Report by WSAA to the Commission for Sustainable Development of the United Nations – Publicly Funded Models Supporting Sustainable Agriculture: Twenty Model Profiles 1997

Dedicated to the well being of all people in harmony with Nature

WSAA Report to the Commission for Sustainable Development of the United Nations

WSAA Occasional Paper No. 3
April 1997
by Roger Blobaum


Established in 1991, The World Sustainable Agriculture Association (WSAA) is an educational, research, advocacy and service organization that promotes agricultural sustainability. The ultimate goal of WSAA is to enhance the well-being of planet Earth and of all people by regenerating soil and society through farming and food systems in harmony with Nature. Our goal encompasses the food security and well-being of all present and future generations of people, regardless of race, creed, religion, national origin or socio-economic status.

WSAA is a private, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization (incorporated in Hawaii) governed by a Board of Directors from seven countries. Not a grant-making organization, WSAA seeks effective ways to help other organizations obtain resources essential to their serving, and a voice in determining policies that shape their futures. In general, WSAA serves as a catalyst for action, and a convener of organizations, agencies and institutions. Organized as a federation of autonomous branches, local chapters and offices, WSAA has a headquarters office in southern California, an office in Washington, DC, and branches in Hawaii and several countries, including India, Japan, Thailand, Australia, and China (Taiwan and Beijing). Profiles of the WSAA branches and about 50 other sustainable agriculture organizations around the world are presented in the WSAA book. For AH Generations Making World Agriculture More Sustainable.

This, the third in WSAA’s series of Occasional Papers, was prepared as a public service, specifically for distribution to the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development, during its April 1997 meeting in New York. This document is a work in progress. As additional information is obtained on the profiles included here, and as others possibly are added, a revised edition may be published.

Copies of this document are to be distributed at no cost to members of the CSD. Copies may be purchased at a cost of US$15. Please send check drawn on a US bank or a US international money order payable to WSAA, 8554 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069 USA.

Patrick Madden President of WSAA

Table of Contents

Overall SARD Progress
Replication of SARD Models
Sustainable Agriculture Model Approaches
Australia: National Landcare Program
China: Beijing Urban Farming System
China: Green Food Development Center
Cuba: Alternative Agriculture Program
Denmark: Organic Food Marketing Program
Ethiopia: Farmer-Based Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources
Finland: Environmental Program for Rural Areas
Indonesia: Integrated Pest Management Program
Ireland: Rural Environment Protection Scheme
Japan: Hokkaido Green Agriculture Plan
Netherlands: Organic Farming and Marketing Program
New Zealand: Dairy Farm Entry and Exit Transition Program
South Korea: Padang Clean Water Program
Sweden: Pesticide Reduction Programme
Thailand: Royal Development Study Centers
United States: Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas
United States: California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
United States: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
United States: Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
United States: Iowa Groundwater Protection Act


Nearly five years have passed since representatives of 178 countries came together at the Earth Summit and endorsed Agenda 21, a global action plan to engender sustainability in social, economic, and environmental development. Earth Summit participants acknowledged the importance of sustainable agriculture as a development agenda item, raised questions about the Green Revolution approach, and called for a global transition to resource-conserving and environmentally sound food production systems.

The interface between agriculture and the environment was dealt with in Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, which was entitled Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD). It called for 1) improving food security; 2) encouraging employment and income generation in rural areas; 3) ensuring the conservation of soil and water and other natural resources; and 4) enhancing environmental protection. The importance of a farmer-centered approach in realizing these aims was emphasized.

The NGO Sustainable Agriculture Treaty, developed during the Earth Summit by NGO and farmer representatives from around the world, went much further in challenging the agricultural status quo. It stated that the global socio-economic and political system that promotes industrial agriculture in general, and the so-called Green Revolution in particular, is the root cause of the social and environmental crisis in agriculture. It contended that this kind of energy-intensive and chemical-dependent agriculture degrades soil fertility, intensifies drought impacts, pollutes water, causes soil salinization and compaction, destroys genetic resources, wastes fossil fuel energy, contaminates the food supply, and contributes to climate change.

The NGO document called for conservation of genetic resources and biodiversity, democratic and equitable distribution of land resources, taxing farm chemicals and using the proceeds to help producers convert to ecological methods, blocking inter-country shipment of banned or severely restricted farm chemicals, and substantial and continuing cuts in use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

The SARD and NGO documents attempted to deal with two global agricultural conflicts that were predominant five years ago and remain compelling issues today. One conflict involves agricultural globilization, mainly through trade liberalization and expansion, versus food self-reliance through development of regional and local food systems. The other conflict is between those promoting industrial agricultural production, with its emphasis on concentration and monocultures and costly external inputs, and those endorsing a shift to ecological agriculture.

Overall SARD Progress

Although many of the changes called for in both the SARD and NGO documents are being supported by international agencies and demonstrated in NGO and farmer-initiated projects throughout the world, little has been done by most national governments to implement their sustainable agriculture commitments. The alternatives being demonstrated by farmers and NGOs, for the most part, are not being officially acknowledged and supported, nor are they being translated into national policies or programs.

Preliminary reports to the Commission on Sustainable Development suggest that work has been started in many instances on policy changes called for by SARD. Sustainable agriculture does not appear to be a high priority in most cases, however, and most country reports have little to say about it. This reported activity usually involves incremental change and involves the identification of issues, national planning initiatives, establishment of working groups, or drafting of proposed legislation.

The activities of working groups suggest that future policy changes may result. Bolivia, for example, has set up working groups to establish pest management networks, to promote the integrated plant nutrition approach, and to establish land reclamation programs for degraded land. Thailand’s latest report outlines a comprehensive plan that would cut pesticide use by developing and promoting biopesticides, improving mass rearing of beneficial insects, and training farmers in IPM techniques.

It is also important to acknowledge specific policy initiatives that support SARD objectives. The removal of pesticide subsidies in a long list of countries and of synthetic fertilizer subsidies in several, is a good example.

There are some outstanding SARD-responsive initiatives, however, and these programs stand out as models of what is possible in many parts of the world. This World Sustainable Agriculture Association report is the result of an attempt to identify some outstanding models of national initiatives that encourage and support a global transition to resource-conserving and environmentally sound production systems. Some are programs mentioned in the latest country reports to the CSD. Academic journals, periodicals, government and NGO reports, conferences and workshops, and personal communications are the sources of information on others.

One of the most interesting findings is that many of the models identified were in place before the Earth Summit process began. These include Indonesia’s farmer-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, Australia’s community-based Landcare program, China’s Green Food program, Sweden’s Pesticide Reduction program, the US Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the organic conversion payments programs initiated by Denmark, Sweden, and Germany.

Replication of SARD Models

Outstanding models can have a powerful impact, as illustrated by the replication of several by national governments, and the adoption of others by international agencies.

• The Indonesian Integrated Pest Management program, for example, is being extended to other Asian countries through a global IPM facility funded by the World Bank, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Ghana’s national government also is reporting good results in its demonstration of the Indonesian model. IPM also has been declared national policy in China, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam, and Madagascar.

