2001 Sunset Review

The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture was asked by Dr. Charles Muscoplat, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences (COAFES) to undergo a review process along with the interdisciplinary centers in COAFES. The purpose of this review is to determine how well we are meeting our stated objectives, and to determine the degree of continued support by COAFES under tight budget constraints. The request for information consisted of seven questions on general information and fourteen more specific questions on program information. This is the document that was submitted to the Dean's office on May 15, 2000.

Table of Contents




Sunset Review Document

Name of Center:

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture


October 1991 - April 2000 - Donald L. Wyse
May 2000 -
To be announced


A1. Date Center was created:

MISA Board of Directors met for the first time in February 1992

A2. What office space or other goods/services are provided by COAFES to the Center?

The Department of Agronomy & Plant Genetics provides office space for MISA:

  • MISA main office, 413 Hayes Hall (Lewis)
  • Regional Partnerships main office (COAFES, CNR and Extension Program), 313 Hayes Hall (Green .25 FTE with MISA)
  • Staff office, 418 Hayes Hall (Murray)
  • Staff office, 415 Hayes Hall (Nelson, Jewett)

The Department also provides accounting services (MISA pays $5,000/year for this service), access to copiers and fax machine (MISA pays per use), and network access (MISA pays per month).

The Swine Center provides office space for MISA:

  • Staff office, 385 E Vet Med (Martin)

A3. What office space or other goods/services are provided by other colleges to the Center?

We work with the U of MN Extension Service to publish materials. We pay expenses (development and printing) for each publication.

A4. Who are the Center's primary clients?

Minnesota farmers. We serve farmers throughout the state through our research and educational activities, through our web site, through the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Farmers and those who work with farmers are our target audience when assessing information needs, and when developing and reviewing educational materials on sustainable agriculture that are produced jointly with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Field days and workshops are also held to assist farmers, and farmers are notified and invited to the symposia and conferences that are held on the St. Paul campus.

However, more importantly, farmers work with us. Farmers are our partners. This is our fundamental philosophy, and a guiding principle that permeates everything that MISA does. Farmers serve on MISA's Board of Directors ( six of the fifteen members must be farmers as mandated by our bylaws). Every major program that has been initiated by MISA has begun by bringing together farmers and researchers to discuss issues and educate each other about the problem and possibilities for action. In developing educational materials, farmers serve on the Advisory Committee for the Information Exchange. Hence, they participate in identifying information needs, identifying others to work on the project teams, serve on the project teams which write and develop publications and farmers serve as reviewers, evaluating the usefulness of publications. Farmers serve on the interdisciplinary learning and research teams.

Students at the U of MN. We serve primarily students in COAFES, but also a number of students from CNR, CBS, Geography, Political Science have participated in MISA-sponsored events. The graduate Minor in Sustainable Agriculture is open to all students enrolled in any M.S., M.A. or Ph.D. program offered by the University of Minnesota. Students are encouraged to interact with farmers, specifically through internships and weekly seminars (What's Up in Sustainable Agriculture series). The WUSA seminars serve both graduates and undergraduates and are organized by the Sustainable Agriculture Study Group (approximately 15 to 20 students each semester). The MISA coordinator, Helene Murray, has been instrumental in coordinating internships, and assisting with the seminars. Both Helene and Don Wyse (Executive Director), discuss research ideas in sustainable agriculture with students and link them with farmers and researchers. Students feel incredibly well-served by these opportunities.

"I was so excited when I found out about MISA two years ago....I met with Helene Murray and she was very supportive of the idea of working on a collaborative project with the nutrition department. Until that date, I am unsure of how much interaction there was between the two departments...but I thought it made sense to work together. It has been a wonderful experience...There are so many new connections that are being formed and I feel that the future holds an abundance of opportunities.. These days I think many people have the desire to support farmers, environment, and community but they don't know what to do about it. They often feel overwhelmed. With a grant from MISA, I am working with community organizations (LSP, MFA, and Food Choices) and grocery stores to evaluate consumer attitudes and behaviors, educate consumers about their food choices, and share with consumers how they can make an impact by choosing to buy sustainably produced food....."
-Ramona Robinson, graduate student, Department of Food Science and Nutrition

"MISA-sponsored programs and events have been critical in my development as a graduate student ...the courses associated with the sustainable agriculture minor have presented perspectives that were not available elsewhere in the curriculum. Seminars provided by MISA have been particularly helpful in my personal development of a systems view of agriculture. MISA has also been important in generating grant writing ideas. My conversations with MISA staff have resulted in attaining over $200,000 in grants for sustainable agriculture research that is directly assoicated with my dissertation research. MISA has developed a network that is able to catalyze the thinking and relationships necessary to generate the ideas that will attract funding from a wide range of source..."
-Lee DeHaan, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics

"... my most valuable experience was funded through the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture. I spent eight months working with the Whole Farm Cooperative and their "Food with a Face" project. I had the pleasure of interviewing farmers about their farms, farming practices, and why they do what they do. The objective was to create profiles about the farmers for the general public to learn more about who is producing their food and how it is produced.."
-Kristen Corselius, graduate student, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics

U of MN faculty, Extension and staff. We serve primarily faculty in COAFES. Faculty members (113) have been affiliated with MISA activities and programs in many capacities: as graduate faculty for the Minor in Sustainable Agriculture; writing grants and conducting research on sustainable agriculture issues; developing educational materials as members of a project team; and planning and participating in seminars (see Faculty Interactions list in appendix). MISA's ability to serve as an information clearinghouse of sustainable agriculture information and provide contacts with farmers and organizations benefits all parties.

"..When I decided that I wanted to research family issues for families involved in some form of sustainable agriculture, the MISA staff was quite helpful to me in a number of ways. They helped me to know about several research projects that had not yet shown up in indexes of published work. They helped me to link up with local sustainable farming groups around the state, with the sustainable farming folks in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and with sustainable farming groups in North and South Dakota. MISA's help was crucial to me in writing a grant proposal that was funded, in finding respondent families for my study, and eventually in producing interesting, publishable, published research findings. As an added benefit, the knowledge I acquired from MISA and through the research I did has enabled me to be an effective consultant in the development of a statewide whole-farm-planning program for farm families."
-Paul Rosenblatt, Professor, Family Social Science, College of Human Ecology

Minnesota citizens. We consider and respond to concerns that are voiced to us by citizens concerned with issues associated with and a need for information about sustainable agriculture. In 1995, the Legislature recognized the need for information related to sustainable agriculture and appropriated $100,000 per year "for a contract with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture to gather, evaluate, publish and disseminate sustainable agriculture information to a broad audience through both printed and electronic means." This appropriation resulted in the formation of MISA's Information Exchange. We now have an excellent reputation as a clearinghouse for sustainable agriculture.

"MISA's role as a visible, competent clearinghouse and referral agent for information on sustainable agriculture is not to be underestimated. The impact is significant, ironically, because there are increasing numbers of places to get such information, and thus confusion and frustration among citizens and local government officials in Minnesota. When I ask people where they go for authoritative information on sustainable agriculture, they usually say MISA's the best and first stop."
-Phillip Muessig, Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, St. Paul, MN

A5. What are the principal departments and colleges with whom the Center works?

We have worked with faculty members in all COAFES departmentsin a variety of capacities, including joint research and educational materials development. Funding by MISA to faculty members to supports research. Thirty-three faculty members from 13 departments serve on the Graduate Faculty for the Graduate Minor in Sustainable Agriculture. Joint Seminar faculty members come from 12 departments or centers from across COAFES and the College of Natural Resources

MISA has co-sponsored research and educational events with the following centers: Visions for Change; Center for Agricultural Impacts on Water Quality; Center for Farm Financial Management; Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products; Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management; Swine Center; Program for Decision Cases; Center for Spirituality and Healing.

