About the PDP
Since the first PDP competitive grants were funded in 1995, over 150 projects have been funded to spread knowledge on sustainable agriculture in the Western region. In addition, PDP has funded more than 300 state or protectorate implementation grants, typically conducted by state coordinators in each of the Western region's 17 states and island protectorates. The variety and breadth of PDP grants reflect the geographic and agricultural diversity of the far-flung Western region.
A few examples:
- To meet the unique needs of American Indian producers who live in remote locations and often do not have a qualified local contact they can work with one-on-one on business management, the Building Business Management Capacity for American Indian Agricultural Businesses project will provide farm/ranch business management and marketing training to Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program agents, 1994 Tribal Colleges, and non-profit organizations working with tribes. This will be accomplished through appropriate curriculum development, two 3.5 day intensive workshops reaching 60 participants, the creation of an on-going network, and the improved capacity of workshop participants work closely with American Indian producers.
- In Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, plant disease diagnostic services were once provided by specialists in plant pathology, but are now being shifted to agricultural professionals with little formal training in plant pathology. At the same time, these island agricultural communities face numerous plant diseases due to the tropical climate, movement of nearly two million tourists and residents, and importation of produce. Thus, the Plant Disease Diagnostic Training for Agricultural Professionals in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands project is underway to provide plant diagnostic training and support for those engaged in providing advice to producers of agronomic and horticultural crops.
- Farmers in the far west, who have adopted high residue farming at low rates, are looking at needs for water conservation, building soil quality, increased overhead sprinkler irrigation, and increased focus on controlling erosion. This is prompting more rapid adoption of high residue farming in the west. Extension and NRCS field personnel must adapt systems used in other regions to the West’s different climates, crops, and soils. The leaders of High Residue Farming in the Irrigated Far West have brought 21 Extension and NRCS representatives together from AZ, CA, ID, NM, OR, and WA for a two-day conference to discuss the challenges of doing this, how best they can help each other, and how best to reach farmers. The participants have formed a network with a central website, a listing of people and active projects, and news sharing resource.
- As agriculture is uniquely vulnerable to the changes in climate predicted in the coming years, it is crucial that ag professionals from NRCS, Cooperative Extension, and Resource Conservations Districts have the training and practical tools on climate change adaption in order to deliver current information to farmers and ranchers. The project, Farming Strategies for Coping with Climate Change, convened three workshops in California for at total of 90 ag professionals from 18 counties, produced four fact sheets, and organized three webinars that reached over 150 participants.
- Funding and technical assistance to organic producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative has been challenged by a lack of technical expertise, limited resource materials, and difficulties with coordination among NRCS and other agencies that can help recruit producers for the program. The Organic Conservation Training for Western Region Conservation Professionals is a collaborative project to build the capacity of conservation professionals to assist organic and transitional farmers in planning and implementing conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative. Five guides were created for use by NRCS staff in the Western Region. Specific states covered are Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon. Ten workshops have been held for over 200 participants and three webinars were created.
- After a solar energy needs assessment of Arizona extension educators was conducted to determine interest in knowledge and skill acquisition about solar energy, the Solar Energy Training Program for Arizona Extension Educators project was developed. Multiple renewable energy workshops presenting solar energy principles and applications to agriculture will be conducted throughout the state of Arizona targeting extension educators in each of the 15 counties and five federally recognized tribal extension program offices. This will include extension educators serving each of the five Indian Reservations: Colorado River Indian Tribes, Hopi Tribes, Hualapi Nation, Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, and San Carlos Apache.
Agriculture professionals who want to become involved in the Western SARE Professional Development Program will be interested in the guiding legislation that established the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
For more information, call 307.837.2674 or fax 307.837.2963.