The sustainable agriculture community's victory last year in
getting Congress to appropriate first time funding of $3 million
for the Sustainable Agriculture Technology Development and Transfer
Program nearly came to an abrupt halt. For four months, an intense
debate brewed within USDA as to just how it planned to use the
At times, proposals to not spend any money on the designated
program seemed to be prevailing. Then opponents within federal
Extension proposed splitting the money between several programs.
After that failed, opponents insisted that the funds would not be
allocated to the four SARE host institutions and Regional
Administrative Councils, as required by law. And so it went. Each
time it would appear that the issues were settled, new roadblocks
would be erected.
Finally, under the leadership of USDA Deputy Secretary Richard
Rominger, the matter was resolved in a way that reflected the legal
requirements of both the Smith-Lever Act and the 1990 Farm Bill and
reflected the interests of the sustainable agriculture community.
Along the way, important letters and phone calls were made by
Senators Bumpers, Leahy, Kohl, Kerrey, and Daschle, among others,
to help resolve the situation favorably.
The new program will establish sustainable agriculture training
consortia in each of the four SARE regions to address the critical
task of training Extension agents and specialists, SCS and ASCS
field personnel, and others in the concepts and practices of
sustainable agriculture. Each state will designate a sustainable
agriculture extension coordinator and each region will have a
consortium coordinator. The bulk of the money will be used to fund
training programs to be awarded competitively.
Calls for proposals for the consortia coordinators ,and for training
projects, are currently or are about to be circulating in each
Ferd Hoefner, Washington representative of the Sustainable
[As reported in THE CONSORTIUM FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND
EDUCATION NEWSLETTER, #1, February, 1994, p. 6.]