Topics – Topics are in large part determined by the needs of ag professionals and
producers. We anticipate funding mini-grants and events addressing topics describe in B. below.
Context, justification, and assumptions – In 2014 our SARE State Program Advisory Committee prioritized increased understanding of soil quality, and in 2016 added measuring externalities of agriculture to the list of priorities. In addition, the results of our 2014 survey of past and potential recipients of SARE State Program funds indicated a broad array of topic interests and needs including livestock management topics, natural resource topics, soil and fertility, waste management, crop protection and climate change, among others. When possible, we will fund activities in these areas. However, because the number of field personnel working in any one technical or geographical area, or farming system in Washington is limited, it is often not cost effective to organize local or state events to meet their needs. Therefore, we have focused on giving mini-grants to individuals so that they can take advantage of educational events put on by professional organizations, or to events that can attract a sufficient number of participants because they are regional or national.
The 2014 State survey of participants in SARE PDP activities showed the success of using State Program funds to provide 1) training at regional and statewide events, and 2) travel support for extension educators to attend regional or national sustainable agriculture conferences.
Given these survey results, we believe that continuing to fund a mixture of activities is the most effective way to achieve SARE State Program goals in the State of Washington.
C. Stakeholder involvement – In Washington, the Advisory Committee for the
WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources serves as our SARE State
Program Advisory Committee. This is a group of 22 people representing farms/ranches
(irrigated, dryland, organic, small and large farms, dairy, beef, poultry, tree fruit and wine grape sectors), local NGOs, other professionals in the ag sector, WA Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Ecology, and the University of Washington. The group meets twice a year, most recently in March 2017, to provide feedback on CSANR activities including the SARE State Program.
Project objectives from proposal:
Short-term. We aim to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills of at least 200 ag
professionals in areas related to their expertise and local needs for the improvement of the
agricultural sustainability of their operations and clientele (via mini-grants and educational
events). We aim to increase the awareness and knowledge of 50 extension educators about three sustainable agriculture topics in Washington State (via educational materials/webinars).
Medium-term. We aim to increase the quality of sustainable agriculture programs and events in the state of Washington (via mini-grants and educational events). Using mini-grants and
educational events, we aim to increase ag professionals’ ability to answer questions from their
clientele on sustainable agriculture related activities, especially those identified as needs. We
aim to improve the ag professionals’ ability to assist their clientele in adopting sustainable
agriculture practices in the future (via educational materials). We aim to increase the number of extension educators associated with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural
Resources (via all activities).