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NAS seeks committee members, case study farms for update of Alternative Agriculture report

The National Academies is looking for recommendations of experts to help update the well known, widely distributed Alternative Agriculture report. The 1989 report by the National Research Council was groundbreaking in its careful study and endorsement of practices outside of the agricultural mainstream. The updated version will focused on “Twenty-First Century Systems Agriculture.” NAS is also seeking suggestions for case study farms that reflect a conscious effort to create a system of production that both is economically viable and preserves the natural resource base for future generations.

The study will be conducted by a 20-member committee appointed by the National Academies that will include experts in food and fiber production; agribusiness; agricultural economics and social science; agroecology; federal farm, trade, international development, environmental, and regulatory policy; farm finance and marketing systems; public health-related aspects of agriculture; pest protection, crop and animal science, agronomy and water quality science; and systems agriculture research.

Potential committee members may be producers, academics, government employees, and individuals from non-governmental organizations or industry. The final committee will include a mixture of perspectives that will contribute to the study’s ability to develop supportable conclusions about the ability of farming systems to be sustainable under different natural, economic, and policy conditions. Participation will involve a significant commitment of time and effort over two years.

Approximately 10 farm projects will be selected as case studies that represent a variety of approaches to production (including scale of production) across the country. The Academies seek suggestions for operations that provide fair treatment of farm workers, contribute to the rural farm economy, and are environmentally responsible. Each farm project will be followed for a growing season and farm operators will be asked to share data with the committee on inputs, costs, income, and farm practices.

Suggestions for potential study committee members are due by August 15, 2007. The deadline for suggested case studies is September 1, 2007. Contact Robin Schoen for more information at 202-334-3062 or rschoen@nas.edu, or refer to www.dels.nas.edu/banr.

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