  • The Organic Transition Payments initiatives developed in the late 1980s in Denmark, Sweden, and Germany have been extended to farmers in 15 European Union (EU) countries under the common legal framework of Regulation 2078/92. They also have been integrated into programs in Ireland and other non-EU countries. A growing awareness of organic agriculture is cited in the In his five-year report on Earth Summit follow-up, the UN Secretary-General cites a growing awareness of organic agriculture as a promising development in SARD implementation. National program support also has helped lay the groundwork for development of international organic standards by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a food standards program administered by FAO and the World Health Organization.
  • Sweden’s Pesticide Reduction Programme is the model for agrochemicals reduction initiatives in several other industrialized countries. Canada and the Netherlands, for example, have opted to cut pesticide use by 50% by the year 2000, and Denmark has set a 25% pesticide reduction goal for 1997. The tax provisions of this program also are being replicated. Denmark levies a 20% tax on pesticides, Norway has a 13% tax on pesticides, and Sweden’s latest rate is US$2.50 per kilogram of pesticides.

Sustainable Agriculture Model Approaches

Most of the 20 models identified in this report demonstrate sustainable agriculture approaches that support overall SARD goals. These are the approaches and the specific country models where they are being demonstrated:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has become one of the most widely accepted approaches in Asia (Indonesian Integrated Pest Management Program, China Green Food Development Center, and Hokkaido Green Agriculture Plan).

Pesticide reduction initiatives that include specific national goals are gaining acceptance in Europe (Swedish Pesticide Reduction Programme). A related approach is taxing pesticides and using the proceeds to fund sustainable agriculture research and extension (Swedish Pesticide Reduction Programme, Iowa Groundwater Protection Initiative).

Comprehensive national plans for a transition to sustainable agriculture that include research, extension, advisory services, marketing assistance, and organic conversion payments are being developed and implemented (Finnish Environmental Program for Rural Areas, Dutch Organic Farming and Marketing Program). These plans, in most cases, are national responses to Earth Summit commitments.

Payments to farmers for conversion to organic methods are available in nearly all European countries (Finnish Environmental Program for Rural Areas, Irish Rural Environment Protection Scheme, Dutch Organic Farming and Marketing Program).

Sustainable agriculture initiatives that rely heavily on local government and citizen groups are gaining acceptance (Hokkaido Green Agriculture Plan in Japan, and the National Landcare Program in Australia).

National and state initiatives that provide easy access to organic and sustainable agriculture information are well established in the United States (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center).

Conversion of entire watersheds to organic agriculture to protect urban area water supplies is an innovative new approach (Padang Clean Water Program in South Korea). Similar initiatives have been identified in Germany and France.

Urban agriculture planning and implementation is an approach that should gain increased global attention due to wide documentation by the UNDP and others, such as the Beijing Urban Farming System. UNDP also has led the way in the establishment of a global facility for urban agriculture at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada.

Food marketing initiatives that link ecological farmers and urban consumers are receiving increasing attention and support from governments (Dutch Organic Farming and Marketing Program, Danish Organic Food Marketing Program, and South Korea’s Padang Clean Water Program).

Australia: National Landcare Program

Description: The National Landcare Program was established in 1989 to provide technical assistance, grants, and other support for Landcare groups operating throughout Australia. This 10-year $1.5 billion public-private initiative provides financial and other support to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and local groups that combat land degradation and water pollution by facilitating the adoption of sustainable land management practices.

Activities: National program activities are based primarily on a plan of action prepared jointly by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Farmers Federation. The five major activity components are prevention of salinity, farm planning, erosion control, revegetation, and dune care. The main program activities are administration of the grant making program and registration of Landcare groups, which makes them eligible to develop work programs and apply for project funding. Mature Landcare groups inventory local natural resources, develop catchment or district plans, facilitate development of individual property plans, and sponsor short courses, demonstrations, field days, and other support activities. This national initiative also included establishment of Landcare Australia Limited, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about landcare, promotes the development of a landcare ethic, and raises tax-deductible funds for support of landcare projects.

Special Features: The National Landcare Program sponsors National Landcare Month, which features demonstrations and displays by landcare groups and special events such as the National Landcare Australia Awards, and other national awareness-building events and projects.

Scope: The National Landcare Program provides public support for landcare activities at all levels. Landcare in the states and territories is an inter-agency program, directed by state working groups or committees, which supports networks of landcare specialists and coordinators. Although landcare groups may receive technical support from government departments and funding from the national program, they are formed and run by local communities. Nearly 30% of Australia’s farmers are in one of 2,200 mostly farmer-led local landcare groups.

Government Agency Involvement: The Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy, the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, and the Murray-Darling River Basin Commission are the main government agencies involved in the national initiative. State and local governments and local public schools are eligible to receive program funding for specific landcare projects. Funding proposals receive both peer and independent expert review through regional, state, and national assessment plans.

NGO Linkages: The Australian Soil Conservation Council, with support from the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Farmers Federation, has proclaimed the 1990s to be the Decade of Landcare. Landcare Australia Limited, a nonprofit organization established by the Commonwealth government, also provides broad financial and other support.

Publications Available: Landcare: Communities Shaping the Land and the Future by Andrew Campbell, with case studies by Greg Siepen. Allen and Unwin. 1994. The State of the Community

Landcare Movement in Australia by Helen Alexander.   Annual report of the National Landcare Coordinator. 1995.

Contact: Community and Regional Landcare Policy Branch

Department of Primary Industries and Energy, GPO Box 858 Canberra 2601, Australian Capital Territory, Australia Phone: 61-6-272-5560; Fax: 61-6-272-5618

China: Beijing Urban Farming System

Description: The Beijing municipal government plans and manages food production in the municipal region to satisfy nearly all the food needs of a population of 11 million people. The region, made up of Beijing and the surrounding area, had 400,000 hectares under cultivation in 1996 and was self-sufficient in all food categories except grain. The overall municipal plan includes agriculture, forestry, fisheries, waste recycling, township enterprise, and livestock components.

Activities: All food production resources at the township level have been inventoried. Each township signs an agreement with the municipal government to limit commercial development to specific zones and to implement other farmland preservation measures. Livestock production wastes are composted, digested to produce biogas, or converted into granulated fertilizer. Utilization of “gray water” for irrigation is being demonstrated. Windbreaks are being planted to control dust storm damage.

Special Features: The official commitment to make the region self-sufficient in food is the most important special feature. The steady conversion of agricultural production to ecological methods also is significant. More than 30 villages and townships in the region have been developed as eco-agriculture demonstration projects since 1984. The China Green Food Development Center is now assisting these projects with conversion and marketing help. It also has established more than 30 areas around Beijing for production of grain, vegetables, fruit, and wine that are marketed with the Green Food logo.

Scope: Government-planned urban farming has been promoted since the 1960s in all large Chinese municipalities, and most have succeeded in becoming self-sufficient in the production of fruits, vegetables, and livestock. Farmland preservation, waste recycling, and marketing are components of these long-range plans. The newest additions are cooperation with local processing and other food-related enterprises and the steady conversion of production to ecological methods.

Government Agency Involvement: These planning initiatives are usually headed by a vice mayor and formally implemented by representatives of national and municipal government agencies. The Ministry of Agriculture is providing funding for projects being planned and implemented by the China Green Food Development Center.

