NCAT NCAT ATTRA ATTRA
Home  > Breaking News

Breaking News



Permalink USDA Announces Initiatives to Improve Pollinator Health

USDA logoDuring National Pollinator Week, USDA has announced two initiatives in support of the President's National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators. USDA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with two honey bee organizations, the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation, to facilitate an ongoing partnership that will ensure USDA's conservation initiatives are as advantageous as possible to pollinators and that beekeepers understand how they can benefit from USDA's conservation and safety net programs. In addition to this MOU, a thorough review of USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has revealed that farmers and ranchers across the country have created more than 15 million acres of healthy habitat and forage for pollinators through the Conservation Reserve Program. USDA has also released a fact sheet that contains more information about its work to keep pollinators buzzing and contributing to a diverse domestic and global food supply.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Partnership Helps Introduce Veterans to Beekeeping

USDA logoA unique partnership between the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and the Louisiana Armed Forces Foundation is helping to introduce veterans to beekeeping. Honey bees may reduce stress and become a new business venture for those who have served in the U.S. military. The partnership helps both new and experienced beekeepers learn more about honey bee biology, including their pests and pathogens, and helps the participants gain hands-on experience with sustainable bee strains developed by the lab.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Crop Insurance Changes Provide Double-Cropping Flexibility

USDA logoThe federal crop insurance program will provide additional flexibility to farmers with modifications centered on the practice of growing two crops on the same field at different times of the year. Double-cropping requirements have been revised to adequately recognize changes in growing farm operations or for added land. This change will address both land added to an operation, and account for multiple crop rotations. These changes will be effective for the 2017 crop year for most crops, starting with winter wheat. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. Contact a local crop insurance agent for more information about these changes.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Report on State of Organic Seed Released

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) has released its first five-year update on the status of organic seed. The report, State of Organic Seed, 2016, is part of an ongoing project to measure progress in increasing farmer access to organic seed in the United States. USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) requires the use of organic seed when it is commercially available, but this report shows that because supply gaps remain, most organic farmers still rely on seed that isn't organic. In the past five years, there have been increased investments in organic plant breeding that are resulting in more organic varieties and more trained organic seed professionals.The report notes that while organic seed research investments have increased, they still pale in comparison to funding directed toward seed developed for conventional systems. The report highlights the critical role of farmers in organic plant breeding and provides more than 30 recommendations to serve as a roadmap for organic seed. The full report is available online.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Barrier Screens Exclude Brown Marmorated Stink Bug from Organic Crops

A study published in HortTechnology notes that damage from the brown marmorated stink bug has occurred on 100% of sweet corn in some fields and more than 20% of pepper, tomato, eggplant, and okra in test plots. In this study, researchers tested plastic mesh barrier screens with different mesh sizes to determine their ability to exclude the brown marmorated stink bug, provide entry to beneficial species, and produce a high percentage of marketable yield in organically grown bell peppers. Results showed that the fine mesh excluded insects, including beneficial and pest species, and that the barrier screens were effective in reducing stink bug injury on the peppers. The researchers recommended lighter colored, and/or wider meshes (1/8-inch or 1/6-inch) to allow the entry of sunlight and beneficial species for areas in which small populations of brown marmorated stink bug are found.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Study Quantifies Benefits of Upper-Mississippi Agricultural Conservation

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have published a new study that demonstrates that agricultural conservation practices in the upper Mississippi River watershed can reduce nitrogen inputs to area streams and rivers by as much as 34%. The study measured the potential effects of voluntary conservation practices. According to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, conservation practices resulted in a 34% nutrient pollution reduction for nitrogen and a reduction of from one to 10% for total phosphorus.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink EPA Accepting Public Comments on Draft Triazine Ecological Risk Assessments

EPA invites stakeholders to comment on the draft ecological risk assessments for atrazine, propazine and simazine, which evaluate risks to animals and plants including, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plant communities, and terrestrial plants. EPA will be accepting public comments for 60 days until August 5, 2016. After receiving and reviewing public comments, the agency will amend the assessments, as appropriate.
Meanwhile, Civil Eats has posted a feature explaining and summarizing highlights of the EPA draft reports.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink FDA Reminds Retailers of Changes to the Use of Antibiotics in Food Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a letter reminding retail establishments that sell medically important antimicrobials for use in feed or water for food animals that the marketing status of those products will change from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription (Rx) or to veterinary feed directive (VFD) at the end of calendar year 2016. Guidance #213 calls on animal drug sponsors of approved medically important antimicrobials administered through medicated feed or water to remove from their product labels indications for use related to growth promotion, and to bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products under the oversight of a veterinarian by the end of December 2016. In addition, the FDA recently published the VFD final rule, which outlines the revised process for authorizing use of VFD drugs (animal drugs intended for use in or on animal feed and that require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian). The VFD rule also provides veterinarians in all U.S. States with a framework for authorizing the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Farm Aid Announces 2016 Venue

