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 (NCAT) and is funded by the U.S. Department of the
Interior. Since 1987, ATTRA has prepared over 65,000 reports on
sustainable agriculture practices and systems for U.S. farmers and
other professional agriculturists who have contacted the center
via its 800-lines. ATTRA Public Information Specialist David
Zodrow serves as editor of Electronic ATTRAnews Digest. Jim Lukens
serves as NCAT sustainable agriculture program manager. Teresa
Maurer is ATTRA project manager.)
*CAST: SUSTAINABLE AG PROPONENTS DEBATE '95 FARM BILL
*CAMPAIGN RECRUITS OVER 400 GROUPS TO SHAPE U.S. FARM POLICY
*TWO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE GROUPS WIN NATIONAL AWARDS
*ENTRANTS WANTED FOR 3RD EDITION, SUSTAINABLE AG DIRECTORY
*2ND EDITION, SUSTAINABLE AG DIRECTORY ON SALE
*SUSTAINABLE AG QUEST LEADS TECHS ACROSS U.S. & ABROAD
*CONSERVATION BREEDERS HANDBOOK ON WAY
*BALA JOINS ATTRA AS INFO SPEC
*SUSTAINABLE AG NETWORK SETS TWO-YEAR OBJECTIVES
*ATTRA CONTINUES IPM WORK WITH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES
*DR. ROB MYERS NAMED USDA SUSTAINABLE AG PROGRAMS DIRECTOR
*ATTRA'S LUKENS & MAURER ASSUME NEW TITLES
*SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE "SHOWCASE" AVAILABLE
*WILDLIFE REFUGE FARMER TRIES ORGANIC SOYBEANS
*PROGRAM MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK: BY JIM LUKENS
*NEW OR REVISED ATTRA MATERIALS
CAST: SUSTAINABLE AG PROPONENTS DEBATE '95 FARM BILL
ATTRA Program Manager Jim Lukens joined fellow sustainable
agriculture advocates from Jan. 23-25 in Washington at the
"Sustainable Agriculture and the 1995 Farm Bill Conference."
Sponsored by the Council for Agricultural Science and
Technology (CAST), which is an association of professional and
scientific societies that address agricultural and related issues,
the conference focused on the research and education aspects of
these issues in the 1995 Farm Bill.
Notes of speakers and panel discussions at the event will be
available soon through CAST headquarters. (See address at end of
Several administration officials and Congressmen who will play
key roles in development of the Farm Bill spoke at the conference,
including U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, House Committee on
Agriculture; Richard Lugar, Senate Committee on Agriculture; and
Paul Johnson, Director of Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Conference objectives as outlined by a series of speakers from
the academic community and panel discussions included:
*A review of Farm Bill policies and their impact on
*A balanced mix of presentations from diverse points of view,
so that the complex interactions inherent in these issues can
*Identifying examples of programs or projects that have
resulted in measurable impacts that have implications for the
sustainability of agriculture and rural communities.
*Identifying research and education needs that should be
targeted in the 1995 Farm Bill.
Six panels at the conference consisted of environmentalists,
scientists, consumer advocates, administrators, agricultural
industry executives, producers and Congressional staff members.
Speakers and panelists presented reviews of:
*Sustainable agriculture issues in the 1985 and 1990 Farm Bills.
*Effect of commodity policies on the environment, social and
economic objectives of sustainability.
*Conservation policies and sustainability.
*Future of the Conservation Reserve Program
*Environmental protection and regulations pertaining to
*Rural development via sustainable agriculture.
*Future agricultural research and education agendas.
For additional information or a draft of meeting notes, please
contact: CAST, 4420 W. Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014-3447, phone
(515)292-2125, fax (515)292-4512; Internet
CAMPAIGN RECRUITS OVER 400 GROUPS TO SHAPE U.S. FARM POLICY
Members of "The Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture" are
undaunted by outcomes of the November elections which some pundits
say may spell trouble for sustainable agriculture. By mid-
January, they had recruited over 400 organizations nationwide to
help shape the 1995 Farm Bill and other national agricultural
And to spur further publicity efforts, Campaign organizers
announced that Greg Watson, former president of The Nature
Conservancy, has been hired as media director. He will publicize
efforts of participating groups, develop publicity materials, and
bring increased visibility to the Campaign.