NGO Linkages: NGOs that are potential participants are too new and too weak to become active participants.

Literature Citations:   Van der Bliek.   1992.   Urban Agriculture:   Possibilities for Ecological Agriculture in Urban Environments as a Strategy for Sustainable Cities.   ETC Foundation. Leusden, Netherlands. United Nations Development Program.  1996. “Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Cities.” Publication Series for Habitat II Volume One. New York.

Contact:            Ou Yang Xihui

Beijing Agriculture Green Food Office Beijing Agriculture Bureau No. 19, Beisanhuanzhong Road 100029 Beijing, China Phone: 62012244-2252

China: Green Food Development Center

Description: The China Green Food Development Center (CGFDC) is a semi-government organization established by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1992 to organize and implement a national Green Food initiative. Its stated mission is to:

1) produce and develop contamination-free, safe, nutritious, high-quality food with sustainable methods;

2) promote harmony between the rural society, the economy, and the environment in upgrading China’s agricultural modernization on a sustainable basis;

3) raise the income level of farmers through the development of sustainable food systems; and

4) enhance the well-being and general level of health of the people by providing a food sanitation and food safety guarantee.

Activities: The Center formulates programs, policies, and plans for developing Green Food, administers the use of the Green Food label, develops and monitors Green Food standards, and establishes Green Food production bases. It also makes arrangements for carrying out scientific and technological work, including the development of biopesticides and organic fertilizers and preservatives, and for coordinating Green Food’s marketing network and training programs.

Special Features: Green Food is an example of a well-publicized, rapidly expanding, nationwide sustainable agriculture label program. Its inspection and certification system for sustainable agriculture products appears to be unique. Products certified as Green Food must meet the following general standards:

1) the origin of products, or their raw materials, must meet Green Food’s environmental requirements;

2) crop farming, animal husbandry, aquaculture, and food processing must comply with specific operating rules; and

3) packaging must meet government food labeling standards as well as specific Green Food packaging, design, and labeling regulations.

Scope: Local Green Food offices have been set up in 29 of China’s 30 provinces, all cities directly under the central government, and all autonomous regions. The Center has set up a nationwide monitoring network that includes eight food monitoring units and provincial-level environmental protection bodies. The Green Food system covers production, processing, storage, shipping, monitoring, and marketing. By mid-1996, more than 600 products produced by 408 enterprises were using the Green Food label. The Center promotes Green Food products at an annual national fair and has begun sending representatives to international food expositions. It has also facilitated the establishment of a large number of eco-agriculture demonstration projects, many located in suburban villages, on state farms, and at state-owned orchards and vineyards.

Government Agency Involvement: The Center is funded by, and accountable to, the Ministry of Agriculture. Local and provincial governments also are involved in many Green Food activities. Information on the level of government funding is not available.

NGO Linkages: No important linkages have been made in China, where the kind of NGOs found in most countries does not exist. The Center’s International Cooperation Department has been reaching out to representatives of NGOs from other countries, primarily to gain recognition and to exchange information. The Center is a full and active member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and participates in IFOAM-Asia activities.

Publications Available: Literature is available in English, including a book entitled China Green Food Project, and a video describing Green Food activities.

Literature Citations: To date, no references in English have been found in refereed agricultural journals. Brief reports describing Green Food activities have been published in Ecology and Farming, IFOAM’s international quarterly, and other alternative agriculture publications.

Contact: Liu Lianfu, Director
15 Xibahe Guangximen Beili, Chongquin Hotel Beijing, 1000028 P.R. China Phone: 86-10-6422-8888; Fax: 86-10-6422-1175 Email: [email protected]

Several members of the Center’s Beijing staff speak and write English and other languages. Correspondence from outside China in English and most other languages is answered.

Cuba: Alternative Agriculture Program

Description: This is a comprehensive national effort to replace dependence on heavy farm machinery and on oil and chemical inputs with animal traction, crop and pasture rotations, soil conservation, organic soil amendments, biological pest control, and microbial fertilizers and pesticides that are non-toxic to humans.

Activities: Appropriate technology, alternative organization of labor, alternative planning, and environmental preservation are the main national program components. A major activity was strengthening the country’s existing biological pest control effort by creating local centers for mass rearing and production of parasitic wasps, bacterial and fungal pathogens of insects, and other biological control agents. Plant disease control activities have included adoption of improved diagnosis methods and the development of microbial antagonists that displace pathogens but do not harm crops. Animal traction activities include training oxen and redesigning and manufacturing oxen-suitable farm implements. Municipal and community gardens have been established in most urban areas, and schools, hospitals, and other institutions are encouraged to grow food for their own use.

Special Features: The most significant features are the adoption of ecological pest management as a national priority, and the development and application of the pest management techniques and products required to implement it on a national scale. The Ministry of Agriculture’s National Institute of Plant Protection Research (TNVS) predicts that farmers in Cuba will be able to control most insect pests, weeds, and diseases in agriculture through biological means by the year 2000.

Scope: This program has been a national priority since the collapse of Cuba’s favorable trade relationship with Soviet bloc nations at the end of the 1980s. In 1990, oil imports were drastically cut, pesticide imports dropped more than 60%, fertilizer imports fell 77%, and food imports were cut in half. This is the only instance thus far where an entire nation has committed itself to alternative agriculture methods and is implementing the full range of steps needed to make this transition a reality.

Government Agency Involvement: The Ministry of Agriculture is primarily responsible for the transition. Government institutions like the MVS are providing research support and pest monitoring. More than 200 government-supported Centers for the Reproduction of Entomopath-ogens and Entomophagous Agents (CREE) scattered throughout the country produce and distribute various biological control agents.

NGO Linkages: Two alternative agriculture organizations, DECAP-Consejo Ecumenico de Cuba and INCA-Grupo de Agricultura Sostenible, support this national initiative.

Publications Available: The National Institute of Plant Protection Research publishes a series of bulletins on new developments in plant protection. They are available through the Ministry of Agriculture’s Center for Agricultural Information and Documentation.

Literature Citations: Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward: Cuba’s National Experiment with Organic Agriculture. 1994. Global Exchange. San Francisco. Perfecto, Ivette. 1994. “The transformation of Cuban agriculture after the cold war” in American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.98-108. Rosset, P.M., and M. Benjamin (eds). 1993. The Greening of Cuba’s Agriculture. Ocean Press, Albourne, Australia.

Contact: Equal Exchange  2017 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110

Denmark: Organic Food Marketing Program

Description: The Danish government joined forces with organic farmers and the country’s largest supermarket chain to test whether consumer demand could be increased enough to move large amounts of organically grown food into mainstream markets. This effort, which included a national advertising campaign, demonstrated how this marketing breakthrough could be made without lowering standards or eliminating premiums.

Activities: Supermarket chains collaborated with organic farmers in building up a reliable organic food distribution system. Organic producers also established facilities to help guarantee uniformity, quality, and delivery schedules. Supermarkets made heavily-advertised cuts in organic food prices, which stimulated consumer demand, then began expanding the organic line to include cereals, meat, and milk.

