Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Phone: 1-800-346-9140 --- FAX: (501) 442-9842
Members of the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee have recommended zero funding for ATTRA in FY97 in an unexpectedly speedy budget markup which concluded May 30.
The USDA in its proposed FY97 budget had recommended that ATTRA be funded at $1.3 million, the same amount submitted by President Clinton in his budget to Congress.
The House appropriations bill containing budget cuts for ATTRA and other sustainable agriculture and family farm programs is expected to reach the House floor on June 12. Senate markup for the FY97 budget is expected to occur during the week of June 17.
Since March 1, ATTRA has operated with funding through USDA RBS (Rural Business-Cooperative Service) which is housed within the Rural Economic and Community Development agency (RECD).
"During a year in which changes in farm policy and economic conditions are prompting more farmers across the U.S. to request information from ATTRA, the House panel action seems shocking and unreasonable," ATTRA Project Manager Teresa Maurer said.
Maurer said she hopes the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee will support full funding for ATTRA. The matter would then go to the House-Senate conference committee for resolution later this summer. In previous years, the Senate has strongly backed ATTRA.
While operating on reduced funding, ATTRA staff members from last winter through this spring were called upon to answer a record number of questions from farmers and other professional agriculturists.
ATTRA's FY96 funding of $970,000, through USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), represents a 6% decrease from FY95 funding levels (prorated over 10 months). The current agreement began on March 1 and extends for 10 months, until December 31.
Meanwhile, requests to ATTRA for information about sustainable agriculture rose by over 20% for the same period.
"The winter and spring months have really taxed our available services," says Ron Kroese, Executive Director for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the national nonprofit which administers the ATTRA project. "However, our staff has put in a concerted effort to meet all caller requests for information critical to their farming endeavors."
Kroese said ATTRA staff members are grateful to the USDA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for aiding the smooth transition last winter as ATTRA transferred from Interior to Agriculture.
"Thanks to everyone's cooperation, we were able to make the move with no disruption in service to the public," Kroese said.
The USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) has released the schedules for its upcoming competitive grants program for research, education, and extension training projects in sustainable agriculture. Grants are also available to farmers and ranchers.
Administration of the program takes place through four regional centers, each of which has a separate schedule for its call for proposals and other deadlines. For further information, people may contact their regional office.
North Central Region: July 15, call for preproposals sent out; Sept. 15, deadline for preproposals; Dec. 1, invitation for full proposals go out, deadline for producer grant final reports; Jan. 23, 1997, deadline for full proposals; April 14-16, 1997, Administrative Council makes decisions. Contact Steven S. Waller, Coordinator, Lincoln, NE, (402) 472-7081.
Northeast Region: Sept. 1, farmer/grower call for proposals mailed; Sept. 8, research and education proposals mailed; Sept. 15, professional training/extension proposals mailed; Dec. 6, farmer/grower grants postmarked; Jan. 14, 1997, training/extension proposals postmarked; Jan. 21, 1997, SARE/ACE research and education proposals postmarked. Contact Frederick Magdoff, Coordinator, Burlington, VT, (802) 656-2630.
Southern Region: July, research and education call for proposals mailed; Sept. 1, research and education preproposals due; October, producer grant call for proposals mailed; Nov. 10, full proposals requested; Dec. 15, research and education full proposals due; Jan. 31, 1997, producer grant proposals due; April, 1997, Administrative Council meets to award grants. Contact Paula Ford, Program Manager, Griffin, GA, (770) 412-4787.
Western Region: July 23, send out SARE, ACE, and Chapter 3 call for proposals; Oct. 29, SARE/ACE proposals due; Nov. 5, send out farmer/rancher call for proposals; Nov. 26, Chapter 3 proposals due; Jan. 14, 1997, farmer/rancher grant proposals due. Contact Phil Rasmussen, Coordinator, Logan, UT, (801) 797-3394.
Everyone involved with or interested in the world of sustaining farming will want to buy the Third Edition, Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise.
