Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
FAX: (501) 442-9842
*SARE SEEKS FARMERS & NONPROFITS FOR EXTENSION TRAINING
*ATTRA JOINS NEW NATIONAL BIOLOGICAL SURVEY
*RASMUSSEN NAMED WESTERN SARE COORDINATOR
*COMMODITY & ENVIRONMENTAL REPS ATTEND ATTRA DC WORKSHOP
*SUSTAINABLE AG ADVOCATES FASHION '95 FARM BILL
*AERO IS SUSTAINABLE AG DATA WINNER
*FARMERS WANTED FOR DIRECTORY OF EXPERTISE
*ATTRA WELCOMES DUFOUR
*RUGEN ATTENDS FWS IPM SESSION
*ADAM SPEAKS TO BISMARCK AUDIENCE
*FARMER'S BOOKSHELF: "REAL DIRT" A GOOD BUY
*ATTRA RESOURCE CENTER HOUSES UNIQUE COLLECTION
*PROGRAM MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK: PIPES, PLANS & POLICY
*ATTRA NEW & REVISED MATERIALS OFFERED
SARE SEEKS FARMERS & NONPROFITS FOR EXTENSION TRAINING
Farmers and nonprofit groups are being sought to help the
Cooperative Extension Service train its agents in sustainable
agriculture through "Regionwide Extension Training
Consortiums consisting of classroom and on-farm trainers will be
established in each of the four USDA Sustainable Agriculture
Research & Education (SARE) regions, according to Jim Bushnell,
USDA National Program Leader for Agronomy and chairman of the
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative - Extension. The Northeast SARE
region has been selected as the first region to send out proposals
for one of the new network/consortiums, he said.
Fred Magdoff, Northeast SARE program coordinator at the University
of Vermont, said that his office sent proposals for consortium
projects and coordinators to interested organizations and
individuals on January 24. The proposals are due back on March 2,
Representatives of the Western, North Central and Southern SARE
regions said proposals had not been formulated by their offices.
Interested parties in those regions should contact SARE offices
for further information.
The 1990 Farm Bill mandated that training occur to help the
Extension Service and other USDA agency personnel to increase
their understanding and proficiency in sustainable agriculture.
Congress in 1993 approved $2.96 million to establish the
Original proposals by the USDA called for establishing a series of
"training centers" around the U.S., Bushnell said. However, at a
planning meeting on January 14, organizers opted to establish
"network/consortiums" so that training of Extension agents would
not occur "under one roof in the classroom" but in classrooms,
on-farm sites and other places in each SARE region.
Councils create consortiums
Magdoff said administrative councils in each SARE region will
approve groups and individuals for the consortiums. The councils
will thus play a key role in shaping individual consortiums for
each region by selecting up to perhaps a dozen or so groups and
individuals to conduct the Extension agent training, he noted.
Consortiums in each SARE region will thus be very distinctive.
Two proposal calls
Two calls for proposals - for a regional coordinator and for
training projects - were mailed Jan. 24 from Northeast SARE
headquarters at Burlington, VT.
"The (Consortium) faculty will consist of appropriate Extension
personnel, farmers and members of private, nonprofit institutions
from throughout the Northeast," the proposals state.
"Training...will occur in various locations within the region,
both in a classroom-type setting, on experimental farms and on
Approximately $10,000 will be allocated by the Northeast Region
State Extension Directors in conjunction with the region's SARE
Administrative Council to help initiate the strategic planning
process for sustainable agriculture training, the proposals state.
"The proposals being requested...are for activities in addition to
those that will be made possible with the state's $10,000
allocation," they explain.
The Northeast SARE region consists of 12 states and the District
Applicants are asked in the Northeast SARE proposals to identify a
coordinator, describe the person's sustainable agriculture
background, provide details about the institution and any matching
funds which will be used to help accomplish the consortium's
goals, and submit a budget.
According to the Northeast SARE proposals, consortium projects
will include training that "will take place on commercial farms,
workshops, conferences (including use of satellite or other
interactive TV technologies), development of materials (such as
fact sheets, handbooks and manuals, videos etc.), or combinations
of these or other activities.
"Projects that have a scope beyond a single state are strongly
encouraged," the proposals state. "Projects that involve farmers
as meaningful participants (instructors or providers of
information, reviewers of materials etc.) are also strongly
encouraged, as are those that foster a partnership between public
and private sector efforts and between 1862 and 1890 institutions.