A6. How many employees are supported by the Center?

Six, 4.0 FTE (3 full-time employees, and 3 part-time employees)

Emily Green, M.S., Regional Partnership Coordinator (0.25 FTE with MISA, remaining 0.75 FTE for Regional Partnerships, salary split is the same). Emily began in April 2000 and works on behalf of the Statewide Coordinating Committee made up of representatives from the five Regional Partnerships.

Jane Grimsbo Jewett, M.S., Research Assistant, Information Exchange (0.25 FTE - salary paid from the Information Exchange monies). Jane manages the questions that come into MISA through our web page, phone calls and emails. She also oversees the MISA web site. Jane has been employed by MISA since January 2000.

Roxanne Lewis, Principal Secretary (1.0 FTE, salary paid from base funding from COAFES). 75% of Roxanne's time is devoted to MISA, the other 25% is devoted to the Regional Partnerships Statewide Coordinating Committee. Roxanne has been on the MISA staff since September 1999.

Wayne Martin, M.S., Alternative Swine Production Systems Coordinator (1.0 FTE - salary paid from Legislative funding for the Alternative Swine Program). Wayne coordinates the Alternative Swine Production Systems Task Force. Wayne has been with MISA since April 1999.

Helene Murray, Ph.D., MISA Coordinator (1.0 FTE - salary paid from base funding from COAFES). Helene provides day-to-day coordination for MISA programs. She is also the program manager for an LCMR-funded grant. Helene has been the Coordinator for MISA since October 1993.

Beth Nelson, Ph.D., Associate Program Director, Information Exchange (0.5 FTE - salary paid from Information Exchange monies). Beth provides overall coordination for the Information Exchange, with a primary emphasis on coordinating publications. Beth started her position in February 2000.

A7. What are the major current sources of funding for the Center (in % blocks and dollars)?

i. Funds used directly by MISA for operations and program support:

Since 1992, COAFES has provided important base funding for MISA ($247,444/year, See 14B for details). This funding supports MISA staffing (coordinator and secretary positions), Board support, and programming support.

Legislative funding:

  • Information Exchange - $100,000/year (recurring, $200,000 biennium). Funds are appropriated to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for a contract with MISA.
  • Alternative Swine Production - $155,000 (1998 one-time appropriation). This money comes to MISA via COAFES as part of the Ag State Special.

ii. Funds managed by MISA:

Grants written by staff:
$350,000 -- Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources 1999-01. Sustainable Farming Systems - Continuation. H. Murray, Project Manager. Partners: MISA, UMES, MDA, SFA, LSP, The Minnesota Project. Note: $229,100 went into a Soils CUFS account managed by Deborah Allan and David Mulla to conduct soil and water quality research.


  • The School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems, funded by an endowment from alumni of the School of Agriculture University of Minnesota (SAUM) (see brochure in appendix describing the purpose of theEndowed Chair, its objectives and guiding principles): $1.0 million Endowment, $84,000 available annually
  • Johnson Endowment (undergraduate research award, managed by MISA): $102,000 Endowment, $6,000 available annually

iii. Funds for programs that MISA helped to initiate:
Regional Partnerships - $1.2 million (recurring: $2.4 million/biennium). Funds are managed by the Minnesota Experiment Station. The Regional Partnership program is a joint program of COAFES, Extension and the College of Natural Resources, MISA and the Minnesota Experiment Station.


B1. What is the mission of the Center?

The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) is a joint venture of the University of Minnesota's College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, and the Sustainers' Coalition, a group of individuals and organizations which in 2000 includes: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Land Stewardship Project, Minnesota Food Association, The Minnesota Project, Organic Growers and Buyers Association, and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

MISA's purpose is to bring together the agricultural community and the University community in a cooperative effort to develop and promote sustainable agriculture in Minnesota and beyond. MISA promotes dynamic agricultural systems which integrate theecological, economic, and social aspects of life.

B2. What are the Center's objectives?

  1. Work with the University community to better address issues affecting the long-term viability of agriculture within Minnesota by engaging and responding to problems and needs expressed by those trying to develop sustainable farming systems.

  2. Promote sustainable agriculture thinking within the University so that the concepts permeate teaching, research and extension.
  3. Work with rural communities in discovering and implementing the values of sustainability.

Activities to meet these objectives include:

(The Appendix contains detailed information on each of the following activities. MISA has played a significant role in the development of these programs, often in partnership with other organizations. Some of these programs are now self-sufficient, and no longer officially MISA programs, though MISA connections and support are evident).

The Information Exchange is devoted to developing and disseminating sustainable agriculture information to the public, via printed and electronic means. This program was developed after a need for information on sustainable agriculture was identified. MISA staff was instrumental in lobbying efforts to procure these funds. MISA staff then built an infrastructure for the development of educational materials that used input from farmers, students, faculty, and community groups, at all stages (needs assessment, writing, review, dissemination). These are reviewed and produced in cooperation with Extension. This has resulted in five quality publications, with four more due out this year (see Appendix for publications and list of upcoming publications). In cooperation with Extension, MISA staff also developed an extensive MISA web page, which contains a sustainable agriculture calendar of events, announcements, a searchable data base, information about MISA, partner organizations and the Sustainable Agriculture Minor, and an interactive "Ask MISA" section.

Graduate Minor in Sustainable Agriculture. Planning for the minor began with a MISA educational team building planning grant in 1993, and subsequent funding by MISA in 1994 and 1995 to develop new courses and curriculum. The minor was approved by the graduate school in 1995. It is open to any Masters or Ph.D. student enrolled at the University of Minnesota. Most students are from COAFES, but we also have students from Geography, Conservation Biology, and from the College of Natural Resources. MISA has hosted 107 seminars since 1995, in conjunction with the Sustainable Agriculture Study Group (WUSA seminars), and other partners. Faculty in Agronomy & Plant Genetics are currently working to revise the undergraduate minor in sustainable agriculture and have asked for assistance from MISA staff with this important endeavor. The Graduate Minor requires an internship as part of the program. MISA staff maintain and update the list of opportunities, thereby helping students to connect to a wide variety of opportunities for their internship.

Alternative Swine Systems Program was funded by the Legislature to identify and develop research and educational activities for farmers and consumers interested in alternative swine production. MISA brought farmers who wanted more research on alternative swine systems together with animal scientists. Farmers, with the support of the Sustainers' Coalition, approached the Legislature to procure funding for an alternative swine research center at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, and to form the Alternative Swine Task Force. MISA staff (Wayne Martin) coordinates the task force. Thus far the task force has assembled and distributed the Swine Source Book, compiled a database of people interested in alternative swine systems, initiated a newsletter, created a web page, filled a position for a rural sociologist, assisted with the Endowed Chairs who conducted work in this area, and held several symposia. The symposium, "Demand-Driven Agriculture: Value-Added Labeling and Quality Assurance" was held to highlight work in alternative marketing across disciplines. Summaries of the symposium will be made available summer 2000.

Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships are a program first envisioned by MISA in the early 1990s. Development of the Partnerships idea arose with the recognition by the Board and MISA staff that although current programs were bringing farmers and other individuals together with researchers and making progress in discussing and addressing sustainable agriculture systems, there was a need to broaden the discussion even further-hence the idea of discussing agricultural practices in the context of sustainable development, within different bioregions of the state arose. The Sustainers' Coalition, with support from the Dean's office (Dean Mike Martin), developed the legislative support to fund this project. MISA provided staff support for the Task Force which provided the framework for the Regional Partnerships, out of which the first three Regional Partnerships were established. These partnerships bring together diverse groups to discuss complex issues and identify research needs. The program is now a partnership in five regions across the state and is a joint program of citizens, COAFES, the College of Natural Resources, Extension and MISA and the Minnesota Experiment Station.