Released in January, the directory contains 723 entries that list nearly 1,000 individuals and over 200 organizations with sustainable farming expertise to share in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories. Entrants include 169 farmers and ranchers, 247 agricultural researchers, 161 Cooperative Extension Service personnel, 72 agribusiness people and 63 farm consultants.
The directory is funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and is a project of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a consortium of individuals and organizations nationwide involved in the creation and dissemination of sustainable agriculture information. ATTRA has compiled all three editions.
Having made its debut in 1993, the directory has become noted as far more than just an address book of sustainable agriculture practitioners across the U.S. Rather, directory entrants in relating their current work on the farms, research units, farm organizations and government halls provide readers with a broad picture of the sustainable agriculture movement across the U.S.
Through the descriptions of directory entrants, readers are treated to a tour of U.S. sustainable farming. The trek begins with the Alaskan farm of the Tom Lee family, who raises several crops in the Talkeetra Mountains about 100 miles northeast of Anchorage, and concludes at Laramie, Wyoming, where rancher and consultant Jeff Powell tells of his work raising sheep, cattle and alfalfa.
Alphabetically state by state, the individuals and organizations in the directory reveal their special skills and knowledge about sustainable agriculture - crop, forage and livestock production, soil and water management, marketing, organics, pest control, cropping systems, erosion control, irrigation methods, and livestock feed and health management systems. In a new feature to this year's directory, entrants also relate their philosophical approach to sustainable agriculture, thus revealing the many diverse ways practitioners view and pursue it.
SAN launched the directory with a print version in 1993 in order to link people with expertise in sustainable agriculture to those in need of information. An electronic, updated version of the directory was issued in 1994.
ATTRA staff members working on the directory included Cynthia Arnold, Betty Blomberg, Ellen Clough, Jim Lukens, Stuart Penn and David Zodrow.
Readers may order copies of the directory for $18.95 each or at special bulk order rates which are available from Northeast SARE.
To order the directory, send $18.95 for each directory to: Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, Room 12, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. Please make check, money order or purchase order out to "Sustainable Agriculture Publications." The price includes postage and handling. For further information, please contact Meredith Simpson at above address or telephone (802) 656-0471.
Rex Dufour has been named ATTRA associate project manager. He will assist Project Manager Teresa Maurer and the ATTRA staff in daily operation of the project and implementation of annual and long-range strategic plans.
Rex has been an ATTRA technical specialist since February of 1994, drawing on 17 years of training and experience in integrated pest management. He has over eight years of international experience in integrated rural development, sustainable agriculture and project management. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, Rex trained farmers in integrated pest management for rice and pesticide use and safety. From 1987-90, he managed the UN's Affected Thai Village Program along the Thai-Cambodian border, a relief/development effort. From 1990-93, he managed the first bilateral aid project in Laos since 1975.
Four appointments and one reappointment to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) have been announced by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman.
Newly appointed to five-year terms are: Joan D. Gussow, Piermont, N.Y., a member of the Editorial Board of the Wallace Institute's American Journal of Alternative Agriculture (consumer/public interest); Stephen P. Pavich, Delano, CA (farmer/grower); Elizabeth S. Lydon, New York, N.Y. (consumer/public interest); and Jean Afterman, Oxnard, CA (environmentalist). Robert B. Anderson, Middleburg, PA (farmer/grower) was reappointed for a five-year term. The 15-member NOSB advises the Secretary on implementation of a certification program for producers and handlers of agricultural products that have been produced using organic methods.
To get on the USDA National Organic Program mailing list and receive a copy of the proposed rule that includes the organic standards when it is published, send a message with a postal address or fax number to: Grace Gershuny, National Organic Program, USDA/AMS/TMD/NOP, Rm. 2510-South Bldg., PO Box 96456, Washington, DC 20090; 202-720-8331.
Garden Resources of Washington (GROW) was honored for its work in sustainable agriculture during the Fifth Annual Distinguished Appropriate Technology Awards (DATA) ceremonies that were held recently at the U.S. Capitol. Since its inception in 1982, GROW has transformed vacant land in the Washington area into 35 community gardens, mainly in low-income neighborhoods. The program represents a self-help opportunity to residents with environmental, nutritional, economic and recreational benefits.