Special Features: The rapid expansion of organic farming that began in Denmark when conversion payments became available provided more volume than could be sold directly to consumers, to local or specialized outlets, or to small private wholesaling or manufacturing firms specializing in organic products. Organic farmers approached supermarkets that were operated by cooperatives dominated by conventional farmers. It was agreed that the basic needs of supermarkets had to be met before the organic market share could expand. These needs included adequate delivery guarantees^ stable and large quantities of products, adequate uniformity and quality, and acceptable prices.

Scope: This is a national program promoted by the Danish government, supermarket chains, and organic farmers. It also is supported by conventional farmer organizations that control the cooperatives that own most of the supermarkets. A 60% increase in the number of organic farmers, a substantial reduction in organic premiums, and a doubling and redoubling of sales of organic products has occurred since the program began.

Government Agency Involvement: The Danish government provided support for the program through the Danish Directorate for Development in Agriculture and Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

NGO Linkages: Nonprofit organizations involved were the Association for Organic Farming, Practical Ecology, the Biodynamic Association, the Family Farmers Association, and the Danish Farmers Union.

Publications Available:    Borgen, M. 1996.    Ecoguide 1995-96.    Organic Service Center. Strandvejen.

Literature Citations: Michelsen, J. “Organic farmers and conventional distribution systems: The recent expansion of the organic food market in Denmark.” American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 18-24.

Contact: The Organic Service Centre Strandvejen I 8000 Arhus C, Denmark Phone: 45-86-19-2755; Fax: 45-86-19-2790 Email: [email protected]

Ethiopia: Farmer-Based Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources

Description: This biodiversity conservation project, established by the government of Ethiopia, links farmers and their indigenous cultivated crop varieties (landraces) with genetic resource conservation efforts of the nation’s Plant Genetic Resources Center. It supplements past efforts that have focused on maintaining genetic diversity in gene banks.

Activities: Scientists, extension agents, and farmers are trained and equipped to identify and conserve seeds and other reproductive materials in local surroundings where they have been selected by farmers for drought resistance and other distinctive properties. The program includes research on farmer knowledge of indigenous crops, potential risks of loss of genetic diversity on different kinds of farms and communities, and the extent of genetic diversity in target crops. A community-based network of local farmer conservators also is being organized.

Special Features: This is the first major national or regional program to integrate the informal sector of genetic resource conservation (farmers) with the formal sector (genetic research institutions). It also provides a link between the holders of genetic diversity in Ethiopia and the international conservation network. Indigenous landraces are genetically diverse and well adapted to local agro-ecological and socio-cultural conditions, characteristics of primary importance for the majority of the world’s farmers working in low-input subsistence agriculture. They also are indispensable for modern crop improvement efforts because of their importance to plant breeders as sources of resistance to disease, pests, drought, and other stress conditions.

Scope: This is a nationwide five-year genetic resources conservation initiative that adds a farm-level dimension to what is regarded by the international community as a first-rate germplasm national conservation effort. It also is designed to strengthen Ethiopia’s 20-year-old Plant Genetic Resources Center.

Government Agency Involvement: The Ministry of Natural Resources Development and Environmental Protection is the implementing agency. The Plant Genetic Resource Center, a government facility, provides technical assistance to farmer participants and plays a central role in the overall coordination and monitoring of program activities.    Extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture play a role in the training of farmers and in organizing workshops and other educational events.

NGO Linkages:   The Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, through its Seeds of Survival Program for Africa, has been providing support for farmer-based landrace conservation since 1989. The African Biodiversity Network, set up in 1991 by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, also is involved.

Publications Available: Ethiopia A Dynamic Farmer-Based Approach to the Conservation of African Plant Genetic Resources, a 1994 project document, is available from the Global Environment Facility of the United Nations Development Program.

Literature Citations: Woerde, M. 1992. “Ethiopia: A Gene Bank Working with Farmers,” in Growing Diversity: Genetic Resources and Local Food Security, edited by D. Cooper, R. Vellve, and H. Hobbelink, London, IT, pp.78-96.

Contact: GEF/Executive Coordinator
United Nations Development Programme
One United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017  USA
Phone: 212-906-5044; Fax: 212-906-6998

Finland: Environmental Program for Rural Areas

Description: This Finnish government action program, jointly administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment, includes measures for:

1) water protection in agriculture;
2) water protection in livestock husbandry;
3) air pollution control in livestock husbandry;
4) waste management in agriculture;
5) protection of biodiversity in an agricultural environment; and
6) protection of the rural cultural landscape.

The program includes organic production, renewable energy production, comprehensive farm planning, and pesticide reduction components.

Activities: Environmental management plans that include production practice improvement schedules and deadlines are being drawn up for each active farm in Finland. A national pesticide reduction component is being implemented. Water systems most intensively burdened by agricultural effluents are being identified and load reduction actions are being planned. Farm-specific nutrient balance calculations are being developed. Research is underway on the environmental economics of various agricultural production options. Implementation has begun on a plan to promote production of energy and fiber plants.  Conversion to organic methods is being supported with conversion payments, government-paid advisors, and a national inspection and certification program.

Special Features: This government initiative, based on voluntary action, is an attempt to make agriculture more sustainable by adjusting its economic system to natural cycles so that the harmful effects of farm production can be kept as low as possible. It also is an attempt to optimize the economic and social benefits of sustainable development in agriculture.

Scope: This program is designed to make every farm in Finland as environmentally sound as possible by the year 2000. It also is aimed at accelerating the conversion of Finnish agriculture to organic methods. The number of hectares farmed with organic methods is expected to increase from 27,000 in 1996 to 86,000 in 1998.

Government Agency Involvement: The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Environment, and other government agencies have made a public commitment to honor the principles of the Rio Declaration and to actively implement Agenda 21, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Environmental Programme for Rural Areas is one component of the comprehensive sustainable development plan being implemented by the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development.

NGO Linkages: The government-funded Union for Organic Farmers is playing a significant role in Finland’s organic conversion initiatives. The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation is promoting both environmental and nature conservation and economic use of natural resources. Other NGOs actively involved include the Finnish Society for Nature and Environment, the Finnish Consumers Association, the Finnish Association for Environmental Education, and the Finnish Youth Cooperative Alliance.

Publications Available: Wikki, Minna (ed.). 1995. Finnish Action for Sustainable Development. Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. Forssa Printing House. Forssa.

Literature Citations: Makinen, Riitta-Leena. “Finland: A Northerly Challenge.” Ecology and Farming. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. May, 1996, p. 15.

Contact: Union for Organic Farming Savilahdenkatu 10 A 28 50100 Mikkeli, Finland

Indonesia: Integrated Pest Management Program

Description: This national program was initiated by the Indonesian government after a Presidential order ended pesticide subsidies, banned the use of 57 brands of broad-spectrum pesticides, and launched a local-level Integrated Pest Management (DPM) farm school training effort. This program trained 140,000 rice producers and 1,100 pest observers and resulted in a 60% cut in pesticide use without any loss in yield.

Activities: The training component, which emphasized a “learn by doing” approach, taught farmers the theory and application of IPM. It also encouraged and assisted them in understanding and monitoring the ecological dynamics of their fields. Research activities included studies of insects in rice-based ecosystems and an occupational health study to obtain reliable data on pesticide exposure and poisoning. Other activities included training of technical level personnel, operation of regional in-service centers to upgrade the skills of agricultural professionals, establishment of agricultural information centers to produce publications and other extension materials, and organization of farmer competitions, field days, and conferences.