Each year, Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host a Farm Aid concert to bring together a wide variety of artists, farmers and fans for one mission: keeping family farmers on the land. This year's Farm Aid concert will be in Bristow, Virginia, on September 17. Farm Aid 2016 will feature Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Alabama Shakes, Sturgill Simpson, and many more artists. Farm Aid 2016 will be a full day of incredible music, HOMEGROWN Concessions® featuring family farm food, hands-on activities in Farm Aid's HOMEGROWN Village, and family farmers.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Sustainable Agriculture Standard Established by American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has completed a standard that establishes a framework for charting progress toward sustainable agricultural production. ANSI/ASABE S629, Framework to Evaluate the Sustainability of Agricultural Production Systems, includes provisions for defining and benchmarking key performance indicators, setting goals, implementing strategies for continuous improvements, and reporting improvements. The standard is intended for application with all typical farming operations found around the world. This framework is not intended to be a prescriptive criterion for creating a sustainability certification program.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Ohio Agritourism Law Offers Operator Protections

Ohio's new agritourism law goes into effect August 16. Ohio State University Extension reports that the new legislation "defines agritourism, offers protections for agritourism operators, and addresses issues including civil liability risks, property taxation and local zoning authority." The law protects operators from liability for injuries related to risks inherent in agritourism activities but requires that operators must post warning signs near each entrance or at each activity notifying visitors that the operator is not liable for any injuries related to those inherent risks. The law also limits how zoning can affect agritourism activities and specifies that land where agritourism activities take place should be taxed under the state's Current Agricultural Use Valuation program.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Appalachian Grown Survey Results Available

ASAP's Local Food Research Center surveyed Appalachian Grown (AG) certified farms in March 2016 to better understand the experiences of farmers in the region, learn about the impact of its work, and to gather feedback to help shape the program's future direction. The full producer survey report is available online. Highlights included the finding that most farmers report that there are more market outlets available to them in 2015 compared to 2014 and that restaurants are the biggest area of increased sales. Furthermore, farmers consider AG promotional materials to be very important in helping to increase sales and they report that customers are specifically asking for AG certified products.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Study Finds Ancient Soil Amendments Built Fertile Soils

A global study led by the University of Sussex analyzed fertile, carbon-rich black soils called 'African Dark Earths' and found them high in organic matter and capable of supporting intensive farming. Researchers believe these soils were built by a centuries-old West African practice of adding charcoal and kitchen waste to nutrient-poor tropical soils. Scientists say that reviving the technique could be the answer to mitigating climate change and revolutionizing farming in tropical soils.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink North Dakota Farmer Uses Cover Crops to Build Soil Organic Matter

Successful Farming reports on how North Dakota farmer Lance Gartner is using multispecies cover crops to provide forage for his cattle and build organic matter in the soil. Gartner notes that cover crops provide enough nitrogen that he can reduce fertilizer inputs. Gartner's focus is on net profit, rather than productivity. Aiming for moderate yields with reduced input is one way that Gartner manages risk. He plants a multispecies cover crop that not only fixes nitrogen but also offers high protein forage into early winter. Gartner has also planted a 5-acre strip of diverse pollinator habitat.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Automated Irrigation Technology Helps Save Water

In California, Spirent Communications is looking at how IoT can offer a solution for drought by saving irrigation water. In a demonstration of the technology, moisture meters were placed in an avacado grove in the top eight inches of soil and at 24 inches in depth. Moisture data is gathered from the trees and placed into a cloud where the data is analyzed. When more water is needed, automatic sprinklers turn on, and when enough water has been applied to get salts out of the rooting zone, watering stops. The system used 75% less water for young trees, and is expected to save 50% of the water for adult trees.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Forage Radish Most Beneficial Cover Crop in New Hampshire Study

