NCAT NCAT ATTRA ATTRA
Home  > Breaking News

Breaking News



Permalink USDA Revises Grade Standards for Specialty Crops

USDA logoUSDA has announced revisions to grade standards for 46 fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other specialty crops. Grade standards are voluntary guidelines or specifications that an industry may request to provide growers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers with a uniform language describing the size, quality and condition of commodities in the marketplace. The rule revising the grade standards was published in the Federal Register. Comments on the revisions may be submitted to www.regulations.gov by November 2, 2015.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Organic Industry Plans Myth-Busting Month

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) and dozens of organic brands and industry thought leaders are uniting online September 1-30 for “Organic Myth-Busting Month,” an #OrganicFestival on social media aimed at addressing long-held misconceptions surrounding organic. The massive social media gathering--expected to reach millions of consumers across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn--will encourage individuals nationwide to help bust the myths and spread the facts by offering member prizes to people who engage by sharing myth-busting posts on their own channels. Each week in September will focus on a key area of misconception often spread about organic: labeling, health, value, production, and non-food organic products.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink National Organic Program Appoints Hydroponic and Aquaponic Task Force

USDA logoThe National Organic Program has appointed 16 members to a task force to explore hydroponic and aquaponic production practices and their alignment with USDA organic regulations. The task force will prepare a report for the National Organic Standards Board about the current state of technologies and practices for hydroponics and aquaponics, as well as how those practices do or do not align with the USDA organic regulations. The NOSB will utilize the report to determine the best path forward regarding recommendations on hydroponics and aquaponics production systems.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Livestock Grazing Home-Study Course Offered

Penn State Extension is offering a home-study course for livestock producers about how to make their livestock enterprises more profitable through pasture and grazing management. The six-week course begins October 14 and lessons are available through email and Internet delivery or through conventional mail. Topics include getting started with pastures, plants in the pasture, pasture management, pasture facilities, grazing management, and grazing economics. Each lesson has information about the topic and a worksheet for producers to complete and return to Penn State Extension. The grazing course is designed specifically to help producers in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. Cost for each course is $50 if taken via email and the Internet and $85 if taken using U.S. Postal Service deliveries. The deadline for registration is October 5.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink North American Poultry Census Begins

The Livestock Conservancy is conducting a North American Poultry Census, to enable the Conservancy as well as other poultry-focused organizations nationwide and internationally to understand how different poultry breeds are faring in the United States and Canada. The census will be focused on old landrace and large fowl standard bred poultry as recognized in the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection. The census specifically asks for information on the number of breeding birds only in order to get an estimate on the size of the actively reproducing gene pool for each breed. If you know of others who breed old landrace and large fowl standard bred poultry, please share the census link information with them.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Small Farmers Join Forces to Supply Tucson Schools with Local Food

In Arizona, the Tucson Unified School District will purchase produce from small, local farms this year, reports the Arizona Daily Star. By working together and pooling their resources, small and mid-sized farmers within a 90-mile radius can supply the amount of produce that the school district needs, and have become the district's low-volume vendor. To facilitate the agreement, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona will provide warehouse storage and delivery of the goods--capabilities that some small farms were lacking.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing 2015 Report Released

The Lodi Winegrape Commission has released Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing - 2015 Report. The 39-page report marks the tenth anniversary of the Lodi Rules, California's original third party-certified sustainable winegrowing program. The certification program promotes practices that enhance biodiversity, soil and water health, community and employee wellbeing, ensuring that farming needs are met today without compromising the needs of future generations. The goal of the program is to support grower adoption of sustainable practices and to communicate this commitment to wineries and the general public. The 2015 report notes that a growing number of wineries are incentivizing growers to participate in the Lodi Rules. In 2014 alone, over $1.4 million was paid to growers in bonuses for Lodi Rules-certified winegrapes. The report also quantifies how participating growers have adopted sustainability practices across six topic areas. The program has grown over its history to include more than 85 farming operations and 20,000 acres of certified Lodi vineyards.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink California Case Study Highlights How Farmers Can Help Pollinators

