TABLES OF CONTENTS:
Des Moines Register Asks: Who Shapes Farm Policy? 1
National Dialogue Sets Farm Bill Priorities 2
Wallace Institute Elects New Officers 2
Tuft's Offers New Master's Program 3
Contour Strip Intercropping Can Reduce Erosion 3
Jim Bender's Book Published 3
California Seeks Research Proposals 4
Recycler Turns Compost Into Pesticides 4
Upcoming Events 5
DES MOINES REGISTER ASKS: WHO SHAPES U.S. FARM POLICY?
Who has the power to shape U.S. agriculture policy? How is
that power wielded? What do Iowa farmers think about current
farm policy, and how do they want to change it?
These are among the many questions asked and answered by a
five-part series in the Des Moines Register late last month. The
articles found that "the grip of traditional agriculture powers
is weakening, as are the programs that trace their roots to
Franklin Roosevelt's efforts to save small farmers from the Great
Depression." One of the reasons for the movement toward
reduction in subsidies is the increasing power of
environmentalists, who want to redirect commodity program
benefits into "green payments" to farmers who emphasize
conservation practices and low use of agricultural chemicals,
according to the first article. According to the newspaper, the
five political leaders who "represent the strongest forces
shaping U.S. agricultural policy" are Kenneth Cook, head of the
Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C.; U.S. Senator Bob
Dole (R-KS), White House Budget Director Leon Panetta,
Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, and Dean Kleckner, President of
the American Farm Bureau.
The newspaper found that "Iowa farmers believe that
environmental groups have about as much clout in Washington as
groups formed to represent them, including the Farm Bureau and
the American Soybean Association." But a separate Register
survey of farm policy experts found that farm policy was
dominated by insiders who responded both to pressures from well-
organized commodity groups, and grudgingly to budget,
environmental, and urban forces.
A poll of 570 Iowa farmers' opinions about farm policy,
published in the newspaper's last article, found that 25% favor
expanding the Conservation Reserve program; 56% want it kept as
is; 15% want it reduced; and 4% were not sure. Just 11% want the
"swampbuster" rules for wetlands expanded; 34% want them kept as
is; 47% want them reduced; and 8% were not sure. The poll also
found that 39% of those surveyed felt that environmental groups
have a great deal of influence on shaping farm policy; 46% felt
they had some influence; 14% felt they had not much influence;
and 1% were not sure. Asked "to what extent current U.S. farm
policy emphasizes protecting the environment," 33% said too much;
15%, too little; 50%, about right; and 2% were not sure.
NATIONAL DIALOGUE SETS PRIORITIES FOR 1995 FARM BILL
The 300 delegates from 42 states who attended the National
Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture's Second National Conference
late last month agreed on a set of priorities for the 1995 Farm
Bill. Those priorities include new incentives for farmers to
reduce pollution, initiatives to stimulate processing and
marketing of local food products, the redirection of federal
research and education, provisions to stem the loss of minority-
owned farms, trade policy considerations, and changing commodity
programs to ensure that limited federal dollars are used more
wisely and targeted to support family farmers who are willing to
protect the environment. "We all compromised our positions in
order to involve multiple constituencies behind shared goals,"
said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs in
Nebraska. "This meeting has put us on the way to fundamentally
shifting farm policy. We will have hundreds of people making
calls and writing letters to support policies that they helped
develop themselves." The two-day meeting was sponsored by the
National Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating Council, 32 North
Church St., Goshen, N.Y. 10924; (914) 294-0633.
WALLACE INSTITUTE BOARD ELECTS NEW OFFICERS, INSTALLS NEW MEMBERS
The Wallace Institute Board of Directors early this month
elected new officers for the coming year, and installed five new
members. The new President is Michael Heller, Director of The
Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, a 285-acre research and
demonstration farm operated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to
educate farmers and the public on environmentally sound farming
methods. The new Vice President is Dr. David F. Bezdicek,
Professor of Soils at Washington State University; Secretary is
Dr. William C. Liebhardt, who directs the Sustainable Agriculture
Program at the University of California-Davis; and Treasurer is
Dr. Anne K. Vidaver, Chairperson of the Department of Plant
Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The new members of
the Board are: Dr. Cornelia Butler Flora, Professor and Head,
Department of Sociology, Virginia Polytechnic and State
University; Dr. James William Gibbons, owner of a family-run
small fruit and vegetable farm in Ozark, Arkansas, and former
Senior Rice Scientist, Centro International de Agricultura
Tropical (CIAT), Colombia, South America; Dr. Esther Nickel of
the Religious Sisters of Mercy, Jackson, MN, Ph.D. in agronomy,
and manager of a student learning center for practical farm
experience; Kenneth J. Taylor, Executive Director of Minnesota
Food Association, and former Chair, North Central Region
Administrative Council, USDA SARE Program; and Gregory C. Watson,
Eastern Regional Director, The Nature Conservancy, Boston,
Massachusetts, and former Commissioner, Massachusetts Department
of Food and Agriculture.