"Project subject matter can deal with any agricultural endeavor
including animal agriculture, agronomic crops, and horticultural
crops," the proposal continues. "Projects may also include
training in the area of effects of practices and technologies on
the quality of life for farmers and rural communities. Projects
may also deal with training in the basics (approach and
philosophy) of sustainable agriculture."
ATTRA JOINS NEW NATIONAL BIOLOGICAL SURVEY
ATTRA in 1994 will move from auspices of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service to the newly created National Biological Survey (NBS),
which is also part of the U.S. Interior Department.
"The move will not affect how ATTRA functions as a national
sustainable agriculture information provider or its participation
in some key Fish & Wildlife Service programs," ATTRA Program
Manager Jim Lukens said. "We will still be funded by the U.S.
Interior Department and our contact there will still be Duncan
MacDonald of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
Interior Department planners concluded that ATTRA, because of the
nature of services it provides, should become part of the NBS
"Technology Development and Transfer" division, Lukens said. Other
NBS segments are "Inventory and Monitoring" and "Research," which
will entail species biology, population dynamics and ecosystems.
Proposed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, the NBS
will combine the biological research and survey activities of
eight existing Department of the Interior bureaus into one group.
Its objectives are to reduce duplication and overlap of biological
research efforts in the Department, and to more effectively set
priorities for research goals. Currently, biological research
activities are scattered throughout the Fish & Wildlife Service,
National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of land
"The survey has a simple, yet awesome mission - catalogue
everything that walks, crawls, swims or flies around this
country," says Rep. Gerry E. Studds (D-MA), committee chairman of
the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. "The purpose of
this counting is to know what we've got and where it is, so our
resource managers can make the right decisions - based on good
science - and, as Secretary Babbitt often puts it, avoid
environmental train wrecks. The Survey represents a unique
opportunity to keep our environmental trains on track."
RASMUSSEN NAMED WESTERN SARE COORDINATOR
Soil Scientist Dr. V. Philip Rasmussen of Utah State University
has been named coordinator of the Western Region Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education program.
Administrative offices for Western SARE region will be relocated
from the University of California to Utah by March 1. However, the
office for Western SARE Communications Specialist Kristen Kelleher
will remain at UC-Davis (916-752-5987).
"Phil Rasmussen is an excellent choice for coordinating the
program," says David Schlegel of UC-Oakland, who has been Western
SARE program coordinator since its beginnings in the late 1980s.
"Phil is a scientist of merit, a sustainable agriculture
specialist and an innovator in developing communications tools and
technology that can bridge the gap between academic gains and
application in the real world."
Schlegel, who is professor emeritus and longtime administrator of
the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been
praised by UC officials for "putting the SARE program on a sound,
sustainable basis in the Western region."
Rasmussen currently heads USU's Agricultural Systems Technology
and Education Department. In addition to coordinating Western
SARE, he will oversee the companion grants program ACE
(Agriculture in Concert with the Environment), which focuses on
mitigating agricultural pollution.
"Sustainability means much more than reducing chemical and
off-farm inputs," Rasmussen says. "It means developing a total
system that can feed the world, while protectng our communities
and the environment. I am convinced that our Land-grant system can
do this - if we focus our efforts and increase our commitment."
SARE, authorized by Congress in the 1990 Farm Bill and managed by
the USDA, is a competitive grants program aimed at expanding
knowledge and adoption of farming practices which are
environmentally, economically and socially sound. The national
initiative is directed regionally by four councils which consist
of farmers, scientists, land-use experts and administrators.
Since 1988, Congress has allocated $44 million to the national
SARE/ACE program. About $9 million of those funds were earmarked
for Western SARE, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon,
Utah, Washington, Wyoming and the Island Protectorates.
Rasmussen can be contacted at: Utah State University, Agricultural
Systems Technology and Education Department, UMC-2300, Logan, UT
84322-2300, (phone) 801-750-2257, (fax) 801-750-4002,
COMMODITY & ENVIRONMENTAL REPS ATTEND ATTRA DC WORKSHOP
Two groups of national agricultural commodity lobbyists and
environmentalists learned about ATTRA's work in sustainable
agriculture at workshops on Dec. 15-16 in Washington, D.C.
"Our goal was to inform these influential people who help to shape
America's agricultural and environmental policy about the
information services we provide to farmers and other
agriculturists," ATTRA Senior Technical Specialist Alice Beetz
Groups attending the workshops are affiliated with people who
manage millions of acres of crop, range and conservation lands.
