Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Phone: 1-800-346-9140 --- FAX: (501) 442-9842
Over 200 diverse organizations from across the U.S. this fall will launch a "Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture" to win policy proposals for the 1995 Farm Bill.
Campaign participants are urging select Congressmen via letters, press events, community meetings, action alerts and personal visits to draft legislation in six main sustainable agriculture "issue areas." The issue areas, which contain 20 topics, are Commodity Programs, Conservation Programs, Marketing & Sustainable Development, Research & Extension, Minority Farmers & Farm Worker Rights, and Trade.
"This is an historic step for a new way of changing policy - a divergent group making a commitment to work on a common agenda," Amy Little of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating Council (NSACC) of Goshen, NY, says. "We're not afraid to rock the boat in Washington. We're unified, we're diverse and we represent every Congressional district in the U.S."
The NSAAC, a group of 26 people representing farm, environmental, social, food and health and natural resource conservation groups, initiated the campaign with help from members of the regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWG). The two organizations enlisted over 200 groups nationwide to join "The National Dialogue for Sustainable Agriculture."
The 200-plus groups represent farmers and farm workers, consumers, national government workers, environmentalists, social justice organizations, churches, conservation and wildlife organizations and regional SAWGs. In meetings held the past year at various sites, the groups created an agenda for farm and food policy in the six main issue areas.
From Feb. 26-27 at Alexandria, VA, participating groups met to prioritize 37 topic areas from the "Dialogue." The National Center for Appropriate Technology, which administers ATTRA, participated in the meeting.
"Representatives from each group on the ballot ranked the 37 topic areas in order of importance, giving each a rating which ranged from NO priority to HIGH priority," Little said.
Weighted totals of the balloting revealed the top 20 topics for the national campaign, Little said. Depending upon how they prioritized each topic area, the 200-plus groups also made pledges to perform specific functions and tasks in the campaign, Little said.
For instance, groups ranking a particular topic area as a "high" priority agreed to invest substantial time on the proposal through such activities as helping to draft legislation, working out policy details, grassroots lobbying, press events and travelling to Washington.
"Low" or "Medium" priority rankings might commit a group to actions ranging from writing letters to contacting members of Congress and the media. Those casting ballots could also either vote to "include" the topic area - meaning they did not consider the proposal a priority for their group but thought it should remain in the national campaign - or they could vote "no" - meaning the proposal should not be included in the campaign.
"The Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups in each of the four regions will help to coordinate campaign efforts by the 200-plus groups," Little said. "Each SAWG will designate at least one person to work with the point people from the organizations so that the campaign stays on track."
Campaign chairpeople - 34 people in all - have also been appointed to oversee "issue committees." It will be the responsibility of these committees to keep the topic areas on a legislative track.
To help the committees with this task, the NSACC has compiled background reports on the 20 topics and "key elements" which should be included in new legislation on the issues.
"The topics on our list of priorities provide a definition of sustainable agriculture that includes the vital elements of economics, the environment and the community," Little said. "We have an exciting agenda to make significant changes in the federal policies that so strongly impact our lives and the future. These issues are worth our every effort."
People wishing to get involved with the "Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture" should contact their regional SAWG organizer or Little at NSACC, 32 N. Church St., Goshen, NY 10924, telephone 914-294-0633, fax 914-294-0632.
National Park Service managers in a new technical manual will be urged to call ATTRA for help in identifying options for incorporating sustainable agriculture into "culturally significant" agricultural landscapes in the national park system.
Dr. Richard Westmacott of the University of Georgia at Athens, who is under contract to compile the manual for the U.S. Department of the Interior, is on a whirlwind tour of 25 national parks with landscapes which have historic farm significance. He visited on April 28 with ATTRA staff members. ATTRA the past years has helped the National Park Service to conduct sustainable agriculture workshops at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area at Milford, PA, and Natchez Trace Parkway at Tupelo, MS.
"Culturally significant" agricultural landscapes are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, Westmacott said. These landscapes may represent an agriculture system of prehistoric or historic significance, may be the site of an agricultural innovation or early practice, or may be associated with an historic person, he said.
Members of the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program are moving rapidly along with plans to train Cooperative Extension Service agents in sustainable agriculture.
