I applaud the conference idea and accept most of what you said in your
introduction except this statement:
> The U.S.D.A. Extension Service, the public sector institution traditionally
> most directly engaged in agricultural technology and information transfer,
> is involved far less substantially in direct contact with producers than it
> once was.
This may be true in the "northern" states. In fact we have heard a rumor
that a couple of mid-western Director's of Extension have said that Ag.
is no longer important to their mission. The implication here seems
to be that we are more out of touch with producers. This is not true in my
state and as far as I can tell in surrounding states. We are working with
(remaining) producer's, and as far as I can tell, as intensively as was
done in the 80's.
We have cycles in ag. where farmers seem to get depressed and don't come
to meetings or field days and seem to withdraw. This happened in the
80's. We also have less farmers as part of a continuing trend of
decline. Farmer's seem to be in one of those troughs at this time.
This state of mind should not should not be mistaken for the idea that
farmers are no longer interested in what we have to offer or that
Extension is no longer relevant.
Granted, we in Extension have more diversity of interests and less
personnel than in the past, however, I challenge you to prove your
statement that those of us in the southern region are less in contact on
the average than 10 years ago. Although policy and management
oriented, perhaps adding a few more horticulture, agronomy, or animal
science specialists to your program would add more balance to this point
Again, I think your on the right track. Just don't get de-railed by a
pre-set point of view.
Extension Economist and Professor
Dept. Ag. Econ. & Rural Soc.
Rm. 304 Comer Hall
Auburn University, Al 36849