The Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program was established in 1987 in response to concerns over the impact of conventional agricultural practices on farm profitability, health and the environment. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate and promote alternative practices which are energy efficient, environmentally sound, profitable and which enhance the self-sufficiency of Minnesota farmers.
" . . . committed to the economic, environmental and societal well-being of Minnesota farms."
Vision - Agriculture in Minnesota will be based on dynamic, flexible farming systems that are profitable, efficient, productive and founded on ethics of land stewardship and responsibility for the continuing vitality of local rural communities. Minnesotans will strive to understand and respect the complex interconnectedness of living systems, from soil to people, so as to protect and enhance all natural resources for future generations. Minnesota agriculture will sustain an abundance of food and other products as well as meaningful, self-directed employment that supports the quality of life desired by farmers and rural communities. Agriculture will foster diversity in all its forms of production, products, markets and cultures.
Mission - To work toward the goal of sustainability for Minnesota agriculture by designing and implementing programs that meet the identified needs and support the creativity of Minnesota farmers.
The Program provides funds for farmers, agricultural researchers, educators and non-profit groups to explore innovative and creative ways to enhance the sustainability of a wide range of farming systems. Grants of up to $25,000 are awarded on a competitive basis for up to three year demonstration projects. Projects have demonstrated management intensive grazing, diversified cropping systems, soil fertility and manure management, alternative weed management, low-capital beginning farmer strategies, marketing and specialty crop opportunities.
A $1 million revolving fund provides loans to farmers to support the transition to sustainable practices. Loans of up to $40,000 per farmer at a 3% interest rate enable farmers to purchase equipment or make other improvements to enhance profitability and the environment. Applications are accepted year round and are competitively reviewed by a loan review panel three to four times per year. Shared Savings Loan Application
The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program is concerned with developing and implementing state-wide strategies for the increased use of IPM on private and state managed lands. Integrated pest management is a component of ecosystem management. It incorporates the many aspects of plant health care/crop protection in ways that mitigate harmful environmental impacts. IPM is a balanced approach which recognizes that we can live with a certain amount of pest damage and still produce an acceptable product, be it a crop or an urban landscape.
Organic foods continue to be the fastest growing sector of the food industry both domestically and abroad. Wondering what it takes to convert and produce for this market? Contact our experienced program staff for technical assistance and advice on conversion to organic methods, certification and marketing of crops and livestock.
The Greenbook, annual summary of ESAP activities, grant project reports, and invited essays; Assessing The Soil System (PDF: 635 KB / 71 pages), a review of current soil quality literature; Conservation Funding Guide, on-line practice and payment information for over 50 conservation practices.
The program sponsors workshops and field days on diverse topics with farmer, agency, academic, non-profit and local partners. Field days offer a first hand look at successful, working, sustainable farms primarily in cooperation with grant recipients. Workshops and forums offer opportunities for information gathering and an exchange of ideas. Program staff are available as speakers, moderators or facilitators for meetings or other gatherings.
Mary Hanks, Ph.D., Director
Ag Marketing & Development Division
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), 625 Robert Street N, St. Paul, MN 55155-2538, email@example.com