Such organizations as The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife
Fund attended the first day's workshop.
"The Nature Conservancy was very interested in how ATTRA is
helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish integrated
pest management programs with their cooperating farmers at 140
national wildlife refuges," Beetz said. "The Nature Consevancy has
launched a pilot program in Ohio to help farmers grow crops on
Conservancy-owned lands using sustainable agriculture practices."
The World Wildlife fund has a project in the Great LAkes area
focused on nonpoint pollution from farmlands and so is also
working on agricultural production issues, Beetz said.
She said representatives of the two organizations were pleased
that they could refer to ATTRA for agricultural
Also in attendance at the workshops were staff members of Senator
Dale Bumpers (D-AR) and Senator Rusell Feingold (D-WI), the
Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Center for Policy
Alternatives, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, McMahon and
Associates, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture
and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
At the second workshop, representatives from 10 mainstream
agricultural organizations learned how ATTRA, via its 800-lines
and 21 staff members, provided the latest sustainable agriculture
information to 12,000 callers in 1993.
Attending this workshop were lobbyists for the National
Cattlemen's Association, United fresh Fruit and Vegetable
Association, National Farmers Union, National Council of Farmer
Cooperatives, National Cooperative Business Association, National
Turkey Federation, National Food Processors Association, American
Horticultural Society, National Agricultural Chemicals Association
and National Milk Producers Federation.
"Many of the people at this workshop had heard little about
ATTRA," Beetz said. "We had a constructive discussion about how
ATTRA can interact with their organizations, as we do with so many
others, so that they and the farmers they serve can access
sustainable agriculture information from us."
While in Washington, Beetz visited Mike Fernandez, an aide to
Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Agriculture
Committee. She also talked to Julie Anton and Michael Hankin of
the USDA for an update of their work on the development of
baseline minimum organic certification standards and a system of
federal accreditation for organic certification programs.
SUSTAINABLE AG ADVOCATES FASHION '95 FARM BILL
Sustainable agriculture advocates can help fashion the 1995 Farm
Bill by offering their input in the "National Dialogue for
Created by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating
Council (NSACC), the "National Dialogue" seeks to stimulate a
national discussion on sustainable agriculture and to encourage
broad popular participation in defining federal policy options.
NSACC also seeks to win passage of sustainable agriculture
policies through public participation and activities during policy
NSACC will meet to discuss and plan future action on policy
options from Feb. 26-27 at Alexandria, VA. For further
information, contact Amy Little, NSACC, 32 N. Church Street,
Goshen, NY 10924, (914) 294-0633.
AERO IS SUSTAINABLE AG DATA WINNER
Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) of Helena, MT,
was named the "Sustainable Agriculture Data Winner" at the
Distinguished Appropriate Technology Awards on Nov. 4 at
Washington, D.C. AERO received the award for its "Farm
Improvement Club Organizing Project." Held this year at the
National Press Club, the annual DATA awards are sponsored by the
National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) of Butte, MT,
which administers ATTRA.
In 1990, AERO started a program designed to help agricultural
producers in Montana learn how to farm more sustainably in this
semi-arid region of mostly small grains and beef production.
Through competitive small grants of up to $800 each, a minimum of
four producers and community leaders form a "farm improvement
club" that cooperatively designs and conducts projects to meet
their locally identified needs. The clubs serve as an entry point
into sustainable agriculture for producers who may have previously
felt isolated or unsure of where to start. The group aspect
multiplies the learning opportunities and reduces the risk, and
lends credibility to sustainable agriculture in the larger
AERO serves the needs of low-income farmers as well as others by
reducing the financial risk of experimenting with and/or adopting
sustainable farming methods.
FARMERS WANTED FOR DIRECTORY OF EXPERTISE
American farmers and other nominees with special know-how in
sustainable agriculture are wanted for inclusion in the 1994
edition of the Sustainable Agriculture Network's Directory of
Compiled by ATTRA, the first edition of the directory was
published in June of 1993 and contains biographical sketches of
717 people and groups nationwide with expertise in such topics as
building soil health, finding new pest-control tools, and
diversifying cash flow. The directory is a project of the
Sustainable Agriculture Network, a coalition of sustainable
agriculture working groups and is funded by the USDA's Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.
Interested persons may contact ATTRA by calling 1-800-346-9140.
