seminar series (fwd)

Victor Guest vic at
Fri May 15 11:37:53 EDT 1998

From: Richard Olson <csas005 at>
>Subject: seminar series
>12 May 98
>The Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems and the Department of
>Agronomy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln are sponsoring a two-part semin=
>series to be held on the UNL campus:
>I. Alternative Farming Systems for the Midwest: Countering the Trend tow=
>Fewer, Larger Farms =97 Fall Semester 1998
>II. Re-forming the Foodshed: Localizing Agriculture and Community =97 Sp=
>Semester 1999
>We are soliciting recommendations for speakers/topics.  Funding is avail=
>to cover the speakers' travel expenses and a small honorarium.  Abstract=
s of
>each talk will be available on the net, and a volume of papers from each
>series will be published.
>Background: U.S. agriculture is undergoing major structural changes:
> 	Since 1950, the number of farms has decreased by 64% (to less than 2
>million), average farm size has increased 127% (to 491 acres), and farm
>population has declined to less than 2% of the U.S. total.  The largest =
>of U.S. farms control two-thirds of the land in farms and almost 50% of
>cropland.  Ninety percent of U.S. agricultural output is produced by onl=
>522,000 farms. =20
> 	The farmer's share of total agricultural economic activity is now less
>than 5%.  The input and marketing sectors that dominate agriculture are
>controlled by a decreasing number of large companies.  Half of all U.S.
>retail food purchases go to six multinational corporations, and similar
>economic concentration is seen in the input sector.
>In light of these trends, the USDA National Commission on Small Farms (1=
>has reiterated the benefits of small farms, particularly to local econom=
>and has recommended policy changes to strengthen their position in U.S.
>agriculture.  Among the recommendations is the implementation of "an
>interagency Beginning Farmer Initiative dedicated to researching,
>developing, and disseminating farm management models that emphasize
>low-capital investment, optimal use of skilled labor and management
>potential of beginning farmers, and high-value crop and livestock produc=
>and marketing methods."
>Seminar series: =20
>Part I of the series explores alternative farming systems for the Midwes=
>that are able to remain economically viable without becoming very large.
>Presentations will describe and evaluate whole systems rather than speci=
>practices.  Systems addressed during this 10-seminar series may include:
> 	small-scale alternatives to large-scale confinement livestock producti=
> 	Amish farming systems
> 	intensive vegetable production
> 	specialty crop production and marketing
> 	organic farming systems
> 	agroforestry systems
> 	=09
>Part II explores approaches to providing a more supportive environment f=
>small farms through the relocalization of agriculture and the developmen=
t of
>stronger ties between agriculture and the community.  Ways to improve lo=
>food security in a global economy are presented.  Strategies and issues
>discussed may include:
> 	community supported agriculture
> 	farmland preservation
> 	co-operatives
> 	legal issues for farm marketers
> 	adding value through community processing
> 	extension requirements for small farms
> 	urban agriculture
> =09
>Each seminar series will consist of 10 presentations.  A list serve will=
>established for each series to provide an on-line forum for ongoing
>discussion.  Abstracts of each presentation will be disseminated prior t=
>the seminar, along with references for background reading.  Each speaker
>will prepare an article, and the full set from each series will be publi=
>either as a volume in the CSAS Extension and Education series or as a
>special issue of a peer-reviewed journal.
>Please send suggestions for speakers and topics to:
>Richard Olson
>225 Keim
>University of Nebraska
>Lincoln, NE 68583-0949
>402-472-0917; csas005 at
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Heidi Carter					E-Mail:  csas007 at
Education Coordinator				Phone:   402-472-0917
Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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