"Many of our friends in Congress lost power and several new
Committee Chairman have promised to scale back farm programs and
environmental regulations," Campaign member Kathleen Merrigan of
the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture said. "Although
we are facing a tough battle this year, we plan to wage it
strategically on many fronts."
Merrigan said Campaign members through such measures as
lobbying Congressmen at district offices must be ready to counter
attacks on existing programs "where we have gained ground."
"Political pundits say that environmental groups have lost power
because they no longer have grassroots support," she said.
"Luckily, this is the Campaign's greatest strength."
Amy Little of the National Campaign Office at Goshen, NY, says
sheer numbers of people and the national scope of the 400-plus
groups involved in the Campaign will have the hoped-for effect.
"Our strength in numbers and our broad grassroots participation
will help give us the power to make gains on our issues," she
said. "Our power is demonstrated by the wide range of groups that
have signed onto the Campaign, representing family farm,
environmental, consumers, rural and community groups, social and
racial justice, farmworkers, religious interests, and animal
"The sign-on list," she said, "shows Congress, the
Administration and others that sustainable agriculture is an
important issue on the minds and in the hearts of a variety of
constituencies, and we will be working in partnership throughout
the country and in Washington to support family farms, protect the
environment and foster a sustainable food system."
Campaign priority issues for 1995 are:
*A commodity program package that includes family farm income,
payment limitations, environmental reserve, and stewardship
*Total farm planning.
*Conservation Reserve Program.
*Minority farmers & farmworkers' rights.
*Water quality issues.
*Conservation Farm Option (remove penalties on resource-conserving
The Campaign was launched in early 1994 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 campaign topics.
The Campaign in 1995 will work in three main arenas: 1995 Farm
Bill (offensive or defensive), Appropriations, and Administrative
Policy. Above chart shows arenas providing the best opportunities
for the issues.
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.
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.
TWO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE GROUPS WIN NATIONAL AWARDS
Two sustainable agriculture programs have received
"Distinguished Appropriate Technology Awards (DATA)" for their
work in sustainable agriculture and the environment. The programs
are the Sustainable Food Center of Austin, TX, and the University
of Missouri's Forage Systems Research Center at Linneus, MO.
The 4th Annual DATA Awards Dinner was held on Nov. 17 at the
National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The awards are sponsored
by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), a
nonprofit organization that manages ATTRA and several other
sustainable agriculture, energy conservation and resource-
efficient housing programs.
According to NCAT Board Chairman Jack Young, the DATA awards
honor individuals or nonprofit, government or private programs
that have found energy-efficient, conservation-oriented
appropriate technologies to help low-income individuals and
The Sustainable Food Center received the "DATA Sustainable
Agriculture" award for developing the Eastside Farmer's Market
which links nutrition programs, low-income urban consumers, and
local sustainable farmers. Used as a model to develop farmer's
markets statewide, the market provides local sustainable farmers
with a marketing outlet, while bringing fresh, nutritious produce
to an at-risk community.
The Center has organized a produce cooperative of women who
care for children of low-income families. The woman can buy
produce at the market for wholesale prices, thus producing income
for farmers and improving nutrition for the children.
In addition, the Center has also launched a community gardening
project which will offer 50 garden plots for low-income families.
The Forage Systems Research Center received the "DATA
Environmental Protection" award for developing a unique workshop
program to train land managers and educators in sustainable
grazing system concepts.
Initiated in 1990, the Management-Intensive Grazing Workshop
focuses on synchronizing forage livestock production systems with
the natural cycles of solar energy flow, water and minerals to
Over 900 people from 22 states and four foreign countries have
attended a total of 15 three-day workshops at the Center. Nine
two-day workshops with over 300 participants have been held around
Missouri. About 60% of attendees have been farmers. Exit surveys
show that over 50% of workshop attendees have made major changes
in pasture or range management strategies from management-
intensive grazing principles learned at the workshops.