Enhanced Landscape, Food Systems, Human and Animal Health Initiative is a new initiative designed to help facilitate interdisciplinary work within the University. Just as the Regional Partnerships have increased the scope of the discussion and of the exchange of information and education at the regional levels, this initiative is designed to broaden the discussion at the University level. Research will be directed toward sustainable development, with the goal of simultaneously enhancing the health of the landscape, humans and animals through holistic approaches to human nutrition and medicine, animal nutrition and veterinary science, and increased plant diversity on the landscape. Connections between diverse faculty across colleges must be made in order to facilitate the concurrent development of plant production systems, processing capacity and product markets. MISA staff have been instrumental in coordinating discussions on this topic over the past two years. These have led to the writing of a "white paper" and formation of a planning committee which held an all day symposium, "Enhanced Landscape, Food Systems, Human and Animal Health" on the St. Paul campus in April, 2000. Twenty-five speakers spoke on diverse but inter-related topic areas with about 150 attendees. This symposium was sponsored by MISA, Visions for Change, Water Resources Center, Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management, Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products, and the Center for Spirituality and Healing. (See Appendix for Abstracts). The next step is to begin facilitating broad faculty research teams capable of adressing complex issues and research priorities that will come from the Regional Partnerships.

The Farmer Summit is a farmer-led network designed to create long-term solutions that support healthy food and farming systems and thriving rural communities. MISA staff was involved in discussions which led to the Farmer Summit. This program began in 1998, when a group of farmers (several were MISA Board members or former MISA Board members) from Minnesota, North and South Dakota met with land grant faculty to discuss the farm crisis. The Farmer Summit is sponsored by MISA, Visions for Change and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. These discussions led to the writing of the Farmer Summit Platform. This platform, along with an agricultural policy paper by Willard Cochrane "A Food and Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century were presented and discussed at a symposium held on the Saint Paul campus in April, 2000: "The New Language of Farm Policy: Engaging Consumers, Labor, Environmentalists and Farmers in Shaping the Future of Food and Agricultural Systems." Two hundred-fifty people attended. The symposium was sponsored by MISA and Visions for Change.

Sustainable Farming Systems Team (LCMR)
consists of on-farm and Experiment Station research, demonstration and educational activities to examine the economic and environmental impacts of sustainable farming systems. Forty-seven events (field days, workshops, conference) were held around the state, with 2500 participants. Partners: MISA, Extension, U of MN (Dept. of Soil, Water & Climate) MN Department of Agriculture, Sustainable Farming Association, Land Stewardship Project, The Minnesota Project.

MISA Competetive Grants Program funds team-building planning grants to promote interdisciplinary research and education teams. These teams contain researchers, farmers, students and community members. Some teams are then funded to conduct the proposed research. Some of the successful grants have been the Beginning Farmer research team, the Biological, Financial and Social Monitoring Team, Integrated Cropping Systems, marketing exploration teams. Fourteen teams have been funded since 1993 totaling $714,565. Annual base funding from COAFES is used to fund these grants. (Total list of projects funded in Appendix).

Theodora and Arnold Johnson Undergraduate Research Fellowship. The endowment is designed to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to do research on a topic related to sustainable agriculture in conjunction with a COAFES faculty member. MISA staff (Helene Murray) solicit and evaluate applicants, and assist recipients in discussing research topics and connecting with faculty in their area of interest.

School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems provides the unique opportunity to bring in expertise for a period of time ranging from 2 weeks to 1 year. The Chair is funded by an endowment from the alumni of the School of Agriculture University of Minnesota (SAUM) and is managed by MISA. MISA staff manage the search process for Chairs, negotiate contracts and work plans with the chair, find office space and "hosts" the Chairs during their tenure at the University. MISA Board members have served on the Endowed Chair search committee. From 5/97 to 5/98, three Endowed Chairs, Pat Henderson, Carmen Fernholz and Bob von Bernuth, focused on "the current socioeconomic issues related to livestock expansion and the structure of agriculture." From 7/99 to 5/19/00, Karen Lehman and Julie Ristau's focused their research on "A Sustainable Food System in Southeast Minnesota: Linking the Land-grant University and Communities through the Southeast Regional Partnership to Maximize Opportunities and Address Challenges in an Age of Globalization". Cornelia and Jan Flora (7/1/99 to 6/30/00) studied the "Intersection between Agriculture and Community Sustainability." Jim Van Der Pol (1/99 to 1/00) examined alternative swine systems.

B3. How are the activities designed to reach these objectives monitored and reported?

  • Staff is required to assess and report monthly on activities related to each major program initiative of MISA by filling out an activity matrix (see samples in Appendix).Each program initiative directly relates to one of our stated objectives. This matrix is distributed to the MISA Board of Directors. The Board monitors how well we are meeting our stated objectives, and helps to identify new initiatives. The Board consists of both University faculty and community members, insuring that we are achieving our goal of meeting the sustainable agriculture needs of the University community as well as the wider community.
  • The Board of Directors meets monthly, alternating between all day, in-person meetings and short conference calls. The Board receives a monthly packet containing minutes from the previous meeting, financial statements and that month's activity matrix.
  • The Board holds an annual retreat, typically in January or March, to review progress and set the direction for future activities and actions.
  • In accordance with MISA by-laws, a five-year review was conducted in 1997. An internal review committee designed a review that included a mailed survey, interviews conducted by an independent consultant, and review by an external panel. The external panel consisted of: Jerry DeWitt, chair, Iowa State University; Margaret Smith, Iowa State University Extension Service; Marvin Johnson, retired farmer; Mary Hanks, Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Tracy Beckman, Minnesota State Senate; Marilyn DeLong, COAFES Administration; Conrad J. Weiser, Oregon State University. A copy of the agenda for the panel is included in the appendix. After the review, in accordance with the by-laws, the MISA Board and Joint Seminar approved the continuation of MISA and consequently updated the bylaws.

B4. How is impact of these activities on the intended clientele measured, and how does this influence program development?

We use a variety of approaches:

  • The comprehensive five-year review completed in Spring 1997, including the external review panel, the survey of individuals with whom MISA had interacted, and theindividual in-depth interviews were conducted to measure impact of programs on the intended clientele. These last two activities were conducted by an independent consultant to avoid bias (M.A. Casey). A copy of the report of these activities can be found in the Five-Year Review Binder.
  • The MISA Board of Directors meets monthly to monitor activities and to provide staff with input. With this regular input we are able to quickly respond to and develop program initiatives to meet new concerns.
  • The annual Board retreat is a major time for the Board to set direction for program development for the future. Discussions at Board retreats have led to major initiatives-not all of which are now directly associated with MISA, but for which MISA laid the groundwork: the Sustainable Agriculture Minor; the Regional Partnerships; the Enhanced Landscape, Human and Animal Health initiative; the Alternative Swine Systems Program; the Farmer Summit.
  • A log is kept of all questions and replies submitted to MISA via the web site. This helps us to respond to feedback from farmers, students, faculty and citizens. We use information requests to develop informational materials, and to identify gaps in research. We also use it to update the MISA web site and to add to our searchable data base.
  • We track use of the web site. Between March 27, 1999 and March 20, 2000 the MISA web site log shows just under 625,000 "hits" from just under 25,000 distinct servers. That is an average of 1,739 visits per day.
  • In addition, for this review we attempted to assess MISA's impact via an e-mail request for positive impact statements sent out May 7, 2000. The request and complete responses are included in the appendix.