The Xerces Society has posted a case study of how a California almond grower added pollinator habitat in the orchard and changed management practices to support pollinator health, in the largest on-farm pollinator project that the Xerces Society has ever implemented. The Xerces Society worked with Olam, one of the largest almond growers in the world, in 2014 to install 5.6 miles of hedgerow and wildflower habitat. Additional plans are underway to plant 32 acres of cover crop on the orchard floor. The case study explains that selecting drought-tolerant native plants is a top priority, both to reduce water use and because native plants are less attractive to crop pests.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Farm Commons Releases Legal Guide on Financing a Farmland Purchase

Farm Commons has released a new legal guide titled Financing A Farmland Purchase: Legal basics for traditional and non-traditional farmland purchases. This guide explores common financing strategies that can be used to finance a farmland purchase, including gifts, grants, crowdfunding, loans, mortgages, seller financing, investors, and land contracts. Gain an understanding of both the opportunities and limitations associated with each of these options, and learn which might be best for your unique situation. The guide is free online to registered users of the Farm Commons website.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Guide to Farm Employment Law Released by Farm Commons

Farm Commons has released Farm Employment Law: A guide to rules and regulations across the United States. This guide details farm employment laws and regulations across the country and shows farmers how to not only follow these laws, but perhaps even use them to their advantage. The guide is available for free download to registered users.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Videos on Winter High-Tunnel Growing Available

Through an Illinois Department of Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture grant, University of Illinois Extension in partnership with Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) conducted high tunnel vegetable production research during the winter of 2014 and produced a series of videos on the topics of building beds, planting, growing, pest management, and harvesting. The videos are available on YouTube to educators and farmers wanting to teach or learn how to start production in a high tunnel. Experienced growers Gus Jones and Andy Heck of Small Axe Market Gardens managed the daily farming practices in the high tunnels. The project used a diverse crop plan to demonstrate a practical scenario for local direct market farmers. The project goals looked at utilizing existing high tunnel technologies for sustainable farming and researching winter production in order to increase the diversity and year-round availability of local produce, while giving farmers the tools they need to increase winter profits through season-extending high tunnel practices.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Western SARE Administrative Council Seeks Nominations

The Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) is seeking nominations or self-nominations for five seats. These include Organic Farmer/Rancher; Sustainable Farmer/Rancher; Conventional Farmer/Rancher; Tropical Farmer/Rancher; and NGO/Nonprofit Representative. Administrative Council members serve for three-year terms and should have broad understanding of the diversity of Western agriculture. Participation in Administrative Council Meetings, including travel time, requires about two weeks each year.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Insurance Expanded to Every County

USDA logoUSDA has announced that Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance will be available in every county in the nation in 2016. USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) introduced the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection pilot program for a majority of counties in the 2015 insurance year. Starting with the 2016 insurance year, the new program will be available in all counties in the United States, a first for the federal crop insurance program. There are additional changes to the program for 2016. RMA will make it easier for more beginning farmers and ranchers to participate in the program by reducing the required records from five to three historical years, plus farming records from the past year. Producers will now be able to insure up to $1 million worth of animals and animal products. Also, RMA increased the cap on historical revenue for expanding operations to 35% from its previous 10%.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Washington Organic Week Set for September 12-19

Washington Organic Week, WOW! is an annual campaign that connects consumers to Washington organic growers and products. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed September 12th-19th Washington Organic Week. WOW! offers unique opportunities for consumers to learn about organic food, including a harvest fair and the Eat Organic for WOW! pledge. This activity challenges participants to spend the week focused on supporting local organic farmers and retailers while sharing tips on how to keep it affordable, healthy, and delicious.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Rediscovered Fescue Forage Released by ARS

USDA logoUSDA Agricultural Research Service has released "Hidden Valley" meadow fescue, with seed available through the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System. The grass was imported from Europe in the 1800s, and has adapted to the Upper Mississippi River Basin since its arrival. It was recently found growing in Wisconsin, and later surveys showed it in a wide range of habitats in the Upper Midwest. Cattle digest it more easily and eat more of it than other forages. In addition, the forage is drought tolerant and will survive freezing temperatures and repeated grazing.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Case Study Publication Measures Energy Use for Grain Drying

An updated publication from ISU Extension and Outreach, Energy Consumption during Grain Drying, includes data from a two-year case study that provide a benchmark for farmers drying grain. The case study at Iowa State University research and teaching farms in the northeast, central, and southwest parts of the state measured propane and electricity consumption for grain drying during 2013 and 2014. On average, high temperature bin drying on Iowa farms uses approximately 0.019 gallons of propane per point of moisture removed per bushel of corn. In this study, propane measurements ranged from 0.015 to 0.022 gallons. The publication illustrates that having incoming corn only slightly at 18% moisture content rather than 23% can cut propane use for drying in half, saving farmers significant energy and money.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Study Finds Local Food Connects Buyers with Community