Individuals and organizations with nominees for 1995 DATA awards
should contact NCAT Vice President Kathy Hadley, P.O. Box 3838,
Butte, MT 59702, (406) 494-4572.
NCAT also presented two other DATA awards to programs in New
York and North Carolina.
The "DATA Energy Conservation" award was presented to the Long
Island Lighting Company of Melville, NY, for developing a "one-
stop" energy assistance program that provides both energy
weatherization services and financial energy assistance.
The Wilson Community Improvement Association, Inc., of Wilson,
NC, received the "DATA Affordable Housing" award for constructing
a 68-unit subdivision of highly energy-efficient homes for low-
ENTRANTS WANTED FOR 3RD EDITION, SUSTAINABLE AG DIRECTORY
ATTRA is seeking individuals and organizations willing to share
special skills and know-how with others in the upcoming 3rd
Edition, Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise.
As the directory has grown from 717 entrants in its premier
print edition in 1993 to 932 entrants in the 1994 electronic
version, so has its reputation in the sustainable agriculture
community as a one-of-a-kind, valuable resource tool.
The directory links people in need of information with leading
proponents of U.S. sustainable agriculture - an assortment of
farmers, agricultural scientists, Extensionists, agribusinesses
and information providers. To be published in December, this
year's print edition is expected to contain a minimum of 1,200
The directory is a project of the Sustainable Agriculture
Network (SAN), a nationwide consortium of university, government,
business and nonprofit organizations. Funded by the USDA's
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, it
is compiled by ATTRA staff members.
ATTRA is in the process of mailing surveys to individuals and
groups for the 3rd Edition. Entrants included in the first and
second Editions will automatically receive surveys in the near
If you, your colleagues or organization would like to be
included in the 3rd Edition, contact either David Zodrow or Betty
Blomberg at: ATTRA, P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702,
Telephone 1-800-346-9140, FAX (501) 442-9842, Internet
2ND EDITION, SUSTAINABLE AG DIRECTORY ON SALE
The newly released 2nd Edition, Sustainable Agriculture
Directory of Expertise is now on sale.
This electronic version of the popular directory contains a
total 932 individuals and organizations willing to share
sustainable agriculture know-how and skills with others. It's
available on a 3.5-inch computer diskette (compatible with MSDOS
systems) as a Folio "Infobase."
This infobase allows users to browse through the directory like
an electronic book, jump from section to section via hypertext
links, or search for keywords anywhere within a document. Users
can print out desired information or save it to a file. Included
on the diskette are an introduction, instructions on how to use
the infobase (a completely indexed full-text database) and a list
of key terms.
While supplies last, SAN is offering a two-for-one deal. For the
price of $14.95, people may obtain a diskette copy of the 1994
Directory and a print edition of the 1993 Directory. The price
includes shipping and handling.
To order, please send $14.95 to Sustainable Agriculture
Publications, Hills Building, Room 12, University of Vermont,
Burlington, VT 05405. Make check or money order payable to
"Sustainable Agriculture Publications." Purchase orders can be
mailed to the above address or faxed to 802-656-4656. Special
bulk order discounts are available. Questions about directory
orders should be directed to Meredith Simpson at the above address
or by phone at 802-656-0471.
SUSTAINABLE AG QUEST LEADS TECHS ACROSS U.S. & ABROAD
Travels by ATTRA's busy staff the past quarter took them to
places as near as a hotel a few blocks from ATTRA headquarters and
far off as Wales.
*Technical Specialist Bob Wilson attended the Excellence in
Wildlife Stewardship Through Science and Education Conference 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.
*While on vacation Oct. 21, Information Specialist Katherine Adam
visited the Centre for Alternative Technology at Macnylleth,
Wales. ATTRA staffers at a sack-lunch seminar on Nov. 3 learned
about technologies on display there.