B5. Provide examples of specific positive economic and/or social impacts on citizens of Minnesota that have resulted from the work of the Center.

Specific Programs (accompanied by specific impact statements from clientele groups):

The Information Exchange program of MISA serves as a clearinghouse for sustainable agriculture information, through both our web site and publications. This generates goodwill for the University among our clientele. For example, we serve many students who are looking for information, farmers engaged in alternative enterprises, and urban residents with minimal agricultural connections with information that they have difficulty finding:

"I am an organic vegetable grower in south central Minnesota, (Blue Earth County) and I sell at the Mankato Farmer's Market. It has been helpful for me to access MISA on the internet when I need help in finding Minnesota suppliers for things such as organic fertilizer, cover crop seeds, and irrigation supplies. I also occasionally look at the MISA calendar for learning events, such as field days and workshops.."
-Jean Lovett, Amboy, MN

"Here's an example of MISA helping in a small but important way. Last summer our sustainable agriculture group had a tour of an organic blueberry farm. The tour got posted on the MISA website. As a result of this posting, folks at the Staples center, who were doing a project on blueberries, including organic production, became aware of this grower and were able to make contact. This is the kind of link that is very hard to make without a centralized, state-wide resource for Sustainable Agriculture".
-Paul Conklin, Lake Itasca, MN

The development of educational materials by teams benefits not only the farmers who will one day use the publications, but the participants on the development project team as well.

"I was very excited to be able to take part in the MISA business plan manual project this winter (Rob King and Debra Elias-Morse)...I was extremely interested in what they had to offer-the creation of a business plan for our farm to make changes towards organic certification. With their guidance, I made up a pretty good plan, including lots of things I would not have even considered...Being part of this program also gave me access to various departments within the University, ag econ, marketing, etc. I also got to work with other sustainable farmers from Minnesota and get to know them better..."
-Nancy Aspelund, St. James, MN

"...My work on MISA sponsored projects on farm business planning and collaborative marketing has extended over the past three or four years. These have been typical MISA projects, with lots of involvement from stakeholders from the beginning. This greatly increases the quality and usefulness of the end-product. For example, my recent Extension publication titled "Collaborative Marketing: A Roadmap and Resource Guide for Farmers" (co-authored with Gigi DiGiacomo) is already in demand by producer groups and resource providers around the state. We also received a request from Kansas State University to include this publication in materials they were preparing for meetings with farmers considering involvement in new collaborative marketing ventures. Finally, in connection with my work on these projects, members of the MISA staff have always been helpful in providing support that makes it easier to get the work done..."
-Robert P. King, Professor, Department of Applied Economics

"An Educational Materials grant supported the development of a series of Soil Management booklets that were recently published by the Extension Service. The grant and MISA's guidance were instrumental in generating cooperation among farmers, Extension Educators, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and soil scientists. The result was a unique publication that addresses the interaction of multiple soil management issues, technologies, and practices.
This publication was not written for a small, specialized group of farmers. It meets a general need for comprehensive basic soils information. Yet this integrated and interdisciplinary approach to developing and presenting soil information would not have been possible without the support of MISA. They also helped leverage significant support for the project from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
Specialization is necessary for high-quality, reductionistic research, but interdisciplinary institutions such as MISA are necessary to clarify research needs, and to develop useful research applications such as the Soil Management series".
-Ann M. Lewandowski, NRCS Soil Quality Institute, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

"Thanks to the funding of the Hogs Your Way Project by MISA, we were able to assemble for the first time in Minnesota a team of practitioners, extension educators, marketing experts and others to look at the practices and potential of 'conventional' and alternative hog production and marketing for state producers. From this project has come not only a presentation slide set and workbook, but the team has continued its work ad hoc, and members spearheaded the development of the Alternative Swine Task Force and the alternative systems research at the Morris campus. Through this leading edge work, we now have several state producers exporting alternatively produced, value added pork to high end markets across the country through the Nieman Ranch/Willis Pork label. This is giving state producers better return on their production as well as benefitting the environment through the use of low-impact production systems".
-Prescott H. Bergh, Outreach Coordinator, Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Farmer Summit developed a policy platform to concentrate more on long-term alternatives to support farmers in gaining economic and political power, improve labor conditions for farm workers, and to offer consumers choice in the marketplace. (See Appendix for a copy of the position paper and activities of the Farmer Summit group).

Alternative Swine Systems Program serves many producers and rural citizens who are interested in seeking ways to raise swine using alternative systems - i.e., those not relying on confinement systems, with little or no use of hormones and antibiotics. The program has worked in conjunction with faculty and staff at the West Central Research and Outreach Center and within the Animal Science Department to establish alternative facilities for research, demonstration and educational activities:

"...I feel MISA has been very instrumental in getting the Alternative Swine Task Force into operation and assisting with setting up of a deep-bedded swine system at the U of M in Morris. This program would not have materialized without MISA and Don Wyse . Since we produce pigs from farrow to market in totally deep bedding and pasture, we fully realize and appreciate the support and philosophy recognition which MISA gives with this new venture...Without these types of programs, I feel that the U of M would be failing to maintain support of our smaller family farms".
-Dwight Ault, farmer, Austin MN

"MISA's presence at the University emboldened some of us who were dissatisfied with the University's approach to swine research to go to the legislature and ask for funding for facilities and programs. As a result, the Alternative Swine Task Force was established....MISA....encouraged some of the animal science faculty to take us seriously right from the start, which to their credit, they did.
The results for the University and the people and farmers of this state so far are: A hoops building project nearly complete at Morris, along with interest from across the University in using it for research. A pasture farrowing and deep straw farrowing system soon to follow. A scientist position is being advertised for and the program in research is starting.
Two major grants are being applied for which if funded will result in research work across five to seven University departments. Another major University funder is in conversation with University researchers about a new and ongoing commitment. And animal science, as well as the University as a whole, is poised ...to be in the forefront of changes in the hog markets as well as rural communities and economies.
All this was sparked by MISA. A wonderful return on investment, in my view."
-Jim Van Der Pol, farmer, Chippewa County

The Sustainable Agriculture Minor is a widely respected program. The WUSA seminars and internship program have given graduate students exceptional opportunities and experiences:

"As a graduate student in the Forest Resources Department, I have found MISA's support..crucial to my education and performance. As an intern with the Land Stewardship Project I was supported through MISA's Graduate Internship Program. During my internship I worked with the Chippewa Stewardship Whole Farm Planning and Monitoring Team to implement farm monitoring of ecosystem function and quality of life with team members and their families. This experience gave me a strong foundation in farm family planning and monitoring, and interdisciplinary teamwork. Skills which I am currently utilizing in Paraguay as a part of an Internship with SEPA, Ecoforestry Services for Farmers. An internship that was funded by the MacArthur International Program. My work with both of these organizations has furthered their goal of promoting sustainable rural communities. I am thankful that MISA has helped me develop my skills which in turn has allowed me to serve rural communities, both in Minnesota and abroad..."
-Amy Bacigalupo, Graduate Student, Department of Forest Resources

"Because of the grant award I received from MISA, I was able to conduct one month of intensive research in the Ecuadorian Amazon studying sustainable agriculture techniques used by the Quichua people. Since my internship, I have given presentations, documented my work, published an article and made lasting relationships with researchers and tribes people in South America...I cannot say enough good things about my experience which was made possible by the encouragement and funds I received from MISA".
-Stephanie Lundeen, former student

