Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
FAX: (501) 442-9842
(Editor's note: Electronic ATTRAnews Digest is a quarterly
newsletter of Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas.
ATTRA is a national sustainable agriculture information center
which operates as a program of the National Center for
Appropriate Technology and is funded by the U.S. Department of
the Interior. Since 1987, ATTRA has prepared nearly 60,000
reports on sustainable agriculture practices and systems for U.S.
farmers and other professional agriculturists who have contacted
the center via its 800-lines. Jim Lukens serves as ATTRA program
leader. Teresa Maurer is ATTRA's assistant program leader.)
*ATTRA TO HELP COORDINATE EXTENSION TRAINING IN SOUTH
*NCAT CO-TRAINS CES AGENTS OUT WEST
*CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RECRUITS 300 MORE ORGS
*SARE DIRECTOR CANDIDATES INTERVIEWED
*USDA DEVELOPING ORGANIC REGULATIONS
*ATTRA HELPS PARK SERVICE ON NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY
*ATTRA 1995 FUNDING IS APPROVED
*AYERS ELECTED TO ALBC
*SECOND EDITION DIRECTORY OF EXPERTISE TO DEBUT
*DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST BRYANT JOINS ATTRA
*PROGRAM MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK
*ATTRA ON THE ROAD AGAIN IN QUEST OF SUS AG INFO
*NEW OR REVISED ATTRA MATERIALS
ATTRA TO HELP COORDINATE EXTENSION TRAINING IN SOUTH
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
Training project proposals submitted and approved in the four
SARE regions were:
*Northeast - 9 proposals submitted, 5 funded
*South - 17 proposals submitted, 6 funded
*North Central - 15 proposals submitted, 3 funded
*West - 28 proposals submitted, 6 funded.
In addition to the NCSU/NC A&T/ATTRA team in the South, other
regional coordinators (selected from a field of 12 applicants)
*Northeast - Pennsylvania State University & Rodale Institute
*North Central - Michigan State University
*Western - UC-Davis and NCAT
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
Southern regional coordinators are now soliciting nominations
for the 12-member committee, which is expected to meet next
"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
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.
NCAT CO-TRAINS CES AGENTS OUT WEST
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
CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RECRUITS 300 MORE ORGS
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
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
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:
*Reform federal farm programs to foster family farms and
*Strengthen conservation programs and encourage whole farm
*Redirect research and extension programs to promote sustainable
farming systems; promote access to farm ownership for minority
and beginning farmers;
*Improve conditions and fair pay for farmworkers;
*Encourage humane treatment of farm animals;
*Strengthen rural communities and support new cooperative local
marketing and new processing endeavors;
*Provide a safe and abundant food supply.
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.
SARE DIRECTOR CANDIDATES INTERVIEWED
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 DEVELOPING ORGANIC REGULATIONS
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
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 HELPS PARK SERVICE ON NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY
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 1995 FUNDING IS APPROVED
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
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.
AYERS ELECTED TO ALBC
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
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.
SECOND EDITION DIRECTORY OF EXPERTISE TO DEBUT
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
Their stories reflect the current trends, new directions and
future dilemmas which the movement faces.
Included in the directory are such entrants as:
*Farmers Robert Roman and Steffan Schneider of Hawthorne
Valley Farm in Ghent, NY, who produce, process and sell bio-
dynamic milk from a 60-cow dairy herd, grow their own livestock
feed, and raise over 40 varieties of market vegetables on a 10-
*Specialists at the EPA's National Pesticide Telecommunications
Network at Lubbock, TX, who via an 800-line provide comprehensive
information (including proper usage) on over 30,000 U.S.
pesticide products to farmers, medical personnel, industry
workers, government staff and the general public.
*Researchers Jacques Franco and Casey Cady of the California
Department of Food and Agriculture at Sacramento who coordinate
over 25 public projects to advance the environmental and
agronomic performance of fertilizers in the Coastal Valleys and
Central Valley of California.
*And 929 other farmers, researchers, agribusinesses,
organizations, public institutions, government policy developers
and farming advocates!
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
ATTRA staffers - who also compiled the First Edition of the
Directory in 1993 - solicited an additional 228 entrants for this
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.
DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST BRYANT JOINS ATTRA
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.
PROGRAM MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK
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
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 ON THE ROAD AGAIN IN QUEST OF SUS AG INFO
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
*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
*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.
NEW OR REVISED ATTRA MATERIALS: 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
"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.