ATTRA WELCOMES DUFOUR
ATTRA will welcome a new technical specialist in February. Rex
Dufour from Woodland, CA, recently returned to the U.S.
after 3 years with agricultural and rural development projects in
Laos with the U.S. Embassy and 5 years in Thailand with the Peace
Corps and the United Nations. Rex earned his MS degree in
integrated pest management (IPM) from University of California at
Riverside. He brings experience based on over 10 years of
working with U.S. and international farmers and agricultural
professionals on IPM and diverse sustainable agriculture and
RUGEN ATTENDS FWS IPM SESSION
ATTRA Senior Technical Specialist Chris Rugen attended the fourth
workshop for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "IPM Coordinators,"
Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the Sacramento Valley National Wildlife
Refuge at Willows, CA. ATTRA is helping FWS to implement
integrated pest management programs at national refuges where
crops are raised.
FWS has mandated that IPM practices be implemented on refuges
where local farmers under cooperative agreements leave a portion
of the feedgrain crop on the refuge for wildlife to consume.
To assist IPM coordinators, ATTRA this month mailed a special news
supplement to 550 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Park
Service personnel. The supplement featured news about
work-in-progress on several wildlife refuges and resources the
coordinators could contact for IPM assistance.
ADAM SPEAKS TO BISMARCK AUDIENCE
ATTRA Information Specialist Katherine Adam spoke about ATTRA
services and "Opportunities in Dried Florals" on Jan. 6 at the
"Marketplace '94" conference at Bismarck, ND. The conference was
co-chaired by U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and North Dakota
Agriculture Secretary Sarah Vogel.
FARMER'S BOOKSHELF: "REAL DIRT" A GOOD BUY
Review by Dori Green
While The Real Dirt, a new publication from the Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), won't turn
wannabe's into successful farmers all by itself, it's definitely
one of those "I wish I'd had it when I started" tools. I
guarantee it'll be dog-eared and mud-stained within a week of
arrival because it's honest-to-goodness useful right out there in
Some books about growing things are best savored slowly with a
glass of wine and a glowing woodstove. The Real Dirt is enjoyable
this way too. It's like a visit with old and new and not-yet-met
friends, the 60 farmers in eight northeast states who were
interviewed to provide the material for the book.
But this is not another organic gardening book: this one is about
farming organically. Yes, many of the techniques discussed under
"Cover Crops" and "Compost" and "Crop Management" will work in a
garden. But The Real Dirt is confronting agricultural issues on a
larger scale, from one acre to 600. It also discusses livestock,
markets, certification, and making a living.
Maybe the biggest difference about The Real Dirt is its honesty.
Agriculture of any kind in the short growing season of the
Northeast is not easy, and the organic or low-input variety faces
some very special challenges. These are not minimized, but are
dealt with openly and courageously. From fighting weed pressure
when chemical herbicides are reduced, to finding and keeping
markets, this book will help you stay in business to plant again
Technical information is here for farmers who want to lower their
synthetic inputs and for those who are coming to agriculture from
previous lives and careers. The Real Dirt also includes a too
often neglected item in the sustainability equation: the farmers
and consumers who are breaking new ground and designing an
entirely new food system. Within these pages people converse, and
share, and bring culture back to the business of agriculture.
I'm giving several copies of The Real Dirt to non-farming friends.
They'll enjoy the read with or without a woodstove, and when
they're done, they'll have a much better appreciation of what's on
their dinner plates and how it came to be there.
The Real Dirt, a Northeast SARE publication, is available for
$13.95 plus $3.50 postage and handling. Order by mail from
NOFA-NY, PO Box 21, South Butler, NY 13154-0021. Make check
payable to NOFA-NY.
Dori Green is a Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener and
president of the Central Southern Tier chapter of NOFA-NY. She
farms part-time with Percheron horses.
ATTRA RESOURCE CENTER HOUSES UNIQUE COLLECTION
Browsing the shelves in ATTRA's Resource Center, you will find
2,800 books ranging from orthodox agricultural manuals to lexicons
odd and unique.
Staples like Bill Murphy's popular "Greener Pastures on Your Side
of the Fence" describing Voisin grazing management are here, and
so are rare tomes like the National Research Council's "Lost Crops
of the Incas" about little-known plants of the Andes with promise
for worldwide cultivation.
The Resource Center's periodical section houses 530 newsletters,
trade tabloids and magazines, listed alphabetically from the
"American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners Newsletter"
to "Wyoming Stockman Farmer" magazine.
