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National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
Research Committee Priorities

See the '97 Annual Meeting Overview for details about how NCSA reached consensus on these and other priorities.
  1. Reauthorization of Research Title. The Campaign will work for a sustainable agriculture focus in the reauthorization of the research title. Priorities include:

    • Extension: Support and redefine USDA Extension's role and funding. Advocate a semi-competitive grants program, whereby states (or user groups, lacking state initiative) get funding for outreach on issues serving the public good if plans include accountability mechanisms, and partnerships with users.

    • Ag Research Service: Investigate the types and amount of funding for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, including the possibility of some funding being routed to competitive grants programs that encourage more joint ventures and collaborative partnerships. Support channeling a large percentage of ARS' current $800 million into competitive programs like the Fund for Rural America, SARE, NRI, and programs to which local ARS labs can apply to do rural development work in collaboration with their local rural development agencies.

    • Fund for Rural America: Develop a long-term funding mechanism for the Fund for Rural America.

    • SARE - Ch. 1 & Ch.3: Support funding in Appropriations for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE), both Chapter 1 and Chapter 3.

    • Civil Rights Recommendations: Monitor implementation of the Civil Rights recommendations in the reauthorization of the research title as put forth in the report: Civil Rights at the United States Department of Agriculture.

  2. GPRA -- Government Performance and Results Act: The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) requires government agencies to develop action plans and evaluate progress around real world outcomes. The Campaign will advocate that GPRA be implemented at USDA in a proactive manner that fosters sustainable agriculture and rural community development, and monitor implementation of GPRA strategic plans in the FY 1999 budget process, while also supporting improvements in the GPRA process.

  3. Organic Agriculture: Develop and support a policy statement that organic agriculture is relevant to and can meet major USDA mission-area goals relating to agricultural, environmental, and economic concerns. USDA should address organic farming with designated staff, information collection and dissemination, and support in strategic plans.

  4. Oppose current language in the Precision Agriculture Bill: The Campaign will oppose inclusion of the provisions of S 485 (Precision Agriculture) in the research reauthorization bill, as it is currently written. S 485 is an industry bill based on what is called precision agriculture - which combines computer, soil and mechanical science with space based satellites. There are numerous problems with this technology and it is a threat to known sustainable practices, particularly since it relies on heavy inputs. The current bill earmarks a portion of the funding for the National Research Initiative and it is believed that USDA already aggressively supports precision agriculture. The NRI funding should be allocated according to scientific merit and relevance, not political process. In addition, the bill changes the fundamental nature of the Fund for Rural America, politically determining funding guidelines that do not necessarily achieve the Fund's objectives.

  5. Bacillus thurengensis (Bt): Save the use of Bacillus thurengensis, otherwise known as Bt, a valuable natural toxin, for use in organic, sustainable, and whole farm systems by mandating that EPA uses their authority to pull permits from non-complying companies producing Bt-engineered crops. Push for monitoring mechanisms to ascertain if pest resistance is found in Bt engineered crops, and push for EPA permit denial for sale of such crops if resistance if found.

  6. Support genetic diversity through USDA Title 8 Programs: The Campaign will work to ensure funding for and appropriate use of the USDA Title 8 program to maintain genetic crop and livestock diversity, and strongly support premise that genetic diversity is a public right and a public heritage, not a patentable right. Work to get money to conduct research tying nutrition to production methods, to open up germplasm projects to include small farmers protecting heritage seeds.
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