Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Phone: 1-800-346-9140 --- FAX: (501) 442-9842
ATTRA has been selected to help coordinate the training of Cooperative Extension Service agents in sustainable agriculture in the South over the next three years. Fellow coordinators in the USDA project are North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University at Greensboro.
"We will organize an active, participatory consortium to identify priorities and organize training projects," ATTRA Program Manager Jim Lukens says. "The first step is to appoint an interim twelve-member committee made up of farmers, Extension and agriculture agency personnel, and non-governmental organizations which will serve as the initial decision-making body for the consortium."
Steering the coordination effort with Lukens are Roger Crickenberger, associate state program leader of Agriculture/Natural Resources at NCSU - Raleigh, and John O'Sullivan, marketing specialist and adjunct professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management at NC A&T. They met twice recently to plan a participatory approach.
"An important principle of our participatory approach is to include in the training effort farmers and nontraditional farm groups not ordinarily included in Extension," Lukens said, noting that farmers are often the audience and not the leaders and trainers. "In sustainable agriculture, farmers have been conducting the on-farm research, and so it is appropriate that they help to prioritize training efforts. This concept suggests a new relationship between farmers and Extension."
The committee will help to stage an annual regionwide conference so trainers and Extension personnel can review the success of the projects.
Training This Fall
Actual training of Extension agents in sustainable agriculture is expected to begin in some parts of the U.S. by late fall. In all, 20 training projects from a field of 69 proposals were selected recently by administrative councils in the four regions of the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program.
Training project proposals submitted and approved in the four SARE regions were:
In addition to the NCSU/NC A&T/ATTRA team in the South, other regional coordinators (selected from a field of 12 applicants) are:
The 1990 Farm Bill directed the USDA by 1995 to establish a national 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. Each SARE region received about $500,000 for this year's effort.
A call for proposals by SARE for training projects and regional training coordinators in early 1994 drew an enthusiatic response.
Southern regional coordinators are now soliciting nominations for the 12-member committee, which is expected to meet next January.
"For the committee, we are looking for people with expertise in sustainable agriculture and an interest in working together in a consensus-building effort to implement training across the region," Lukens says. "With help from the management team, they must take input from the broad spectrum of players across the region, and develop prioritized training needs and a strategy for meeting them. The committee will help to make decisions in training strategy and influence the call of new training projects next fall."
Lukens explained that each state will appoint a "State Sustainable Agriculture Extension Coordinator" who will work closely with regional training coordinators in identifying training needs for Extension staff.
"We'll be working closely with the new state sustainable agriculture Extension coordinators in the South as they conduct a state-by-state strategic planning process," he said.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) of Butte, MT, which administers the ATTRA program, will assist the University of California at Davis to coordinate training of Cooperative Extension Service agents in the Western SARE Region. Al Kurki, former director of Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) of Helena, MT, will represent NCAT/ATTRA in the effort.
Members of "The Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture" are at work recruiting 300 additional organizations to help win policy proposals for the 1995 Farm Bill. The 200 founding organizations hope to be 500-strong by Feb. 1, 1995, according to Amy Little of theNational Campaign Office at Goshen, NY.
A "sign-on" letter being sent to new recruits explains that the Campaign is a "bold effort to reform agriculture policy by forging an unprecedented alliance among family farm, environmental, rural community, consumer, farmworker, animal protection, wildlife protection, religious and social justice organizations."
The Campaign was launched earlier this year 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.
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.
According to the sign-on letter, Campaign goals are to:
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
Northeast Office: Dorothy Suput, 368 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02144, phone and fax (617)666-1005
Southern Office: Julie Burns, 4 Lindsey Road, Asheville, NC 28805, phone (704)299-1922, fax (704)299-1575
Midwest Office: Renee Robinson, P.O. Box 648, Rochester, IL 62563, phone (217)498-9707, fax (217)498-9235
Western Office: Paul Weingartner, P.O. Box 8596, Moscow, ID 83843, phone (208)882-1444, fax (208)882-8029
California Office: Kai Seidenburg, P.O. Box 1599, Santa Cruz, CA 95061, phone (408)458-5304, fax (408)454-0433.