Regional Partnerships have created great excitement in the state. Many have already identified research priorities. A total of 52 research and/or education projects pertaining to regional sustainability have been funded through the regionally-based Partnership Boards. Total funding allocated and committed to these projects since 1998 is approximately $1,000,000:

"From my position in the Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems, I have spent over nine months seeing first-hand the impact that MISA has had in Minnesota's rural communities. MISA played a key role in developing the concept and in securing support from the Minnesota Legislature for the Regional Agricultural and Natural Resources Sustainable Development Partnerships. Without MISA, these partnerships in five regions of the state would not have come into being. These impressive collaborations among University faculty, staff and students, and citizens from the regions, have provided over $1,000,000 to support forty-nine regionally-based programs addressing sustainable development issues. They've begun to develop an educational model that blurs the boundary between University and community and creates the opportunity for questions of sustainability to be at the center of applied University research. MISA is a touchstone for this work, providing an important point of entry to the University for people unfamiliar with the University system".
-Karen Lehman, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems

"In 1999, MISA was central to organizing the Experiment in Rural Cooperation's task force initiative on sustainable financing for rural Minnesota (SFRM). The citizen leaders and farmers who direct the Experiment are profoundly concerned with the overuse of credit and debt to finance agricultural enterprises and farming in rural Minnesota. In the absence of accessible sources of patient, long-term equity capital, it is naive to believe that rural enterprise can succeed in sustainable fashion. The task force, now in its second year of operation was initially staffed by MISA and MISA leadership played a pivotal role in recruiting the multi-disciplinary faculty team-representing a half-dozen University department or schools, including the Law School and the Carlson School of Management. The myriad dimensions of rural equity financing demand a multi-disciplinary approach that creates or invents new approaches; this requires cutting across traditional disciplines and harmoniously merging the short-term interests of citizen leaders reacting to a rural crisis and the long-term scholarship interests of a large public university. It was MISA that provided the infrastructure to launch this critical project...on short notice in the face of some daunting challenges".
-Dick Broeker, Ph.D., Executive Director, Experiment in Rural Cooperation

"The Root River Market Coop in Houston, MN had and has the support of the Experiment in Rural Cooperation. Thanks in large part to the Experiment, the market has become involved with a number of other experiment projects that are coming together to form what will be a sustainable regional food system..our so far dramatic success in organizing memberships (350 families in a town of ..1100..). The market will buy as much food as possible from an already established community of organic farmers aware of the need for meat, fruit and vegetables uncontaminated by noxious chemicals used in production of so many commercial foods...MISA plays a vital role in the growth of support for strategies that will persuade many people to take proper care of their children, their communities and their environment, and ultimately the planet".
-Peter Denzer, Houston, MN

Educational Research teams funded by MISA have led to numerous projects that have had direct impact on students, citizens and farmers:

"MISA has been a lot of help to us as we've tried to put together a sound economical, biological, and social system that fits our needs in today's competetive agriculture environment. Two projects that have had a big impact on us have been the Social, Biological and Economic Monitoring Project and The Dairy Team Project. We made quite a few changes in our farming system from the things learned on those projects. The multiple disciplines make-up of those research teams wouldn't have happened without MISA. Because of our involvement in those two projects we've been able to move much more quickly to the sustainable system we're trying to achieve. Because of the monitoring Project we have an ongoing research relationship with several of the professors at the University. We're now involved in starting a No Hormones, No Antibiotics, Milk Coop and we are receiving funding from MISA for marketing and educational information, and to document this formation process for other small groups to use. We've used MISA many times to link up to people at the University that can help us find the answers that we need, and if the answers aren't there, to encourage someone to start looking for them".
-Dan and Muriel French, dairy farmers, Dodge Center, MN

"..as a result of MISA's support and guidance,I was able to spend a year as an intern [Team Building to Promote Visioning, Whole Farm Planning and Alternative Economic Uses of Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the Chippewa River Basin Grant] working in Western Minnesota with the Land Stewardship Project. Working in the Chippewa River Watershed, I participated in the formation of two citizen/agency partnerships. These partnerships were not easy to form and my experience there taught me much about conflict resolution, consensus building and the importance of citizen participation. As a student I feel that this experience was critical to my education. Working with diverse groups and building consensus among stakeholders has given me practical experience in grappling with the ethics of organization, research and extension. This has positively effected my professional career. Without MISA's support I would not have been able to participate in this internship".
-Paul Wymar, Graduate student, Department of Forest Resources

SARE Grants. Minnesota has been highly successful in obtaining SARE grants. This success is due in part to the assistance MISA staff have provided by discussing grant ideas, and actual grant writing. Several successful proposals were developed from MISA funded education and research programs:

"...Helene Murray was always highly effective in helping a variety of folks get projects accomplished. While I served on the SFA Board for the Central Chapter, she helped us develop ideas that were funded through a SARE grant, and then helped us implement the grant and evaluate, simply through some technical support. This support resulted in over $100,000 in Federal grant support coming to Minnesota, which could have gone to any other state in the region..."
-Carol Ekarius, former Minnesota farmer

Other Survey Results:
All positive impact statements received in response to our e-mail request are included in the appendix. A few excerpts representing our various clientele groups and demonstrating how we have met our stated objectives follow:


"..My husband and I just recently purchased some farmland. As small farmers, we realize that if we are to make it, we cannot farm with conventional methods and make a living. We must look to alternative farming methods. During the past 5 years, MISA has been a very valuable source of information to us as develop our farm plan. We have developed a network of supporters and have attended many informational seminars and classes, which have helped us to make informative decisions. If that information had not been available to us, I do not believe we would have decided to farm...MISA played an enormous part in our research and I can only hope that it will be around to help us accomplish our dreams..."
-Ray and Brenda Postels, Maple Grove, MN

"...for a decade my husband and I farmed in Minnesota and were actively involved with sustainable agriculture...during that time I had many positive interactions that blossomed thanks to MISA, including a short stint serving on the MISA Board. One thing that has been disappointing to me in my return to Colorado is that CSU has no comparable program for farmers...

  1. We were able to call on Roger Moon for information on alternative control strategies for flies in a dairy operation. Roger's information was common sense, but valuable, and later found its way into a book I wrote that came out last fall...
  2. We direct marketed most of our meat from the farm having gone through the process of getting USDA inspection and label approval. One day I received a phone call from Debra Elias [former Info Exchange Associate Program Director], and she said that a pig farmer who lived near us had contacted the Information Exchange for info about marketing pork, because the State Dept of Ag said they couldn't do it from their farm. Debra said she knew we were doing it, and would we mind if she gave our number out so the other farmer could contact us. We said no problem, and two months later they were legally selling pork from the farm..."

