The first objective is to estimate and evaluate the consumer demand for differentiated agricultural products that can most effectively be provided by the food supply chains described above.<P>The second objective is to conduct research to identify biological production approaches, and assess their profitability in alternative farming/ranching systems that produce differentiated food, fiber, and other products suited for marketing through mid-tier, values-based business approaches (value chains).<P>The third objective is to identify and conduct research to evaluate the functioning of alternative marketing systems that link the producers with consumers.<P>The last objective is to identify and conduct research to evaluate alternative public policies that will have an impact on #1-3.
Non-Technical Summary: The Northcentral region is home to a diverse agricultural arena where highly valuable yet ecologically sensitive vegetable and fruit crops are grown. While pesticides have allowed increases in agricultural production, consumer and grower concerns about reliance on high-risk pesticides are prompting public policy-makers to increase regulatory barriers and offer incentives for voluntary reductions through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This project will assist farmers in reducing risks from pesticides by working with them to implement practicable, research-based pest management options and to explore marketing strategies to allow growers to capture additional benefits from pesticide reduction. <P> Approach: The research/outreach funding will be used to enhance ecosystem health and grower profitability through pesticide risk/use reductions and increased adoption of IPM systems. This sustains crucial University projects that link research, on-farm practices, grower education and adoption, documented change, and profitability with environmental goals. We propose support in two areas: a) the eco-potato and vegetable program to enhance ecosystem health and grower profitability through pesticide risk reduction and increased adoption of biointensive IPM practices (Nutrient and Pest Management Program), and b) the eco-fruit program to integrate research, outreach and instruction to reduce pesticide use/risk in fruit systems (UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems). The two components of the project are supported by non-UW partners that include potato and vegetable growers, apple growers and strawberry growers, as well as many national and local environmental organizations. The projects components will include: 1) On-farm research supporting biologically based pest management system, 2) Implementation of research based management practices to use more biologically-based, less toxic practices, 3) Research and implementation of ecosystem conservation to protect or restore rare plants and animals on privately owned farms, 4) Addressing Federal conservation policy issues for high value crops, and 5) Identifying research needs for biocontrol in such crops.