About 100,000 visitors pass annually through the Centre, which
is located in mid Wales. Established in 1974 on the site of an
abandoned slate quarry, the Centre is a showcase of working
alternative technologies, such as wind, solar and water
electricity generators, human waste disposal via reed beds and
composting toilets, and low-energy housing. Among the Centre's
most popular attractions are its extensive flower, herb and food
gardens which use a variety of organic growing methods. A
brochure for the Centre notes that "Enormous amounts of human
energy have transformed a scar of the industrial age into a
catalyst for a cleaner, safer, fairer society." Currently, 14
adults and four children live at the Centre, making decisions in a
community-based manner. The Centre operates as an "educational
charity" and offers a variety of courses in energy and
environmental topics. It is funded largely through admission fees
and donations of its 4,000 members.
*The Luebke family of Austria presented seminars on Controlled
Microbial Composting (C.M.C.) and Humus Management on Oct. 20-22
and Oct. 24-27 in Lancaster County, PA. Technical Specialist
Steve Diver said the seminar included field trips to composting
sites on Amish farms. Siegfried and Uta Luebke, who have managed
an organic vegetable and dairy sheep farm for 25 years, are well-
known in Europe and gaining wider recognition in the U.S. The
Luebke system is based on managing soil humus through crop
rotations, composts, green manures, microbial inoculants, rock
dusts and proper tillage operations.
* Program Manager Jim Lukens, Assistant Program Manager Teresa
Maurer, Technical Specialist Guy Ames and Public Information
Specialist David Zodrow presented ATTRA materials and attended
educational sessions at the Arkansas Department of Rural Advocacy
Conference on Oct. 26 at Fayetteville, AR. Ames, who also
operates an orchard and nursery, participated in a panel
discussion on agriculture and the environment.
*Effects of corporate, large-scale livestock production on family
farmers and rural communities was the focus of the Livestock
Production for Rural Communities Conference at Kansas City, MO,
from Oct. 28-30. Technical Specialist Lance Gegner was among
about 150 farmers, researchers and other people who discussed
environmental and economic impacts of corporate hog farms. The
conference was sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs and the
North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.
*A daylong grower's school kicked off jam-packed events at the
annual Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers National
Conference and Trade Show from Nov. 9-13 at San Jose, CA. Senior
Technical Specialist Chris Rugen said school sessions covered
basics of production, cultivar selection, pest management,
postharvest considerations, and marketing techniques. Other
conference events included tours of fresh and dried flower
operations, numerous educational sessions and a well-stocked trade
*Technical Specialist Guy Ames co-chaired the sustainable
horticulture session of the annual Arkansas Horticultural Society
Meeting from Nov. 15-16 at Little Rock, AR. This year's
sustainable session focused on lesser known tree crops, such as
persimmons and pawpaws.
*Speakers at the ACRES USA Conference at Kansas City, MO, from
November 17-19 discussed the links between agriculture and health
care in the U.S. Technical Specialist Preston Sullivan said
speakers included Dan Hines of the National Corn Growers
Association, who talked about the Association's work to promote
switchgrass and fast-growing woody crops as energy crops. The
Association has proposed extending the CRP program and growing
energy crops on CRP land - a practice which would be good for
farmers and the environment.
*This year's North American Grazing Conference at Memphis, TN,
from Dec. 4-6 was a "sold-out" event, organizers said. ATTRA
Technical Specialist Anne Ayers said about 400 people were on hand
for sessions on sustainable grass-farming. Speakers included Dr.
Lee Buras of the University of Southwest Louisiana who spoke about
soils as they relate to pastures; Joel Salatin, a well-known
Virginia farmer who demonstrated a manure-collecting winter
feeding shed for cattle and managing farm woodlots for increased
income; and Gordon Hazard, a Mississippi rancher who runs 1,800
stocker cattle in a low-input operation.