Top candidates are being interviewed this fall for director of the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, according to outgoing Interim SARE Director Alice Jones.
Thirty candidates applied for the position as of the application closing date on July 5, Jones said. Having identified a short list of top candidates, the USDA is conducting a more detailed review of applicants in preparation for interviews this fall, she explained.
Jones has completed her term as interim SARE director which she began in 1993 and will be replaced by new Interim SARE Director Jerry DeWitt of......The permanent directorship has been vacant since completion of the term of office in 1993 of Dr. George Bird, who returned to Michigan State University where he is a professor of nematology.
USDA/AMS officials are developing proposed regulations for the "National Organic Program."
Covered in the regulations will be production, processing and marketing of organic farm products, as well as criteria for accreditation of organic-certification programs, both state and private. The proposed regulations are expected to be published in the Federal Register sometime during 1995, with full implementation forseen for 1996.
The proposed regulations will be based, in part, on recommendations received in September from the 14-member National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). NOSB is an advisory group to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy which was authorized by Title 21 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 (Farm Bill) to assist in the development of national standards for organic production and marketing.
NOSB recommendations include an organic farm plan for crop and livestock producers and an organic handling plan for handlers and processors. The plans provide for a production management system that may serve as the cornerstone of organic certification. NOSB's five working committees were: Crop Standards, Livestock Standards, Handling and Labeling, Accreditation, and International Issues.
For further information, contact:
Dr. Hal Ricker
Organic Program, AMS, USDA
P.O. Box 96456, Room 4006-S
Washington, DC 20090-6456
telephone: (202) 720-2704.
ATTRA's work to help the National Park Service to incorporate sustainable agriculture practices on the 500-mile Natchez Trace Parkway is continuing.
Dr. Preston Sullivan, an ATTRA technical specialist, joined speakers from the Cooperative Extension Service and Soil Conservation Service in training sessions for park employees at Tupelo, MS, on May 31-June 2 and June 7-8. Sullivan spoke on sustainable agriculture, row crops, weed control and building soil organic matter. Other trainers targeted such topics as pesticides used in current farm plans, IPM, soil amendments, soil erosion, water management and forage crops.
The Park Service is working with staff members and cooperating farmers to implement sustainable agriculture practices on Parkway lands which extend through 300 farms in three Southern states (Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee). About 5,500 acres, or 12 percent of the park, are farmed on annual leases, mostly in corn, soybeans and cotton, with methods relying heavily on pesticides.
ATTRA's funding request of $1.289 million for fiscal year 1995 has been approved. Members of the U.S. Department of the Interior Appropriations Conference Committee on Sept. 21 forwarded a recommendation for the funding to Congress. The amount is the same as ATTRA funding in FY 1994.
Farmers and other professional agriculturists who contact ATTRA for sustainable agriculture information often ask why ATTRA is funded by the U.S. Interior Department. ATTRA's central role is to provide the latest information on sustainable agriculture to commercial agriculturists via its 800-line. But another key role for ATTRA is to assist the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with sustainable agriculture efforts on national wildlife refuges.
For instance, ATTRA the past several years has been involved in a complex project to establish integrated pest management programs on over 160 national wildlife refuges where farming is conducted.
Under cooperative agreements, farmers at these refuges leave portions of the crops they raise in the field for wildlife consumption. The Service has mandated that refuge managers by 1995 must institute IPM programs in order to reduce or eliminate use of agricultural chemicals. The thrust of the IPM project is to better protect America's wildlife populations and hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands and waterways situated in America's most pristine areas.
Fish and Wildlife Service officials also view implementation of sustainable agriculture practices on privately-owned farms as a means to promote and protect wildlife populations.
ATTRA Technical Specialist Anne Ayers has been elected to the board of directors of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). She will serve three years on the 14-member board. Ballots for the election appeared in the May/June issue of ALBC News.
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. These breeds are threatened because modern agriculture favors use of a few highly specialized breeds selected for maximum output in a controlled environment. In its mission to preserve genetic diversity, ALBC maintains gene banks, conducts research on breed characteristics and status, promotes education about genetic diversity and the role of livestock in sustainable agriculture, and provides technical support to a network of breeders, breed associations and farmers.
