handbook," the book seeks to expand specific how-to conservation breeding information which is useful to individuals and breed associations in the U.S.
The publication explains primary concepts of animal breeding (such as selection), breeding methods (such as inbreeding and linebreeding), and the importance of a guiding philosophy in the design and maintenance of conservation breeding programs. Also included are specific breeding protocols for livestock and poultry, with modifications necessary for very small populations.
The handbook is tentatively scheduled for publication this spring.
Founded in 1977 and formerly known as the American Minor Breeds Conservancy, the ALBC is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect nearly 100 endangered breeds of cattle, goats, horses, asses, sheep, swine and poultry from extinction.
For more information, please contact: ALBC, Box 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312, (919) 542-5704.
Radhika Bala of Waco, TX, has joined ATTRA as an information specialist. Bala has worked as a research assistant at the Department of Environmental Studies at Baylor University in Texas, and as copy editor at The Times of India in Bombay. She earned a master of environmental studies at Baylor University and a master of science in journalism at Ohio University.
Members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Working Committee met October 24-25 in Washington, D.C., to set objectives for the next two years. The meeting was led by SAN Chairman and ATTRA Program Manager Jim Lukens. Objectives include continued development of information products such as the Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise, enhancing usefulness of the Sanet electronic mail discussion group for sustainable agriculture professionals, and helping to implement the SARE "Chapter 3" training of Extension agents in sustainable agriculture.
Technical Specialist Rex Dufour at meetings from Nov. 14-17 at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at Titusville, FL, offered ATTRA's continuing assistance in a complex IPM project being carried out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Integrated pest management coordinators from the Service's eight regions gathered at the refuge to review progress on the project.
The Service has mandated that IPM programs be instituted at about 140 national wildlife refuges where farming is conducted in an effort to reduce or eliminate agricultural pesticides which are harmful to wildlife. Farmers at these refuges usually leave part of the grain crops they raise standing in fields for wildlife consumption.
ATTRA for the past two years has assisted with the project by providing informational materials, training sessions and some onsite visits to refuges. At the Florida meetings, Dufour reacquainted IPM coordinators with ATTRA sustainable agriculture information retrieval services.
Dr. Rob Myers, a University of Missouri agronomist since 1989, has been named the new USDA national director for sustainable agriculture programs.
He will serve as director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, Agriculture in Concert with the Environment (ACE) program, and Extension programs in sustainable agriculture (often referred to as Chapter 3 programs).
These three program areas were funded for $12 million at the federal level for FY 1995. Myers will be part of the Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Service.
Myers has served as project leader for alternative crops research and Extension at the university. As a Congressional Science Fellow for the American Society of Agronomy, he served with the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture on farm and environmental policy. He was raised on a family farm in Illinois, and earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy at the University of Minnesota. He will assume his new post in mid- February.
Myers is the first permanent USDA sustainable agriculture programs director since 1993 when Dr. George Bird completed his term of office. Dr. Bird returned to Michigan State University where he is a professor of nematology.
Two interim directors - Alice Jones and Jerry DeWitt - had filled the position since 1993. Jones is former manager for the USDA Water Quality Grants Program. DeWitt is director of agriculture at Iowa University Extension.
As of mid-February, Myers can be contacted at: USDA Sustainable Ag Programs, Room 3351 South Bldg., Ag Box 0910, Washington, DC 20250-0910, Telephone (202) 720-5623, FAX (202) 720-4924.
Two ATTRA managers - Teresa Maurer and Jim Lukens - will assume new titles and responsibilities on March 1.
Maurer, who has served as assistant program manager since 1991, will oversee daily staffing and operation as ATTRA project manager.
Lukens, the current project manager, will become sustainable agriculture program manager for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). NCAT is a nonprofit organization that manages ATTRA and several other sustainable agriculture, energy conservation and resource-efficient housing programs.
As program manager, Lukens will continue to be the primary point of contact between ATTRA and other organizations and agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which funds ATTRA, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), and the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. He will also provide management for other NCAT sustainable agriculture projects.
By Jim Lukens
The topic of the public forum was the 1995 Farm Bill.
"You say that you need to cut the USDA budget? Well, you can cut it in half by just taking all those food programs - food stamps and such - out of the Department of Agriculture. That's not what agriculture is all about!"
Applause rippled through the assemblage, and I found myself nodding in agreement. "Yes, that's not what agriculture is all about!"
Agriculture is about wide open spaces and rich black soil; about tractors, and combine repairs, and truckloads of golden grain. It's about irrigation-scheduling, modifying the planter, and hoeing weeds; about long hours and sore backs, and the smell of freshly-turned earth.
Agriculture is about breeding records, feed-conversion ratios, and ice on the water tank; about forage quality, butterfat content, and fence repair. It's about apple blossoms, fields full of pickers, and picking rocks; about insect-pest monitoring, quail in the hedgerow, and packing sheds.
Agriculture is about soil tests, filter strips, and crop rotations; about manure management, composting, and cover crops. It is about terraces, conservation reserve, and deficiency payments; about record-keeping, keeping up, and self-employment tax.
Agriculture is about interest rates, futures markets, and cost/price squeeze; about new technology, family values, and a feeling of peace at the first light of dawn.
That's what agriculture is all about! It's not about "Women, Infants and Children"; not about people; not about food stamps; not about food. Everyone knows that grocery stores are about food!
But just maybe, if we want people to value agriculture, then agriculture should be about food also, and the people who eat it.
"The question now is whether current happenings in hogs are the second entering wedge toward converting our traditional proprietary, market-oriented agriculture into an industrial- corporate structure...What happens in hogs in the future will go far to determine what will eventuate in the entire livestock sector and, quite possibly, in crop farming too -- that is to say, all agriculture." -- Harold Breimyer, professor and Extension economist emeritus, University of Missouri-Columbia, "Livestock Production for Rural Communities Conference," Kansas City, MO, October 28, 1994.