Special Features: The emphasis in this program was on participatory learning in field schools comprised of about 25 farmers who agreed to attend 12 sessions during one crop season. Farmers were taught to make their own decisions rather than depend on centrally developed information. Some farmers also were trained as IPM instructors and formed three-person training teams. The program’s “bottom up” approach also strengthened research and extension linkages by emphasizing field investigations in cooperation with farmers, using field laboratories accessible to farmers, and doing research that focused on solutions to farmer-identified problems.

Scope: The central government’s decision to ban 57 pesticides, including 20 widely used by rice farmers, and to make a firm commitment to IPM is considered the most sweeping act of environmental protection in Indonesia’s history. It is reported that the training has now reached 30,000 villages and 750,000 farmers. The IPM approach also is being expanded to include other food crops as well as horticulture crops. The Indonesia farmer field school approach is now being facilitated by an IPM facility set up jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), and the World Bank to provide funding for pilot IPM projects in other Asian countries and in Africa.

Government Agency Involvement: The project is coordinated at the national level by the National Planning and Coordination Board. It is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture. The FAO of the United Nations provided assistance in implementing the IPM field schools.

NGO Linkages: CARE International is serving as the lead agent for a program in Sri Lanka that is based on the Indonesian model of farmer field schools, training the trainers, and introducing farmers to methods that enable them to use their own adaptive research.

Contact: Sjarifudin Baharsjah
Minister of Agriculture
Republic of Indonesia

Ireland: Rural Environment Protection Scheme

Description: This voluntary government-funded initiative, established by the government of Ireland in 1994, requires participants to have an agri-environmental farm plan and meet other requirements to qualify for special green payments. Supplemental payments to organic farmers, both during a conversion period and after becoming certified, also are provided.

Activities: Approved planning agencies prepare agri-environmental plans for each farm on the basis of detailed guidelines. These cover waste management, liming and fertilization, grassland management, watercourse protection, wildlife habitat retention, and farm and field boundaries maintenance. Annual green payments of $125 per hectare for up to 40 hectares and for up to five years are provided. Supplemental payments of as much as $200 per hectare are provided to qualified organic farmers. Supplemental National Heritage Area payments also are provided for farmers who follow highly restrictive cropping and grazing practices on areas of natural and semi-natural habitats of major conservation importance.

Special Features: One special feature of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) program is the way it combines national government and European Union (EU) resources to provide substantial green payments. These annual outlays are financed jointly, with 75% coming from the EU’s Common Agricultural Program and 25% from the Irish government. Another feature is the way these payments are being used to provide a major financial incentive for conversion to organic farming. An agency within the Department of Agriculture has been promoting organic farming since 1990.

Scope: This is a five-year nationwide initiative aimed at acknowledging the agriculture/ environment relationship, encouraging farmers to accept restrictions on farming methods, compensating farmers for habitat protection, and providing a financial incentive for mainstream farmers who have been reluctant in the past to convert to organic methods. It also provides indirect support for the Irish government’s promotion of the country’s “green image” in tourism and for the export of fresh produce to EU countries.

Government Agency Involvement: The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food administers the program.

NGO Linkages: The Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association and the Organic Trust support the program. This support includes providing training courses for farmers making the transition to organic methods. The two organizations are also planning to provide advisory services.

Literature Citations:   Gairdner, J., and D. Keegan. 1966.   “The Irish Story Unfolds”   in New Farmer and Grower, British Organic Fanners, Winter, pp.24-25.     Bohnsack, U.     1966. “Agriculture and Conservation in the Burren Region,  Ireland”  in Ecology and Farming, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, September, pp. 14-18.

Contact: UteBohnsack
Clogher, Kilfenora
County Clare, Republic of Ireland
Phone: 353-65-88187

Japan: Hokkaido Green Agriculture Plan

Description: The prefectural government of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is implementing a sustainable agriculture plan that supports region-specific research and extension and emphasizes local markets and participation by local governments. Since the 10-year plan was launched in 1989, sustainable agriculture programs have been initiated by 131 of the 210 local governments in the prefecture.

Activities: Site-specific research carried out by Hokkaido Prefectural Agricultural Stations and tailored to the needs of farmers is a priority activity. Another is the development of small-scale equipment needed to make the transition to sustainable farming systems. This equipment is shared by farmers under the auspices of Japan Agriculture, the huge cooperative that operates throughout the country. The development of local marketing systems is carried out in cooperation with consumers, who are increasingly concerned about pesticide residues in particular, and food safety in general. Support and encouragement for new and beginning farmers also is a continuing activity.

Special Features: The commitment of government at all levels to “cleaner” agricultural production is the main special feature. This commitment is reflected in the agricultural component of the New Hokkaido Long-Term Plan, a 10-year guideline for the basic administration of Hokkaido. It includes “Guideposts for Local Agriculture,” which clearly outlines the prefecture’s “clean agriculture” goals, and 2) “Hokkaido Agriculture: Goals for Farming Villages,” which clarifies long-range development targets. Another important feature is the strong role played by producer and consumer cooperatives in gaining government support for this new prefecture-wide initiative.

Scope: This program provides all-out public support for the development of local food systems and a transition to sustainable agriculture for a Japanese prefecture that has an important agricultural economic sector and covers an area roughly the size of Denmark.

Government Agency Involvement: This initiative has the support of government at all levels in Hokkaido and the active participation of public agricultural research and extension agencies.

NGO Linkages: The Mokichi Okada Association (MOA) has been an important force in developing and implementing this plan. More than 290 MOA Nature Farming Producers Branch Cooperatives have participated in developing local farmer marketing opportunities. WSAA Japan and the Hokkaido Sustainable Agriculture Research Association sponsor research projects that support this effort.

Literature Citations: “Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan: Goals for the 21st Century,” WSAA Newsletter, Summer, 1995.

Contact: WSAA Japan

Atami Daiichi Bldg. 8F, 9-1 Tarwarahon-cho Atami, Shizuoka413, Japan Phone: 81-557-84-2250; Fax: 81-557-84-2487 Email: [email protected]

Netherlands: Organic Fanning and Marketing Program

Description: The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, which has supported a transition to integrated agriculture since 1990, is implementing a comprehensive national initiative to stimulate organic agriculture. This program, started in 1992 and strengthened in 1995, emphasizes and supports private sector initiatives and includes provisions for conversion payments, research, extension, and consumer education and outreach.

Activities: The Dutch government is funding activities aimed at promoting farm conversions, improving product quality, researching organic-specific problems, making information on organic methods more available to farmers, stimulating consumer demand, and promoting organic sales in supermarkets. A just-completed study by the Agricultural Economics Research Institute has gathered market development information from growers, consumers, retailers, and wholesalers.

Special Features: This program acknowledges that organic farming can become much more than just a secondary agricultural stream. Most organic sales until recently were made in natural food stores. This program emphasizes across-the-board market expansion and is aimed at development of new distribution channels and at penetration of supermarkets and specialty shops. It also emphasizes the higher quality and appearance standards of these new markets, and the fact that they require a year-round supply of fresh organic products.