Ayers earned a master's degree in animal sciences from Oregon State University, where she was also a supervisor at the OSU Rabbit Research Center. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, she worked with nitrogen-fixing trees in sustainable agroforestry systems (trees, crops and livestock). At ATTRA, Ayers researches and responds to caller requests on sustainable livestock production and agroforestry systems.
Readers of the upcoming Second Edition, Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise will be treated to the descriptive accounts of 932 individuals and organizations who are helping to shape a dynamic U.S. farm movement. Sketches of their endeavors on the farms, research units, government halls and storefronts of America form a mural of this place and time in sustainable agriculture.
Their stories reflect the current trends, new directions and future dilemmas which the movement faces.
The new Directory is expected to be released late this fall on a 3.5-inch computer diskette compatible with MSDOS systems. Users can easily access specific bits of information about each entrant - such as his or her expertise in a particular crop - thanks to theFolio software which employs sets of "keywords." 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.
ATTRA staffers - who also compiled the First Edition of the Directory in 1993 - solicited an additional 228 entrants for this latest version.
The Directory is an ongoing project of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, a coalition of individuals and groups working in sustainable agriculture. It is funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. The intent of SAN and SARE in creating the Directory was to compile a roster of people, institutions and organizations with expertise in sustainable agriculture, who are good communicators, and who are willing to share their knowledge with others.
Details for ordering the Directory will be announced in the next issue of ATTRAnews.
ATTRA in August welcomed Rebecca A. Bryant as its development specialist. She will work to develop programs and services in sustainable agriculture for ATTRA and its parent organization, the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
Bryant has worked as city planner for Fayetteville, AR; provided program planning support to the Biomass Division of the U.S. Department of Energy; worked for the National Renewable Energy Lab; and most recently served as economic development planner at Wrangell, Alaska. Development achievements include a $2.6 million HUD funding award for a municipal housing development, creating an OEDP (Overall Economic Development Plan) for a community, and successful grantwriting for a variety of projects.
She earned a bachelors of business administration and master of science in community and regional planning from the University of Texas at Austin.
I picked up irrigation pipe last week, a symbolic act marking the change of seasons. As I carried the pipe among the corn stalks of summer past and the clover seedlings of winter to come, I found an arrowhead. It was a physical reminder of one person who had walked that ground long ago, and I felt an instant kinship to the craftsman who carefully shaped the tool I now held.
I tried to imagine that field as he saw it. Was this bottomland hardwood forest, streambank, or perhaps even then a cornfield? How did my prehistoric predecessor perceive his relationship to this place? I imagine that he felt reverent. How does this field tie me to the hundreds of people who trod this soil over the centuries?
That thought led me to consider the future of the field. What will be here in three hundred years, or even one hundred years? Will this spot be a cornfield, or a forest, or a parking lot? I see corn stalks and clover seedlings today, and see a rotation of crops that unfolds into the coming years. But my vision of centuries hence is dim. How do my plans for the near future affect the distant future?
My connection to and understanding of this field's history, both ancient and recent, inform my actions today. And I believe that my stewardship will be appreciated by the next generation. But what is my connection to people in the distant future? I'm leaving no arrowheads. But perhaps someone in the distant future will understand how I also revered this place.
ATTRA staffers were on the road again the past quarter in their quest for the latest sustainable ag information to share with users. Their stops included:
Computer Resource Specialist Lee Clanton was among 800 visitors at the Progress Americas Users Conference from June 6-10 at Dallas, TX. Clanton attended a host of workshops and a users fair. ATTRA is using Progress software to develop relational database management systems for its electronic storehouse of sustainable agriculture information.
Demonstrations of pine straw baling and using pine straw as a mulch were among intriguing topics at the USDA/ARS Research Station Field Day at the South Central Family Farm Research Center at Booneville, AR, on June 11. Technical Specialists Anne Ayers and Rex Dufour and Program Manager Jim Lukens also viewed the Center's latest research on legumes, grazing management using such grasses as gammagrass and switchgrass, poultry litter applications, agroforestry, sheep and cow-calf units.