TUFTS OFFERS MASTER'S PROGRAM IN AGRICULTURE, FOOD, AND
Tufts University's School of Nutrition, in collaboration
with the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, has a new
master's program in Agriculture, Food, and Environment, which
addresses growing interest in the interconnections among
environmental, social, nutritional, and safety aspects of food
production, and the need to consider all those aspects in
developing solutions to problems in any one area. Students are
admitted through the School of Nutrition on a rolling admissions
basis for the Spring and Fall semesters. For more information,
contact Lori Anderson, Coordinator of Student Services, School of
Nutrition, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155.
CONTOUR STRIP INTERCROPPING CAN REDUCE EROSION, ENERGY COSTS
The effects of contour strip intercropping and rotations in
reducing soil erosion, input and energy costs, and off-farm
effects of crop production are being studied in eastern Nebraska,
with funding from the SARE program. The use of contour strip
intercropping is an acceptable method of meeting federal
requirements on minimizing soil erosion on sloping lands, and is
much more rapid, less costly, and less disruptive than terracing
to the topsoil on which crops depend. This research project is
comparing diversified strip intercropped and crop rotation
landscapes with monoculture corn and corn-soybean rotations on
highly erodible land. It is also calculating the biological,
ecological, economic, and water quality impacts of these systems
on single fields, whole farms, and watersheds in terms of yields,
net returns, energy use and savings, soil erosion control, and
water quality. For more information, contact Charles Francis,
Project Coordinator, Cropping Systems and Extension Specialist,
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; (402) 472-1581.
JIM BENDER'S BOOK, FUTURE HARVEST: PESTICIDE-FREE FARMING, IS
Future Harvest: Pesticide-Free Farming, a 160-page book by
Jim Bender, has been published by University of Nebraska Press as
Volume 5 in the series, "Our Sustainable Future." In his book,
Bender, a former President and current Board Member of the
Wallace Institute, addresses the crucial issues involved in
developing a viable commercial pesticide-free farm with emphasis
upon soil and water conservation. He examines the context of
contemporary alternative agriculture, provides a rationale for
the goal of complete freedom from pesticides, and offers a
detailed description of practical steps for farmers wishing to do
the same. He also addresses the crucial role of livestock in
pesticide-free farming, and demonstrates the practical and
conceptual plausibility of pesticide-free farming. Bender is a
farmer in Weeping Water, Nebraska, where his farm has been free
of insecticides and herbicides since 1980, and free of synthetic
fertilizers since 1987. Future Harvest is $21 plus $3.50
shipping from University of Nebraska Press, 312 N. 14th St., P.O.
Box 880484, Lincoln, NE 68588-0484.
CALIFORNIA SEEKS PROPOSALS TO IMPROVE FERTILIZER USE
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is seeking
proposals for research and education projects to advance the
environmentally safe and agronomically sound use and handling of
fertilizer materials. A project suggestion not to exceed two
pages must be submitted to CDFA's Fertilizer Research and
Education Program before April 7. Proposals may focus on
education and public information; irrigation interactions; quick
fertility diagnostic tools and methods; nutrient/pest
interactions; fertilization practices; practical applications of
geographic information systems (GIS); and handling transfer and
storage of fertilizer materials. To obtain a copy of the request
for proposals, call Debbie Scott or Jacques Franco, (916) 653-
5340; or write to CDFA/FREP, 1220 N St., Sacramento, CA 95814.
COMPOST IS BEING TURNED INTO "NATURAL" PESTICIDES BY RECYCLER
Land Recovery Inc. in Washington is taking compost beyond
its typical fertilizer function by turning it into natural
pesticides and fungicides, according to a recent article in The
New York Times. "The idea is to treat the compost, produced here
from yard wastes, with microorganisms specifically designed to
attack the fungi and bacterial diseases that horticulturists now
typically fight with chemicals," the article says. The
commercially available microorganisms are natural enemies of
fungi or microbes that cause bacterial plant diseases.
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association seeks
applicants for its year-round farm apprenticeship program;
contact Rosey Guest, Apprentice Placement Coordinator, RD 1, Box
1100, Coopers Mills, ME 04341; (207) 549-7205.