Northeast SARE officials released calls for training project proposals in late January - with a submission deadline of March 2 - and have selected five training projects for 1994 from a field of nine proposals. the projects were awarded to Cornell University, Penn State University, University of Vermont, University of Vermont Extension/New England Consortium (Maine OFGA, NOFA of Vermont and University of Massachusetts), and University of West Virginia.
The Western, North Central and Southern SARE regions released calls for training proposals in April. Their administrative councils expect to choose 1994 training projects from June through August.
Under the 1990 Farm Bill, the USDA by 1995 must establish a national training program to provide sustainable agriculture training to Extension agents and selected field staffs of the SCS and ASCS. Congress in 1994 allocated $2.96 million to select regional training coordinators and begin establishing regional sustainable agriculture training consortiums and projects. President Clinton in his 1995 budget proposal has asked that $5 million be alloted to the effort.
In the proposal requests, individuals and organizations will help to instruct Extension, SCS and ASCS agents to develop "understanding, competence and ability to teach and communicate the concepts of sustainable agriculture to other agents and to farmers and urban residents." Each SARE region is expected to allot $10,000 to each 1862 and 1890 land grant college in their states to support strategic planning within and between states, organizations and individuals for the projects. The SARE regions are expected to spend about $500,000 each in 1994 to select up to a dozen training projects in their states.
Training projects will include opportunities for learning in "classrooms without walls" - at such places and events as farms, schools, conferences and workshops.
Bob Bergland, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and Michael Joseph Micciche, director of the California Department of Economic Opportunity, have been named to the board of directors of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The appointments were announced May 20 during an NCAT board meeting at Washington, D.C.
NCAT administers the ATTRA program and several other energy conservation, community power and resource-efficient housing programs.
Bergland, a Minnesota farmer, was elected to Congress in 1970, where he served on the Agriculture and Small Business committees. President Jimmy Carter in 1977 named Bergland as Secretary of Agriculture. As Secretary, Bergland moved the USDA to take a greater interest in human diets (especially food stamps and school lunches), created the first organized study of alternative farming techniques, organized a comprehensive study of the structure of U.S. farming, and worked to achieve a balance between environmental and commercial interests in the administration of USDA.
After serving as Agriculture Secretary, Bergland was named president of Farmland Industries World Trade Inc. and CEO of the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.
Micciche has over 25 years experience in economic development, housing and energy issues, and community development and services programs. In addition to the California Department of Economic Opportunity, he has served as deputy director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
University of Georgia professor Dr. H. Ronald Pulliam has been named director of the newly created National Biological Survey (NBS) of the U.S. Department of the Interior. ATTRA, which is funded by the Interior Department, this year became part of the "Technology Development and Transfer" division at the NBS.
The NBS will combine the biological research and survey activities of eight existing Interior Department bureaus into one group. Until its creation, biological research activities were scattered throughout the Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Land Management.
Pulliam, 48, is a distinguished educator and research ecologist who since 1987 has served as director and professor of the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia at Athens. He has also worked as an associate professor at the State University of New York in Albany and as a research biologist with the H.S. Colton Research Center, Museum of Northern Arizona. He has served as president and vice president of Ecological Society of America.
ATTRA staff members are at work on the Second Edition of the Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise which will feature over 1,200 individuals and organizations with skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture. It is slated for release on Sept. 1, 1994.
The first edition of the Directory was released in June of 1993. It is a 300-page print version containing 717 entrants from across the U.S.
ATTRA solicited an additional 520 new nominees for the Second Edition of the Directory, which will be an electronic version made available on 3.5-inch computer diskettes. The diskettes are compatible with MS-DOS computer systems. Tentative plans call for compilation of a printed, third edition directory in 1995.
Surveys were mailed in early May to the 520 new nominees. Survey entry is being performed by ATTRA Support Team members Betty Blomberg, Cynthia Arnold, Rick Lancaster and Josh Davis into a new database designed by computer specialist Lee Clanton. Members of ATTRA's Information Team - Katherine Adam, Nels Rodefeld and David Zodrow - will edit the entered surveys.
The Directory is a project of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of individuals and groups working in sustainable agriculture. It is funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.
People wishing to order the 1993 Directory and the Second Edition electronic directory can send $14.95 to Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, Room 12, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. Please 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.
