From the Director
SARE works to advance farming and ranching systems that are profitable, good for the environment, and good for families and communities.
We do so primarily by awarding more than 200 grants each year to innovative researchers of all stripesuniversity scientists, nonprofit organization representatives, agricultural educators and producers carrying out experiments on their farms and ranches. In this annual report, learn more about 12 projects from SARE's portfolio of more than 1,800; they show the diversity and the breadth of our grants and pose some solutions to the many challenges facing agriculture today.
We also promote sustainable agriculture through our communications program, which shines a spotlight on state-of-the-art research and education projects and exemplary producers who put some of those ideas into practice across the country. Those farmers and ranchers, many with help from SARE, have adopted innovative ways to cut production costs or sell their products for a premium, all while taking good care of natural resources like soil and water. Some of them have found ways to manage insect pests and weeds using new crop rotations; others have devised innovative marketing channels for their harvested products.
While many are highlighted on the pages that follow, a special foursome who farm in the U.S. prairie region became part of a dramatic, SARE- supported exhibit that debuted at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History last November. The exhibit will travel to 20 libraries over the next three years. "Listening to the Prairie: Farming in Nature's Image" describes the history of the vast grasslands region as well as the progressive producers who earn a living there. The four profiled in the exhibit represent the new breed of farmer trying new ways to trim production costs and earn profits in a tough financial climate. USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Serviceas well as the W.K. Kellogg Foundationpartnered with SARE to fund the exhibit. To make the exhibit more relevant to kids, USDA's "Agriculture in the Classroom" program is producing age-specific materials for schools and communities. See www.sare.org/htdocs/events/index.html#exhibit for more information about the exhibit and tour.
The prairie exhibit is just one way SARE is trying to raise public consciousness about agriculture. Many farmers are indeed living up to the expectations the greater public places upon them as stewards of the land. SARE has funded more than 900 of their ideas through our producer grant program; thousands of others have collaborated on SARE research/education or professional development grants.
What the producers have in common is a spirit of entrepreneurship that has helped them succeed at farming or ranching despite some of the lowest commodity prices in years.
SARE offers competitive grants evaluated by diverse teams of producers, researchers, educators, farm consultants, and people from government and nonprofit organizationsin four regions. By accepting and reviewing grants at the regional level, SARE ensures that priorities are set by the people who are closest to the land and the communities the projects affect.
SARE's national outreach arm, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), combines the results of SARE-funded research with other information to produce practical publications. Recent san releases include a book on soil management and bulletins on marketing and pest management. We also produced a slide show of our marketing bulletin on CD-ROM to help educators present timely tips to farmers and ranchers.
SARE's national and regional communications specialists collaborated on a new look for our annual report, formerly called the "SARE Project Highlights." Tell us what you think!
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service