Alternative Agriculture News, 2/97

                  Alternative Agriculture News
                         February, 1997

                 Henry A. Wallace Institute for
                     Alternative Agriculture
                    9200 Edmonston Road, #117
                       Greenbelt, MD 20770
                         (301) 441-8777
                 E-mail: hawiaa@access.digex.net

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If You Are Interested in Sustainable Agriculture...
     In addition to this monthly newsletter, the Henry A. Wallace
Institute for Alternative Agriculture publishes the American
Journal of Alternative Agriculture, a quarterly, peer-reviewed
journal of research on alternative agriculture.  It is a
scientific forum for disseminating technical, economic, and
social research findings about the character and requirements of
alternative agriculture systems.  
     The current double issue (Volume 11, Numbers 2 and 3)
features the 13 papers presented by U.S. scientists at a U.S.-
Middle East Conference and Workshop on "Dryland Farming Systems
and Technologies for a More Sustainable Agriculture," held in
October, 1993, in Moscow, Idaho.  That landmark conference was
conducted under the auspices of the Multilateral Working Group on
Economic Development of the Middle East Peace Process, and was
attended by approximately 50 scientists from the United States,
Russia, Egypt, Israel, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Oman, and the
emerging Palestine State.  Topics of the papers include farming
systems and conservation needs in the Northwest Wheat Region;
water conservation practices for sustainable dryland farming
systems in the Pacific Northwest; agricultural wind erosion and
air quality impacts; advances in the production of cool season
food legumes; diversification for new management systems
opportunities in the Pacific Northwest; and crop traits for water
stress tolerance.
     Subscriptions to AJAA are $44 for libraries; $24 for
individuals; and $12 for students; contact the Wallace Institute,
9200 Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770; e-mail

Table of Contents:

Study Finds Little Commitment to Organic Research           2
Worldwide Fertilizer Use on the Decline                     3
Resources                                                   3
Fund for Rural America Launched, Grants to be Awarded       4
Move Toward IPM is Led by Farmers, Businesses               4
Von Humboldt Award Seeks Nominations                        5
Positions                                                   5
Upcoming Events                                             5

     The organic products industry has grown significantly during
the past six years "with almost no institutional support and
often outright hostility from the research community," according
to a summary of the National Organic Research Policy Analysis
project conducted by the Organic Farming Research Foundation. 
The two-year study reviewed the "organic content" of the USDA's
agricultural research programs, and assessed the quality of
existing organic research.  The study's report, entitled
"Searching for the 'O' Word," concludes that "systematic research
on organic farming is still taboo in many institutions.
      "Sixteen years after the Task Force [Report and
Recommendations on Organic Farming/USDA] report, despite a stated
national goal to dramatically reduce pesticide use, despite more
than a decade of debate about the meaning and content of
'sustainable agriculture,' there has been no deliberate
implementation of the 1980 Report's recommendations for organic
farming research.  There is no analysis of the role that organic
farming can play in meeting national agricultural and
environmental needs, and there is no explicit policy commitment
to even explore these questions. For these reasons, research
projects pertinent to organic farming are relatively few and far
between.  Some do exist, and they represent some interesting
possibilities, but they are not the result of any coherent
policy, nor are most of them purposefully related to organic
farmers' needs."
     To assess the organic content of the USDA's research
programs, the Foundation used the Internet to search the Current
Research Information System (CRIS), a database containing short
abstracts for 30,000 research projects which received federal
funding through the USDA.  The search was narrowed to 75 key
words to identify projects as "organic research;" 300 projects
were identified as "pertinent to organic farming systems."  Of
those projects, the study found only 15 "high-grade, truly
pertinent, organic systems research projects," or 5% of the total
selected.  It also found 42 "organic-potential" projects which
appear to be "examining the underlying processes that make
natural farming systems work;" they represent 13% of all organic-
pertinent projects.
     The Foundation's report makes several recommendations, among
     -- The USDA should issue a basic policy statement
recognizing that organic farming can play a significant role in
meeting the nation's agricultural, environmental, and economic
development needs.  Each relevant agency should have designated
staff responsible for the collection and dissemination of
information on organic farming that is appropriate to its
     -- Implementation of programs under the Fund for Rural
America should support and utilize organic farming research and
education; organic farmers should be represented on the review
and implementation panels for these programs.
     -- All USDA research programs should assess the potential
role and contribution of organic farming within their Missions
and Goals.  Resources should be allocated to strategically
increase the investment in organic farming research, education,
and development.
     -- The USDA should undertake a national initiative for
organic farming research, including evaluation of current
efforts, emphasis on on-farm systems analysis, and establishment
of a network of dedicated organic experiment stations, guided by
local organic farmers.
     The final report of the National Organic Research Policy
Analysis project will be available after February 1 from the
Organic Farming Research Foundation, P.O. Box 440, Santa Cruz, CA
95060; e-mail, research@ofrf.org.  A $15 donation is requested.