*Using electronic technologies to link farmers and rural
communities with needed information was the theme of a conference
held Dec. 9-10 at Cornell University at Ithaca, NY, titled
"Highest Denominator Agricultural Information Systems:
Implications and Issues." Senior Resource Specialist Carol
Warriner said about 100 agricultural information professionals
explored the technological, sociological and economic implications
of using Internet to store and access farm information.
Demonstrations were given of World Wide Web (using Mosaic browser
technology) as an interactive system capable of delivering text,
photographic, graphical, and audio/video-based material over the
*Technical Specialist Rex Dufour participated with fellow
researchers from the USDA and Rodale Institute in a workshop to
assess current and emerging agricultural technology from Jan. 11-
13 in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the USDA's "Agricultural
Science and Technology Review Board (ASTRB)," the workshop's
purpose was to refine or develop a new technology assessment
matrix that better captures the benefits or detrimental
consequences of a technology. ASTRB was established by the 1990
Farm Bill to provide technology assessment of agricultural
research and technical transfer initiatives within the public and
private sectors for the 21st Century.
*Program Manager Jim Lukens attended the Southern Sustainable
Agriculture Working Group's (SAWG) "4th Annual Conference and
Trade Show" from Jan. 13-15 at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Among
highlights of this year's event were 18 workshops, meetings of
sustainable agriculture interest groups, field hearings on the
1995 Farm Bill, and a trade show.
CONSERVATION BREEDERS HANDBOOK ON WAY
ATTRA Technical Specialist Anne Ayers, who serves as a board
member of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), is
reviewing the manuscript of a new ALBC handbook. With a working
title of "The Conservation Breeders Handbook," the book seeks to
expand specific how-to conservation breeding information which is
useful to individuals and breed associations in the U.S.
The publication explains primary concepts of animal breeding
(such as selection), breeding methods (such as inbreeding and
linebreeding), and the importance of a guiding philosophy in the
design and maintenance of conservation breeding programs. Also
included are specific breeding protocols for livestock and
poultry, with modifications necessary for very small populations.
The handbook is tentatively scheduled for publication this
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.
For more information, please contact: ALBC, Box 477, Pittsboro,
NC 27312, (919) 542-5704.
SUSTAINABLE AG NETWORK SETS TWO-YEAR OBJECTIVES
Members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Working
Committee met October 24-25 in Washington, D.C., to set objectives
for the next two years.
SAN Chairman Jim Lukens led the meeting. Objectives include
continued development of information products such as the
Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise, enhancing
usefulness of the Sanet electronic mail discussion group for
sustainable agriculture professionals, and helping to implement
the SARE "Chapter 3" training of Extension agents in sustainable
ATTRA CONTINUES IPM WORK WITH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES
Technical Specialist Rex Dufour at meetings from Nov. 14-17 at
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at Titusville, FL, offered
ATTRA's continuing assistance in a complex IPM project being
carried out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Integrated
pest management coordinators from the Service's eight regions
gathered at the refuge to review progress on the project.
The Service has mandated that IPM programs be instituted at
about 140 national wildlife refuges where farming is conducted in
an effort to reduce or eliminate agricultural pesticides which are
harmful to wildlife. Farmers at these refuges usually leave part
of the grain crops they raise standing in fields for wildlife
ATTRA for the past two years has assisted with the project by
providing informational materials, training sessions and some
onsite visits to refuges. At the Florida meetings, Dufour
reacquainted IPM coordinators with ATTRA sustainable agriculture
information retrieval services.
DR. ROB MYERS NAMED USDA SUSTAINABLE AG PROGRAMS DIRECTOR
Dr. Rob Myers, a University of Missouri agronomist since 1989,
has been named the new USDA national director for sustainable
He will serve as director of the Sustainable Agriculture
Research and Education (SARE) program, Agriculture in Concert with
the Environment (ACE) program, and Extension programs in
sustainable agriculture (often referred to as Chapter 3 programs).
These three program areas were funded for $12 million at the
federal level for FY 1995. Myers will be part of the Cooperative
Research, Education and Extension Service.
