From the Director
|Jill Auburn |
Photo by Jerry DeWitt
From the Director
In 1988, when I submitted a proposal to the very first Western SARE grant competition- and even a decade later, when I stood as SARE's new national director in front of the crowd at the ten-year anniversary conference - I never dreamed that sustainable agriculture would be where it is today. The vast wealth of innovation and experience SARE and so many others have cultivated during the last 20 years is truly becoming a critical part of everyday American agriculture. Huge shifts are happening.
Cover crops now build soil health on millions of acres of farmland.
Once few and far between, more than 4,000 farmers markets and 1,000 CSAs serve communities across the country.
Organic sales have quadrupled in the last decade.
Dairy farms and cattle ranches across the country have improved their operations through intensive grazing.
Many pests and weeds can now be managed with far fewer chemicals.
American consumers have never cared more about how and where their food is produced.
Food companies, scientific societies and policymakers are placing sustainability at the top of their agendas.
We are proud of how SARE grantees - from every corner of the nation - have advanced the frontier of sustainable agriculture. We are proud that our contribution to this great movement is paying off for the nation's farmers - and the American public.
But can we rest? Are the majority of farmers and their communities sharing in this bounty? Are our water and land safe and clean? While we have made great strides, there is still plenty of work to do. To achieve our newly stated mission - advancing sustainable innovations to the whole of American agriculture - SARE must become an even stronger force for change.
This means more groundbreaking research that deepens our understanding and practice of sustainability in its many dimensions: social, economic and environmental. This means spreading our values and mission until sustainability lies at the core of all agriculture programs. This means supporting bold private initiatives, such as those we're already seeing from some food industry leaders. This means supporting research that informs government policies. Most importantly, it means investing in a new generation of committed and creative leaders who can forge new paths to get us where we need to go.
In 2028, I expect to be among the many attending SARE's 40th anniversary conference, listening to how today's explorations have blossomed into far-ranging practices, and being awed by new innovations and findings we can't yet imagine. Yes, we have made great strides never imagined 20 years ago. But to move forward, to make this future possible, each and every one of us must take up the mantle of sustainability, incorporating its fundamental principles into our research, policies, on-the-ground practices and everyday way of life.
Cooperative State Research, Education,
and Extension Service, USDA