Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

August 1998
August 1998

Meeting Participants:

Bill Harris Jim App
Dave Foster Michael Ouart
Rafael F. Olmeda Bob Isaac
Ray Humberd John O'Sullivan
Bill Lambert Chuck Ogburn
Fred Woods Nelson Daniels
Curtis Absher Roger Crickenberger
Ross Love Billy Caldwell
James Hill Dan Smith
Clint Depew Steve Umberger
Louie Rivers Glenwood Hill
Mike French Visitor, Jim Lukens
Larry Alberton  


Chairman, Dr. Bill Harris, Texas
Vice Chairman, Dr. John O'Sullivan, North Carolina
Secretary, Dr. Clint Depew, Louisiana

Administrative Advisor:

David Foster, Arkansas

PLC Representatives:

Michael Ouart - 1999 term
Nathanial Keys - 1998 term


The meeting was opened by Dr. Bill Harris and the minutes of the May meeting were passed and approved. Nominating Committee comprised of: Mike French, Curtis Absher, and Bill Lambert will select an 1890 representative for PLC and a secretary for next year for the ANR group.

NCAAA Meeting Report

Dr. Harris reported on the National Meeting in San Antonio, Texas with the National County Agents' Association Meeting. Discussions at that meeting included the Farm Bill (National Meeting for Small Farm Initiative, October 12-15, 1999 in St. Louis) ways of measuring adoption of IPM, and relationships with NRCS with particular emphasis on building bridges and collaboration. Additionally, GPRA plans were approved with recommendations for improvements by USDA, and the possibility of developing a training programs for new ANR program leaders was discussed. This resulted in a motion to develop a 3/4 day ANR Program Leader training at the National County Agents' Association for new ANR leaders. Additionally, the meeting should be held separately from the regular meeting, the motion was made by Ross Love and seconded by Jim App and approved.

Base Program Support

The need for support for base programs was discussed. Base programs need to be broad based so that a national data base can be developed. A Base Program Committee will highlight one or two programs per year based on large number of states involvement. Each ANR leader is requested to send significant base programs to. Ross Love and/or Mike French for inclusion in the Base Program Committee's deliberations.

Administrative Report

Dr. Dave Foster gave an administrative report from ECOP. He thanked the group for the South Carolina meeting and indicated that it was a excellent meeting with good work being accomplished. He discussed the desire of the Economic Research Service to discontinue service on marketing and outlook data and indicated that ECOP had requested that they continue to provide this service. Indications are that the process of shutting down was too far along to readily change.

Title 8 of the Farm Bill was discussed and working groups are developing guidelines for program management. ECOP and ESCOP have appointed members to the working group. There are three committees working on the plan. The plan will include:

1. Plans of work and reporting are required. The CRIS system is being used by research and more accountability is needed for the Extension plan.
2. Multi-state efforts will be required.
3. Stakeholders input is required and the advisory committee system must be implemented. Evaluations are critical.
4. 1890's matching requirements are being developed by a committee. The committee should have all the information out by September to go into effect in October.
5. There will be a committee on merit review and issue review.

ECOP and the directors need critical evaluations on the SERA-IEGs (Southern Extension and Research Activity - Information Exchange Group). Additionally, the directors would like a report of what we are doing and where we are going with each of these committees.

Managing Change - Billy Caldwell

The managing change initiative emphasis has changed. A meeting in March 1999 is planned with the location to be announced. It will involve risk management, survival and other aspects of managing change which will teach people how to deal with change.

EPA Liaison - Region 4

Jim App reported on the EPA liaison position in Region 4 which is now defined to be a water quality position. There is about $30,000 and office space available from EPA. Eight states will supply the other $38,000 needed. The person will work in EPA offices and report to the Extension Service. Additionally, the person who applies and is successful will need to have a strong Extension background to be effective.

USDA Reports

Larry Biles and Fred Woods from USDA gave a report on federal initiatives:

1. GPRA is operational. Significant issues remain. Base line figures for states vary greatly and most of the information is historian in nature. Preliminary results indicate that there is not much quantifiable information in the GPRA plans.

2. Funding and/or budget information. The Senate has indicated an increase of 3% in formula funds and with zero from the house. Neither branch has indicated if any funds are available for The Fund for Rural America program. Considerable deliberations are still required in the conferencing committee.

3. There has been a number of personnel changes at USDA and a sheet was passed out indicating those persons responsible for various units.