-Carol Ekarius, former Minnesota farmer


"I chose to become a graduate student in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics here at the University of Minnesota because of the graduate minor in sustainable agriculture offered through MISA. During my time here I have been very involved with the weekly discussion group, WUSA (What's Up in Sustainable Agriculture), including leading the group for a semester while we investigated the agricultural systems of NW MN and the scab crisis. This resulted in my first publication, which was part of a chapter co-authored with another sustainable agriculture graduate student...Through the programs provided by MISA I have been able to get a more rounded education on problems in world agriculture. The attention MISA pays to issues of community health, power and ecological viability in relations to our farming systems has improved my understanding of risks and benefits of the current agricultural economy and of future or alternative pathways..."
-Kristin Mercer, Graduate Student, Agronomy and Plant Genetics

"As a graduate student in the Conservation Biology program...since 1996..my research interests have focused on the intersection of watershed and stream science and management...During the course of my studies I have seen or been part of a number of positive, grassroots-based, watershed scale, sustainable agriculture initiatives fostered and developed in partnership with MISA, including an on-farm interdisciplinary biological monitoring team. These have played an important role, not the least, in helping me and other graduate students with who I've worked develop a more sophisticated understanding of the issues and challenges involved in developing adequate responses to the social, ecological, and economic problems of the coming century..."
-Kristen L. Blann, graduate student, Conservation Biology

"I am writing to describe the unique and valuable benefits that my research has gained as a result of my participation in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture...although the faculty in our HST program at Minnesota are extremely supportive of my dissertation topic area....it has been through MISA, particularly WUSA, the graduate student group, that I have found a diverse community of agricultural researchers with whom I can discuss the agricultural aspects of my dissertation...nowhere else in the University does there exist a group of researchers of all kinds who focus their attention on agriculture in the broadest sense..."
-Karin Matchet, Doctoral candidate, Program of History of Science and Technology

"MISA's programs have been very impactful in my personal and professional life for a number of years. I first became involved with MISA in 1997 when it co-sponsored a sustainable ag study trip to Cuba. This led to 2 more trips to Cuba and thesis research in that nation's conversion to sustainable ag. Interestingly, the president of Cuba's organic association was more familiar with the contents of MISA's website than I was!...I also participated in an internship sponsored by MISA and the graduate minor program. Through my position as an organic grain buyer for Northland Organic Foods Corp., I now contract with the organic farmer that I featured in my internship project..."
-Carolyn Lane, Northland Organic Foods


"MISA was instrumental in designing and implementing the April 12 "New Language of Farm Policy" symposium. The symposium was a great success and would not have happened without MISA support...our department offered a fellowship to a highly-recruited graduate student. He was on the fence about accepting after a departmental visit, but when he learned of the sustainable ag minor program he chose UM over many other offers. He is looking forward to orienting much of his program toward issues relating to sustainable agriculture".
-Richard Levins, Professor and Extension Agricultural Economist, Agricultural and Applied Economics

"...After participating in their [Western Land Stewardship] 2000 Annual Meeting and working with Carmen Fernholz and Don Wyse, did I see the way citizens make the difference and truly internalized what "Landgrant Mission U of M" means.
It isn't big vs small, organics vs modern farming, but it is people sitting down together to put their very best forward as citizens to tackle common issues and work for solutions that fit our land, water and air resources here in west central MN...Thanks to MISA and its dedicated board members and staff, more and more citizens are realizing the impact they can have in determining their own future. I know it hit me square in the head these past two years".
-Mary Ann Scharf, University of MN Extension, Steven County

"I have worked with several area farmers who have tried several different ventures and methods. Much of this would not be happening without MISA and other similar institutions. While most of these ideas and ventures are not yet mainstream, they are providing new knowledge and skills, some of which will be vital in the future to developing a new viable product, crop, or venture".
-Wayne Hansen, Extension Educator, Redwood County

"I have been involved with ...MISA...since its inception...MISA is based on a partnership between the University and citizens of Minnesota who are interested in sustainable agriculture. This partnership has helped foster continuing, meaningful interactions among people from these two communities. Joint Seminar meetings over the years have given me a chance to be exposed to new ideas and issues in a setting that also offered opportunities to get to know farmers and community leaders and other faculty members in the College. This has helped me to identify new directions for my work and has made it easier to establish working relationships with colleagues and with stakeholders outside the University.
I have advised several graduate students whose degree programs included a minor in Sustainable Agricultural Systems. I think one of the most valuable contributions of the minor is that it gives students an opportunity to broaden their understanding of agriculture. For students in Applied Economics, this means getting exposure to concepts and methods from sciences related to production agriculture. The minor has also made it easier for students in other graduate programs to get some exposure to economics. Finally, the core courses in the minor have been an excellent vehicle for graduate students to work in multidisciplinary teams focusing on "real world" problems. This helps them develop skills that will be invaluable in their professional careers..."
-Robert P. King, E. Fred Koller Professor of Agricultural Management Information Systems, Department of Applied Economics


"I am an attorney with the Minnesota Family Farm Law Project in Mankato. Along with others on our staff, I have looked to MISA for leadership in knowing how to conduct our legal representation of farmers. We have also considered applying to MISA for funding of certain projects that we me consider..."
-Peter Gustafson, Attorney at Law, Ph.D

B6. What added value does the Center bring that could not be done within existing College infrastructure and resources?

Ease of access to the University. MISA is structured to enhance the link between COAFES, farmers, students, Extension Educators, and other citizens. For a citizen seeking information, approaching the University can be overwhelming-MISA provides an entrance and directions to the resources of the University.

"I am writing to confirm the impact of relationship and information our farm has experienced as a result of the work of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. Here at Moonstone Farm in Chippewa County we have had the good fortune to benefit from the outreach efforts of a variety of MISA programs, which include the Monitoring Project and the Chippewa Whole Farm Planning Team, and the sustainable ag graduate minor program (which has linked us with the work of some wonderful graduate students).
MISA feels like our home at the University. In an era when so much research energy and expense are allocted to the kinds of farming systems which are not in keeping with our own farm's goals, MISA and its dedicated and inspirational staff have always had an open door. Through this door much dialogue has been able to take place in the service of a sound agricultural economy, environmental integrity and prosperity. MISA also serves as the portal through which we have felt we could best access other pertinent disciplines within the College of Agriculture, and, indeed the rest of the University. This is a dynamic and strategic link for those of us on the frontier..."
-Richard Handeen and Audrey Arner, farmers, Montevideo, MN

Quick response to concerns. As a Center, we are able to quickly develop new program initiatives to address concerns. This is not always possible in the traditional college departmental infrastructure. Our flexibility allows us to approach research needs from a "bottom-up" model (ideas or concerns generated by producers) rather than a more traditional "top-down" approach (problems identified by researchers).

Team-building grants offer a unique opportunity to reward faculty for building interdisciplinary teams which include farmers, students, and other professionals to address sustainable agriculture issues.

New interactions, and consequently, a broader base of support for the University from the community. MISA provides an opportunity for faculty, students and staff to interact with individuals and groups that, prior to the existence of MISA, believed that the University of Minnesota was not interested in working on sustainable agriculture issues. The changes in cooperation, attitudes and trust have taken years to accomplish, but have been dramatic. MISA Board Members and Joint Seminar Members have actively supported COAFES legislative requests for the past several years.

"..I was extremely impressed by the high level of mutual respect between [primarily organic and transitional organic] farmers and the University, respect that is uncommon in other states. In other states where I have worked I would hesitate to let small and alternative farmers know that I was university-educated, or that I promoted university recommendations, because many of them associate their state university only with promotion of technologies for larger industrial-scale farms..I think the difference here is largely due to the work of MISA..."
-Lois Braun, Agricultural Consultant, St. Paul MN

Partnerships. Centers are designed to encourage and enhance interdisciplinary research and outreach activities. MISA does that through a structured partnership between the University and several community groups through open dialogue and by shared decision-making power, which results in trust and support from the community. All of our programs involve partnership between faculty, students, farmers, and citizens to the mutual benefit of all. An easily identifiable structure that demonstrates this is the structure of the MISA Board of Directors. The University appoints six of the fifteen Board members. Four of the six may be University representatives, and the remaining two must be from outside of the University. The Sustainers' Coalition nominates the remaining nine representatives. Seven of the total fifteen positions must be held by farmers. The existing departments have excellent advisory committees but the Board of Directors model used by MISA is unique. This was a feature highlighted by the external review team in their letter to Dean Mike Martin, January 1997:

"...MISA Board members, supporters, and staff have demonstrated the ability to successfully work in this environment, adapting to changing needs and challenges. MISA has adopted an encompassing, holistic view and definition of a sustainable agriculture embracing production, environment and community.
The MISA Board members are unquestionably talented individuals who are respected by their peers. By the unique structure of the Board, they represent their individual views and good ideas, and not officially any one organization. This is perceived to be an important operational principle for MISA and has helped ensure its success. Future partnerships and models may well forge structure and representation after this model. The Joint Seminar and Sustainers' Coalition, which is composed of organizational representatives, make it possible for the MISA Board to be organizationally independent and to function constructively. This structure of balance and creative tension appears to be appropriate, representative, and productive for sustainable agriculture in Minnesota.
In fact, MISA represents a working model where no one entity or organization holds control, but where power and opportunity are shared, and where good ideas and persuasion are the negotiable currency for the common good. This spirit of the model should be maintained; it is working".

