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
Technology (NCAT) and is funded by the U.S. Department of the
Interior. Since 1987, ATTRA has prepared over 73,000 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. Teresa Maurer is
ATTRA project manager. Jim Lukens serves as NCAT sustainable
agriculture program manager. )
*HOUSE NIXES ATTRA FUNDING; SENATE MARKUP ON WAY
*CONGRESS EYES FUNDING FOR OTHER SUSTAINABLE AG PROGRAMS
*NATIONAL RADIO ADS URGE FARMERS TO CALL ATTRA
*ANDY CLARK IS NEW SAN COORDINATOR
*PROJECT MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK: ATTRA BENCHMARKS & GOALS
*ADAM PENS AJWAIN ARTICLE
*ATTRA COMPILES U.S. SUSTAINABLE AG DIRECTORY
*"Askattra": SUSTAINABLE AG INFO AVAILABLE VIA E-MAIL
*READERS RESPOND: "ATTRA BETTER THAN SLICED BREAD"
*NCAT/ATTRA GATHERING RURAL DEVELOPMENT SUCCESS STORIES
*NEW OR REVISED ATTRA MATERIALS
HOUSE NIXES ATTRA FUNDING; SENATE MARKUP ON WAY
On June 14, the House of Representatives opted not to include
funding for ATTRA in its markup of the 1996 budget. Action on the
appropriation now passes to the Senate.
Markup on the Senate side and a vote on the Senate floor is
expected in the second or third week of September. The markup and
vote would determine the Senate's recommendation for ATTRA funding.
Senate support for the ATTRA appropriation and a successful full
floor vote are the only routes for ATTRA funding to continue to be
considered in the Congressional budget process. The proposed
appropriation level for ATTRA is $1.3 million, which represents no
change over the previous year and requires no new funding.
A $0 vote on the Senate side would cut all FY96 funds for ATTRA,
and end the program. A successful Senate vote would move action to
the joint conference committee, which may meet as early as the
third or fourth week in September. Both House and Senate members
must support and agree on the appropriation level. An unsuccessful
vote in conference committee could result in $0 or severely reduced
CONGRESS EYES FUNDING FOR OTHER SUSTAINABLE AG PROGRAMS
The Senate is also expected to discuss funding for other
sustainable agriculture programs this month. The House has
suggested the following funding appropriations:
SARE: An $8 million appropriation, a slight reduction from
last year's appropriation of $8.1 million, was approved for the
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
SATDTP: A $3.5 million appropriation, the same as last year,
was approved for the Sustainable Agriculture Technology
Development and Transfer Program.
OFPA: A $556,000 appropriation was approved for the Organic
Foods Production Act, which was the final appropriation level for
FY95 and FY94.
WQIP: An $11 million appropriation was approved for the
Water Quality Incentive Program. Final appropriation in FY95 was
WRP: A $77 million appropriation was approved for the
Wetlands Reserve Program. Final appropriation in FY95 was $93.2
NRCS: An appropriation of $629.9 million was approved for
the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an increase of $43
million from the FY95 appropriation of $586.9 million.
NATIONAL RADIO ADS URGE FARMERS TO CALL ATTRA
U.S. farmers will be urged in a national radio campaign this fall
to call ATTRA for help in switching to sustainable agriculture
systems and technologies.
Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
of Washington, D.C., the campaign will be launched this fall on
about 200 radio stations in 20 states.
"The radio spots will urge mainstream farmers to call ATTRA for
information on sustainable practices, organic production, food
safety, pesticides, and public policies which will promote organic
and low-input farming," says CSPI Research Assistant Rebecca
Amidst stirring music, an announcer in the series of 30- and 60-
second public service announcements will note: "Across this great
land, American farmers are changing the way they farm. Listen to
some of them..." Real farmers will then relate how with
sustainable agriculture concepts they trimmed input costs,
maintained good yields and improved the environment. The announcer
will then urge listeners to call ATTRA for sustainable farming
Kapstein said that CSPI is conducting the campaign as part of its
"Americans for Safe Food Project."
ANDY CLARK IS NEW SAN COORDINATOR
Andy Clark is the new Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)
coordinator with an office based in Beltsville, MD. He takes over
the reins from Gabriel Hegyes, the first SAN coordinator who
recently resigned to pursue other career interests.
Both Hegyes and SAN mainstay Jayne MacLean played key roles in
getting Clark up to speed with position responsibilities, with
Hegyes taking time to train Clark and MacClean rounding out his
"I would like to publicly thank Gabriel for the three days he
spent training me," Clark said recently. "Jayne MacLean, who has
been involved with SAN since its inception, spent two days with me,
and I'm grateful to her for her help, and for her many
contributions to SAN. I'm still trying to digest everything we
covered about the many duties of the SAN Coordinator."
