Letter from the Director
|Robert Hedberg, Interim SARE Director. Photo by Ron Daines|
It has been a real privilege to be involved with SARE as it enters its third decade of agricultural research and education dedicated to improving the long-term profitability of American farms, conserving and enhancing our natural resources, and strengthening farm and ranch communities across the country.
Certainly the program has been successful. Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of USDA, recently described the SARE program as a “jewel in the crown” of the department’s research portfolio.
Several attributes contribute to this success. First and foremost is the active involvement of the many people who give their time, ideas and enthusiasm to the process of improving agricultural systems across the country.
A special nod goes to farmers and ranchers. A cornerstone of SARE’s success is farmers and ranchers working collaboratively with researchers and educators on almost all aspects of the SARE program, from conceiving and implementing individual projects and reviewing project proposals to conducting educational outreach to other producers to serving active leadership roles on each of SARE’s four regional Administrative Councils.
The involvement of producers has also contributed greatly to the relevancy of SARE-supported applied research and education projects. It has kept us focused on research that farmers and ranchers can see, appreciate and implement profitably—in short, research that makes a difference.
Producers are a rich source of innovation. Time and again a SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant has proven a concept that snowballs into a new farm operation, market opportunity or even a farm cooperative that is building new production and marketing systems. SARE is one of very few research programs that has the flexibility to serve as both idea incubator—by funding this type of high-risk, low-cost and potentially rewarding pilot projects—and supporter of larger, long-term research projects.
The following pages include profiles of 12 of SARE’s most impressive projects, as well as a more complete picture of the work being led by SARE’s four regional Administrative Councils, comprised of experts from many disciplines who guide regional grant programs and policies. Council activity ranges from in-depth listening sessions across SARE’s western region to engaging underserved audiences in the north central region to building new long-term, agro-ecosystem research capacity in the Northeast. Southern SARE’s council is supporting research looking at all components of the food system, and offering continual support to its most successful projects.
I hope you enjoy these highlights of the SARE program and if you have not done so before, please visit www.sare.org to view the projects database, a treasure trove of information gleaned from the more than 4,000 projects that SARE has supported to date. Or look for our latest books and bulletins, produced by SARE Outreach, all available for free download.I look forward to your continued interest and involvement in the SARE program and I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interim SARE Director