Scope: This is a nationwide initiative to:

  1. motivate consumers to buy organic products by providing information on organics;
  2. improve efficiency in the distribution of organic products;
  3. reduce prices by improving the efficiency of organic farming operations;
  4. familiarize producers with marketing possibilities; and
  5. create a government framework within which the organic sector can expand.

Government Agency Involvement: The Ministry of Agriculture, which has adopted a national policy framework for sustainable agriculture and rural development, is funding, promoting, and facilitating these new program activities.

NGO Linkages: The Dutch government is working with organic farming groups and other nonprofit organizations to develop and implement this initiative.

Contact: Paul W.M. van Ham
National Reference Centre Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture
PO Box 482
6710 BL, EDE, The Netherlands
Email: [email protected]

New Zealand: Dairy Farm Entry and Exit Transition Program

Description: This New Zealand program provides a career structure that enables committed, energetic persons from both farm and non-farm backgrounds to relatively smoothly enter, advance within, and retire from dairy farm careers and enterprises. It includes early recruitment and training, mid-career transitions through sharemilking agreements, and a phased-in retirement and farm exit process.

Activities: Industry Training Organization (ITO) Agriculture operates a Dairy Cadet Program, which provides financial and logistical support for young aspiring farmers. Both formal classroom training and part-time farm employment arrangements are provided for students, who gain practical experience and academic credit leading to national certificates in farm practice and in herd management. This farm training pathway also may be extended to lead to bachelor’s and advanced degrees in agriculture. ITO implements national training standards, certifies training providers, and recruits and evaluates farmers serving as trainer-mentors. A sharemilking program enables trained young people to enter into an agreement to operate a farm on behalf of the owner for a share of the income. The program also facilitates the financial transaction that enables a sharemilker who has accumulated cattle and other assets to acquire a farm from an owner making the transition into retirement.

Special Features: The program provides an institutionalized dairy farmer career pathway, offers high quality training and farm apprenticeship opportunities for young aspiring farmers, uses economic partnering sharemilking arrangements that allow young farmers to defer land ownership and accumulate resources until the middle stages of their careers, and provides an institutionalized and complementary entry-exit process. It addresses the growing problem in most industrialized countries of intergenerational transfer of farm operations and the often overwhelming entry barriers for young farmers with little or no capital.

Scope: This nationwide program attracts a significant number of entry-level farmers with non-farm backgrounds, lowers the average age of dairy farm owner-operators, and successfully transitions farmers through the stages of their dairy careers. Approximately 10% of New Zealand’s 15,000 dairy farms are managed by non-herd-owning milkers, 25% by herd-owning sharemilkers, and the balance by owner-operators.

Government Agency Involvement: The New Zealand government provides 90% of the funding for the farmer training and transition program, and the New Zealand Dairy Board provides the balance. ITO Agriculture is affiliated with, and supported by, the Ministry of Education.

NGO Linkages: The Federated Farmers of New Zealand supports and cooperates with the national program.

Literature Citations: Stevenson, G.W., R. O’Harrow, and D. Romig. 1996. Dairy Farmer Career Paths. Agricultural Technology and Family Farm Institute. University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Contact: Gary Beecroft, Chief Executive Officer
ITO Agriculture, Level 6, Old Wool House
139-141 Featherston Street
PO Box 10-3383, The Terrace
Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: 4-472-8731; Fax: 4-479-4233

South Korea: Padang Clean Water Program

Description: This is a comprehensive producer-consumer effort to support and facilitate the conversion to organic methods of all farms in the large agricultural area that provides most of the water for Seoul, the capital of Korea. Training, marketing, and financing programs are combined to facilitate the overall effort.

Activities: Training, farm visits, and low-interest loans are made available to each farmer converting to organic methods. Consumers have access to training and to city-operated organic food shops provided by the program. The city of Seoul pays the Korean Organic Farmers Association (KOFA) $12,500 per month to carry out training and follow-up farm visits. KOFA receives $25 from the city for every consumer completing an organic agriculture awareness course. The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), an organization with a membership of more than 8 million farmers, pays KOFA an additional $75 for every producer completing soil fertilization and other organic farming training. It also underwrites the cost of the interior setup and displays for the organic food shops. Finally, the farmers themselves pay $63 for KOFA membership and their share of training costs.

Special Features: The most unusual feature is the wholesale conversion of farms to organic methods in an entire basin in order to reduce nitrate levels in food and to protect the source of clean water for a large metropolitan area. The financing arrangements worked out between the government, on behalf of urban consumers, and the farmers in conversion is a special feature. Two additional features are the city-subsidized conversion loans provided to farmers and the contract between the city and organic farmers for the purchase of their crops for sale in the organic food shops.

Scope: The first phase of this program is the conversion to organic methods in the first year of 2,500 of the 7,500 farmers in the Padang Water Resource Area supplying water to Seoul. The goal is to have all 7,500 using organic methods after three years.  Korea has 12 of these water resource areas. A national goal is to have this program established in all of them by the year 2000.

Government Agency Involvement:   The City of Seoul provides most of the funding for this program.

NGO Linkages: The Korea Organic Farming Association and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation are partners in this public-private initiative.

Contact: Jin Young, Jung, Korea Organic Farming Association 3-98, 600 Garak-Dong, Songpa-Gu Seoul 138140, Korea Phone: 82-2-4064462; Fax: 82-2-4034463

Sweden: Pesticide Reduction Programme

Description: This largely voluntary national initiative, the first of its kind, was launched in 1987. It called for a 50% reduction in pesticide active ingredient use by 1990 (based on pesticide usage in 1981-1985), and a further 50% reduction by 1997. The reduction goal for 1990 was met in 1991. Reduced herbicide use is credited as the single most important reason for the program’s success.

Activities: The overall program provided for a transition to safer pesticides, safer pesticide handling, monitoring of pesticide residues in food, and reduced use of pesticides. Specific activities included:

  1. preparing guidelines for pesticide use in each municipality;
    1. protecting the natural flora and fauna in field margins by banning fenceline, roadside, forest edge, and gully pesticide applications;
    2. increasing funding to improve pesticide testing methods;
    3. promoting less pesticide-dependent crop varieties;
    4. levying taxes on pesticides; and
      1. using pesticide tax revenues to support research, advisory, training, information, and other ecological agriculture initiatives.

Special Features: This program also provided for re-registration of all pesticides, and this first-in-Europe effort has been completed. The number of approved pesticides, as a result, was reduced from 681 in 1986 to 343 in 1990, and the use of several others was restricted. Since the 1960s, a total of 45 active pesticide ingredients have been banned. The overall program included mandatory standards for new spray equipment and financial assistance for voluntary inspection of existing field sprayers. It also included research on impacts of pesticide use, and three-year grants to farmers for conversion to organic production.

Scope: This was a comprehensive effort that had broad public support and implemented a national action plan. The government used regulatory, taxation, cost-sharing, research, extension, education and training, and monitoring approaches to carry it out. The director of the program said it worked because the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment set realistic reduction goals and, in collaboration with other agencies, provided the activities needed to meet them.

