REPORT SUMMARIZES "SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND THE 1995 FARM BILL"
AMES, IOWA--The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST)
has released a summary of the "Sustainable Agriculture and the 1995
Farm Bill" conference. More than 60 scientists, policymakers, and
others addressed 200 attendees at the January conference. Sessions
addressed legislation, conservation, the environment, rural
development, research, and education.
CAST organized the conference to provide a forum for debating
potential policy issues that Congress will be addressing soon. Guest
speakers at the conference included Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN),
chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture; and Rep. Wayne Allard
(R-CO) and Rep. Charles W. Stenholm (D-TX), members of the House
Committee on Agriculture.
"Although there are many conferences on sustainable agriculture, few
conferences have included the diversity of stakeholders involved in
the CAST conference," said Paula B. Ford of the Southern Region
SARE/ACE Program at the Georgia Experiment Station, Griffin, report
cochair. "Yet despite this diversity conference participants
identified common ground on a number of issues on sustainable
agriculture and the 1995 Farm Bill."
Given the current budgetary climate, the commodity stabilization and
price support focus of previous farm bills likely will be redirected
toward programs emphasizing global competitiveness, market forces, and
environmental management. The principles that agricultural systems
must be environmentally, economically, and socially sound were held by
most participants, regardless of their specific interests in the
Speakers and members of the seven conference panels said:
* Support programs should not dissuade farmers from adopting
practices that enhance the environment.
* Conservation programs merit government support and should be
targeted at environmentally vulnerable areas--a determination that
should be based on ecosystems and watersheds instead of on individual
* In developing the 1995 Farm Bill, related programs should be
reviewed and coordinated to foster the leveraging of state and local
funds for environmental protection.
* The federal government should create a broad definition of
sustainable agriculture and design agricultural policies to achieve
related goals. The definition used to develop policy should take a
systems approach, placing land-use practices in a whole-farm and
* For farmers to be both competitors in the global economy and
stewards of the natural resource base, the 1995 bill should encourage
innovation and responsiveness to market forces as well as
environmental integrity. Programs should provide flexibility and
incentives for farmers to adopt agricultural practices and to develop
systems protecting the environment and increasing profitability.
* The farm bill and related legislation should integrate and
consolidate overlapping environmental regulations, and regulations
should be replaced, where appropriate, with incentives.
* Research should focus on the identification of indicators of
environmental sustainability and on the ongoing development of
environmentally sound management.
* Vital rural communities, which depend on strong agricultural
sectors, are important. A significant portion of the farm population
relies on off-farm income, making the development of local enterprises
key to the development of many rural communities.
The report summarizes a series of talks and a panel discussion on the
research and education agenda. Items on the agenda include conserving
and enhancing resources and biodiversity, enhancing food safety,
empowering people economically and socially, and enhancing
agricultural markets, competitiveness, and rural development.
The summary of "Sustainable Agriculture and the 1995 Farm Bill" was
written by a task force of 16 scientists cochaired by Neville P.
Clarke of the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station
Directors, College Station and by Paula B. Ford of the Southern
Region SARE/ACE Program at the Georgia Experiment Station, Griffin.
Copies of the summary document are $50 from CAST, 4420 West Lincoln
Way, Ames, IA 50014-3447, (515) 292-2125. CAST identifies food and
fiber, environmental, and other agricultural issues and interprets
related scientific research information for legislators, regulators,
and the media for use in public policy decision making. CAST is a
nonprofit organization composed of 30 scientific societies and many
individual, student, company, nonprofit, and associate society
For more information, contact:
Neville P. Clarke, cochair, (409) 845-2855
Paula B. Ford, cochair, (404) 412-4788
Richard E. Stuckey, executive vice president, (515) 292-4512
ASCII text of an interpretive summary is available. To receive a copy by
electronic mail, send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
4420 West Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014-3447, USA
phone: (515) 292-2125, fax: (515) 292-4512