SOUTHERN SUSTAINABLE FARMING # 10
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
P.O. Box 324, Elkins, AR 72727
Phone (501) 292-3714; E-mail: HN3551@handsnet.org
Keith Richards, Editor
SOUTHERN SUSTAINABLE FARMING is the bi-monthly voice of
the Southern SAWG, 50 member organizations working for
more sustainable agriculture in 13 Southern states.
Hard copy subscriptions via U. S. postal service:
$15 per year or $25 for two years
CONTENTS, part 3:
* ARKSANSAS LAND AND FARM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION: A PROFILE
* HOW CAN FARMERS MAKE SURE CONTRACTS ARE FAIR IN CONTRACT FARMING?
* HOW TO GET A COPY OF THE PROPOSED NATIONAL ORGANIC STANDARDS
* SUSTAINABLE AG GRANTS AVAILABLE FROM SOUTHERN SARE/ACE
* PUBLICATIONS OF NOTE
* CALENDAR OF EVENTS
ARKANSAS LAND AND FARM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION:
A Southern SAWG Member Profile
Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation
(ALFDC) believes in partnerships. Since 1980 this non-
profit organization has been serving hundreds of small
family farmers and rural residents in a 42-county area of
eastern Arkansas' Delta region by bringing people and
ALFDC's mission is to enhance the quality of life in
rural communities through land retention efforts, family
farm development, and land-based development for limited
resource and socially disadvantaged people. The
organization does this by creating integrated programs that
provide advocacy, education, and technical assistance to
farmers and landowners, with a special emphasis on
targeting minorities, women, and youth. To increase the
effectiveness of these programs, ALFDC works closely
with federal and state government agencies, as well as the
Federation of Southern Cooperatives and other NGOs.
Where there is a problem in rural communities, the
people at ALFDC work to find a solution, not by using a
band-aid approach, but by building comprehensive
programs that address underlying causes. ALFDC
programs include Agricultural and Rural Community
Development, Integrated Farming Systems, Home
Ownership Miracles Everywhere, and Youth Enterprise in
Integrated Farming Systems
ALFDC's comprehensive approach is evident
through its agricultural programs. The organization assists
farmers at every level--from increasing long-term
productivity of their land to developing marketing networks
for their products, from obtaining financing for land
retention to helping new farmers get started.
An important component to ALFDC's network of
services is the Integrated Farming Systems program
currently funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
According to Calvin King, executive director of ALFDC,
the program demonstrates how to obtain and use farm
infrastructure technology, including irrigation, and helps
farmers produce alternative crops and adopt sustainable ag
Community demonstration sites have been
established on private farms as part of this program where
research and training can take place. Recently several
farms were involved in a SARE grant along with
researchers from Arkansas State University and the
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to analyze the use of
agricultural wastes as soil amendments. Also, a network of
about 20 farms has been created to exchange information
on alternative crops and sustainable ag practices.
Youth Enterprise in Agriculture
Providing opportunities for young people to become
productive members of farming communities is another
important component of ALFDC's work. With an aging
farm population and an exodus of young people away from
rural communities, the leaders of ALFDC realize the
importance of working with the youth. "It is important to
help youth understand the opportunities in agriculture at a
young age," Calvin King says.
The Youth Enterprise in Agriculture program,
established in 1991, provides minority teenagers with ag
education, hands-on training, and leadership development.
Students work with farm mentors, such as Joe Bryant and
Ephraim Lewis, to learn management and production
techniques for raising alternative crops--primarily small-
scale fruit and vegetable crops. They also learn about the
support agencies available to farmers and how to access
If students decide to take up farming as a career,
ALFDC assists them in accessing land and services. Often
they help students take advantage of government services
that are under-utilized, like the loan program for beginning
farmers within the USDA Farm Service Agency.
The youth program doesn't only teach farming,
however. Students learn about the wide range of career
opportunities available in agriculture, and are given the
chance to intern with public or private agricultural
agencies. Throughout the program the students are paid for
their work and training.
Nearly 600 youth from the Delta area of Arkansas
and northern Mississippi have participated in the program
so far. One former student, Cleophus Mills, is now farming
about 300 acres in Phillips County, AR, and has become a
mentor to other youth. Another student has passed the
requirements to work for the federal ag agencies already.
Several others are completing internships with agricultural
companies, increasing their opportunity for employment
after they graduate from college.
Other Farm Programs and Services
Marketing cooperatives have served as another
major component of ALFDC's work. The organization
helps link farmers with marketing co-ops in the area and
assists co-ops in developing greater capacity. In 1994
ALFDC assisted the Lee County Vegetable Growers
Cooperative in obtaining a major expansion loan from a
local private bank and a state agency. This allowed the co-
op to purchase new processing, packing, and harvesting
ALFDC has also provided counseling and legal
referral service to more than 700 farmers facing land loss
credit problems. They have conducted workshops on farm
credit and land loss prevention, and helped farmers access
government ag programs.
Finally, ALFDC has been a leader in advocating for
state and federal legislation to help limited resource
farmers. The organization has influenced state and federal
legislation to modify property tax laws and create support
services for limited resource farmers.
CONTRACT FARMING: HOW CAN FARMERS MAKE SURE CONTRACTS ARE FAIR?
adapted from an article from RAFI Action newsletter by
Contracting to raise crops and livestock for large
food processing corporations is gaining ground in every
farm state. Bad weather, lower cattle prices, threats of lost
subsidies, and questionable export markets are forcing
farmers to consider signing contracts with the giant
slaughter houses and food processors in order to bring
some stability to their farm income--even if it means going
heavily into debt for new equipment. Farmers hope that the
loss of some independence in farm management will be
offset by less risk in production and marketing. Contract
poultry farmers, for example, are glad that they do not have
to absorb the higher grain costs this coming year due to
short crops in the Midwest. Poultry feed is supplied to the
farmer by the poultry companies.