According to a new University of Iowa study, people are shopping farmers markets and joining food coops at record numbers because they enjoy knowing who grows their food. "Locavores" are also driven to eat locally grown produce and meat because their commitment to do so makes them feel a part of something greater than themselves—a community that shares their passion for a healthy lifestyle and a sustainable environment. Study corresponding author Ion Vasi says,"It's not just about the economical exchange; it's a relational and ideological exchange as well." Researchers also found that local food markets, whether farmers markets, food coops, or otherwise, were more likely to be located in cities and counties with higher education levels, higher income levels, and more institutions of higher education.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Research Explores Natural Methods for Sanitizing Leafy Greens

USDA logoA grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is helping University of Arizona researchers identify ways to use plant-based sanitizers for leafy greens. Plant extracts, essential oils, and organic sanitizers such as oregano, cinnamon, and vinegar added to wash water have all proved effective in killing bacteria on leafy greens and extending their shelf life. Now a new four-year OREI grant will allow researchers to test combinations of plant antimicrobials and the effectiveness of them when the wash water is recycled. The researchers are also looking at how plant-based edible films in salad packaging act as antimicrobials.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Fact Sheets Provide Tips for Drought

A series of new and updated drought tips fact sheets has been developed by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The publications are available for free download, and include titles on drought strategies for alfalfa, walnuts, and almonds, as well as use of shallow groundwater for crop production. There is also a publication on Reclaiming Saline, Sodic and Saline-Sodic Soils. Several more drought tips addressing dozens of commodities and situations are in the process of being published and will be posted online soon, including recommendations for culling beef cattle herds and feeding to supplement grazing.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Temperature Sensors Help Identify Water-Stressed Crops

USDA logoUSDA agricultural engineer Kendall DeJonge is researching ways to conserve irrigation water by using infrared radiometric thermometers (IRT)—sensors that can determine crop canopy temperatures and subsequently detect crop water stress. DeJonge and his colleagues compared the commonly used Crop Water Stress Index with five other indices, and found that simple systems using once-a-day reading of crop canopy temperatures worked as well as the more complex index. According to USDA Agricultural Research Service, DeJonge plans to develop "crop water coefficients" that establish water needs of specific crops under different scenarios.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Michigan Food Hub Network to Expand

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems has received a $450,000 continuation grant from the Kresge Foundation to expand the Michigan Food Hub Network, a statewide learning community that helps food hubs become profitable while supplying healthy food to low-income communities in Michigan. In its next three years, the project will increase buyer-seller relationships and specialized business and technical assistance, emphasizing business collaborations between food hubs and food service directors of institutions. In addition, the Center for Regional Food Systems will help neighboring states learn from Michigan's food hub network model.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Iowa Communities Join Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit; Publication Highlights Best Practices

Six Iowa communities are participating in an Iowa State University project called the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit, a planning process that helps Iowa communities explore their ag-related resources and needs to make fresh, local food products more widely available to residents. Community groups in Des Moines, Cresco, and Cedar Rapids have been working with the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit since 2013. Groups from Dubuque, Cass County, and nine counties that are part of Healthy Harvest of North Iowa were added this year. The design process involves community capacity-building, research and analysis, public input, tactic prioritizations, and design documentation. The project has released a new Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit publication that provides a general overview of the 19 different activities or tactics that have been researched as part of this project. Each year new tactics will be added, featuring the best management practices that have been learned from the communities participating in the toolkit process.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink CCOF Introduces Transitional Certification Program

Organic certifier CCOF has introduced its enhanced Transitional Certification program for farmers beginning the three-year transition process of gaining organic certification for their land. Obtaining transitional certification includes the ability to label products with a "Certified Transitional" seal, which CCOF notes can be desirable in the marketplace as an option that supports more land being converted to organic production. "Certified Transitional offers...producers an opportunity to display their commitment to meeting organic production requirements through their three-year transition period," said CCOF Executive Director/CEO Cathy Calfo. CCOF has also developed a number of tools and programs to support producers interested in transitioning to organic farming, including a 10-step checklist for transitioning to certified organic that helps farmers quickly understand the steps involved.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Southern SARE Announces Graduate Student and Food Systems Grants