Senior Resource Specialist Carol Warriner joined over 5,000 library and information professionals gathering in Atlanta, GA, >from June 11-16 for the Special Libraries Association's 85th Annual Conference. The conference theme was "Information Vision." Warriner attended a continuing education course, "Indexing and Abstracting for In-House Databases", to increase ATTRA's electronic information handling expertise. Over 280 companies demonstrated their products and services in exhibit halls. Warriner said libraraians at 15 heavily-attended continuing education and general session events expressed keen interest in accessing and using Internet for information access.
Six projects for training Extension agents in sustainable agriculture in the South were selected from a field of 17 proposals during a meeting of the Southern SARE Technical Committee, which was chaired by Assistant Program Manager Teresa Maurer from June 12-14 at Atlanta, GA. Under "Chapter 3" of the 1990 Farm Bill, CES and select SCS and ASCS personnel will receive sustainable agriculture training beginning this fall. Maurer said 1994 funding for the six Southern projects is about $300,000.
Demonstrations of biological control of the Colorado potato beetle by the spined soldier bug was one highlight of the Sustainable Agriculture and IPM Field Day attended by Technical Specialist Rex Dufour on July 20 at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Maryland. Sponsored by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the day's tours also featured no- till, low input field trials for vegetable and small fruit production, and demonstration plots using hairy vetch in field crop plantings. About 110 people attended the field day.
Technical Specialist Steve Diver said about 130 people attended the Agroforestry and Sustainable Systems Symposium from Aug. 8-10 at Colorado State University at Fort Collins. The event was co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, Center for Semi-Arid Agroforestry, SCS and about 50 public and private organizations nationwide. Topics included the role of agroforesty in sustainable land-use systems; riparian buffer systems in range and cropland; windbreak systems; snowfences; agrosilvopastoral systems in Western Oregon; production agroforestry systems; agroforestry and wildlife; agroforestry to manage salt and selenium on irrigated land; agroforestry in the Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Southwest, Intermountain Region and Pacific Northwest; and discussion of a national strategy to develop and implement agroforestry.
Helping to edit a daily newspaper to keep participants updated was one of the tasks performed by Information Specialist Katherine Adam while on vacation from Aug. 14-21 at the sixth biennial Turtle Island Bioregional Gathering at Otter Creek Park in Kentucky. Hosted by several local bioregional groups, the Gathering featured recreational and cultural events, organic food produced by local farmers, and meetings. Decisions reached at the meeting will be publicized soon via Econet. Katherine is editor of the Bioregional Bibliography - 1994.
Technical Specialist Preston Sullivan on Aug. 22 participated with a team of Maryland farmers, USDA researchers and Extension cropping specialists to design a sustainable cropping research project at the 7,000-acre National Agricultural Research Service Experiment Station at Beltsville, MD. The planners will meet in mid-winter to make selections from six proposed cash grain systems. The systems range from standard to low-input, using legume, manure or compost N sources, and are aimed at niche, diversified, urban or homestead markets. A mixed livestock/grazing system may also be incorporated into the project.
Ranchers, researchers, policy makers and information providers gathered from Sept. 17-21 at Billings, MT, to discuss "Sustainability of Range Livestock Production Systems In The West." Senior Technical Specialist Alice Beetz said the symposium was sponsored by Montana State University - Bozeman, MSU Extension and Western SARE. Thirty-one speakers at six busy sessions discussed grazing strategies, winter feeding, sustainable weed control, current range conditions, ecological theories of range management, wildlife influences on ranch sustainability, rancher perspectives on range livestock sustainability, sustainable economics, and sustainability of livestock on federal ranges.
America's wildlife populations were the focus of the Excellence in Wildlife Stewardship Through Science and Education Conference attended by Technical Specialist Bob Wilson 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.
Call 1-800-346-9140 and ask for:
ATTRA MATERIALS LIST
(Updated in Summer of 1994 to show latest versions of 40 sustainable agriculture information packages, resource lists and summaries.)
"Before we plow an unfamiliar patch, It is well to be informed about the winds, About the variations of the sky, The native traits and habits of the place, What each locale permits, and what denies." - Virgil, The Georgics, 36-29 B.C.