A two-year study of cover crops at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station found that forage radish was the most beneficial for suppressing weeds and increasing production values. Researchers examined the performance of eight different cover crops intended to fill the late summer and fall fallow period: annual ryegrass, winter rye, alfalfa, crimson clover, white clover, hairy vetch, soybean, and forage radish. "[F]orage radish was consistently among the highest biomass-producing treatments in the fall, provided excellent fall weed suppression, and resulted in some of the highest production values in the test-crop," said Richard Smith, assistant professor of agroecology. Future research will assess a wider range of cover crop species and their performance under different types of growing conditions and when planted at different times. Scientists also will continue to conduct research on the potential benefits of planting cover crops as mixtures and in inter-cropping systems, and will assess a wider range of services that cover crops provide to agroecosystems.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink USDA Market News to Work with Organic Farmers to Expand Organic Reporting

USDA logoUSDA Market News is expanding its organic reporting and would like to work with certified organic livestock, poultry, egg, dairy, cotton, grain, and corresponding handling operations to develop new organic reports. If you are interested in becoming a confidential Market News contact, please call Randy Hammerstrom at 970-353-9750 or email Randy.Hammerstrom@ams.usda.gov.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Armed to Farm Training Helps Veterans Launch Agriculture Enterprises

The National Center for Appropriate Technology partnered with the University of Arkansas and other organizations to provide a week-long sustainable agriculture training program for veterans, held June 6-10 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The program offered 24 military veterans and spouses a mix of classroom and on-farm education on launching and running poultry, small livestock, and agroforestry enterprises. The program addresses business planning and practical skills. NCAT is planning additional 2016 Armed to Farm trainings in New York and Montana.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Audubon Progresses with Implementing Conservation Ranching Program

The National Audubon Society is embarking on a pilot "Conservation Ranching Program" that will partner with ranchers to develop a market-based incentive program that will benefit prairie birds and conservation practices on the grasslands. The program links ranchers who want to tap into the grass-fed beef market with technical assistance to aid them in improving forage quality and productivity. Participants will follow bird-friendly production protocols developed for each state participating in the program. The program will also help link participating producers with retail partners interested in sourcing grass-fed beef from Audubon-certified producers.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink American Farmland Trust Launches Annual Farmers Market Celebration

American Farmland Trust is holding its eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration beginning June 20, 2016. The event encourages farmers market supporters and customers to endorse their favorite market in four categories: Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment. Supporters are also encouraged to post pictures or videos of their farmers market to Instagram using the hashtag #OnMyFork. AFT will present national awards to the most endorsed markets in the four areas, as well as the "People's Choice" Award and the Top Three most recommended farmers markets in every state. The celebration runs through September 21, 2016.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Book Documents Women Farmers Helping Redefine Agriculture

Researchers from Penn State University and Ohio University have co-authored a new book, The Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture, published by the University of Iowa Press. The book explores societal changes that have made it easier for women to become farmers, while also noting the barriers that women face in farming. They suggest that the innovative ways in which women find solutions to the challenges they face are helping to redefine agriculture. "This book came out of 10 years of doing research and working closely with women farmers in Pennsylvania and in the Northeast," said Penn State professor and lead author, Carolyn Sachs. "We were so impressed with the kind of work women were doing on farms — oftentimes with minimal resources, little capital, maybe little land — but doing creative things to try to transform the agricultural system. We felt like we needed to get their stories out there."

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink General Mills Partners with Organic Valley to Help Dairy Farmers Transition to Organic

General Mills has announced a strategic sourcing partnership with Organic Valley that will help about 20 dairy farms add around 3,000 acres to organic dairy production over the next three years. General Mills has made a commitment to double the organic acreage from which it sources ingredients by 2019. In addition, General Mills will launch the Organic & Regenerative Agriculture Transition Council, which will bring together sustainable agricultural leaders, farmers, and industry stakeholders with the mission of advancing organic and regenerative agriculture practices. The first project will focus on dairy.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Advice on Preventing Herbicide Drift on Specialty Crops in New Fact Sheet

Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences has released a new fact sheet titled Reducing 2,4-D and Dicamba Drift Risk to Fruits, Vegetables and Landscape Plants. The publication explains how herbicide sprays can drift onto nontarget fields, presents possible concerns about the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba, and offers advice on how to prevent unwanted damage to crops. Scientists note that because 2,4-D and dicamba are the cornerstones of two new proposed weed control systems, growers are likely to be spraying more of these two powerful herbicides. The new systems were developed because more and more weeds have grown resistant to glyphosate alone. The fact sheet is also designed to raise awareness of the extent and vulnerability to pesticide damage of Ohio's specialty crop industry.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Fact Sheet on Farm to School Impact Released

USDA logoUSDA Farm to School Program has released a two-page fact sheet titled Research Shows Farm to School Works. This new fact sheet provides a summary of findings from the 2015 Farm to School Census and recent research studies. It shows that farm to school creates positive school and community benefits, stimulates local and regional economies, and improves children's health, nutrition, and academic performance. It can also help children develop healthy eating habits and provide them with year-long access to local foods.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program Connects Farms and Healthcare

In Georgia, a pilot Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program connected healthcare providers, farmers markets, and families with illnesses related to food consumption patterns, by providing the access, support, and funding needed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Medical students counseled patients on chronic disease prevention strategies and gave them prescriptions for fruits and vegetables, which could be redeemed for produce at the Veggie Truck farmers market, a mobile market staffed by volunteers. The pilot program also included cooking classes for participants and a transportation component. Although just seven participants completed the program, the measurable health benefits that they experienced indicate the potential for improving health with this type of program. Additionally, the program routed $5,336 worth of prescriptions to farmers, boosting farm incomes.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Restaurants Launch "Made by Pollinators" Campaign

To celebrate National Pollinator Week (June 20-26, 2016), Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety are partnering with several Washington, DC, restaurants in an effort to increase consumer awareness and action to protect pollinators. The grassroots campaign, "Made by Pollinators", helps raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and steps that can be taken to reverse their decline. Beyond Pesticides worked with restaurants to identify menu items or ingredients that are pollinator dependent, and then those ingredients are either noted on the menu with a small bee icon or used to create a "Pollinator Special" to celebrate the week. The effort's organizers note that National Pollinator Week is a chance to reflect and celebrate the achievements of the past year, while simultaneously raising awareness of the important role pollinators play in our daily lives.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Increasing Pollinator Diversity Can Increase Cotton Production

A new study by The University of Texas at Austin shows that increasing the diversity of pollinator species, including bees, flies, and butterflies, can increase cotton production by as much as 18%. In Texas, that boost in crop yield would translate to an increase in annual revenue of $108 per acre. Based on their findings, the researchers recommend several ways to increase the diversity of pollinators in cotton fields. Farmers can plant a row of wildflowers between rows of their crops or even on the edges of the crop field. In addition, farmers can introduce flowering crops into the crop rotation and reduce pesticide spraying, especially during the daytime. Local governments can focus on protecting and providing pollinator habitat.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Oregon Pasture Network Launches

The Oregon Pasture Network (OPN) is a program of Friends of Family Farmers, designed to support the growth of pasture-based farming. OPN is a community of farmers, ranchers, food business owners, and consumers who share similar values, believing that sustainable, humane, pasture-raised, animal agriculture is the best way to produce animal products. Membership for farmers and ranchers is free in 2016, and those accepted receive benefits that connect them to their fellow pastured producers, connect them to existing resources and help promote their farm businesses. All prospective Pasture Partners must read the Pasture Network Pledge and be willing to fully commit to the OPN principles it outlines, as well as completing an application for membership. The next upcoming deadline for quarterly review is July 1, 2016.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink Fact Sheet Issued on Agroforestry's Role in Pollination

USDA logoThe latest Working Trees Infosheet from USDA National Agroforestry Center addresses the question, "How does agroforestry help crop pollination?" The two-page PDF publication explains how agroforestry can provide pollinators protection from wind, so they can pollinate more effectively, how it can protect them from pesticide drift, and how it can provide vital pollinator habitat while keeping land productive.

Send feedback » Permalink

 

Permalink NESAWG's "It Takes a Region" Conference Requesting Session Proposals

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's "It Takes a Region" Conference is set for November 10-12, 2016, in Hartford, Connecticut. Organizers are accepting proposals for 75-minute sessions until June 30, 2016. Sessions can have varied formats, including panels, presentations, discussion, interactive activities, or skill-building workshops. Proposals should focus on farm and food systems issues in the NESAWG 12-state region. Additional criteria are detailed online.

Send feedback » Permalink

 


::

Breaking News Archives

[Contact]