Clark's gravitation toward sustainable agriculture began when he
was doing graduate work in agronomy at the University of Maryland.
Influenced in part by the Rodale Institute, plus others in the
organic farming community, Rachel Carson and his experience as a
small-scale landscaper, he learned then he wanted to avoid the
overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Working as an Agronomy Department technician at UM, Clark studied
under Dr. Morris Decker and did his M.S. work in cover crop
research. In 1988, Professor Decker agreed to continue to work with
Clark on his ensuing Ph.D project aimed at cover crop management.
"We were fortunate to obtain a grant from the Northeast Region of
the LISA program, and embarked on a large project, which included
small plots and on-farm studies," Clark said. "We later applied for
- and received - a second, smaller grant from the SARE (Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education) program, in which we again
cooperated with Maryland farmers in field-scale demonstration plots
incorporating aspects of cover crop management from my small plot
Clark completed work on his Ph.D in 1993 and stayed on the UM
staff. He coordinated the small grain breeding program while job-
hunting. His next career step involved a one-year post-doctorate
project at USDA/ARS in Beltsville. His research focused on heavy
metals in wheat, however environmental funding began to look bleak
at the end of 1994.
Beltsville was the right place for Clark to be as the SAN
Coordinator position came open and he proved to be the ideal
candidate to head the now 750+ member organization. And for Clark,
the research opportunities are not over in his new position.
"I am very pleased to be in a position where I can not only keep
abreast of developments in sustainable agriculture, but also where
I am responsible for helping all interested parties stay informed
as well," he said. "Throughout my graduate work, I was involved in
dissemination of information, particularly to producers. I am
excited to again be in a position of information dissemination."
"As advances in information technology continue to accelerate, I
hope that members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network continue
to contribute to that technology, and that we are all able to use
the technology to contribute to the sustainability of agriculture
PROJECT MANAGER'S NOTEBOOK: ATTRA BENCHMARKS & GOALS
At a recent staff meeting here, we spent some time discussing
ATTRA project goals and strategies. In this column, I'd like to
share a draft of that initial thinking with you.
One working version of our mission statement is this: "To promote
the adoption and practice of environmentally sound sustainable
agriculture by providing reliable and practical technical
information about agricultural production and marketing to American
Our overall Service Goal expands upon the above statement. "We
respond to farmers, information providers, organizations and
communities seeking information that will help change, renew and
support an ecologically and economically sound agriculture."
To define our future and current work, we strive towards this
Service Goal using these strategies:
*Provide courteous reception, efficient selection and timely
delivery of excellent, satisfying and useful sustainable
*Indentify current and new information products and services that
meet the highest priority needs of current, new and potential users
of our service.
*Effectively use and choose techniques and technologies for
information acquisition, management and delivery (physical and
electronic) which benefit our calls.
*Continue to develop and retain a highly-qualified, well-
supported and motivated staff, who reflect the diversity of the
people and organizations we serve.
*Refine and use new ways to measure and report the impact of
ATTRA's work on our callers, on agricultural production practices
and on the quality of sustainable agricultural information.
This summer, we achieved and passed some important benchmarks
which indicate the ongoing need and interest in our services.
As I write this, we have responded to over 73,000 requests since
the project began in 1987. On August 3, with about two months to go
before our 1994-95 reporting year ends in September, we had
answered 12,400 queries, surpassing the previous reporting-year
We have received hundreds of letters and photos from our callers
replying to our "Feedback" questionnaires. You shared stories on
how you are putting our information to work, and your suggestions
are helping us to define how we can meet new needs in a changing
Keep it up, tell another farming friend or neighbor about us --
we appreciate and need your continuing interest and support!
ADAM PENS AJWAIN ARTICLE
An article by ATTRA information specialist Katherine Adam on
culinary and medicinal uses of the aromatic spice herb ajwain has
been published in THE BUSINESS OF HERBS (September-October, 1995).
On the basis of experience with a test plot, Katherine found
potential for a niche market and micro-enterprise development.
ATTRA COMPILES U.S. SUSTAINABLE AG DIRECTORY
"We grow wheat grass (for juice), herbs and flowers for teas and
potpourri, and specialty greens and flowers for restaurants and
caterers, and are active with our farm six to seven months per
year, depending mostly on winter," Tom Lee of Palmer, AK, says of
his family's farm in the Talkeetra Mountains about 100 miles
northeast of Anchorage.
Lee is the first of 723 entrants in the upcoming Third Edition,
Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise which chronicles the
experiences and skills of farming proponents in all 50 states,
Washington, DC, and three U.S. territories.
ATTRA staff members recently completed work on compiling the
directory, which is scheduled for release in early 1996 by the
USDA's SARE program. Published by Rodale Institute, the directory
is a project of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, a consortium
of individuals and groups nationwide.