Government Agency Involvement: This effort was initiated and coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment. Other state-supported institutions, including the University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, also were involved. The government also collected the pesticide sales tax.

NGO Linkages: The Swedish Farmers Association supported this national effort.

Contacts: Roger Blobaum 2025 I Street NW,Ste. 512 Washington, DC 20006 USA Phone: 202-293-2155; Fax: 202-293-2209 Email: [email protected]

Thailand: Royal Development Study Centers

Description: This national program, initiated by Thailand’s king, is carried out at agricultural research and demonstration centers established in each of six provinces. These model farming centers provide “one stop service” for farmers seeking information on sustainable farming practices.

Activities: These model farming centers demonstrate new, appropriate, region-specific, and low-cost production approaches, provide on-site training, and disseminate center-generated information to individual producers throughout the country. Overall program objectives are helping farmers achieve self-sufficiency, join together in cooperatives, switch from monocultural to mixed farming systems, and gain both social and economic benefits.

Special Features: The most innovative feature of the study centers is their emphasis on development of agricultural systems most suitable to micro-climates and other special regional conditions. The integrated systems being researched and demonstrated follow land allocation formulas related to weather, water availability, terrain, soil quality, and other natural resource factors. In Chantaburi Province where water is plentiful, for example, the recommended allocation is 10% for aquaculture, 40% for rice production, 40% for perennial trees, and 10% for family housing and other buildings. All of the centers put a high priority on adoption of integrated systems, reduction of agrochemical use, and adoption of environmentally sound practices.

Scope: The centers, which provide research and demonstration projects appropriate to farming conditions in each province, provide coverage for the entire country.

Government Agency Involvement: The centers are funded by the Royal Thai government, coordinated by the Royal Development Projects Board, and administered by the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board. The Board, chaired by the prime minister, monitors and coordinates planning and implementation of 1,800 Royal Development Projects by the various government agencies involved.

NGO Linkages: The Thailand Branch of the World Sustainable Agriculture Association has a close working relationship with the study centers.

Contact: Office of the Royal Development Project Board
78 Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, 78 Government House, Old Cadet Academy
Dusit, Bankkok, 10300, Thailand
Phone: 66-2-280-6193-200; Fax: 66-2-280-6206

United States: Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas

Description: The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program is a 10-year-old national information service that provides sustainable agriculture information and technical assistance to farmers, extension specialists, researchers, and other users. The ATTRA staff respond to individual mail and phone requests, and this service is provided free of charge.

Activities: ATTRA specializes in providing answers to specific questions. Each response is handled by a technical specialist, who reviews literature in the ATTRA Resource Center, contacts research agencies and other information sources, and searches available databases and other networks. In addition to a written response to a specific question, users also receive copies of technical articles and other supporting literature. Extension agents, crop scouts, and on-farm consultants are recommended for problems that require immediate locally-based technical assistance. The program also prepares and distributes standardized materials, including information packages, fact sheets, and lists of cooperating resource persons and organizations. Information packages cover areas like farm-scale composting, integrated pest management, cover crops and green manures, herb production and marketing, and organic fruit production.

Special Features: The most unusual feature of this program is its written, technically cdrrect, and prompt response to requests made through its toll-free national phone number. ATTRA’s latest report to Congress shows that responses to nearly all of the 18,246 requests in the 1995-96 fiscal year were mailed out within two weeks. Another special feature is its permanent staff of 15 agricultural professionals, most with advanced degrees and expertise in everything from soil and animal science to horticulture and integrated pest management.

Scope: ATTRA serves a national clientele. Its service to users, however, is restricted by law to information on low-input and sustainable agriculture practices. More than two-thirds of the requests for information, which reach or exceed 1,000 per week in late winter and early spring, come from farmers. Other major user categories are extension workers, agricultural businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and gardeners.

Government Agency Involvement: ATTRA is funded through the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Cooperative Service and receives an annual Congressional appropriation of approximately $1.2 million.

NGO Linkages: The ATTRA program is sponsored and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, a 20-year-old Montana-based nonprofit organization that also sponsors and manages a national energy information service.

Publications Available: Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise. This book is compiled by ATTRA staff members and published and distributed by the US Department of Agriculture.

Contact: Teresa Mauer, ATTRA Program Manager PO Box 3657 Fayetteville, AR 72702 Phone: 501-442-0924; Fax: 501-442-9842 Toll-freephone: 800-346-9140

United States: California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

Description: The California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) is a statewide program authorized by a law enacted in 1986 and administered by the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of California at Davis. It provides competitive grants for research on organic methods, biological controls, and integrated pest management, as well as for analysis of economic factors influencing the long-term sustainability of California agriculture. It also provides an educational program aimed at helping farmers make the transition to more sustainable systems and practices.

Activities: The main activities are administering a competitive research grants program, developing and distributing information, and establishing long-term farmland research sites. SAREP encourages applications for grants for interdisciplinary systems research, including comparisons of whole farming systems. These projects require participation and communication among problem-solving and systems-oriented researchers, innovative farmers, farm advisors, and extension specialists. Proposals that are multidisciplinary or multi-county and that have direct farmer involvement have priority. SAREP also responds to thousands of information requests from farmers and other users each year.

Special Features: One special program feature is the emphasis on interfacing with, and accepting direction from, the public being served. This includes a formal public input process and user participation in the grant-making process. The specific methods used are a public advisory committee to recommend program goals and priorities, and a technical advisory committee to help determine the scientific merit of grant applications. Each committee has approximately 15 members. The program also draws on the expertise of less formal advisory groups on economics and public policy, soils management, and production systems. Another special feature is the vigorous educational effort to introduce more sustainable farming practices into mainstrean agriculture. It includes newsletters, bulletins, conferences, an information database, and publications on specific commodities and sustainable agriculture practices.

Scope: This statewide sustainable agriculture program is the first of its kind in a Mediterranean climate anywhere in the world. It also is the first to deal systematically with problems related to California’s transition from a predominantly dryland agriculture to an agriculture heavily dependent on irrigation.

Government Agency Involvement: This program is administered by the University of California at Davis, a publicly-supported land grant university. SAREP is supported by funds appropriated annually by the California Legislature.

NGO Linkages:   Nonprofit organizations in California are eligible for SAREP program grants. These organizations also collaborate in organizing and presenting workshops and other SAREP events, and participate in the dissemination of program-generated information.

Publications Available: SAREP has produced eight major publications, on California sustainable agriculture in general, and on such specific topic areas as rotational grazing, organic soil amendments and fertilizers, ground water protection in citrus production, and community supported agriculture. These can be ordered at prices ranging from $5 to $28. Four videos dealing with soil management, cover cropping, and cultural weed control also can be purchased, and a progress report covering 1993-95 program activities is available upon request.

Contact: William C. Liebhardt, Extension Specialist and Program Director Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program 258 Hunt Hall, University of California Davis, CA 95616 Phone: 916-752-7556

United States: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

Description: The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) is a federal competitive grants program with regional leadership and decision-making structures. The program, authorized by Congress in 1985 and funded for the first time in 1988, is administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USD A).