This shared power can cause frustration-it implies that compromise is necessary for the model to work. The external review committee also recognized this in their letter:

"...The review team had the fortune of witnessing the numerous examples of successes expressed energetically by MISA supporters sometimes interwoven against a backdrop of high unmet expectations and frustrations over the last five years. The review team encourages all MISA supporters to recognize that the most significant accomplishments brought forth by MISA may well be the incremental and widespread shifts in attitudes, priorities, partnerships, and processes created and adopted during the last five years by not only those directly, but also those indirectly associated with or influenced by MISA. These changes impact not only the academic community, but the organizations and individuals external to the University as well. MISA supporters should consider means of recognizing and celebrating both the tangible and intangible successes such as both publications and partnerships, legislative funding and attitudinal shifts, and other accomplishments regardless of magnitude".

B7. Should this Center be expanded, reduced, phased out or stay the same, and why?

There is still much to do to promote sustainable agricultural practices in the community as well as within the University. The sustainable agriculture community is growing rapidly. MISA should be maintained at the current base funding level to allow MISA to continue to serve our clinetele groups, and to continue to initiate research and education planning teams. Once programs are successfully established, we will work with the Dean's Office to seek further funding to build those projects from public and private funding sources. This is the same approach that was used to develop the Alternative Swine System Program, and the Regional Partnerships. After two years of exploration and in-depth examination of issues surrounding landscape issues and agriculture, the Enhanced Landscape, Food System, Human and Animal Health Initiative was launched beginning with the April 28, 2000 Symposium. We envision this team-building project within the University community as a major program thrust in the future.

Additionally, the student base that MISA supports through the Minor in Sustainable Agriculture Systems is growing. The Director of Graduate Studies for the Applied Plant Sciences Program tells us that two major areas of emphasis seem to be attracting some of the best graduate students: (1) genomics and (2) sustainable agriculture. MISA staff play a vital role in making this unique minor be such a positive experience for many students, as evidenced by the many positive impact statements received in response to our request.

B8. What should the role of the Center be within our College in the future?

MISA must continue to do what it has done so well in the last eight years (see answer to B6)...to provide easy access, identify concerns and needs in sustainable agriculture and initiate partnerships and programs to address those concerns, and provide the link between the sustainable agriculture community and COAFES and other appropriate University groups. Community-University partnerships offer an incredible opportunity to work together on complex issues. MISA should continue to provide the access to university resources for the sustainable agriculture community, a community which is clearly increasing in size and scope.

Our discussions must increase in size and scope as well. The framework is now in place to broaden the discussion about sustainable agriculture and view it as an even more complex, multifunctional system, with implications for the environment, animal and human health and social well-being. Discussions at this level are taking place throughout the state within the Regional Partnerships. The Landscape, Human and Animal Health Initiative has as its goal the building of teams of researchers from diverse areas within the University, which can then address newly identified issues and broad research agendas. We see MISA as having a critical role in bringing the issues identified by the Regional Partnerships together with research teams from the University.

We have emphasized repeatedly that MISA is an entrance to the University-but it is also a place where two very different groups come together, a border between a community system and university system-different cultures, different expectations, different ways of doing and seeing. Ecologists tell us that the greatest diversity in a natural system is at the borders. That diversity breeds tension, a type of chaos at times--yet we are learning that it is by maintaining this diversity that a system is resilient.

B9. What efforts have been made to inform the COAFES community about the work of the Center?

  • We recruit Executive Board members and Joint Seminar members from a variety of departments.
  • We solicit faculty involvement with MISA projects and publications.
  • The Sustainable Agriculture minor faculty meet as needed.
  • Approximately 90 articles describing MISA activities have been presented in the Sustainable Agriculture newsletter from July 1993 through April 2000. This newsletter is a joint MISA/Extension publication and copies are distributed to all COAFES departments, Extension county offices, and a mailing list of about 2,200 each month. Additionally, an electronic version is distributed each month to Extension's press list and posted on the MISA web site.
  • The MISA web site provides information in a format easily accessible to the COAFES community. All of our publications are available electronically, as well as information about the organization and a calendar of sustainable agriculture events.
  • Between 1993 and April 2000, a total of 107 events(seminars, workshops, presentations, etc) have been held on the Saint Paul campus (see Appendix). The majority of events have been co-sponsored by another COAFES partner. Thirteen hundred people attended the 41 events for which attendance was recorded.
  • The MISA office posts event notices and other pertinent information to the "Everyone in COAFES" listserv on a regular basis.
  • MISA held an open forum to hear from the External Review Panel regarding their preliminary findings of the five-year review of MISA.

B10. What has been done to engage College personnel in the work of the Center? Describe how successful the Center has been in this attempt?

  • 113 faculty members are engaged in MISA endeavors in some capacity. (See Appendix, "Faculty and P&A members affiliated with MISA endeavors" for a comprehensive list of faculty who interact with MISA, and in what capacity).
  • Our Executive Board has faculty as members, hence we are provided monthly with feedback from faculty representatives. The Joint Seminar, which includes a faculty group, meets about three times per year.
  • The development of the Sustainable Ag minor helped to involve many faculty in the work of the Center through teaching activities, advising, or participating in weekly WUSA seminars.
  • Grant Funding: In 1993, MISA began a competitive grants program designed to develop interdisciplinary research and education teams. Initially, teams were provided with planning grants to help them begin to work together and to develop their ideas into a full proposal. MISA funded five team-building planning grants in 1993. Three of those teams were then funded to carry out the work described in their proposals over the next two to three years. A copy of the proposals and calls for proposals is in the Five-Year Review binder. In 1996, five team planning grants were funded, three received continuation funds. In 1999, an additional five team planning grants were awarded, with two receiving continuation funds. (A list of all proposals and major participants are provided in the Appendix. Copies of the full proposals are available from the MISA office).
  • Development of Educational Materials and Planning of New Initiatives:Many faculty members have participated in the development of new educational materials through the Information Exchange. In addition, faculty have participated in several symposia co-sponsored by MISA. MISA has sucessfully engaged 113 faculty members in various capacities.
  • The Enhanced Landscape, Human and Animal Health Initiative is a far-reaching plan to involve faculty from diverse areas in discussions about sustainable development. MISA's goal is to facilitate discussions within the University coincident with the discussions taking place outside the University, in the Regional Partnerships.

B11. List significant cross-departmental or collegiate inter-disciplinary achievements that have occurred since July 1, 1997.

