Nice to read your posts Ann!
Rural Extension Studies
On Thu, 13 Apr 1995, E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor wrote:
> John H. asked about Swedish agriculture. We recently spent a pleasant
> afternoon here at Guelph listening to a Swedish farmer and a Dutch
> farmer speaking about pesticide reduction programs in their
> respective countries. It was sponsored by the WWF, and was most
> Briefly, the Swedish government (fully endorsed and
> supported by the farmers who collectively own their own processing
> facilities and I think, marketing cooperatives) has decided within the
> last year or two that by the year 2000, they will have 10% organic
> farms (up from 1.8% now). To understand this, you should know that
> the Swedish people have long had a passion for clean and safe food,
> and have long supported various initiatives to reduce dependence on
> biocides. At present, biocide a.i. in kg/ha is about 1.5 for
> Sweden, compared with 2.4 for Denmark and a whopping 9.5 for Holland
> (OECD figures).
> To achieve this end, they are commiting mega resources to both
> research and extension in organic farming. If I understood
> correctly, something like 25 person-years of research effort are now
> devoted to organic farming at their only agricultural university.
> Each of their agricultural districts (I think it was about 30) is
> also supported by an average of 1.5 extension person years dedicated
> solely to organic farming. All of this is not counting the commodity-
> specific R and D that is also being devoted to organic farming.
> Sounds a bit optimistic, so I may have misunderstood something.
> Nonetheless, it was clear that a huge, nation-wide, publicly supported
> effort is now underway in Sweden.
> I was green with envy. In Ontario, we have zero researchers
> dedicated to organic farming (and no research funding that can be
> pried away from conventional sources to support this kind of work),
> and two, part-time organic extension agents for the entire province.
> In the several publications that they left behind, the Federation
> of Swedish Farmers quite clearly outlined the various initiatives
> they are undertaking to achieve further gains in protecting the
> environment in such areas as nutrient conservation, non-use of sewage
> sludge on agricultural land, reducing N losses by 50%, further
> reducing pesticide use, placing more stringent demands on the
> chemical industry, including a zero tolerance for biocide residue on
> crude products of agriculture. Reference is made to livestock
> production practices that are "ethically unassailable".
> In a nutshell, Sweden appears to have a somewhat unique mileau
> within which to accomplish these laudable objectives, in that they
> have a cohesive farming population that largely supports the strict
> demands of their populace for safe, environmentally sound, and
> ethically defensible crop and livestock production practices. What
> this means in practice is less active resistance from various
> lobbying groups which have a vested interest in maintaining the
> status quo. I might add that contact in New Zealand indicate a
> similar initiative is now or soon to be underway there as well,
> dedicated specifically to sustainable agriculture.
> I for one would like to find out more about what kinds of organic
> research/extension they are undertaking in Sweden and New Zealand.
> Perhaps someone from these or other enlightened countries can
> enlighten us? Ann
> Dr. E. Ann Clark
> Associate Professor
> Crop Science
> University of Guelph
> Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
> Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
> FAX: 519 763-8933