Note that "a production contract can be defined as
an agreement under which a producer agrees to feed and
care for livestock owned by a contractor in return for a
payment," according to the Livestock Production Contract
Checklist from the Office of the Iowa Attorney General.
Production contracts should be distinguished from
marketing agreements and other contracts where the
livestock or crops produced are owned by the producer.
Contract farming is changing the role of the farmer.
He seems willing to get larger, buy the new technology, try
the new seed, raise animals he's never raised before, give
up his legendary independence--anything to get back to a
life in the country, improve the cash flow, or just keep the
However, the 30-year experience of the contract
poultry growers has taught them that what started out as a
good thing has gone completely out of control. Local
owners of the poultry companies have been replaced by
faceless, corporate giants who squeeze the farmers, the
processing plants, and the communites where they operate
for every last dime of profit by whatever means, legal or
illegal, in order to compete with other large corporations.
If contract farming is becoming the trend of the
future, then farmers need to have some input into their
contracts. Poultry farmers are working to get a law passed
that gives them this right. Meanwhile, any farmer who
considers producing under a farm contract should make
sure he understands every aspect of the written agreement.
Consult with an attorney, financial lender, agricultural
consultant, or other producers who have experience with
contracts before committing to a contractual obligation.
A Farmer's Legal Guide to Production Contracts, 1995, by
Neil D. Hamilton. Identifies and addresses many of the
legal issues which can arise under contracting, and contains
valuable checklists concerning what questions to ask when
considering a contract. 175 pp. Order by sending a check
for $16.95 payable to Drake University to: Legal Guide to
Production Contracts, Drake University, Agricultural Law
Center, Des Moines, IA 50311; 515-271-2947.
For more information on contracts in poultry farming,
contact Mary Clouse, Poultry Project Director, RAFI-USA,
PO Box 655, Pittsboro, NC 27312; 919-545-0945, or John
Morrison, National Contract Poultry Growers Assoc., PO
Box 824, Ruston, LA 71273; 800-259-8100.
GET A COPY OF PROPOSED NATIONAL ORGANIC STANDARDS
If you want 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; e-mail
Those of you with access to the World Wide Web
can also check the USDA Home Page under AMS
Programs for current information. This address is:
For more information about the National Organic
Program in general, contact Michael Sligh, PO Box 4672,
Chapel Hill, NC 27514; 919-929-7099; e-mail
SUSTAINABLE AG GRANTS AVAILABLE FROM SOUTHERN SARE/ACE
The Southern SARE/ACE Program will once again
award grants to researchers, educators, and farmers in the
field of sustainable agriculture over the next year. Three
types of grants are available--for general research and
education, for training ag professionals, and for producer
research and education.
The deadline for preproposals for general research
and education grants will be September 1. Priority areas
for funding in 1997 include projects that address value-
added processing and marketing, quality of life and social
impacts, or the challenges of limited resource farmers.
Producers are especially encouraged to seek grants
for research or education projects on their farms. The
deadline for proposals for producer grants will be January
Watch for details about these grant programs in
upcoming issues of the Southern SARE/ACE newsletter,
Common Ground. If you are not on the Southern
SARE/ACE mailing list and would like to be added, or
have further questions, contact Gwen Roland, Southern
SARE/ACE Program, 1109 Experiment St., Griffin, GA
30223-1797; 770-412-4786; e-mail
PUBLICATIONS OF NOTE
Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise, 3rd
Edition, 1996, Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN).
Compiled by staff of ATTRA, the directory lists contact
information, areas of expertise, and profiles on over 700
organizations and individuals involved with sustainable
agriculture. Includes seven indexes for cross-referencing.
280 pp. $18.95. Make check or money order payable to
"Sustainable Agriculture Publications," SAN, Hills
Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-
Production Flexibility Contracts: A Guide to the New
Flexibility Provisions of the Federal Agriculture
Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Midwest SAWG
and Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. This free brochure
is a good reference for farmers who are trying to sort out
what the "Freedom to Farm" provision in the 1996 Farm
Bill means for them. It explains that farmers now will be
permitted unlimited haying and grazing on all contract
acres, which may encourage rotational grazing and/or
diversification of farm operations to include livestock. It
also clarifies which crops may be planted on contract
acreage under the new law, as well as eligibility
requirements to sign up for the new seven year program.
For a copy, contact Brad DeVries, Sustainable Agriculture
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
June 8-9: The Basics of Organizing and Operating Credit
Unions, Epes, AL. (repeated Aug 15-16) Part of workshop
series in Cooperative Economic Development offered by
Federation of Southern Co-ops Training Center, 205-652-
July 11-14: Mississippi River Conference: The Spirit of
Survival, Univesity of MO at St. Louis. For more
information contact the Mississippi River Basin Alliance,
August 8-11: 3rd Annual Carolina Farm Stewardship
Assoc. & Southeastern Permaculture Gathering, Arthur
Morgan School, Celo, NC. For information contact Tony
August 13-16: The Delta: Connecting Points of View for
Sustainable Natural Resources, Cook Convention Center,
Memphis, TN. For information contact the National Assoc.
of Conservation Districts Delta Conference, 202-547-6223.
August 15-16: The Basics of Cooperative Economic
Development and Sustainable Agriculture Workshops,
Epes, AL. For information contact the Federation of
Southern Coops Training Center, 205-652-9676.
Connect Mail Sent: May 10, 1996 8:10 am PDT Item: R00RA29