Keynote Address: Challenges and Opportunities For Sustainable Agriculture
Dr. Gale Buchanan, Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, USDA
Dr. Gale Buchanan will open SARE’s 20th anniversary New American Farm conference with remarks about USDA’s commitment to sustainable agriculture, and the role sustainable innovations and practices play in addressing challenges facing the nation’s economy, environment and rural communities.
Dr. Buchanan received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from the University of Florida in 1959 and 1962, respectively, and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, with minors in Botany and Agronomy, from Iowa State University in 1965. Dr. Buchanan spent the first 21 years of his professional career with Auburn University in the Department of Agronomy and Soils, with primary teaching and research responsibilities in weed science. He served as Dean and Director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station from October 1, 1980 to September 30, 1985. On April 14, 1986, he was appointed Associate Director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations and Resident Director of the Coastal Plain Experiment Station. He served as Interim Director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations from June, 1994 to February, 1995. He became Dean and Director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences March 1, 1995 up to 2006. Currently, he serves as the USDA-Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.
Text of Dr. Buchanan's speech:
Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture in Universities
How Far We’ve Come, A Vision of the Future
Owusu is a professor of horticulture at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Much of his work involves identifying and evaluating alternative crops and cropping systems for limited resource farmers. Bandele has helped establish farmers markets and community gardens in Louisiana, and worked internationally, holding organic workshops for farmers and extension workers in El Salvador and the Virgin Islands, and providing technical assistance in Jamaica and Africa. Bandele served as Crops Committee Chairman on the National Organic Standards Board. In 1997, he and his wife, Efuru Bandele, established the Food for Thought Organic Farm in Baton Rouge to encourage more small-scale farmers in the South to grow organically.
"The richness of our land-based heritage is evident. But the continuation of that heritage and our linkage to the land is faced with ever present challenges as both the number of African American farms and the acreage of these farms continue to be in jeopardy."
– Owusu Bandele
Jerry R. DeWitt
Jerry is one of the most passionate and experienced voices for sustainable agriculture education. He is director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa and coordinates the Iowa Learning Farm and Iowa State University Extension's Sustainable Agriculture Program. An entomologist by training, Jerry has been an Iowa State faculty member since 1972. During his tenure, he has served as associate dean in the College of Agriculture, assistant director for ISU Extension, interim director for ISU Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension, and interim national program leader for SARE. Jerry also is an accomplished photographer. His photographs have been published in two books: People Sustaining the Land (Vagnetti and DeWitt, 2002), and Renewing the Countryside – Iowa. He received the 2005 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture, the 1994 Epsilon Sigma Phi Regional Distinguished Service Award in Extension, and the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award in 1991 from Practical Farmers of Iowa.
"I have been changed by what I have seen, what I have heard. I have been a guest and student on a learning journey of people on the land. These are the people who have sustained their land, their lives and ultimately me."
– Jerry DeWitt, upon completing Sustaining the Land, a book of farm photography.
Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture in the Field
Innovations for Farm, Ranch and Market
Judy grew up on a dairy farm in northwest Connecticut, but the road to her dream -- a sustainable dairy farm of her own -- took her first to the world of national farm policy. Judy spent seven years working on dairy issues: two years for a Wisconsin congressman and five as a lobbyist for the National Milk Producers Federation. After the contentious 1995 Farm Bill, Judy decided it was time to leave politics. Today, she and her partner Bob Fry own and operate St. Brigid’s Farm in Kennedyville, Maryland, using state-of-the-art sustainable practices and innovations. Judy is responsible for daily operations, including milking her 70 Jersey cows and rotationally grazing them on 55 acres of pasture. As a result of her SARE Farmer Grower grant, the farm has monitored the mass nutrient balance of phosphorus and nitrogen and follows a nutrient management plan. In 2007, Judy and Bob began to market their grass-fed beef and veal locally to restaurants and individuals. Judy currently is co-chair of the SARE Outreach steering committee and sits on the Northeast SARE administrative council.