Applicants are being sought to serve as director of the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Since the resignation of Dr. George Bird in 1993, Alice Jones, former program manager for the USDA water quality grants program, has served as interim SARE director. Bird served for two years in the position before returning to Michigan State University where he is a professor of nematology.
The SARE director is responsible for recommending and carrying out major decisions affecting the basic content and character of the sustainable agriculture program; program planning, management and evaluation activities; and relationships between the sustainable agriculture program and other USDA, federal, state, private sector, academic groups and farmer participants.
Selection of a new SARE Director is subject to the USDA hiring freeze. USDA candidates will be referred first, with approval of others subject to exception of the hiring freeze. Closing date for applications is July 5.
Interested applicants should contact: Delicia Taylor, USDA/CMS/PMSD, Room 3552-South Building, 14th & Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250-0992, phone (202) 690-0089.
The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program has released the "SARE 1994 Project Highlights," an 8-page annual report describing 12 research projects and four projects which the USDA says "seek answers to questions that go beyond bushels and bottom lines" by explosing how farmers and rural residents live. Copies of the report can be obtained from SARE communications specialists: South - Gwen Roland, Griffin, GA 404- 412-4788; West - Kristin Kelleher, Davis, CA 916-752-5987; North Central - Lisa Jasa, Lincoln, NE 402-472-7081; and Northeast - Beth Holtzman, Burlington, VT 802-656-0554.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which administers ATTRA, is seeking nominations for its 4th Annual Distinguished Appropriate Technology Awards (DATA) Program. Award categories include sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, energy conservation and environmental protection.
One award for each category is given to projects that promote, simple, low-cost, localized, energy-efficient and environmentally- sound technologies that are accessible and beneficial to the needs of low-income Americans.
"NCAT is looking for good project nominations, particularly from citizen-based grassroots groups," NCAT Vice President Kathy Hadley said. "We hope readers will consider sharing their successes through this program."
An independent panel of judges will determine award-winners. Winners will be invited to Washington, DC, to attend a dinner in their honor in November.
Last year's DATA winner in the sustainable agriculture category was the Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) of Helena, MT, for its Farm Improvement Club program. AERO's program grants money to groups of farmers, ranchers and other rural community leaders for projects they design and conduct to meet local needs: specialty crop marketing, soil-building cover crop research, noxious weed control through nonchemical means and on- farm processing of oilseed for fuel, for example. Started in 1990, the program has expanded to 27 clubs, composed of over 200 farm families and a number of state and federal agency scientists and technical specialists. The program serves as a model for six other states and two Canadian provinces.
DATA entry forms can be obtained from: NCAT, P.O. Box 3838, Butte, MT 59702-3838. Entries must be received by Sept. 1.
Members of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have been busy the past two months urging Congress to increase funding for 12 government-back sustainable agriculture programs and three USDA advisory committees.
The Coalition is a nationwide alliance of sustainable agriculture advocates and organizations. In April, Coalition members mailed packets urging sustainable agriculture supporters around the U.S. to contact key Congressmen on the appropriations ag subcommittees through letters, phone calls and newspaper articles to allot increased funding to the programs.
"Sustainable ag programs have historically not fared well in appropriations," says Margaret Krome of the Wisconsin Rural Development Center, who is helping to coordinate the effort. She said this is "partly due to the attitudes of past chairs of appropriations and appropriations ag subcommittees in both houses, as well as our failure to use our greatest strength - the many supporters of sustainable ag around the country."
"With new committee and subcomittee leadership, and with a good grassroots effort, we have a chance to change things," Krome said.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate completed hearings on the proposed budgets by early May. House and Senate "markup" sessions - where the real decisions are made on funding - will occur by early June and mid-July, respectively. Differences in the two budgets - which will also take into consideration appropriation proposals in the President's budget which appeared in early February - will be hammered out in "conference committee" perhaps by the Congressional recess in August.
Krome is urging sustainable ag proponents to write or phone members of the subcommittee in their districts and states. People with questions may contact her at (phone) 608-238-1440 or (fax) 608-238-1569, or Elisa Graffy at 608-249-8594.
The Coalition recommends the following funding levels for the 12 sustainable agriculture programs and three USDA advisory committees:
- Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SARE), a competitive grants program which was first authorized in the 1985 Farm Bill, is the only federal research and education program that focuses solely on sustainable agriculture systems and practices. Congress strengthened the program in the 1990 Farm Bill and increased its authorization level to $40 million - which is less than 2.5% of the total USDA's investment of $1.65 billion in research and extension. Current funding levels represent less than one-half of one percent of the total. Due to very limited funding, SARE has only been able to fund 10% of the grant proposals submitted. The Coalition recommends $20 million in funding for FY 95.