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) program has announced the funded projects for the 2015 Graduate Student Grants program. This year, SSARE Administrative Council funded 13 projects totaling $110,936. Projects will explore pest management, high-tunnel production, cover cropping, weed control, and greenhouse gas emissions from animals grazing, among other topics. Meanwhile, a special SSARE grant on local and regional food systems awarded funding to support research projects in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. The special grant, part of SSARE’s Sustainable Community Innovations Grant program, was intended to fund research defining, evaluating, and understanding the impacts of local and regional food systems on sustainable agriculture.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Northeast Beginning Farmer Project Offers Online Courses

The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project is offering online courses as part of the line-up of 16 online courses offered this fall, Winter, and Spring by the Cornell Small Farms Program. The five- to seven-week courses consist of weekly real-time webinars followed by homework, readings, and discussions on your own time in an online setting. Participants who complete all requirements of one or more online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip. Courses include business planning, production, organic certification, soil health, and more. The first courses begin in October.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Industrial Hemp Research Progressing at University of Kentucky

Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment are progressing with the second year of their industrial hemp research. The first year's pilot project was limited to varieties used for fiber production, but this year's research trials include hemp varieties used for the production of fiber, grains, and cannabinoids. Research projects include comparing the fiber quality of three varieties of hemp. The varieties will be compared to each other as well as flax and kenaf. The project will also look at two harvest methods and three harvest timings when the plants are at different maturities. Other research includes two separate hemp variety trials for fiber and grain production, herbicide tolerance trial for hemp used for grain production, and a row spacing trial geared toward fiber production.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Cost of Production Study for Organic Strawberries Available

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources has released a cost of production and estimated revenue study for organic strawberries. The study for organic strawberries takes into consideration growing conditions on the Central Coast of California and complying with the National Organic Program. In particular, it focuses on growing organic strawberries in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties for the fresh packaging market. The study can be downloaded for free from the UC Davis Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics website.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Researchers Find Economic Benefits in Hedgerows

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Berkeley researchers analyzing hedgerows in a two-year study found the plantings were providing economic benefits by attracting natural enemies to aphids and stink bugs. The study of hedgerows planted adjacent to processing tomatoes showed higher numbers of natural enemies such as lady beetles and parasitic wasps, and fewer crop pests compared with conventionally managed field crops edged with residual weeds. Additional research has shown that hedgerows are important for pollinators, such as native wild bees, that feed on flowers and nest in the ground or holes in plant stems. According to this research, plant selection is the key for enhancing beneficial insects on farms, and a hedgerow planted on a field edge needs to include a seasonal range of flowering plants so floral resources are always or usually available for natural enemies. The researchers are offering advice on hedgerow plantings, including plant selection and how to establish and manage hedgerows.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink NOFA Vermont Seeks Winter Conference Workshop Proposals

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA Vermont) is accepting workshop proposals for its 34th Annual Winter Conference, February 13-15, 2016. The goal of the conference is to facilitate learning and sharing of information on all aspects of local, organic farming and gardening. The event is Vermont’s largest agricultural conference, bringing together more than 1,500 farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, educators, policy makers, and consumers for three days of workshops, networking sessions, meals, and celebration. The event will offer at least sixty 1.25 hour workshops and a few 2.5-hour double workshops, as well as one-day intensives. Workshop proposals are due by September 8, 2015.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink NOFA Mass Launches Soil Carbon Restoration Campaign

The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, NOFA/Mass, has launched a Soil Carbon Restoration Campaign, showing the potential of good farming and land management practices to store and stabilize large amounts of carbon in the soil. Resources for the campaign include a video, white paper, resource list, action steps, and more. The 16-page white paper, Soil Carbon Restoration: Can Biology do the Job?, explains soil biology and the role of soil in carbon storage. The authors conclude that if everyone were willing to use carbon-building practices, the grasslands, at an average of 2.6 tons per acre annually, could restore 21.6 Gt of soil carbon and croplands, at an average of 0.55 tons per acre annually, could restore 2.1 Gt.

Send feedback » Permalink

 


::

Breaking News Archives

[Contact]