a1 Ph.D. Student and Research Assistant, Department of Geosciences-Geography Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5506;
a2 Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-4514.
Agricultural research and education significantly influence the direction of U.S. agriculture by improving the practices available to farmers and by decreasing uncertainties associated with adopting new farming practices. Because sustainable agriculture is management-intensive, access to information is particularly important in adopting and implementing sustainable farming practices. Given that relatively little funding is allocated to sustainable agriculture research by the federal government, successful dissemination of these research results is critical. This paper presents an analysis of the dissemination efforts of 42 researchers funded through the USDA's North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Results show that these SARE researchers purposefully consider the effectiveness of various dissemination methods in reaching targeted audiences and attempt to involve farmers in their dissemination efforts. Overall, researchers note that information dissemination is limited by farmer interest. Additional barriers exist, most notably insufficient resources and institutional biases. In the future, the ways in which information is compiled and made available must be improved, and responsibility for farmer outreach should be better coordinated.