     Worldwide use of fertilizer has been declining since 1989,
according to The State of the World 1997, published last month by
the Worldwatch Institute.  Starting in the 1950s, "once
fertilizer use began to increase and yields started to rise in
response, the growth in fertilizer use became one of the most
predictable of all global economic indicators," Lester Brown
writes in the chapter, "Facing the Prospect of Food Scarcity." 
"Between 1950 and 1989, fertilizer use went from 14 million tons
to 146 million tons, a tenfold increase.  After 1989, usage began
to decline.  In many countries, farmers discovered that the
amount of fertilizer they were applying was exceeding the
physiological capacity of existing crop varieties to absorb and
use nutrients.  In the United States, Western Europe, the former
Soviet Union, and Japan, usage had reached the level where
additional fertilizer had little effect on yields.  Fertilizer
use by U.S. farmers was actually roughly one tenth less in the
mid-nineties than it was in the early eighties."  
     Describing the need to ensure food security for the next
generation, Brown writes, "The world now faces an unprecedented
challenge.  The old formula that was so remarkably successful in
expanding the world's food supply is no longer working very well,
and there is no new one to take its place."  Another chapter,
"Preserving Global Cropland," describes how "yield increases no
longer fully compensate for the steady elimination of grainland,"
and highlights several soil and land conservation programs in the
United States and other countries.
     The State of the World 1997 is $13.95 from Worldwatch
Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036;
(202) 452-1999; e-mail wwpub@worldwatch.org.

     "Growing Together: Community Gardening and Food Security" is
free from Sustainable Food Center, 434 Bastrop Hwy., Austin, TX
78741; 1-800-882-5592.
     "Beyond the Last Fencerow: The Future of the Food and Farm
System in Southeast Pennsylvania" is free from Kathy Koehler,
Regional Infrastructure for Sustaining Agriculture, (610) 683-
     "Composting Grass Seed Straw" is $1.50 from Publication
Orders, Extension and Experiment Station Communications, OSU, 422
Kerr Administration Bldg, Corvallis, OR 97331.
     Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Fertilizer Research and
Education Program Conference are free from the Program, (916)
653-5340; e-mail ccady@smtp1.cdfa.ca.gov.
     "Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable
Agriculture" is available from Alternative Farming Systems
Information Center, National Agricultural Library, Room 304,
10301 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2351; (301) 504-6559;
e-mail afsic@nal.usda.gov.
     "Municipal Density and Farmland Protection: An Exploratory
Study of Central Valley Patterns" is $12 from Agricultural Issues
Center, University of California, Davis, CA 95616; (916) 752-
     "Paying the Piper: Subsidies, Politics, and the Environment"
is $5 plus $4 postage from Worldwatch Institute, 1776
Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 452-1999.
     "The Cornerstones Model: Values-Based Planning and
Management" is available from the Heifer Project International,
P.O. Box 808, Little Rock, AR 72203; 1-800-422-0474.   
     "Grazing on Public Lands" is $20 from Council for
Agricultural Science and Technology, 4420 West Lincoln Way, Ames,
IA 50014-3347; (515) 292-2125 or 1-800-375-CAST.

     The USDA last month officially launched the $100 million
Fund for Rural America, designed "to aid critical rural
development programs; to boost agricultural, rural
telecommunications, and other high priority research; and assist
beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers."  One third of the
fund is dedicated to rural development programs and another third
to research through competitive research grants.  USDA Secretary
Dan Glickman can use the remaining one third of the fund at his
discretion for rural programs, research, or both.  Glickman said
he will "target approximately $20.5 million in 1997 to rural
development, and $10 million to research on key Secretarial
priorities like concentration, food safety, nutrition and
gleaning, as well as $2.8 million for a new research initiative
that will investigate the special needs, applicability, and use
of cutting-edge technologies for rural and agricultural based
information users."  The research part of the fund will be
awarded on a competitive grants basis, through a request for
proposals (RFP) which focuses on three objectives: international
competitiveness, environmental preservation and improvement, and
rural community enhancement; priority will be given to projects
that address all three objectives simultaneously.  The RFPs for
both the general research grants and the Secretary's
telecommunications grants have been published in the Federal
Register and are available on the World Wide Web at
http://www.reeusda.gov, or by calling Pat O'Brien at (202) 401-

     Leadership in the movement toward integrated pest management
(IPM) "is coming from farmers and businesses convinced that IPM's
time has come," according to an article in The Washington Post
(January 13, 1997).  "In the past five years, scientists have
been quietly perfecting new products for fighting bugs that rely
less on man-made toxins and more on nature's own methods for
keeping insects in check," the article says.  "Faced with higher
regulatory costs and greater uncertainty about the effectiveness
and safety of chemical pesticides, many farmers and manufacturers
are eager to find new solutions -- even at a higher price."  Many
of the advances in IPM have come from start-up companies,
according to the article, particularly in the Pacific Northwest,
where "a handful of firms are marketing next-generation
pheromones that appear to be highly effective in controlling
codling moths." 