Myers has served as project leader for alternative crops
research and Extension at the university. As a Congressional
Science Fellow for the American Society of Agronomy, he served
with the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture
on farm and environmental policy. He was raised on a family farm
in Illinois, and earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy at the
University of Minnesota. He will assume his new post in mid-
Myers is the first permanent USDA sustainable agriculture
programs director since 1993 when Dr. George Bird completed his
term of office. Dr. Bird returned to Michigan State University
where he is a professor of nematology.
Two interim directors - Alice Jones and Jerry DeWitt - had
filled the position since 1993. Jones is former manager for the
USDA Water Quality Grants Program. DeWitt is director of
agriculture at Iowa University Extension.
As of mid-February, Myers can be contacted at: USDA Sustainable
Ag Programs, Room 3351 South Bldg., Ag Box 0910, Washington, DC
20250-0910, Telephone (202) 720-5623, FAX (202) 720-4924.
ATTRA'S LUKENS & MAURER ASSUME NEW TITLES
Two ATTRA managers - Teresa Maurer and Jim Lukens - will assume
new titles and responsibilities on March 1.
Maurer, who has served as assistant program manager since 1991,
will oversee daily staffing and operation as ATTRA project
Lukens, the current project manager, will become sustainable
agriculture program manager for the National Center for
Appropriate Technology (NCAT). NCAT is a nonprofit organization
that manages ATTRA and several other sustainable agriculture,
energy conservation and resource-efficient housing programs.
As program manager, Lukens will continue to be the primary point
of contact between ATTRA and other organizations and agencies,
including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which funds ATTRA,
the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), and the USDA's
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. He
will also provide management for other NCAT sustainable
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE "SHOWCASE" AVAILABLE
Members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network last month
released the third edition of their popular resource tool, "The
Showcase of Sustainable Agriculture Information and Educational
Materials." This 100-page booklet is a "must-have" publication
for farmers using sustainable methods to farm profitably while
protecting the environment. It contains ordering information for
a volume of low-cost or free publications concerning sustainable
production of almost every crop nationwide.
Funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Education and
Research (SARE) program, the Showcase was compiled by SAN members.
SAN is a corsortium of people from universities, government,
business and nonprofit organizations dedicated to exchanging
information about sustainable agriculture.
To obtain the Showcase, send $4.95 to Sustainable Agriculture
Publications, 10 Hills Building, University of Vermont,
Burlington, VT 05405-0082. Make check or money order payable to
"Sustainable Agriculture Publications." Purchase orders can be
mailed to the above address or faxed to 802-656-4656. Questions
about orders should be directed to Meredith Simpson at the above
address or by phone at 802-656-0471.
WILDLIFE REFUGE FARMER TRIES ORGANIC SOYBEANS
Farmer Ernie Wynnne of the Alligator River National Wildlife
Refuge in North Carolina isn't going to let setbacks in the 1994
crop season deter him from growing organic soybeans.
Come spring, he'll plant increased acreages of organic beans.
He believes that organics are a good way for farmers to boost
profits and curb input costs, while improving the surrounding
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge sprawls across 145,000
acres of forested land Dare and Hyde counties of northeastern
North Carolina. About 5,000 acres of the refuge is managed as
"moist soil management units" and farmland for migratory flocks of
waterfowl. The refuge also has sizeable numbers of black bears.
Mother Nature last season dealt Wynne, who farms 2,200 acres at
the refuge, a bum hand in the form of fire ants, drought and then
torrential rainfall. He planted a total of 1,500 acres in
soybeans, with 10 acres of certified organic land sown to Pearl
variety soybeans. He planned to sell the organic beans to a
nearby exporter - Cherry Farms - for the Japanese tofu market for
about $13 a bushel. Beans in conventional markets last season
fetched slightly over $5 a bushel.
"The weather turned off real wet and we had to delay getting the
combine into the fields," Wynne recounts last fall's harvest.