“When we established St. Brigid’s Farm, we believed sustainability encompassed more than just environmental stewardship. To be sustainable in the long run, we also needed to be profitable and to have a positive impact on our community.”
– Judy Gifford
Karl is one of the most outspoken advocates for sustainable farming practices, and he speaks from extensive field and business experience. Once a traditional grain farmer, he switched to an innovative and profitable “systems” approach on his grain farm, which included diversifying crops, no-till and direct marketing. He began small, using a SARE grant in 1996 to test alternative crops. He also pioneered and refined “direct-seeding”, placing seeds into the soil with a drill, which leaves the soil untilled. After he transitioned his entire farm to a no-till, diversified system – and added a profitable direct marketing business to the mix – he turned his attention to marketing full-time. Today, Karl is marketing director of Shepherd’s Grain, a coop he helped form. It currently has 20 Pacific Northwest no-till farmers – all Food Alliance certified. Karl is also chairman of Western SARE’s administrative council and a former president of the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association.
“What I’m doing is a complete reversal of conventional farming. And the profitability is only one part of the system. I’m not taking the profit out. I have the profit because I have a whole system that makes profitability sustainable.”
– Karl Kupers
Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture in our Communities
Food, Health and People
Bryant is an award-winning eco chef, author and food justice activist. In 2001, Bryant founded b-healthy, a five-year initiative created to raise awareness about food justice issues and empower low-income youth through better nutrition and personal and community food choices and health. His work and recipes have been featured in Gourmet, Food and Wine, The San Francisco Chronicle and many other publications. Called “ingenious” by the New York Times Magazine, his critically acclaimed first book, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen with co-author Anna Lappé, is a winner of the 2007 Nautilus Book Award. Bryant is a host on “The Endless Feast”, a 13-episode public television series that explores the connection between the earth and the food on our plates. A graduate of Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, Bryant also has an M.A. in History from New York University. Bryant’s next book, Organic Soul, will be published by Da Capo/Perseus in 2009.
“We have seen amazing examples of people living in low-income communities who have combined food justice with economic development, youth activism and community beautification. So in one fell swoop, communities are infused with healthier food, jobs, leadership from the bottom up, and a more beautiful environment.”
– Bryant Terry
Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture in our Leadership
Cultivating the Next Generation
Margaret is policy program director for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin. She coordinates the annual national grassroots campaign to fund federal programs supported by the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and works to develop state programs and policies supporting environmentally sound, profitable and socially responsible agriculture. Five years ago, Margaret and the Institute began offering policy internships to help cultivate a next generation of advocates with diverse cultural backgrounds and skills. In addition to policy work, Margaret holds workshops nationwide on grant writing and using federal programs to support sustainable agriculture. She sits on the board of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and the Board of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for the state of Wisconsin. She writes a bi-weekly editorial column for the evening paper in Madison, where she lives with her husband and two children.
"The breadth of experience among sustainable agriculture farmers, ranchers, teachers, entrepreneurs and advocates is one reason we've adapted well to changing markets, politics and economic conditions. We are wisest when we define our movement by social goals that anyone can advance rather than by a clannish sense of who's like us and who's different."
– Margaret Krome
Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture in the coming 20 Years
A Roadmap to the Future
What better way to wrap up this historic conference than to listen to the winner of SARE’s New Voices contest present a Roadmap to the Future? Shoshanah Inwood will present her winning entry to SARE's New Voices Contest, which asked applicants to address how truly sustainable production and marketing systems would improve profitability, stewardship of the land and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities. In 2000, Shoshanah co-founded Silver Tale Organic Farm in northeastern Ohio and she served on the board of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association for four years. Currently seeking a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology at Ohio State University, her dissertation work examining farm succession at the rural-urban interface was funded by SARE.
"I’ve come to believe that the way a country feeds itself speaks to our values, humanity and the legacy we leave for the next generation…We move forward when we build an agriculture rooted in our shared values of family, community, health and prosperity."
– Shoshanah Inwood