Land Stewardship Project seeks a Communications Coordinator;
send letter, resume, and several writing and publication samples
to Dana Jackson, Associate Director, LSP, 14758 Ostlund Trail
North, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047; (612) 433-2770.
Dordt College seeks applicants for a two-year position with
teaching responsibility in farm management, applied agricultural
economics, and agronomy; doctorate required; send letter and
resume to Dr. Rockne McCarthy, V.P. for Academic Affairs, Dordt
College, 498 4th Ave. NE, Sioux Center, IA 51250.
University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy and Plant
Genetics seeks an Assistant Professor-Cropping Systems Agronomist
to be located at the Southwest Experiment Station in Lamberton,
MN; write/fax request for job description: Craig C. Sheaffer, 411
Borlaug Hall, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108; fax
(612) 625-1268; deadline is May 1.
Center for Citizen Initiatives, which runs programs between
the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R., seeks a Director, Agricultural
Initiative; send cover letter and resume to Dale Needles, Vice
President, Center for Citizen Initiatives, 3268 Sacramento St.,
San Francisco, CA 94115.
"Farm Animals in the Making of America" ($14), "Farm
Inventions in the Making of America" ($14), and "Farm Power in
the Making of America" ($19), three books by the late Paul C.
Johnson, have been republished and are available separately or as
a set for $45, plus $3/book or $5/set postage and handling, from
Institute for Agricultural Biodiversity Books, 2132 Pole Line
Rd., Decorah, IA 52101; Iowa customers, please add 5% sales tax.
National Sustainable Options Hotline, a service of the
Center for Rural Affairs and the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture
Working Group, is available to help farmers and ranchers explore
options under USDA sustainable agriculture, water quality,
conservation, and wetlands reserve programs; the number is (402)
491-3620; "Farm Program Options Guide," prepared by the
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, is also available for $5
from the Center, P.O. Box 406, Walthill, NE 68067.
"1993 Pacific Northwest On-Farm Test Results" is available
from Baird Miller, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences,
Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6420.
"A Pond Owner's Management Guide" is $7 from the Kerr Center
for Sustainable Agriculture, Attn: Lara Ervin, P.O. Box 588,
Poteau, OK 74953.
April 11-12, "Applied Research and Education in Sustainable
Agriculture: What Have We Learned?", sponsored by the North
Central Farm Management Extension Committee and the Farm
Foundation, will be held in Indianapolis, IN; call (515) 294-
April 13-15, "Hunger and Development: Balancing Actions;
Linking Local Solutions to Global Policies" will be held at Brown
University, Providence, R.I.; contact World Hunger Program, Box
1831, Brown University, Providence, R.I. 02912; Attn: Hunger
Briefing; fax: (401) 863-2192.
April 15 is the deadline for proposals for volunteer poster
papers for "Agroforestry and Sustainable Systems," a symposium to
be held in Fort Collins, CO, August 7-10; contact Bruce C. Wight,
National Windbreak Forests, SCS, 100 Centennial Mall North, Room
152, Lincoln, NE 68508-3866; (402) 437-5315.
April 15-16, "How to Win the Game," the Penn/Jersey Mid-
Atlantic Alternative Animal Conference, will be held in
Allentown, PA; contact Duane Stevenson, Penn State Farm
Management Agent, (215) 746-1970; Donna Foulk, Monroe County
Agent, (717) 992-7344; or Margie Margentino, RCE Livestock
Associate, (908) 932-9514.
April 19-22, Second National IPM Symposium/Workshop will be
held in Las Vegas, NV; contact Ronald J. Kuhr, Department of
Entomology, Box 7613, N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C. 27695.
April 20-22, Second Environmentally Sound Agriculture
Conference will be held in Orlando, FL; contact Pat Neilson,
University of Florida, Office of Conferences, P.O. Box 110750,
Gainesville, FL 32611-0750; (904) 392-5930.
April 25-30, "Clean Water Expo '94" will be held in
Chattanooga, TN; contact Land and Water 201, NFE2L-M, P.O. Box
1010, Muscle Shoals, AL 35660-1010; (205) 386-2543.
April 30-September 25, "Training for Trainers Course" for
trainers of sustainable agriculture and rural development will be
held at the Rural Development Service Group, Manuelitas, N.M.;
contact Admissions Committee, Rural Development Service Group,
HC69 Box 62, Rociada, N.M. 87742.
May 2-20, "Farming Systems Research & Extension: Diagnosis,
Design and Interpretation," a short course, will be held at the
International Training Division, University of Florida; contact
Lisette Staal, University of Florida, International Training
Division, IFAS, P.O. Box 110480, Gainesville, FL 32611; (904)