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Southern SAWG Newsletter  Volume 9,  #1


                             April 2012

Dear Friends,

In many parts of our region, Spring has sprung quite early this year.  Don't you just love it when the farmers market re-opens with fresh food, gorgeous flowers and blooms, and heirloom plants?


According to Wendell Berry, "Eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth."  This year's Farm Bill is very much an "agricultural act" which affects everyone who eats. If you're interested in making a difference in the food economy, perhaps you'll tune in to the Farm Bill Action Alerts.

And in the mean time, be sure to visit your local farmers market. And say "Thank you" to a farmer.  


 --Your friends at Southern SAWG 

Farm Bill Action Alerts
New Farm Bill for 2012?
2012 Conference Recap
New Logo for 2013 Conference
SSAWG's New Board Members
Funding Opportunity-SSARE
Foundation Seeking Board Members
Food Systems Training Survey
Join Our Mailing List

 2012 Farm Bill Action Heats Up!


Stay up-to-date with Action Alerts at





Will Congress Complete a New Farm Bill in 2012?


This has been a strange Farm Bill process so far, and it may get stranger before this key piece of legislation is complete. Last fall, the Agriculture Committee leadership in Congress worked behind closed doors to craft a 2011 Farm Bill with $23 billion in net cuts requested by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the "Super Committee"). But this unusual process was scrapped in November when the Super Committee process collapsed. 

[Click Here - Read More About the 2012 Farm Bill] 

2012 Conference Recap 


We had a fantastic time in Little Rock in January. We had a record attendance of more than 1,250 participants. The city put on the Big Welcome for us with street signs welcoming SSAWG participants. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan decided to join us for breakfast on Saturday morning. A Big Thanks to our Sponsors for their support. Check out the 2012 recap on our website or on our FaceBook page.

Make your plans for our next conference!

The 22st Annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference will be held at

The Peabody Hotel January 23-26, 2013 in Little Rock, AR.

Schedule will be available online in October.  

Three New Board Members for Southern SAWG


From Left to Right: Rhonda Benton, (Elvis is not on the SSAWG Board), Ryan Neal, Duncan Chembezi
Photo by Julia Sampson-Mar 2012
Rhonda Benton is proprietor of Rhema Ranch near Banks, AL. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Pike County Farmers Market in Alabama, and is a consultant for LRLEAN-Limited Resources Landowners Education and Assistant Network (Forestry).

Ryan Neal is Garden Educator for Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR.  He is responsible
for facilitating the education of students ages
13-20 on global hunger, poverty, sustainable agriculture, and conservation during experiential learning sessions in the garden.

Dr. Duncan Chembezi is Director of the
Small Farms Research Center at 
Alabama A&M University.The Center is actively
engaged in a broad range of programs and community outreach activities, all focused on creating crucially needed transitions toward profitable and sustainable farming systems.

The next call for new board members will be issued in October.

Southern SARE PDP Grants 
Southern SARE Logo
Deadline to Apply June 4, 2012

Calls for Proposals for Professional Development Program (PDP) Grants for FY2013 are now open. Grant submission deadline for pre-proposals is 11:59 pm EST on June 4, 2012. Learn more about PDP Grants before applying.


The Professional Development Program provides sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies for Cooperative Extension Service personnel, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff and others who work directly with farmers and ranchers.


Find out Who Can Apply and What Activities are Eligible:

Foundation Seeking Board MembersJessie Smith Noyes  

The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation is seeking recommendations for board members. There is  one current vacancy and two vacancies are opening up in January 2013.


The candidates must be committed to the Foundation's vision, mission, values and theory of change ( Board members who think broadly about issues and social change, and are willing to listen and exchange views and ideas are preferable. The board term is
six years.


More information can be found in the April edition of the Noyes Newsletter.

If you know of someone you would like to suggest, please contact

Training Needs Survey of Food System Professionals & Volunteers


The survey is open through May 31, 2012, and is open to practitioners throughout North America.


Folks involved with programs ranging from beginning farmers, farmland protection, food hubs, and food value chains to urban agriculture and community food security are being sought. The survey link is:  The survey objective is to identify the specific challenges and training needs of current and prospective food system development practitioners. This anonymous questionnaire is largely simple checkboxes and should not take more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete.


The belief is that improving knowledge and skills of practitioners will lead to more effective and efficient programs, and ultimately to more viable and sustainable food systems.


If you have any questions, contact Duncan Hilchey at

An Opportunity to Do Good

Would you like to help family farms?

Are you interested in good food/local food?

If so, you can become a 2013 Conference Sponsor!


If you or your business would like to sponsor the 2013 Conference in Little Rock, AR,
please contact Julia Sampson, (479) 251-8310, Email:

 We appreciate your support.
To make a donation online or download a form
to mail to us with your check
click here

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                                                                       Visit Southern SAWG online           

We welcome your feedback and suggestions

Please write to us at
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.