     The 1997 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award and Alfred
Toepfer Scholarship seek nominations for the award, which
recognizes the person who has made the most significant
contribution to American agriculture during the previous five
years.  It includes a $15,000 prize; a student from the
recipient's university will be chosen to receive the Toepfer
scholarship, which provides $5,000 for studying agriculture in
Europe.  Nominations are due March 28, 1997.  For more
information, contact Dean Roger E. Wyse, Chair, National
Selection Committee, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences,
Room 140 Agriculture Hall, 1450 Linden Dr., University of
Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.

     Massachusetts Audubon Society's Drumlin Farm has sustainable
agriculture internships available between May 1 and October 31;
send cover letter and resume by March 1 to Stacy Miller, Drumlin
Farm, South Great Road, Lincoln, MA 01773; (617) 259-9807, ext.
     USDA-ARS, Plant Science Institute, Weed Science Laboratory,
seeks applicants for a Postdoctoral Research Associate; apply to
Dr. John Teasdale, USDA-ARS, Bldg. 264 Room 103, Beltsville, MD
20705; (301) 504-5504; e-mail teasdale@asrr.arsuda.gov.
     Robert W. Straus Eco-System Farm, MD, seeks applicants for
an 18-month farm apprenticeship starting in April; deadline is
March 15; contact Shane LaBrake, The Accokeek Foundation, 3400
Bryan Point Road, Accokeek, MD 20607; (301) 293-2113.

     February 28-March 1, "Farm Direct Marketing Conference" will
be held in Yakima, WA; contact Pacific Northwest Farm Direct
Marketing Association, P.O. Box 4612, Pasco, WA 99302; (509) 547-
     February 28 (Washington, D.C.), March 6 (Austin, TX), March
8 (Loveland, CO), March 10 (Portland, OR), March 15 (Hartford,
CT), March 18 (East Troy, WI), and March 21 (Los Angeles, CA),
the Community Food Security Coalition will host training
workshops on community food security, and the Community Food
Projects program; contact Andy Fisher, CFS Coalition, (310) 822-
5410; e-mail asfisher@aol.com.
     March 1, "Sustainable Farming into the Next Century" will be
held in Columbia, S.C.; contact South Carolina Christian Action
Council/S.C. Sustainable Agriculture Network at (803) 786-7115.
     March 3-5, "Composting/Recycling...What It Takes to Expand
Programs" will be held in San Diego; contact BioCycle magazine,
419 State Ave., Emmaus, PA 18049; 1-800-661-4905.
     March 3-5, "Eco-Ag East," an Acres USA conference on the
technology of eco-agriculture, will be held in Lancaster, PA;
contact Acres USA, P.O. Box 8800, Metairie, LA 70011; 1-800-355-
     March 4-5, "Strengthening the Experiential Learning Process
in Sustainable Agriculture" will be held in Minneapolis, MN,
sponsored by the University of Minnesota; contact Juanita Reed-
Boniface, (612) 753-4636.
     March 5-8, Natural Products Expo West and Fresh Ideas
Organic Table Top Exhibit will be held in Anaheim, CA; contact
New Hope Communications, 1301 Spruce St., Boulder, CO 80302;
(303) 939-8440.
     March 7-8, "From the Soil to the Sale: Building Farms and
Communities," the 8th Annual Upper Midwest Organic Farming
Conference, will be held in Sinsinawa, WI; contact the Conference
line, (715) 772-6819.
     March 7-9 (Willits, CA), and March 21-23 (Chambersberg, PA),
Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming Workshops will be held;
contact Ecology Action, 5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, CA 95490;
(707) 459-0150.
     March 7-9, Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Annual Conference will be held in Loveland, CO; contact John
Fawcett-Long, Western SAWG Coordinator, (206) 935-8738.
     March 8-9, Educational Conference of the Northeast Organic
Farming Association of New York will be held in Dryden, N.Y.;
contact NOFA-NY, P.O. Box 21, South Butler, N.Y. 13154; (315)
     March 12-13, Farming for the Future Leadership Workshop will
be held in Painted Post, N.Y.; contact Judy Green, Farming
Alternatives Program, Dept. of Rural Sociology, B17 Warren Hall,
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853-7801; (607) 255-9832; e-
mail jg16@cornell.edu.
     March 12-14, "Cover Crops, Soil Quality, and Ecosystems"
will be held in Sacramento, CA; contact Soil and Water
Conservation Society, 1-800-THE-SOIL; e-mail swcs@netins.net.
     March 13-14, "Innovations in Food and Agriculture" will be
held in Washington, D.C.; contact Public Voice for Food & Health
Policy, 1101 14th St., NW, #710, Washington, D.C. 20005; (202)
     March 13-15, "New Connections in the Northeast Food System"
will be held in Hartford, CT; contact Hartford Food System, 509
Wethersfield Ave., Hartford, CT 06114; (860) 296-9325.
     March 19-21, International Conference on Agricultural
Production and Nutrition will be held in Boston, MA; contact
William Lockeretz, School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts
University, Medford, MA 02155; e-mail
     March 22, the 4th Annual "Providing Education Through
Agriculture for Students" conference will be held in Natick, MA;
contact Stacia Caplanson, Northeast Organic Farming Association,
(413) 245-7402; or Stacy Miller, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
(617) 259-9506.

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