Alphabetically state by state, the individuals and organizations
in the directory reveal their special skills and knowledge about
sustainable farming technologies, systems and practices. Among
their roster are 169 farmers and ranchers, 162 Extension personnel,
247 agricultural researchers, 232 information providers (many of
them are farmers and Extensioneers) and 72 agribusinesses.
"One of our big projects is to develop greenhouse technology to
significantly extend our growing season," Lee relates goals of his
family's Alaska farm. "We are off the grid and use solar
electricity, with the intent to use hydroelectric and potentially
The directory ranges across the American farm landscape, and over
the seas to such places as the Hawaiian and Virgin isles. At Alyce
Birchenough's "Sweet Home Farm" at Elberta, AL, readers learn about
a small farmstead cheese operation.
"We farm organically and practice rotational grazing for our
milking herd of Guernsey cows and Nubian goats, Alice says. "We
process all milk produced on the farm into 20 varieties of hard and
soft cheeses in our dairy plant. All products are sold retail at
our farm store. Produce, value-added products, and cross-bred
feeder beef cattle are raised for additional income."
Several pages onward, directory users will visit the farm of
Charles Eselgroth of Greenwood, OH, who says, "My main crops are
corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. I also graze brood cows and breeding
ewes, producing feeder calves and slaughter lambs. I am currently
doing research on the value of cover crops for weed suppression and
nitrogen fixation in no-till grain production. We have been able to
reduce herbicide costs to less than $10 per acre. My research
results are distributed through newsletters and research summaries
of the Innovative Farmers of Ohio. I also host field days
co-sponsored by Innovative Farmers and the local Soil and Water
Traveling to the West Coast, Gene Bock of J & G Agrow-Tek at
Rancho Cordova, CA, tells directory users, "My company manufactures
Kelp Sea Life(TM), a liquid concentrated seaweed. It is derived
from ascophyllum nobosum kelp, and we complex this product with
other primary organic products and trace elements for the organic,
sustainable and conventional growers. We supply fertilizers and
soil amendments to the industry, plus donate fish and seaweed
products to the University of California at Davis for its organic
and sustainable test growing grounds."
Still further west, directory users can read about the work of
Howard Hirae, of the Cooperative Extension Service at the
University of Hawaii at Hilo. "I work with macadamia, guava and
banana crops, and have started a sustainable agriculture
association to help my clientele explore alternative methods to the
conventional farming practices."
Back on the Mainland, directory users will visit the operations
of sustainable agriculture practitioners in 38 more states,
concluding the tour at the Laramie, Wyoming, ranch of Jeff Powell,
who raises sheep, cattle and alfalfa. He also works as a ranch
"As a consultant, I work to maintain a way of life for rural
families and communities through increased ranch resource
efficiency, supplemental income, and value-added agriculture."
The Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise debuted in
print version in 1993 and was available via computer diskette in an
updated 1994 edition.
To compile data for the Third Edition, ATTRA staff members
beginning last winter mailed 2,500 surveys to sustainable farming
experts throughout the U.S. Nominees who were willing to share
their expertise with others were recruited through a series of
publicity efforts and personal contact.
Entrants in the directory relate their special expertise in
sustainable agriculture - crop, forage and livestock production,
soil and water management, marketing, organics, pest control,
cropping systems, erosion control and irrigation methods, and
livestock feed and health management systems.
Descriptions by the entrants of their work on the farms, research
units, universities, government halls, farm organizations and
agribusinesses help to paint a mural of this time and place in a
dynamic American agriculture movement. Entrants also relate their
own personal approach and philosophy about sustainable agriculture,
thus revealing the many different ways proponents view and pursue
ATTRA staff members working on the directory included Cynthia
Arnold, Betty Blomberg, Ellen Clough, Jim Lukens, Stuart Penn and
The directory will be available for sale through the USDA's
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Ordering
information will be announced through ATTRAnews and other
information sources later this year.
"Askattra": SUSTAINABLE AG INFO AVAILABLE VIA E-MAIL
People with access to the Internet can receive information on a
host of sustainable agriculture topics simply by sending ATTRA an
e-mail in care of: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the "Askattra" service was introduced in June, incoming e-
mail traffic has been brisk. The service was advertised via
mailing lists like Sanet (Sustainable Agriculture Network), Graze-
l, and IPMnet News (Integrated Pest Management Network).
For instance, Andy Clark, the newly appointed coordinator of the
Sustainable Agriculture Network, recently requested ATTRA's
resource list of internships and apprenticeships in the U.S.
A New England farmer sent an e-mail asking how he could control
aphids on broccoli without the use of synthetic pesticides. A
Pennsylvania researcher requested information on the history and
cultivation of the grains spelt, kamut, quinoa and amaranth. Two
prospective farmers wanted information, respectively, on
aquaculture and greenhouse operations, primarily for vegetables.