- Sustainable Agriculture Technology Development & Transfer Program (SATDTP), created by Congress in the 1990 Farm Bill as a key part of the Extension Service's "National Initiative in Sustainable Agriculture", was funded for the first time in FY 94 at $3 million. Authorized to $20 million, the program consists of two main parts - a nationwide training program for Extension agents and relevant SCS and ASCS field staff in sustainable ag concepts, research and practices, and a nationally-coordinated, state and regionally-based sustainable agriculture outreach effort. Extension is the historic vehicle for filling the increased need by farmers for sustainable ag technologies and for bolstering research with a better flow of information from farmers and others. Broad action on this front is not possible without a credible training and continuing education effort. The Coalition recommends $8 million in funding for FY 95.
- Rural Technology & Cooperative Development Grant Program (RTCDG), a "start up" competitive grants program which operates in 8 regions, offers funding to facilitate establishment of rural cooperative centers in areas ranging from agriculture to manufacturing, rural medical delivery, crafts marketing and others. Project grants in FY93 ranged from $45,000 to $85,000 on a 50:50 match basis. While the RTCDG's scope goes well beyond agriculture, its funding is appropriate for ventures in sustainable ag, organic production and marketing and agri value- added enterprise development. The Coalition recommends $5 million in funding for FY 95.
- Outreach & Technical Assistance to Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers (SDA) was authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill to document, serve the needs and conduct outreach, education and technical assistance to farmers of color. Funding was increased from $1 million in FY93 to $3 million in FY94. USDA has a long history of neglect towards minority farmers, as reflected in limited access of minority farmers to USDA programs, limited services available to those who gain access and disproportionately small benefits provided to those actually served. Land retention (which reflects how minorities sustain a productive way of life in rural America) among black farmers decreased from 6 million acres in 1960 when there were 100,000 black farmers to the 1980s when there were 25,000 black farmers (with only 175 of these under age 25) owning 2.3 million acres. Outreach is needed to increase awareness, access and benefits to the remaining minority farming community and to help beginning minority farmers. The Coalition recommends $5 million in funding for FY 95.
- Agricultural Resource Conservation Demonstration Program (ARCDP, also known as "Farmers for the Future Act") was authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill to provide low-cost loans to states for the purpose of protecting "vital farmland resources for future generations." Participating states must have in place a program for purchasing easements to protect farmland from development pressures and must match half the federal loan. Allocations of $750,000 in FY93 and $3.6 million in FY94 were used for a pilot program in Vermont. USDA figures show that about 2 million acres of farmland are lost annually to development as urban areas grow. While just a pilot program now, it is important to maintain it until the 1995 Farm Bill when it may be possible to substanially increase its scope. The Coalition recommends $3 million in funding for FY 95.
- Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), established by congressional act in 1992 as the 14th federal food assistance program of the USDA, provides participants in the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children with coupons or vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at local farmers' markets. States may apply to receive 70% federal matching funds. It was funded in FY93 at $3 million and in FY94 at $5.5 million. The FMNP provides WIC participants with nutritious fresh produce, benefits small to medium-sized family farms and generates jobs in rural communities. The Coalition recommends $8 million in funding for FY 95.
- Organic Foods Production ACT (OFPA), authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill, requires the USDA through the National Organic Standards Board to develop national standards and a certification program for producers and handlers of organically-produced agricultural products. Current staffing includes four marketing specialists, an economist, one program assistant and a clerk who assist the NOSB in conducting hearings and preparing proposed national standards, scheduled to be published in final form this fall. The staff will also assist NOSB in preparing accreditation rules for certifying state agencies and private organizations as certification agents. Rules for accreditation are expected to be finalized by the end of this calendar year. The requested funding level of $500,000 is the minimum needed to keep the program on its projected implementation schedule, which has already been slowed by delays in initial funding and development of the standards. The Coalition recommends $500,000 in funding for FY 95.
