Sustainable Agriculture: A Profitable, Ecological, and Socially Sound Strategy for Small Farms
This project provided professional development opportunities for Extension workers and other information providers in the North Central region to enhance their ability to develop and deliver sustainable agriculture educational programs to those who live and work on small farms.
Secretary Glickman, referring to the work of the 1997 USDA Small Farms Commission, reported concerns that “program delivery (is) too often geared toward the big producers (and) indifferent toward small farmers’ needs for research into low-tech, affordable innovations.”
The Commission report states that one way to meet such challenges is to “emphasize sustainable agriculture as a profitable, ecological and socially sound strategy for small farms.” Using a common definition of “small farms” as farms with less than $100,00 in annual sales, 75 percent of all U.S. farms would be considered “small” (1992 Census of Agriculture). Thus, sustaining small farms is very much about “sustaining the people who farm.”
The overall goal of this program is to enhance the ability of Extension agents and other information providers to provide traditionally under-served small farm families with practical and useful sustainable agriculture information. The specific objective for this project is to increase awareness among Extension workers and other information providers of a wide range of opportunities for enhancing the economic viability of small farms by focusing on ecologically sound and socially responsible farming and marketing alternatives, which fit well with small, family farming operations.
We provided travel expense scholarships for approximately 50 Extension workers and other information providers from throughout the North Central region to attend the 1999 Small Farm Today Conference and Trade Show – which included two full days of seminars and workshops relevant to sustainable agriculture principles and practices appropriate for those who live and work on small farms.