"Then there was a problem with fire ant mounds. The combine
header picked up black soil from the mounds, and it stained the
When attempts to clean the beans in a mechanical polisher
failed, Wynne had to sell them on the conventional market. A
summer drought and the heavy rains near harvest reduced yields on
his 1,500 acres of beans to about 15 to 20 bushels an acre,
compared to the normal 30 to 40 bushels per acre.
"I'm going to go after the organic soybean market again this
year," Wynne says. "I'm working towards certifying from 200 to
300 more acres as organic, with a goal to eventually certify half
my acreage. It takes about three years to certify land."
Wynne is one of three farmers who raise crops on the refuge.
He's farmed there for 10 years, and early-on employed sustainable
practices. Besides soybeans, he raises varying acreages of wheat,
corn and grain sorghum.
"I've always been very conservative on using chemicals," he
says. "I use bug scouting techniques and when necessary light
insecticides. I rotate my crops for better soil fertility and
Raising organic produce requires more time but less money, Wynne
"Growing organically requires more cultivating trips over a
field, but there are no chemical costs," he explains. "It helps
to have good equipment so you can cover ground quickly. I can
fairly easily cultivate one hundred acres a day."
For further information, please contact either Dennis Stewart of
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Alligator River National
Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 1969, Manteo, NC 27954, (919) 473-1131,
or Ernie Wynne at (919) 792-5503.
BALA JOINS ATTRA AS INFO SPEC
Radhika Bala of Waco, TX, has joined ATTRA as an information
specialist. Bala has worked as a research assistant at the
Department of Environmental Studies at Baylor University in Texas,
and as copy editor at The Times of India in Bombay. She earned a
master of environmental studies at Baylor University and a master
of science in journalism at Ohio University.
PROGRAM MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK: BY JIM LUKENS
The topic of the public forum was the 1995 Farm Bill.
"You say that you need to cut the USDA budget? Well, you can
cut it in half by just taking all those food programs - food
stamps and such - out of the Department of Agriculture. That's
not what agriculture is all about!"
Applause rippled through the assemblage, and I found myself
nodding in agreement. "Yes, that's not what agriculture is all
Agriculture is about wide open spaces and rich black soil; about
tractors, and combine repairs, and truckloads of golden grain.
It's about irrigation-scheduling, modifying the planter, and
hoeing weeds; about long hours and sore backs, and the smell of
Agriculture is about breeding records, feed-conversion ratios,
and ice on the water tank; about forage quality, butterfat
content, and fence repair. It's about apple blossoms, fields full
of pickers, and picking rocks; about insect-pest monitoring, quail
in the hedgerow, and packing sheds.
Agriculture is about soil tests, filter strips, and crop
rotations; about manure management, composting, and cover crops.
It is about terraces, conservation reserve, and deficiency
payments; about record-keeping, keeping up, and self-employment
Agriculture is about interest rates, futures markets, and
cost/price squeeze; about new technology, family values, and a
feeling of peace at the first light of dawn.
That's what agriculture is all about! It's not about "Women,
Infants and Children"; not about people; not about food stamps;
not about food. Everyone knows that grocery stores are about
But just maybe, if we want people to value agriculture, then
agriculture should be about food also, and the people who eat it.
NEW OR REVISED ATTRA MATERIALS:
*SUSTAINABLE VEGETABLE PRODUCTION
*SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATIONS & PUBLICATIONS RESOURCE
*INTERNSHIPS, APPRENTICESHIPS, SUSTAINABLE CURRICULA INCLUDING
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"The question now is whether current happenings in hogs are the
second entering wedge toward converting our traditional
proprietary, market-oriented agriculture into an industrial-
corporate structure...What happens in hogs in the future will go
far to determine what will eventuate in the entire livestock
sector and, quite possibly, in crop farming too -- that is to say,
all agriculture." -- Harold Breimyer, professor and Extension
economist emeritus, University of Missouri-Columbia, "Livestock
Production for Rural Communities Conference," Kansas City, MO,
October 28, 1994.