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ATTRA is back!

Posted: February 29 2012

Not that it ever really left, but you might remember a post about ATTRA's  funding being cut last year. Well, we're happy to report that funding is back!  ATTRA is the go-to resource for farm apprenticeships and so much more and we couldn't be more thrilled with the news.  This is a good reminder to check out the ATTRA site and familiarize yourself with all that they offer. There's an entire section devoted to Beginning Farmers.
 ATTRA Project Resumes Full Level of Services For Sustainable Agriculture Producers
(BUTTE, MT)—When Mariah and Ira White began the Summer Kitchen Family Farm outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas, a couple of years ago, they knew they had a lot to learn. The young couple had kept chickens and sold eggs and produce while living in Fayetteville, but a full-fledged sustainable crop and livestock operation was something else again.
"We sort of outgrew our garden," Mariah said with a laugh.
For help, Mariah and Ira turned to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service project, also called the ATTRA project.
A project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the ATTRA project is a leading national provider of technical assistance in the sustainable agriculture and farm-energy arenas.
Federal funding for ATTRA was restored in the fall after being cut earlier in the year.
Now ATTRA is gearing up its publications, toll-free information hotline, and other services.
The Whites have read a harvest of ATTRA publications on subjects ranging from safe egg handling and starting seeds to rotational grazing practices.
"It’s kind of like if you put them all together, you have a textbook for farming," Mariah said.
The Whites also are looking forward to calling the ATTRA helpline for one-on-one advice and information.
Mariah said the Whites would "gladly sing the praises" of the difference ATTRA has made to the success of the Summer Kitchen Family Farm. And she said they aren’t alone. She recently
attended a workshop during a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference in which the speaker asked how many participants used ATTRA.
"Of a classroom of I’d say 75 other people, I swear every hand in that room went up," she said.
NCAT is looking forward to again offering a full slate of ATTRA services.
"We are delighted to have federal funding restored for this critical program," said Kathleen Hadley, Executive Director of Butte-based NCAT. "This achievement is the result of the help of many concerned agriculture producers, who called or wrote their members of Congress in support of renewed funding."
"We are also indebted to the efforts of our Montana Congressional delegation. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus and Congressman Denny Rehberg all went to bat for the project with their colleagues to help them understand how important the technical assistance services provided by the project are to sustainable agriculture producers across the country," Hadley said.
Since 1987, the ATTRA project has been the nation’s leading resource for information on sustainable agriculture, covering a wide range of topics, including reducing pesticide use on cropland, promoting food safety in sustainable production systems, reducing farm energy use and costs, enriching soils with the use of cover crops, and providing technical assistance in the growing areas of local farmers markets and urban gardening.
Hadley said services that had been put on hold in the face of last year’s cuts will resume, including the ATTRA toll-free English and Spanish hotlines, email support, and other personalized technical advice.
Hadley added that because this year’s funding is reduced significantly from what it was in previous years—from $2.8 million to $2.25 million—NCAT will continue to explore alternative funding sources for the project, including modest fees for service and private contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.
"Any way you slice it, we still need to find other revenue streams to maintain the quality and quantity of services," Hadley said.
For more information and new materials, check the project’s website at www.attra.ncat.org.
The ATTRA sustainable-agriculture hotline is 800-346-9140. The Spanish-language ATTRA hotline is 800-411-3222.
Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been helping people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. In partnership with businesses, organizations, individuals and agricultural producers, NCAT is working to advance solutions that will ensure the next generation inherits a world that has clean air and water, energy production that is efficient and renewable, and healthy foods grown with sustainable practices. More information about its programs and services is available at www.ncat.org or by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT.

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