"Our Resource Center houses one of the largest special collections
of sustainable agriculture information in the U.S.," Senior
Library Specialist Carol Warriner says.
ATTRA's 15 technical and information specialists electronically
access a host of conventional libraries around the U.S. in their
daily search for the latest information about sustainable
agriculture. But they rely most heavily on ATTRA's own depository
of highly-specialized information.
"Part of our focus is to collect what is called in library circles
gray or fugitive literature and make it accessible to our staff,"
Warriner explains. "That kind of literature is often difficult to
obtain and hard to catalogue. A good deal of it is not published
according to conventional standards. Some of it is experiential
information, such as reports of on-farm research conducted by
farmers and ranchers."
Other kinds of "gray" literature include proceedings from
conferences or workshops, how-to manuals and newsletters.
Warriner says that academic libraries tend not to collect gray
literature, largely because it is not available through
conventional publishing or purchasing channels. They also focus on
scientifically-verified information to support teaching and
Direct access to the Resource Center and to the University of
Arkansas libraries allows specialists to provide a customized
response to the question at hand.
"Our specialists are especially interested in finding out what
someone tried out on their farm - whether it worked or not,"
Warriner in 1993 earned a Master of Library Science from Texas
Woman's University of Denton, TX. Other Resource Center staff
members include Research Specialist Betty Blomberg and Tracey
Smith, a student intern from the University of Arkansas.
ATTRA staff members read a tremendous amount of information in
order to stay abreast of sustainable agriculture happenings.
Magazines, advertisements, catalogues and conference announcements
are routed to the specialists.
"The specialists in their readings look for mention of newly
published books and subscriptions, farming techniques, alternative
methods, equipment, plant varieties and animal production,"
Warriner says. "They also learn about new sustainable agriculture
data by talking to farmers, researchers and other information
providers at conferences and workshops and by phone. And they
browse the electronic networks and list servers every day. We
track down print versions of all this information for the Resource
The Resource Center regularly circulates a "new acquisitions" list
to ATTRA staffers to keep them abreast of the arrival of new books
"Right now we are a paper-generated library but we are working to
computerize our holdings in the not too distant future," Warriner
The ATTRA Resource Center is not a lending library, Warriner says.
"However, people can make an appointment to use our library on
site for research," she says. "But the best way for most people to
access its storehouse of knowledge is to pose a question about
sustainable agriculture by calling 1-800-346-9140."
PROGRAM MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK: PIPES< PLANS & POLICY
By Jim Lukens
ATTRA Program Manager
Mid-winter worry list,1994:
1. Thaw frozen drain line: (It sure is getting old
carrying those buckets of dish water out.)
2. Complete 1994 financial analysis: (I don't think I made
any money this year. It would be nice to do some
profit analysis on each enterprise this year. I wonder
if those cows are really paying their way. Oh well, I
will probably be doing good to get my taxes figured.)
3. Recondition mower: (It really was a struggle to get
through the heavy grass in the slough last summer.)
4. Get involved in 1995 Farm Bill debate: (This will be an
important bill this year -- could really impact my
farm. But what difference could I make? I'd better
get after that drain line.)
I grew up believing that January is planning time on the farm,
but have come to realize that in many cases little long-range
planning really gets done. There is always something more
pressing that needs to be done! It is easy to be so busy doing
what we are doing -- and trying to do it better -- that we don't
take time to reconsider what we should be doing.
Perhaps it is time to break that pattern! Consider your
priorities. Discuss the long-term goals for your farm with your
family. Consider some significant innovations in your cropping
or livestock system. Learn about possible changes to the Farm
Bill, form your own opinions, and join efforts with others who
want to see sustainable agriculture encouraged.
And if, in your planning, you need some practical, reliable
information about sustainable farming practices, give us a call
at ATTRA. We have considered our priorities, and providing that
critical information to you is what we should be doing to advance
ATTRA NEW & REVISED MATERIALS OFFERED:
*Organic Strawberry Production
*Nonconventional Soil Amendments
To request the materials, call 1-800-346-9140.)
TODAY'S QUOTE: "The outstanding scientific discovery of the 20th
Century is not television or radio, but rather the complexity of
the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can
appreciate how little is known about it. The last word in
ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: What good is
it?...To keep every cog amd wheel is the first precaution of
intelligent tinkering." - Aldo Leopold, Conservationist