4. Key words for future ARREP's are "high priority, stakeholders, plans of work, multiple state, and multi discipline"

5. Small farm programs have been studied by a commission which has reported approximately 50 goals and 100 plus recommendations. They are developing action plans for each of those recommendations. A committee has recommended increases in budget from 2 to 10 million the first year and 10 to 15 the subsequent year. The commission report should be available in the next few months.

6. NRCS relationships are being worked on to develop more collaborations but there are a number of difficulties which still need to be addressed.

7. The USDA/EPA clean water action plan will be out by September 17 and there will be a 90 day response period. Two new RFP's will be available: one on hydraulic systems, the others on center proposals. Additionally, there will be a national advisory leadership team for water quality and nominations are being taken.

8. There is an interest in health care provider training.

9. Pesticides and IPM committees are working. There was a question about labeling of IPM pesticide free products. New guidelines are needed to make it a reality.

10. Sustainable forestry is an initiative with a "Forest-A-Syst"program being developed. Additionally, logger training programs have been asked to include transportation safety in their curriculum and a request was made to encourage forestry award nominations for the NCAAA meeting to take advantage of the opportunities to recognize outstanding work.

Fred Woods commented further that the Congress wants the money that they spend to be spent on agriculture, that the budget will have disaster money in it up to a billion dollars and he has a synopsis of the budget bill that is available via e-mail if someone wants a copy. Five economists are working in ag issues in USDA. Risk Management is one of the key components of their program and the FY 2000 budget will include Risk Management. There was a discussion of competitive funds. Problems were indicated with the peer review process as result of some of the "good ole boy"and name recognition problems. (the process can be political and does not necessarily focus on the needs of agriculture).

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture was discussed by Roger Crickenberger and John O'Sulllivan; they indicated that funding is basically level. They are trying to measure the impact of the program. Additionally sustainable agriculture needs to be mainstreamed into ongoing commodity programs. The evaluation plan needs to include the competitive projects, state training program, and the regional impacts. Jim Lukens from the PDP management team reported that the leadership committee is in need of new members. They have four farmers on the committee, four institution representatives and four non-governmental organization representatives. Recommendations are requested by state and states that are not represented should provide recommended names. Names of mainstream agriculture type people with an interest in sustainability issues should be given consideration.

Southern Regional Extension Committee reports were given and revised. Reports from most committees were passed out and are attached.

Managing Change

A managing change workshop is planned in March 1999 in a central location in the southern region. ANR program leaders will meet in conjunction with that meeting. Date and location will be determined by Billy Caldwell and others.

Farm Foundation

Steve Holbrook reported on Farm Foundation activities.

1. They will no longer be funding Regional committee meetings. They will fund projects and activities.

2. A Land Use Conference is planned for September 10-11 in Columbus, Ohio. A Public Policy-Land Use conference is planned for September 20-23 in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, they are working with several leadership programs.

3. They are looking for partners to collaborate with on program emphasis in the areas of: precision agriculture, bio technology (particularly as it relates to public acceptance) and ethics of the emerging agriculture community, which will build interaction of communities (consolidation integration issues).

Regional Forester's Report

Bill Hubbard provided a handout indicated that reforestation is a primary issue and they are seeking external funds. The Forest Service is aggressively seeking new funds to address reforestation.

Nomination Committee Report

The committee nominated John O'Sullivan as chairman, Clint Depew as Vice Chairman, Ross Love as secretary, and Nathan Keys as the 1890 representative, for a three year term on the PLC. The motion was made by Michael French and seconded by Ray Humberd to accept the nomination committees report and elect the recommended candidates. Motion passed.

Southern Region Extension Committees

The next item was revision of the Southern Regional Extension committees, which Bill Harris will correct and distribute. A special note was made that the chairman of the Farm Management Public Affairs and Marketing committees rotates through those three entities and the advisor rotates accordingly, since all three committees meet at the same time.

Small Farm Committee

The next item was an action item and it was a motion made by Ray Humberd and seconded by Ross Love that a request being made to the Directors for a "small farm program committee." If approved, it would address emerging issues at the national level. John O'Sullivan will develop the statement for the PLC to forward to the Directors.

PLC Report

The PLC report was given by Michael Ouart. The following requests were made.

1. They need the minutes of our meeting by September 30.
2. Location of the 1999 and 2000 PLC are being investigated with several possible locations available, including Tulsa, Oklahoma, Biloxi, Mississippi, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Louisville, Kentucky.

National ANR Leaders Meeting

A national PLC meeting has been suggested, possibly in conjunction with the National County Agents Association meeting, which is September 12-16, 1999 in Omaha, Nebraska.

