NSAC's Blog

30th Anniversary Conference Reflects on Future of Sustainable Agriculture

February 21, 2018

Natalie Lounsbury and Jack Gurley showing off a huge tillage radish (which are used as a cover crop) from their field. Photo credit: SARE, Edwin Remsberg.

Over 30 years ago, the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (SAC) – predecessor to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) – championed the development of the first-ever, farmer-driven research program as one of their first campaigns. SAC’s efforts bore fruit, and as a result, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program was created. In its 30-year lifespan, SARE has stood as the model for both sustainable agriculture and farmer-driven research at the federal level, and is to date the only federal research program that is driven by farmer needs and farmer input (and actually funds farmers to do research on their farms!). Both NSAC and SARE celebrate their 30th anniversaries this year.

As part of this momentous anniversary year, NSAC has worked closely with SARE and the Appropriate Technology Transfer to Rural Areas (ATTRA) program of National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the conference’s sponsors, to convene stakeholders within the sustainable agriculture community in a national dialogue about the state of sustainable agriculture in this country. SARE’s Our Farms Our Future Conference will be a rare opportunity both to learn about SARE’s impact over the last three decades, and to also reflect on the future of SARE and sustainable agriculture in this country for decades to come.

Stakeholders Spoke, SARE Listened

NSAC is especially excited about this conference, as it was the genesis of a listening session NSAC co-hosted with SARE several years ago to better understand how well the program continues to meet the needs of farmers and the NGO sustainable agriculture community. This two day meeting brought together researchers, extension professionals, farmers, and NGO leaders within the sustainable agriculture community, and resulted in several recommendations that address how SARE can remain responsive to the ever evolving needs of farmers in this country, while continuing to innovate and push through the existing limits of what we envision sustainability to be today.

One specific recommendation resulting from that listening session was to convene stakeholders within the sustainable agriculture community to have a national dialogue about the future of SARE and sustainable agriculture, and what sustainability will really look like in 50 years. NSAC looks forward to attending The Our Farms, Our Future Conference to engage in that conversation with the rest of the sustainable agriculture community.

Conference Highlights

Our Farms Our Future will be held April 3-5, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis, MO. Click here for additional information and registration details. Early bird Registration ends February 23.

The conference will include breakout sessions tailored to military veteran farmers, beginning farmers, and all farmers interested in learning more about sustainable agriculture techniques. There will also be poster sessions, farm tours, film screenings, and policy discussion.

NSAC’s Senior Strategic Advisor and former Policy Director Ferd Hoefner will lead a panel discussion with Margaret Krome, Program Director for Public Policy with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and NCAT Board Member, on Wednesday afternoon.

Hoefner and Krome’s panel will discuss the future of sustainable agriculture policy in the United States, with a particular focus on the potential impacts of the upcoming farm bill. Their session will explore the interplay between the sustainable agriculture movement and federal policy reform, with a review of the road we have walked and the paths forward in the years to come.

NSAC would strongly encourage all farmers and “ag-vocates” interested in learning more about sustainable agriculture, research, and federal policy to consider attending this exciting conference and engage in this important national dialogue about the future of farming.

Categories: Research, Education & Extension

One response to “30th Anniversary Conference Reflects on Future of Sustainable Agriculture”

  1. Alan N. Connor says:

    I just got notice of our conference this afternoon,
    Fri. Feb, 23, So I can’t register early. I’m no longer farming. I retired and sold my farm 20 years ago.
    But I am still active politically.