August 16, 2013
As NSAC celebrates its 25th anniversary (see here) , so does the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. This is not a coincidence. Authorizing and winning funding for SARE was the first major NSAC campaign. SARE was the first USDA program dedicated to sustainable agriculture and remains the keystone program.
Yesterday, SARE issued a new brochure entitled 25 Years of SARE. The brochure highlights SARE’s groundbreaking contributions in cover cropping, rotational grazing, local and regional marketing, and agro-ecosystem research. Looking toward the future, the document highlights recent SARE grants to promote small-scale meat processing, energy independence, water conservation, and the next generation of farmers and researchers.
We here at NSAC applaud the SARE program and congratulate the program leaders as well as all of the farmer leaders and researchers, educators, and extension specialists who make the program what it is today. SARE is by many measures the most effective of USDA’s many competitive grants programs and it has many valuable lessons to offer with respect to sustainability criteria, regional program administration, stakeholder involvement, farmer participation, an integrated approach, and effective communication of project results.
SARE publications can be found at the Learning Center.
Funding Pending in Congress
SARE is funded each year through congressional appropriations. In the pending bills for Fiscal Year 2014, the House Appropriations Committee proposes to bring SARE funding back to its pre-Fiscal Year 2013 level of $19 million, while the Senate Appropriations Committee proposes to increase its funding to $23 million. NSAC is supporting the Senate funding level for 2014.
The bills have not yet gone to the floors of the House and Senate, and it is not clear at this point whether they will prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. If the bill is not cleared before then, there will likely be a short-term Continuing Resolution at current funding levels to keep programs alive until Congress can finish its work on the new bills.