- Water Quality Incentives Program/Agriculture Conservation Program (WQIP), authorized by the 1990 Farm Bill, is a voluntary, incentive-based program designed to help farmers comply with state and federal environmental laws by providing technical and financial assistance to prevent pollution of surface and ground water through reduced and more efficient use of fertilizers, pesticides and animal wastes, improved irrigation water management, crop rotations, filter strips, rotational grazing and other practices. As with all Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP) cost-share assistance, farmers are eligible to receive up to $3,500 annually for three to five years. Payments may not exceed $25 an acre and have been averaging $8 an acre. At $30 million, some 3 million acres would be enrolled in FY94. The program plays an important role in reducing soil erosion and addressing other resource conservation issues. The President's FY95 budget calls for a huge cut in ACP funding, from $194 million in FY94 to $100 million in FY95. A thorough overhaul of ACP should be undertaken by USDA, but it is not wise to slash the ACP budget with conservation compliance now reaching its full implementation phase. The Coalition recommends $30 million in funding for FY 95.
- Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill, is a voluntary program which provides participants with a cost-share to implement a wetland conservation plan and help restore the wetland; participants are paid for longterm or permanent easements that protect the wetland. Congress wants 975,000 acres enrolled in the program by the year 2000. In FY92, $46 million was appropriated for a pilot program in nine states - 50,000 acres were enrolled with a heavy concentration in the Mississippi Delta. No funding was appropriated in FY93. Eleven additional states are being added to the program in FY94 with funding of $66.7 million. Clinton's recommendation for $241 million in FY95 would allow the program to go nationwide. Agricultural wetlands continue to disappear despite swampbuster and Clean Water Act controls. Because wetlands enhance water quality, recharge groundwater and improve wildlife habitat, society should share part of the cost of restoration and longterm protection with participating farmers. The Coalition recommends $240.9 million in funding for FY 95.
- Water Bank Program (WBP) was created in 1972 to protect natural, unconverted wetlands and adjacent uplands. WBP primarily prevents conversion of important migratory waterfowl habitat to farming and to secure adjacent land for habitat. It protects existing wetland areas, in contrast to programs like Wetlands Reserve Program that focus on restoring converted and farmed wetlands already degraded or destroyed. WBP authorizes 10-year agreements, renewable for additional 10-year periods, which restrict agricultural use. It operates in 12 states, with enrollments of 246,000 wetland and 361,000 adjacent acres. FY93 funding was $18.6 million, which was cut to $8 million in FY94. WBP discourages future conversion of wetlands to crop production. Congress should amend WBP to base the program on longer-term agreements (10-year agreements seem inadequate) or permanent easements that include stronger disincentives for farmers to prematurely curtail contracts, and expand the program to more states and broaden its primary purposes beyond waterfowl habitat protection. The Coalition recommends $8 million in funding for FY 95.
- Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), unlike the above mentioned programs which all are under USDA auspices, is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Based at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, ATTRA provides sustainable agriculture information and research results via 800-lines to the entire U.S. Its staff of 23 people in FY93 prepared 12,000 reports for callers, with the caseload in FY94 projected at 13,500 cases, on such topics as sustainable ag production, soil fertility, pest control, marketing, equipment and facilities. The staff strives to provide users with both research-based and practical experience-based information. ATTRA also assists the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with integrated pest management and other sustainable ag practices at a host of national wildlife refuges where farming is conducted. ATTRA should receive funding of $1.8 million for FY95, an increase of $500,000 over the FY94 appropriation, in order to conduct increased outreach about its services to mainstream farmers and meet the increasing demand for sustainable agriculture information. The Coalition recommends $1.8 million in funding for FY 95.
- Agriculture in Concert with the Environment (ACE), an adjunct to the SARE program, is a joint program of EPA and USDA. ACE grants fund research and education to help farmers reduce the risk of pollution from pesticides and soluable fertilizers, and safeguard environmentally sensitive areas such as critical wildlife habitat and wetlands. The grants are evaluated and awarded by the four Regional Administrative Councils which administer grants under USDA's SARE program. ACE is not specifically budgeted or appropriated. IN FY91 and FY92, EPA from its pollution prevention budget contributed $1 million to ACE, which was matched with $1 million from SARE funds. EPA contributions dropped to $900,000 in FY93 and $600,000 in FY94. THE EPA/USDA partnership with the ACE and SARE programs is a forward-looking example of the sort of interagency cooperation that is necessary to really address the key environmental problems of modern society. Congress should directly fund ACE and increase the funding base. The Coalition recommends $1.5 million in funding for FY 95.