The DATA awards are sponsored by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which administers the ATTRA project and operates a host of nonprofit programs dealing with low-income energy and housing issues, and sustainable farming.
*Bob Wilson, ATTRA's computer systems specialist, will depart on June 28 to pursue a vocation as a clergyman. He and his wife, Marilyn, will be moving to Pea Ridge, AR, where Bob will begin serving two rural Methodist Churches as a local pastor.
Bob will be attending a special training school near Little Rock this summer in order to obtain his license to perform the duties of a minister. He'll then begin seminary studies at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK. Marilyn will continue to work at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, in the Department of Career Services and Cooperative Education.
Beginning in 1990, Bob served as an ATTRA technical specialist, writing on a broad range of agricultural-related topics and specializing in research cases on commercial wildlife production, wildlife preservation and wildlife damage control on farm crops. Raised in a farming community in eastern Kansas, Bob worked in the medical laboratory field, then returned to school and received his MS degree in Wildlife Biology.
*Carol Warriner, ATTRA senior library specialist, and Teresa Maurer, ATTRA project manager, are co-authors of an article about ATTRA in the current edition of Rural Cooperatives, the bimonthly magazine of the USDA's Rural Business/Cooperative Service. The publication is mailed to about 6,000 U.S. farm cooperatives. Cooperative directors and members are informed in the article about how ATTRA staff members compile information on a host of sustainable farming topics and are invited to join the ATTRA family of users by dialing the project's toll-free number.
*ATTRA staffers Chris Rugen and Rex Dufour are helping to write an IPM plan for the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges which comprise 84,000 acres of public land at the California-Oregon Border.
Having launched a series of community meetings in April 1995 with farmers and federal agency personnel, the two staff members returned to the refuges last month for continued discussions on the best approach to managing agricultural pests while protecting wildlife and the environment on the refuges. About 27,000 acres of the refuges, which were created through a series of executive orders from 1908-36 and are home to vast populations of waterfowl, are dedicated to farming. Other consultants are studying wildlife habitat and species, water delivery systems and water quality.
The IPM project will recommend a combination of biological, chemical, cultural and physical control methods, instead of only chemical pesticides.
*Two ATTRA information specialists helped to organize a conference May 7 at Little Rock, AR, on behalf of the USDA's Champion Communities Project which is endeavoring to provide assistance to 194 of America's most impoverished rural communities. Katherine Adam and David Zodrow also facilitated afternoon presentation sessions by nine Arkansas and two Mississippi communities which attended the conference. Speakers at the conference included Norman Reid, director of the USDA's Community Outreach Services, and Pat Montoya, who serves on President Clinton's Community Empowerment Board and is an HHS regional director at Dallas.
The conference was co-sponsored by Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundatrion and the
"Emerging Champions: A Report to the USDA About America's Champion Communities" was presented to leading officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April. Several ATTRA staff members were part of a yearlong effort which began in February of 1995 to compile the report. The Champion Communities Project is coordinated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which operates the ATTRA project, and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Iowa State University.
The 150-page report makes six key recommendations and offers possible action steps concerning how the USDA can help the Champion Communities to implement the strategic development plans created during the EZ/EC application process. It will be distributed widely through USDA, which commissioned the report in early 1995 in order to learn more about the technical, economic and social needs of the 194 "Champion Communities" — rural communities which were unsuccessful in 1994 in obtaining designation under President Clinton's Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Communities (EZ/EC) Program.
Champion Communities Project staff members spent hundreds of hours contacting people in the communities, as well as a host of other people involved with sustainable community development across the U.S. The report contains profiles of 28 rural communities which, despite very limited resources, have launched a diversity of development projects to solve their many economic and social problems.
The NCAT team is continuing to work with the USDA on the report recommendations and other Champion Communities Project tasks, and this summer is helping Champion Communities to establish state networks.
"U.S. sustainable agriculture must be sustainable if the national goal
of sustainable development is to be achieved" and should be supported with
research that integrates "agricultural productivity and profitability with
-- Sustainable Agriculture Task Force, President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development, Report, April, 1996.