There are 1.4 million small farms in the United States. This is 73 percent of the 1.9 million total farms or 1.4 million farms. Although "Small farms" gross less than $50,000 annually in agricultural sales, their viability and survival is an important rural issue in most states.
The goal of the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Small Farm Program is to improve the income levels and the economic viability of small farm enterprises. These can be accomplished through partnership efforts with the land-grant system, and public and private sectors using strategies that address the needs of the total farm family. Continued support of small farm efforts nationwide, will assist these farmers in meeting their major needs in the areas of on-farm research, marketing, and farm management.
On September 10 - 13, 1996, nearly 300 participants from the land grant system, farms, public and private sectors convened in Nashville, Tennessee at the National Small Farm Conference. The purpose of the conference was to provide an opportunity for research and extension educators, scientists, farmers, and other agricultural professionals from the public and private sectors, with small and mid-size farm responsibilities, to identify program priorities. This was also an opportunity to share success stories and/or experiences in order to strengthen program delivery and services.
These proceedings capture nine major issue areas that were identified at the conference through presentations and discussions. These issues are: 1) Research and Extension Priorities, 2) Program Impacts and Accountability, 3) Technology Transfer, 4) Environmental Issues, 5) Program Delivery, 6) Marketing Strategies, 7) Economic Opportunities, 8) Social Issues and 9) Small Farm Policy. In an effort to build a strong Small Farm Program in CSREES and its partners, subcommittees consisting of the land grant system, public and private sectors including farmers and non-governmental organizations are being formed to address each issue area, and develop recommendations that would benefit the delivery of programs and services throughout the small farm community.
We hope you will find these proceedings helpful in the effort of linking research and extension, to meet small and mid-size farm needs.
Denis A. Ebodaghe, Ph.D.
National Program Leader
Small Farms, USDA-CSREES
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