For the past two years, the appropriations bill for these three committees has included only a total amount, leaving specific funds for each committee to the Secretary of Agriculture. If this practice continues, Congress must allot sufficient total funding levels to allow the committees to accomplish their appointed tasks.
- Agricultural Science & Technology Review Board (ASTRB), authorized by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and trade Act of 1990, conducts technology assessments to assist the USDA in directing its research and Extension programs toward fulfilling the research and Extension purposes articulated in the 1990 Farm Bill and maximizing their contributions to the public good. the 11-member Board reports through the Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences.
- National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), also authorized by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990, was established to assist in the development of national standards for organic production. The 13-member Board will require about $50,000 in FY95 to accomplish its mission of making final recommendations on national standards this summer to the Secretary, developing an accreditation program to certify state and private groups that will in turn certify farmers and handlers, and reviewing petitions for the national list of production inputs.
- National Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Council (NSAAC), also authorized by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990, has as its mission to work with USDA to bring to fruition the sustainable development of agriculture. NSAAC is to facilitate coordination and integration of USDA programs for sustainable development, including research and education, water quality, integrated pest management, food safety and other related programs. The 14 private-sector members appointed in 1993 have only met once due to a lack of funding. The 14 public-sector members are just being appointed. In FY95, the NSAAC will need $65,000 to hold two major meetings.
ATTRA staffers have travelled extensively around the U.S. the past quarter in their mission to gather and share the latest information about sustainable agriculture.
ATTRA Technical Specialist Preston Sullivan studied sustainable practices of Amish farmers while touring Holmes County, Ohio, from April 24-26. The tour was sponsored by Stockman Grass Farmer and Holistic Resource Management. Holmes County is a patchwork of diverse family-farms of 80 to 150 acres, where horses and buggies are used in place of tractors and automobiles. Life there revolves around community devotion to religion, family and farming. In addition to visiting the farms of David Kline, Leroy Kuhm, Andy Miller, Eli Yoder, Abe M, and Chris Yoder, Sullivan also toured the Winnesburg Carriage buggy manufacturing plant, Coblentz Collar Shop, Pioneer Equipment Company and nearby Malabar Farm.
About 75 mushroom growers attending the "Arkansas Shiitake Growers Association" meeting on April 9 at Eureka Springs, AR, discussed species of tree logs used for production, use of production as a community development tool, direct marketing of mushrooms and organic certification as a marketing tool. Senior Technical Specialist Alice Beetz said perused the latest books and literature on shiitakes at a booth fair at the meeting.
Three tours of a dairy farm with its own milk-bottling plant, a biodynamic vegetable farm which operates a European-style bakery and a ranch which raiees 900 head of Holstein beef animals annually were among highlights of the Sixth Annual Farmers Conference from March 4-5 at Cornell University. Sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service, this year's conference was titled "Managing Resources for Sustainability." Technical Specialist Guy Ames spoke about "Progress in Sustainable Fruit Production Around the U.S." Other speakers discussed dairy livestock and forages, vegetables, field crops, and fruits.
About 600 people attended the 15th Annual Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference, a major organic farming event in the Midwest held at Ohio Northern University at Ada. Technical Specialist Steve Diver presented slide shows on "Organic Greenhouse Vegetable Production" and "On-Farm Trials with Plastic Mulches in Vegetables." "Most of the speakers were farmers," Diver said, "who presented an amazing amount of practical information that shows how far along sustainable farming systems have really come."
Program Manager Jim Lukens spoke to participants of the 1994 USDA/ARS Mid South Area Research Leaders Conference on March 3 at Biloxi, MS, about "What Sustainable Agriculture Wants from the ARS." Also serving on the panel were a Mississippi farmer and a Louisiana staff member of the Nature Conservancy.
Participants at the "Management Intensive Grazing Seminar" from May 18-20 at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center at Linneus, MO, designed a grazing system for a nearby farm as a field project. Technical Specialist Anne Ayers said about 75 ranchers and Extension and SCS personnel attended the seminar, sponsored by the University and the Green Hills Farm Project. Classroom topics included economics of intensive grazing, water systems, livestock pasture nutrition and supplements, and subdividing pastures. During field sessions, participants subdivided pastures and assessed forages available to steers in the paddocks.