The next proposed program is, "Community-Based Approaches To Extension Programming". It is sponsored by the Southern Rural Development Center and would require that teams from each state participate. It is a train the trainer type of program that deals with pubic policy training issues. The ANR leaders expressed the desire to have printed material provided and a train the trainer type format. Support is being requested from each state. ANR leaders requested that the program be planned in more detail before they commit support.

Water Quality Committee

Jim App made a motion, seconded by Curtis Absher to request approval to hold a water quality committee meeting. Motion passed. This action item will go through the PLC to the Directors.

State Reports

Reports were given by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia. Written reports were either passed out or will be sent from all the states. Additionally, 1890 reports were given from three of the 1890 institutions.

Urban Programs

Bill Harris handed out materials on Texas AES program and indicated that their emphasis is on getting ag and natural resources information into their urban areas. Their best programs have been horticulture and pest management. They indicated that there is a concern for business education and they are entertaining the possibility of requiring business degrees for agents in some of their urban areas. Their promotion system for agents is tied to one of seven categories for counties; and ultimately, agents can get promoted into larger counties where they are not necessarily suited from a training and interest perspective. Additionally, they have had a Dominos pizza type fair where they taught kids all of the ag products that are in pizza; milk, bread, etc.

Mississippi talked about a medallion program for plants that they use in urban areas. They evaluate plant species for adaptation to an area and put a certification stamp on it. They charge five cents per stamp for plants and it has been a good fundraiser. The master gardener program and a wood projects fair has worked well. Texas indicated that there is an agri-food master program that they have initiated which basically teaches business, industry and professional folks to be spokes people for agriculture. This group has developed a speakers bureau that speaks about agriculture.

Alabama has developed a botanical garden in Birmingham that has been very effective in the urban area and several states indicated that urban forestry has been an effective program in urban areas.

Farm Labor Handbook

Bill Harris discussed the Texas Farm Labor Handbook and the possible Regional collaboration. He passed out a handbook as an example. Additionally, they have a done an agribusiness summary in several counties on community development which indicates the value of agriculture and communities. It has improved the relationship between communities and their agri-partners. The person doing that program would work with others interested in that program.

Waste Management

There is a national initiative on animal waste management. Bill Harris will send a list of members to keep others updated.

Southern Rural Development Center Report

Bo Beaulieu indicated nine areas of activity.

1. The reorganization of advisory committee with fifteen members.
2. Newsletter.
3. Grant opportunities that are available through them and others they distribute information on.
4. Training for community development.
5. Public conflict remediation program.
6. Rural Labor Conference.
7. Rural labor research group.
8. Food assistance issues particularly as it deals with 1890 institutions.
9. A series of papers on rural and social problems.

Virtual Centers

This discussion was in collaboration with the computer and communications group centered around virtual centers. The question is how we cooperate and collaborate to utilize the expertise in limited resources in the southern region. It was indicated a need to:

1. Share information.
2. Have a Diagnostic Center.
3. Develop Continuing Education programs.

The problems are:

1. Equipment.
2. Program.
3. Long term maintenance support.

The needs are:

1. Interlinking websites.
2. Agent Training.
3. Material sharing on websites.
4. Sharing of key people.

Discussion indicated there is a need for a fee based programming, protection of copyrighted materials. In order to develop a virtual center, we must have clear objectives, accountability and a pay off at the end. There was a need to develop a proposal for the directors at their October 12 -14 meeting in North Carolina. Ultimately, programs need to be developed in several areas. Those mentioned most frequently were farm safety, farm labor, animal waste management, dairy, marketing, risk management and rural development. A committee was formed that included the technology people from North Carolina ; John O'Sullivan, Roger Crickenberger and others to present a proposal to the Directors in October.

Farm Safety

Each state makes a plan and funds comes to all states with an approved plan. The conclusion was that the $18,000 per state is not adequate to justify extensive grant writing and proposals; therefore, a simple allocation with assistance from a federal partner to improve plans is desired. This could be used to support the virtual center as a pilot effort focusing on a regional farm safety program.

Midyear Meeting

Indications are that most people would like to select three to five topics and discuss them more thoroughly as opposed to a menagerie of topics. Topics mentioned were:

1. Staffing patterns.
2. Program priorities.

Additionally, only one Washington update per year is needed so it would not be included at the Spring meeting.


Most states have experienced severe drought and heat which resulted in aflatoxin in corn, and some is also anticipated in cottonseed and soybeans.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 11:30.