From the Director
From the director
In its brief history, USDA's SARE program, your SARE program, has made a lasting impact. Ten years ago, we awarded just 30 grants each year. Now, we invest in more than 200 projects per year led by forward-thinking university researchers, extension educators, nonprofit partners, farmers and ranchers, and many other organizations working to advance a more profitable, environmentally sound agriculture that is good for communities.
Today, we are working to expand our approach to funding research and education efforts and devising new ways to connect with producers. In short, SARE tries to do the work that really needs to be done to create more sustainable farming systemsand provide the local support and help so important for farmers, ranchers and communities. This 2002 SARE report tells you 12 of our stories and gives you a sense of what we are doing across the country.
SAREs ambitious communications program includes a variety of channels to get out the word about our best research findings: regional newsletters, web resourcessee www.SARE.org, which links to four regional sites national informational bulletins and an on-line database of SARE projects. See www.SARE.org/projects.
Last year, we produced The New American Farmer, a showcase of producers who put sustainable ideas into practice across the country. Driven by economics, concerns about the environment or a yearning for a more satisfying lifestyle, the 50 farmers and ranchers profiled in the book embraced new approaches to agriculture. (See full text on line at www.sare.org/publications/naf2/)
They rear beef cattle, dairy cows, hogs and poultry using pasture-based systems that reduce the cost of production in a more enjoyable work environment. They grow grain in rotations with other crops to break insect pest cycles and reduce pesticide use and costs. And they raise fruit and vegetables, employing earth-friendly techniques to build the soil, then sell their products at farm stands and markets for premium prices to an appreciative public.
This new American farmer does things differentlywith measurable results. Our thanks to John Ikerd, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri, who conceived of the project and has been its staunchest supporter.
American agriculture is taking notice. The New American Farmer has been mentioned in Farm Journal, Sierra magazine, the Farm Progress publishing group, and dozens of newspapers and newsletters. Were proud to help raise public consciousness about such stellar producers. Many farmers are indeed living up to the expectations the public places upon them as stewards of the land. SARE has funded more than 1000 of their ideas through our producer grant program; thousands of others have collaborated on SARE Research & Education or Professional Development grants.
The SARE program continues to listen to the local needs and thoughts of farmers and ranchers. SAREs competitive grants are open to all and are evaluated by teams of producers, researchers, educators, farm consultants, and people from government and nonprofit organizations in four regions. By reviewing grants at the regional level, SARE ensures that priorities are set by people who live near the project sites.
Last, it is extremely important for us to deliver the information to you when you need it and where you need it. SAREs national outreach arm, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), combines the results of SARE-funded research with other valuable information to produce practical publications. Recent SAN releases include bulletins that spell out ideas for farmers who want to successfully produce pork and poultry on a small or medium scale. In designing systems that work on their farms, producers have been able to save on fixed costs, find greater flexibility, identify unique marketing channels and enjoy a better quality of life.
Thats what were all about!
Interim SARE Director