Controlling parasites and drug residues in goat milk and meat were the focus of the "Goat Field Day" attended by Technical Specialist Anne Ayers on May 7 at E. Kika de la Garza Institute for Goat Research at Langston University in Oklahoma.
Fourteen sustainable agriculture farmers shared their experiences with other farmers and ag professionals who are shifting from conventional to sustainable practices at the "Sustainable Agriculture Conference: The Quiet Revolution" held from Feb. 14-15 at the University of Minnesota at St. Paul. Technical Specialist Lance Gegner was among 250 people attending the event, which was sponsoed by the University, Minnesota Extension Service, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Cargill Inc., Cenex Land O' Lakes and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Three Kansas farmers told an audience of 275 people how sustainable practices had greatly improved their hog, beef and grain operations during a panel discussion at the Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Symposium on April 20 at Kansas State University at Manhattan.
Public Information Specialist David Zodrow said other speakers included Don Wyse of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture concenring the development of the Institute, Stewart Smith of the University of Maine Department of Agricultural Economics on family farms, North Dakota farmer Fred Kirschenmann on farming ecologically on the prairie, and KSU faculty members Len Bloomquist and Andrew Barkley on sustaining rural communities and the economics/politics of sustainable agriculture. Sponsors were the KSU AES/CES and the Kansas Rural Center at Whiting.
Assistant Program Manager Teresa Maurer was one of 400 people from 40 states attending the "National Extension Technology Conference" from ....at Lexington, KY. In its 10th year, the Conference offers participants the chance to discuss and review innovations related to publishing, electronic media, distance learning, software development and communications delivery systems.
"Demonstrations, reviews of successes and challenges, exhibits, symposia and great hallway conversations made this an excellent way to learn about the diversity of Extension approaches to managing and communicating information," Maurer said. "We are looking for new ways to link with states and regions boith in using and providing sustainable agriculture information available from many sources in many forms."
Washington Tilth, a nonprofit association of farmers developing ecologically sound approaches to agriculture in the Pacific Northwest, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a conference from Nov. 11-13 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. At "Telling The Story: Celebrating Tilth's First Twenty Years," farmers, ranchers, orchardists, researchers, gardeners, educators, environmentalists and policy makers will be invited to share perspectives of events of the past 20 years and to clarify a vision for the future.
Margit Kaltenekker of Winslow, AR, is serving as a temporary information specialist with ATTRA to assist technical specialists with writing projects and caller requests. She has a BS in Botony from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, performs farm inspections for the Organic Certification Inspection Association, is affiliated with Organic Growers and Buyers Association and the Farm Verified Organic, and has experience with organic vegetable farming and marketing.
Nine farmers from Texas to South Carolina who have found innovative ways to farm sustainably tell their inspirational, informative stories in a new 32-page booklet titled "Farming More Sustainably In The South" by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SoSAWG).
The wide diversity of crops grown in the South is reflected in stories by producers of cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum, sugarcane, vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, milk and livestock. Farmers discuss such practices as rotations, cover crops, composting, soil building and use of beneficial insects - and many of them in the booklet unveil unique marketing strategies which add to their sustainability. Half of the nine farmers are certified organic.
To order the booklet, send $4.50 (price includes shipping and handling) to Keith Richards, 1533 S. Duncan Street, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Please make checks and money orders payable to "SSAWG".
ATTRA Technical Specialist Anne Ayers recently served as reviewer for galleys of a new book from Storey Communications by Gail Damerow titled "The Chicken Health Handbook."
The 331-page book is a practical reference guide which provides easy-to-understand information on infectious diseases, internal and external parasites, disease prevention, chicken anatomy, nutrition and diagnosing diseases.
To order, send $17.95 (plus $3.25 for 4th class mail or $4.75 for UPS) to The Chicken Health Handbook, Storey Communications Inc., Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, VT 05261, or call 1-800-441-5700. Purchase orders are accepted.
Today's Quote: "Ninety percent of all foods in the supermarket are derived from four raw foods: corn, soybeans, rice and wheat. This shows that we will have to diversify the food system to help diversify farming." - North Dakota farmer and sustainable agriculture activist Fred Kirschenmann, Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Symposium, April 20, 1994, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.