Activities: SARE provides funding for research, demonstration, education, and extension projects carried out by scientists, producers, educators, and private sector representatives. The program currently funds research and education grants, Agriculture in Concert with the Environment grants, producer grants, and professional development grants. SARE also manages the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a cooperative effort between land grant universities, nonprofit organizations, extension personnel, agribusinesses, and farmers and ranchers. This effort, based in the National Agricultural Library, promotes dissemination of sustainable agriculture information through printed materials and electronic information systems.

Special Features: The most innovative features are the emphasis on interdisciplinary research and the formal structure used to provide regional leadership and decision making. SARE’s four regional administrative councils are made up of producers, extension agents, researchers, and representatives from industry, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies. They determine regional research needs and recommend grant funding decisions to USDA. Regional technical committees review and rank funding proposals before the administrative council decisions are made. Another special feature is the establishment of a small grants program for farmers and ranchers conducting on-site research experiments. The most recent special feature is the establishment of grants for professional development programs for Cooperative Extension Service personnel and other agriculture professionals. Regional coordinators manage this effort to communicate sustainable agriculture concepts and practices.

Scope: This national program has funded hundreds of projects to explore and apply economically profitable, environmentally sound, and socially supporting farming systems. The current annual SARE funding level is $11.5 million.

Government Agency Involvement: USDA administers SARE through the Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) and the Extension Service. The Agricultural Research Service and other USDA agencies also are cooperators. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funds the Agriculture in Concert with the Environment (ACE) grants, which are aimed at preventing agriculture-related resource degradation. State agencies also cooperate through membership on regional administrative councils. SARE is funded through annual Congressional appropriations.

NGO Linkages: Nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive SARE grants and to participate in SAN activities. Nonprofit organization representatives also serve on regional administrative councils and technical committees and participate in professional development programs.

Publications Available: Four SARE publications can be ordered from Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0082: The Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise provides information on more than 700 individuals and organizations with expertise in sustainable agriculture. Showcase of Sustainable Agriculture Information and Educational Materials includes more than 100 pages of abstracts of publications, videos, and other information sources on sustainable agriculture. Managing Cover Crops Profitably is a 114-page handbook of information on cover crops. The Real Dirt: Farmers Teh About Organic and Low-Input Practices in the Northeast is a 264-page compilation of advice from farmers on biological, cultural, mechanical, and chemical options available to organic and low-input farmers.

Contacts: Rob Myers, Director
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
Room 3868 South Building, Box 2223
Washington, DC 20250-2223
Phone: 202-720-5203; Fax: 202-720-6071

Andy Clark, Coordinator
Sustainable Agriculture Network
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
Phone: 301-504-6425; Fax: 301-504-6409

United States: Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

Description: The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) is one of 10 public information centers maintained by the National Agricultural Library (NAL). It is staffed by information professionals and specializes in locating, collecting, and providing information about sustainable and alternative agriculture systems, new and industrial crops, and alternative crops. The resources of this 12-year-old center range from local to international and include popular as well as scientific and technical materials.

Activities: AFSIC’s main activities are:

1) providing access to books, technical reports, journal articles, newsletters, databases, and electronic resources;

2) identifying researchers and their current research projects within the USD A, private industry, and nonprofit organizations;

3) preparing and disseminating free bibliographies and reference briefs;

4) providing referrals to experts and organizations; and

5) responding to specific requests for database searches.

AFSIC also is the home of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a cooperative effort of university, government, business, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to the exchange of scientific and practical information about sustainable agricultural systems.

Special Features: AFSIC draws on the resources of the world’s largest agricultural library system to provide the most up-to-date, in-depth, and comprehensive coverage of alternative farming systems information available anywhere. It emphasizes free services and accessibility, fully utilizes electronic technology, and maintains a close working relationship with practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and other users.

Scope: The center’s services are provided to agricultural researchers, extension agents, farmers, marketing specialists, educators, nonprofit organizations, other libraries and information centers, and the general public. Its Congressional mandate does not permit AFSIC to provide services to potential users in other countries.

Government Agency Involvement: The National Agricultural Library is a division of the USDA and receives annual Congressional appropriations.   In addition to its basic NAL support, AFSIC receives some additional funding from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

NGO Linkages: Environmental, organic farming, and sustainable agriculture nonprofits are important users of AFSIC services. They also contribute reports, newsletters, and other materials to the center’s collection.

Publications Available: Sustainable Agriculture in Print: Current Periodicals is a popular publication that is updated with supplements. The center’s more than 30 Quick Bibliographies, many available in both hard copy and electronic formats, cover everything from conservation tillage and farmland preservation to rotational grazing and wind energy. AFSIC also publishes other helpful materials on topics like organic production, community supported agriculture, sustainable agriculture definitions and terms, and education and training opportunities in sustainable agriculture.

Contact: Jane Potter Gates, Coordinator
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Blvd.
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
Phone: 301-504-6559; Fax: 301-504-6409
Email: [email protected]

United States: Iowa Groundwater Protection Act

Description: This government initiative, funded by the State of Iowa, levies a tax on pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer sales and uses the proceeds to support the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and to fund its sustainable agriculture research and education programs. It implements a policy decision to approach groundwater protection from a voluntary rather than a regulatory basis. The Leopold Center administers a competitive grants program and several interdisciplinary teams that focus on special long-term research projects. It disseminates the results * through educational programs, publications, and workshops and other outreach activities.

Activities: The main activity is administration of the Leopold Center’s annual competitive grants program. The five priority areas for current grant funding are biologically intensive farming, community/regional regeneration, crop diversity, soil quality/health, and water quality. It also carries out, in cooperation with the Iowa Cooperative Extension Service, an educational effort to disseminate project results to the agricultural community and the general public. These efforts include a quarterly newsletter, news releases, and an annual conference.

Special Features: The most innovative feature is the decision to levy pesticide and fertilizer user fees, to place them in a state trust fund, and to use all of the proceeds to fund the Leopold Center and its grants programs. These funds are supplemented by a direct annual appropriation to the Leopold Center from the state general fund.    Another important feature is making nonprofit organizations, as well as researchers and educators, eligible for competitive grants and emphasizing project collaboration with farmers, conservationists, and other users. The program also funds interdisciplinary teams, which have up to 25 persons and multi-year support, to conduct research on cropping systems, agroecology, human systems, pest management, animal management, animal waste management, and weed management. This program also has a statutory advisory committee, which sets priorities and establishes overall policy.

Scope:   This is a statewide program with a budget of approximately $1.7 million per year. Eligibility for competitive grants is restricted to researchers, educators, and individuals at Iowa educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and foundations.

Government Agency Involvement:   The Leopold Center is located at Iowa State University, a public land grant institution.   Its level of public support is determined by the Iowa Legislature. State agricultural and environmental agencies are involved through membership on the program’s advisory committee.

NGO Linkages: The Practical Farmers of Iowa and other nonprofit organizations are among the recipients of more than 130 project grants made since the program began.

Publications Available: DeLuca, T.H. 1996. Five-Year Review of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The Center also publishes a quarterly newsletter and annual progress reports that include summaries of research and education projects.

Literature Citations: Iowa Code S455E et seq.
Contact: Dennis R. Keeney, Director
Leopold Center, 209 Curtiss Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-1050   USA
Phone: 515-294-3711; Fax: 515-294-9696
Email: [email protected]