  • Sustainable Farming Systems Team: A 1997-99 Collaboration with soil scientists from the Department of Soil, Water and Climate, the Southern and West Central Research and Outreach Centers at Lamberton and Morris, and Extension, and non-profit organizations resulted in significant funding from LCMR for research on the impacts of alternative farming systems on soil and water quality. Additionally, work with the team resulted in an important interaction with the Center for Farm Financial Management ($560,000). In 1999-2001, we received continuation funding for the LCMR funded team ($350,000) resulting in additional opportunity for interdisciplinary work.
  • The Alternative Swine Systems Program has provided an opportunity for new partnerships between farmers and faculty and staff in the Animal Science Department, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department, College of Veterinary Medicine, West Central Research and Outreach Centers and MISA. The first three people in the Endowed Chair (Fernholz, Henderson and VonBernuth) and one just finishing his term in the Chair (Van Der Pol) concentrated their efforts on alternative swine systems.
  • Faculty serve on the Boards of the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Three of the five regions are well-established and the two new regions are in the beginning stages of development. This program is a partnership between citizens, COAFES, the College of Natural Resources, Extension, MISA and the Minnesota Experiment Station.
  • New publications developed by the Information Exchange have been written by project teams consisting of farmers, community groups and COAFES faculty from the departments of: Applied Economics; Soil, Water and Climate; Agronomy and Plant Genetics; Animal Science; and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. These publications, produced jointly with the University ofMinnesota Extension Service, are available through the Extension Distribution Center (see Appendix for copies and a listing of upcoming publications).
  • The Symposium "Enhanced Landscape, Food Systems, Human and Animal Health", held on April 28, 2000, began by identifying short- and long-term strategies which support constructive approaches to multifunctional agricultural systems. This symposium was planned and co-sponsored in partnership with Visions for Change, Water Resources Center, Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management, Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products, and the Center for Spirituality and Healing. The forum highlighted activities in these interrelated yet diverse topic areas, emphasizing how they relate to the entire food system. Participants identified current research and educational programs related to this important issue. We anticipate a series of events and activities will be pursued as a result of this important first meeting.
  • Graduate Faculty for the Graduate Minor in Sustainable Agriculture come from thirteen departments in the University.

B12. Does the Center provide funding or other resources for other units in the College or University? Explain.

Yes, we have done so primarily through a competitive grants process. Grants are used to fund research to address problems, as well as to support diverse team building. We have had three granting cycles. (See 10B for details). Grants are evaluated by MISA's Program Committee, which consists of Board members and faculty members not on the MISA Board. As an example, in the last cycle, 1999, MISA received 26 proposals requesting over $550,000. Three proposals and two planning grants were funded:

  1. Searching for Sustainable Weed Management:Evaluation of Types of Early Season Mechanical Cultivation and Flame Weeding for Effect on Weed Control, Soil Quality, and Profitability in Organic Corn Production. $15,940 Project Coordinators: Elizabeth Dyck and Paul Porter, Southwest Experiment Station.
  2. Assessing the Nutritional Impact of Sustainable Food Systems: Urban and Rural Linkages. $38,275. Project Coordinators: Cherry Smith, Food Science and Nutrition; Jan O'Donnell, Minnesota Food Association.
  3. Farm Sustainability and Survivability in Minnesota's Red River Valley: Lessons from Adaptive Production and Business Management Strategies of Farmers. $24,995 Project Coordinator: Glenn Pederson, Applied Economics
  4. Pastureland: Marketing Antibiotics and Hormone Free Grass Based Milk Products (Planning Grant) up to $10,000, Project Coordinator: Dan French, chairman, PastureLand Coop
  5. Medicinal Herbs: Creating a Network of Growers and Herbalist Health Care Providers (Planning Grant) up to $10,000, Project Coordinator: Craig Hassel, Extension Nutritionist, Food Science and Nutrition,

B13. If the Center is receiving COAFES financial support, what steps are being taken to move toward financial self-sufficiency or sustainability?

MISA relies on the base funding from COAFES to help facilitate a wide array of projects. MISA has a history of successfully garnering funds to move sustainable agriculture ideas forward with a variety of partners both within and outside of the College. Rather than procuring funds to enlarge our own Center, we have helped to establish these initiatives as self-sufficient programs. Our Board of Directors has discussed several financial options to enhance the base funding from COAFES, but strongly believes that some base public funding is essential to keep the community-University partnership functional and to demonstrate University commitment to sustainable agriculture. The MISA Board and Joint Seminar members donate a tremendous amount of time and energy because of their commitment to work with the College on these issues. We are in the process of developing a plan to obtain public and private resources to support the new research and educational teams which will be developed through the Landscape, Human and Animal Health Initiative, in partnership with the Regional Partnerships.

B14. Please provide a historical record of the financial support for the Center over the past 5 years and projected funding needs for the next 3 years with respect to the questions in the table below:

Past five year budget (U fiscal year):

COAFES $95-9696-9797-9898-9999-2000
New money brought into the College/
University over the past 5 years? ($)

Grants written by staff: $1,111,160. Funds do not all remain in MISA budget, but are used to conduct research and develop educational materials (this sum does not include the $86,000 that went to partner organizations from the Kellogg Foundation):

  • a$350,000 Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources 1999-01. Sustainable Farming Systems - Continuation. H. Murray, Project Manager. Partners: MISA, Extension, MDA, SFA, LSP, The Minnesota Project. Note: $229,100 went into a Soils CUFS account managed by Deborah Allan and David Mulla to conduct soil and water quality research.
  • b$560,000 Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources 1997-99. Sustainable Farming Systems. H. Murray, Project Manager. Partners: MISA, Extension, MDA, SFA, LSP, The Minnesota Project. Note: $256,500 went into a Soils CUFS account managed by Deborah Allan and David Mulla to conduct soil and water quality research.
  • c$52,380 USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program. 1997-98 "Decision Cases for Sustainable Agriculture: Helene Murray and Tammy Dunrud, Co-principal investigators. A video training project for professional development." Worked with the Program for Decision Cases (Steve Simmons, Agronomy and Plant Genetics) on this project. The videos were made in conjunction with Extension, and are available through Extension's distribution center.
  • d$15,500 USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program. 1996. Quality of Life Research. Working with the North Central Regional Center on Rural Development.
  • e$98,000 W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Integrated Farming Systems project. 1997. Land Stewardship Project (LSP), Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA), and MISA. $12,000 directly to MISA, remaining $86,000 to other partner organizations.
  • f$108,905 USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program. 1996. Helene Murray, principal investigator. Funds designed to provide training in sustainable agriculture to Extension, NRCS, and related agency personnel in MN, WI, and IA.
  • g$11,375 From the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for work on CRP fact sheets and decision case training. Debra Elias was the author for these publications. 1996. Fact sheets are available through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Legislative funding:

  • hInformation Exchange - $490,000 to date (recurring, $200,000/biennium)
  • kRegional Partnerships - $3,600,000 to date (recurring: $2.4M/biennium)
  • lAlternative Swine Production - $125,000 (1997-one time appropriation)
  • mAlternative Swine Production - $155,000 (1998-one time appropriation)

Money managed by MISA - Endowments:

  • School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems Endowed Chair: (1.0 M Endowment ($86,000 '99-'00 revenue)
  • Johnson Endowment (undergraduate research award, managed by MISA): ($102,000 Endowment--approx. $6,000 available annually)

Major Current Sources of recurring funding (other than College)?
Information Exchange (as listed above).

Projected funding needs from College during next 3 years?200120022003

We respectfully request that every effort be made to continue COAFES base funding of MISA at $247,444/year. We believe that it is essential to continue the work that MISA is doing, and that staff could not maintain current programs if funds were cut. We emphasize that rather than enlarge MISA with outside funds, we have sought outside funding to establish our programs as independent programs, or as partnerships.

Supplemental Information Included with Review Document