In other e-mails, a consultant who was conducting an analysis of
costs for both the wholesale and retail organic additive markets
was looking for a list of manufacturers and sellers of organic soil
additives. A scientist at Tufts University wanted to compare the
nutritional value of food grown organically and by conventional
means. And could she also have a list of organic certification
agencies in the country?
People wishing to pose questions related to sustainable
agriculture production should send an e-mail message with a clear,
detailed description of their informational need. Include your
name, postal address, occupation, and specifics about your
operation so that we may tailor our response to your needs. You
will receive ATTRA prepared materials within a few days and custom
research information within three to four weeks.
READERS RESPOND: "ATTRA BETTER THAN SLICED BREAD"
Again, ATTRA wishes to thank all those who completed and returned
the feedback questionnaires that were mailed out to our readers
earlier this year. We hope to use the information to evaluate the
effectiveness of our services, and are eager to share what we have
learned with others in the sustainable agriculture community. We
also encourage those of you who have not mailed in your
questionnaires, to do so. Your comments and advice are appreciated!
It is truly gratifying to know that the information we provide has
helped save a business or given that much-needed nudge to a
As an example, Joyce Young, an organic farmer in Greenfield, MA,
says that ATTRA materials have actually helped to keep her business
in business! She says, "They've helped answer critical questions
about disease/pest control, specific cultural information, and
marketing. I feel very strongly that ATTRA is one of the best uses
of our federal tax dollars that I have come across!!"
Keith A. Leavitt appreciates the help he received in getting
started in using drip irrigation. The system he finally purchased
with literature provided by ATTRA has been in use for two years
"with excellent performance."
Jude Lichtenstein of Friendship Hill Farm in Oregon says ATTRA
materials have helped to evaluate projects that contribute to farm
We asked ATTRA readers if they would use our services again.
Here's a sampling of what they said:
* Most definitely...keep me supplied with the materials and I am
a virtual Johnny Appleseed!
* Yes. We have found ATTRA's services to be very useful and
valuable. We have heard rumors of government funding being cut
to ATTRA and very much hope that such cuts will not come to
* Definitely!! Courteous, super knowledgeable and reliable!!
* Yes, yes, yes. And I hope you will be around for a long time.
ATTRA is a wonderful resource.
* Yes, I will. I appreciate ATTRA's excellent service. I just
hope ATTRA is funded for FY '96. I called my senator about
funding. I hope he listens.
* Absolutely. ATTRA is one of the few redeeming things done with
* Yes. Not only has the literature been extremely helpful, but
each agent I have talked with has been professional and
* Absolutely! I enjoy your reading materials immensely.
* Yes. You provide the best data with the least hassle.
* God, yes!!! As I told one of your reps, "You're the best thing
since sliced bread!"
* Definitely! You're doing a great job in the area of
alternative and niche crops.
* Yes. As a rural farmer in a remote location, ATTRA provides an
invaluable link to what is happening nationally. It also
provides specific answers to our specific problems. We are
extremely impressed with the quality and service from a
NCAT/ATTRA GATHERING RURAL DEVELOPMENT SUCCESS STORIES
*At West End-St. Mary Parish in Louisiana, Champion Communities
participants are assisting black farm workers in building and
*Champion Communities members in Coffee County, TN, have
organized a retail shop for 300 area craftspeople.
*And at Bryan, TX, the Champion Communities project through the
Brazos Valley Community Action Agency is providing bus service to
14 rural counties.
Several ATTRA staffers are working on a special USDA project
which, in part, will identify successful development strategies
initiated by 194 of the poorest rural communities in the U.S. These
"success stories" will be included in a report offered this fall on
how the USDA's Office of Small Communities and Rural Development
can further assist these communities.
The effort is being conducted under the Champion Communities
Project, which is part of President Clinton's Empowerment
Zone/Enterprise Communities (EZ/EC) Program to provide $2.5 billion
to 95 urban and rural communities and zones. Champion Communities
are those which developed comprehensive strategic development plans
in applying for EZ/EC status but were not funded. The Champion
Communities Project is being co-coordinated by the National Center
for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which administers the ATTRA
NEW OR REVISED ATTRA MATERIALS:
*Organic Blueberry Culture
*Field Grown Cut and Dried Flower Production and Marketing
*Videos/Slides/Tapes on Sustainable Agriculture
"Shrinking competition in the food industry has enabled
agribusinesses to pay farmers below their costs of production for
raw food products while increasing the prices consumers pay at the
retail level...Meanwhile, agribusiness corporations which control
the transport, processing, marketing and retailing of our food
enjoy record profits. America's farmers and consumers are being
shortchanged." -- Editors Gigi DiGiacomo and Harry Smith, Farm Aid
News, June, 1995