Renewing the Agriculture of the Middle: A Planning grant request to develop a Southern Strategy

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $15,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Edna Rodriguez
Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    American agriculture is increasingly polarized, with growth among the very small and the very large size operations. We are rapidly losing the "farms of the middle," those farms that are too large to access direct markets, but are too small to compete in undifferentiated commodities markets. This project will develop a task force for agriculture of the middle for the south to address these issues across disciplines, integrating production, marketing, and policy. Building on the findings of the National Task Force to Renew Agriculture of the Middle, we will develop proposals for collaborative efforts to address these issues.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives of this proposal are:

    1. To identify and interview professionals from the South, including farmers, entrepreneurs, and representatives from universities, non-government organizations and government agencies with expertise and experience that is pertinent to this effort to identify current efforts and barriers. From this group, we will identify 10 individuals who will serve as a leadership group for the further development of an agriculture of the middle task force.

    2. Provide an arena for discussions between professionals resulting in both whole group and smaller collaboration proposals to a range of funders including SARE, and the sharing of information and experience between current participants to increase the efficacy of their efforts.

    During November and December of 2004, we will identify and interview approximately 20 individuals who are involved in innovative work addressing the issues of agriculture of the middle. These interviews will gather information on the current range of efforts, experience, and interest in being a part of this effort. Interviewees will be drawn from across the region and will reflect the diversity of southern agriculture, and organizations addressing these issues.

    From these interviews, 10 individuals will be selected to participate in further task force development. At least half of this group will be farmers. Again, participants will be selected to ensure full representation of the diversity of Southern agriculture.

    The initial group of 10 will meet in conjunction with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference in January to discuss the results of the interviews, identify priorities, and to begin to develop proposals. Following this discussion, the results will be distributed to other interested individuals for feedback via either email or postal mail.

    During February, several conference calls will be held to discuss feedback and to further develop priorities and proposed activities. In early March, the leadership group will meet to develop proposed activities and begin proposal development. Proposal development will continue via email and conference calls through the Spring.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.