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USDA Honors Three Farmers with Sustainable Agriculture Prize

Contact: Valerie Berton (301) 504-5230

Washington, D.C., October 21, 2004The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) today announced the winners of the 2004 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture, a biannual prize for producers who are not only profitable, but who also value the environment and their communities. Jean-Paul Courtens in Kinderhook, NY, Peter Kenagy in Albany, OR, and Ron Macher in Clark, MO, received their honors from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

“USDA is honored that SARE has recognized three producers who are so different, yet share common goals like diversifying their profit bases, carefully managing the soil and other natural resources, and contributing so meaningfully to their communities,” said Colien Hefferan, CSREES Administrator.

Courtens runs one of the largest community-supported agriculture farms in the country. He raises more than 50 organic vegetables and distributes them to residents through community-supported agriculture, an arrangement that allows people to buy “shares” in the farm in exchange for weekly deliveries of fresh produce.

Vegetable grower Peter Kenagy safeguards his land and the Willamette River through extensive stewardship measures. Kenagy raises wheat, snap beans, sweet corn, and strawberries on 325 tillable acres. To achieve his profitability and conservation goals, he installed conservation plantings such as walnut and cottonwood trees, cutting some for timber and retaining the rest in a buffer.

Diversified vegetable and livestock producer Ron Macher earns profits with his value-added meat, feed, and open-pollinated corn. A tireless marketer, he sells his diverse crops, from katahdin lamb to sausage to heirloom chicken to vegetables, through a variety of outlets. He also values outreach–he publishes Small Farm Today magazine and founded the National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference, the nation’s largest annual small farm show.

SARE Director Jill Auburn presented the $1,000 awards at SARE’s biannual sustainable agriculture conference. SARE’s judging panel also recommended that more than 30 producers be recognized as honorable mentions in the contest. For more information, search the list of featured farmers by name or by state at www.sare.org after Oct. 21, 2004.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program is administered by CSREES, USDA. CSREES is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief extramural research and education agency.