Great Places to Find Information about Farming Alternatives
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
National Agricultural Library (NAL)
Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Updated October 2021
- Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
- ATTRA - A National Sustainable Agriculture Assistance Program
- USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Outreach
- Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS)
- Small Farm Program
- Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) - A National Information Resource for Value-added Agriculture
- NewCROP, The New Crop Resource Online Program
- Plants for a Future: Information about Edible and Otherwise Useful Plants
- USDA, NRCS PLANTS Database: Alternative Crops
- The Livestock Conservancy
- Growing for Market
- Acres USA
- Stockman Grass Farmer
AFSIC specializes in locating and accessing information related to alternative enterprises and crops as well as alternative cropping systems. Librarians/information specialists provide free library services on request: referrals to books, journal articles, Web sites, experts, and organizations and agencies. AFSIC publications – bibliographies, directories and reference guides – include Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms; U.S. Statistics on Women and Minorities on Farms and in Rural Areas; Sustainable Agriculture Education and Training Directory and Tracing the Evolution of Organic/Sustainable Agriculture. All publications are available in full text online. Also available is "Organic Roots" – an online collection of historic pre-1942 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Technical Bulletins and Farmers' Bulletins related to organic agriculture.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
National Agricultural Library, 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Room 123, Beltsville MD 20705-2351.
Phone: 301-504-6559; fax 301-504-6927; TDD/TTY: 301-504-6856.
Contact AFSIC or Ask a Question.
ATTRA provides technical assistance to "U.S. farmers and ranchers currently raising and selling agricultural products commercially, agricultural educators, and organizations that work directly with farmers." Topics addressed by ATTRA can be categorized into three broad areas: sustainable farming production practices, alternative crop and livestock enterprises, and innovative marketing. ATTRA provides hundreds of free and low-cost online farmer-ready publications on specific practices, livestock and crop production, agricultural enterprises, marketing and business, and energy alternatives. Recent titles include Working with Your Meat Processor; Stink Bugs - Botanical Control Formulations; Urban Agriculture in the United States: Baseline Findings of a Nationwide Survey; and Vertical Farming. They also provide directories, news, event listings and related links. Información también disponible en Español.
P.O. Box 3838, Butte MT 59702.
Phone: 800-346-9140 (toll-free for limited-access or low-income farmers)
Ask a Sustainable Agriculture Expert: https://attra.ncat.org/ask/
SARE Outreach is the communications and outreach arm of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, a USDA-funded initiative that sponsors competitive grants for sustainable agriculture research and education. SARE is dedicated to the exchange of scientific and practical information on sustainable agriculture systems; its resources include the SANET-MG listserv, free bulletins, minimally priced CDs and books, and a searchable database of all funded SARE project reports. Their most recent downloadable books and bulletins: Investing in the Next Generation of Agricultural Scientists and Systems Research for Agriculture.
SARE Outreach Publications
USDA/SARE. 1122 Patapsco Building. University of Maryland. College Park MD 20742-6715.
Phone: 301-405-8020; fax 301-405-7711.
The Center "research has shown that farmers can cut costs, increase profits, and improve their quality of life while enhancing the environment. Outreach and training programs help farmers, educators, crop consultants, businesses and eaters put these research findings to work." Programs conducted in coordination with an Advisory Council of farmers and citizens produce research reports, case studies, crop budgets and other materials. Additionally, several short training courses and curriculum for beginning farmers and students have been produced through this effort.
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
University of Wisconsin-Madison. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. 1535 Observatory Drive. Madison, WI 53706.
While aimed at California producers, the Program offers a great deal of information useful to all. Publications for purchase include Small Farm Handbook and The Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook as well as Production Practices and Sample Costs booklets focusing on specific crops/geographic areas. The Center also features directories of Extension publications and small farm advisers.
Small Farm Center
University of California, Agriculture and Resource Economics, One Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616.
eXtension is an "interacting learning environment" that delivers researched information on a range of agricultural topics from land-grant university Extension experts across America. Resources include webinar presentations, articles, factsheets, books, questions and answers, news and more.
eOrganic covers all aspects of organic production, marketing and certification. A network of academic experts and organic farming practitioners can help answer questions and learn together to enhance knowledge of organic farming systems.
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) - A National Information Resource for Value-added Agriculture
"AgMRC brings together experts from three of the nation's leading agricultural universities - Iowa State University, Kansas State University and the University of California - into a dynamic, electronically based center to create and present information about value-added agriculture." Coverage includes a range of commodities and products, markets and industries, business development tools, renewable energy, and directories. Market research including data, case studies and crops budgets and other financial decision-making information is provided for each agricultural product and industry.
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC)
1111 NSRIC, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3310.
Phone: 866-277-5567 (toll free)
Contact form: https://www.agmrc.org/contact-us
The rich information at this site is available by searching on crop names; searching on state and county names for currently harvested crops; by accessing and downloading full text publications; and finding related experts and conferences.
Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette IN 47907-2010.
Phone: 765-494-1329; fax: 765-494-0391
"Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses." Located in the UK, the Centre's services include an online database, which currently describes over 7000 species of plants. The database is searchable by scientific name, common name or family; by edible, medicinal or other use; or by plants native to a particular area or a particular habitat.
Plants for a Future
"Select crops that may be suitable for small scale farming by limited-resource farmers and small landowners." Provides Web links for information about the "cultural requirements and marketing strategies" for the crops and geographic areas you select."
NRCS PLANTS Database: Alternative Crops
Select "Alternative Crops" from the menu on the left side of the screen.
The Livestock Conservancy works to conserve rare breeds and genetic diversity in livestock and operates as a clearinghouse for information on livestock and genetic diversity. Formerly the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, it provides an overview of each breed listed on its "Conservation Priority List," and offers publications for sale.
The Livestock Conservancy P.O. Box 477, Pittsboro NC 27312.
Phone: 919-542-5704; fax 919-545-0022.
Contact form: https://livestockconservancy.org/contact/
A monthly magazine, Growing for Market focuses on news for "small-scale, ecological farmers who grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and plants for local markets." Subjects include specialty produce, dried and cut flowers, and herbs; organic methods are emphasized. Feature articles are supplemented with resource information, commercial advertising, and an annual buyers guide to sources and suppliers. This magazine is available in print or electronic format, by subscription only.
Growing for Market
P.O. Box 3747, Lawrence KS 66046.
Phone: 800-307-8949 (toll free) or 785-748-0605; fax 785-748-0609.
Contact form: https://www.growingformarket.com/contact
This "voice of eco-agriculture" covers commercial-scale organic and sustainable farming. Acres USA also offers books, videos, and audiotapes for purchase. This magazine is available by subscription only.
4092 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78754.
Phone: 800-355-5313 (toll free in the U.S. and Canada) or 512-892-4400; fax 512-892-4448.
This publication is "devoted solely to the art and science of making a profit from grassland agriculture." It covers "not only commodity priced feeder cattle production but also natural grass finished and organic grass fed beef, seasonal, pasture-based dairying, grass fed lamb production, organic grass fed bison (buffalo) and pastured poultry." This magazine is available by subscription only.
Stockman Grass Farmer
P.O. Box 2300, Ridgeland MS 39158-9911.
Phone: 800-748-9808 (toll free) or 601-853-1861; fax: 601-853-8087.
Contact form: https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.com/contact/
This Reference Guide was produced by the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC), National Agricultural Library (NAL).
For more information about this and similar publications, contact:
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library, USDA
10301 Baltimore Avenue, Room 132
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
Contact form: https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/contact-us-1