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Oregon State University (OSU) announced that it is launching the Global Hemp Innovation Center, the nation's largest research center devoted to the study of hemp. Lead researcher Jay Noller explains the Center's aim as follows: "We want to understand how to efficiently and sustainably grow hemp for seeds, for hemp fiber materials that can be used in textiles and construction materials, including as an alternate to gravel in concrete, for hemp essential oils that have popular health and wellness uses, and for hemp grain for use in foods and feed. Multi-use hemp is what we are excited about globally." Researchers are not only planting hemp for research purposes in Oregon, but are also working with international university faculty to learn more about the propagation and uses of hemp. Additionally, OSU announced that it is launching seed certification services for hemp seeds to be used by farmers registered in Oregon.

FoodShot Global has awarded funding to four entries in its Innovating Soil 3.0 competition, reports Whole Foods Magazine. Trace Genomics, a startup developing an AI-enabled diagnostic tool for farmers that increases yields and reduces costs, received an undisclosed investment. Awards of $250,000 were given to Keith Paustian in support of global adaptation of his COMET tool systems that provide farmers with metrics and information on regenerative farming and to Gerlinde De Deyn, for her work connecting plant biodiversity in space and time. Additionally Dr. Dorn Cox was awarded $35,000 in support of an Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM) to democratize access to environmental data and provide universal access to site-specific global agricultural knowledge.

Organic Seed Alliance is asking for proposals for the agenda of the 10th Organic Seed Growers Conference, set for February 12-15, 2020, in Corvallis, Oregon. The biennial conference is the largest event focused solely on organic seed in North America. Organizers are particularly interested in proposals that include farmers and underrepresented groups. Organic Seed Alliance is also accepting proposals for the scientific-research poster session at the conference. The call for proposals will be open through July 28, 2019.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has put together six checklists that help agritourism operators be aware of the liability risks they face. The checklists cover bio-security, emergency preparedness, food safety, pesticide safety, play area safety, and negligence mitigation. "The checklists serve as a measurement tool to help guide agritourism operators through best practice techniques to use on their farm, to alleviate the risks that arise once employees and visitors come onto their farm," compiler Kendra Meyer said. Topics include employee and visitor health and hygiene, employee training, recordkeeping, food preparation and storage, legal risks and much more. The checklists are available online.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have documented waterhemp as the first non-grass plant that is resistant to Group 15s herbicides. Waterhemp is a common and problematic weed in corn and soybean fields in the Midwest. A news story from University of Illinois explains that herbicides are divided into 16 different Mode of Action (MOA) classes. Historically, nine classes of herbicide worked on waterhemp, but the plant has developed resistance to seven of those classes. "In some areas, we're one or two MOAs away from completely losing chemical control of waterhemp and other multiple-herbicide-resistant weeds," says Adam Davis, head of the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study. In this study, the waterhemp showed resistance even when herbicide was applied at four times the label rate.

Kansas Rural Center will hold five "Future of Farming and Food" Town Hall meetings across Kansas this summer. The free evening events will facilitate discussion on the food system and farming and how these are related to climate and energy issues, as well as rural/urban revitalization. The Town Halls offer opportunities to share information and enable community dialogue on vision for the future and how we get there. Discussion will include issues critical to Kansas, ranging from the impacts of weather extremes and a changing climate on food system and farming to population loss (especially of young people), health care, and present and future economic opportunities. Registration information for the July and August meetings is available online.

USDA has announced 47 rural communities and regions that will receive technical assistance through the Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) initiative. Each of the recipients will be paired with one of four partner organizations that will provide free technical assistance for up to two years to help rural towns and regions create and implement economic development plans. The partners are the National Association of Counties Research Foundation, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, McClure Engineering Company, and Purdue University Extension/Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky. The REDI initiative was developed by the USDA Rural Development Innovation Center to support recommendations identified in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

USDA has announced 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. They also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration, for example. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. USDA is investing $1 million in the renewable energy projects announced today and says the department will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is seeking input from organic and sustainable farmers and ranchers on the programs and practices they use to manage risk. Sharing your experiences with risk management practices and programs can provide insight for OFRF and key partners that are working to strengthen federal farm programs for the organic and sustainable agriculture communities. A brief survey is available online.

A feature in Civil Eats highlights Ecotrust's Ag of the Middle Accelerator Program in Portland, Oregon. The program focuses on helping small farmers and fishermen scale up by training them in business, operating a food hub that aids in storage and distribution, and helping the growing enterprises access capital, including value-added grants. The two-year program has already made a difference for its first participants, who began in 2017, and Ecotrust hopes its model can be used in locations across the country, to help additional operations grow to gross between $100,000 and $3 million.

Deborah Reed, a professor of nursing at the University of Kentucky, came up with an effective way to educate farmers about important safety issues. She created a dinner theater that combines a free meal with local farmer-actors performing humorous skits about safety measures ranging from fall protection to emergency planning to hearing protection. Although the events offer entertainment in communities where they take place, they've been an effective way for farmers to learn from other farmers, and have resulted in half of attendees making changes in their operations within two weeks. The performances also offer a venue for immunization clinics that further promote farmer health. The safety skits are publicly available: any group can access an online toolkit to stage its own local production.

Kentucky lamb producer Freedom Run Farm is making an effort to get lamb back on American menus. They are not only supplying East Coast restaurants but have also showcased lamb dishes at venues from the 2019 American Food Fair in Chicago to the Kentucky Proud Lamb Jam they hosted in Louisville in April. Freedom Run Farm is highlighting the versatility of lamb in dishes from barbecue to roast lamb, as well as promoting value-added lamb products such as the lamb ham.

Strolling of the Heifers, a non-profit food advocacy organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont, has released its annual Locavore Index. The Locavore Index indicates which states have the strongest producers and consumers of local food. In 2019, the index showed significantly different results than previous years, due largely to results from the recently released USDA Census of Agriculture. Vermont still tops the list, with local food sales per capita at $166.22, but California has moved up to second place and Hawaii to third place. Several New England states slid out of the top 10, and Montana dropped from third to 28th. "The purpose of the Index is to stimulate conversations and efforts in every state aimed at increasing the amount of local food sold and consumed," explains Orly Munzing, founder of Strolling of the Heifers.

South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has posted a success story from rancher Charlie Totton and his wife Tanya, describing how they use mob grazing on their 4,000 acres. Grazing management has helped them better utilize pastures on challenging terrain, so that the worst areas have the most recovery time, and so that grazing pressure on native grasses is lessened and they can increase. Totton grazes 10 months of the year, and says his new management has resulted in more wildlife, better water infiltration, and more grass.

South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has released a new online portal that connects livestock producers with people who have cropland or forage available to graze. The website is a free, publicly accessible map, developed through a grant agreement with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. The site offers a platform for producers to connect throughout the state of South Dakota and the surrounding region. The map overlay shows sites where fields are available for grazing, as well as producers who are willing to move livestock to grazing sites. Additional educational resources on the site include fact sheets on a variety of topics related to livestock integration, crop residue, and cover crops, contracting resources, as well as the contact information or links for organizations that can provide further technical assistance. Integrating livestock onto cropland and managing grassland properly combine to form one of the five basic principles of soil health.

Slow Flowers has announced the 2019 American Flowers Week as July 28 - July 4. Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers founder and creative director, explains that she created American Flowers Week in 2015 as a week-long celebration of domestic flowers to raise consumer awareness and unite America's flower farmers with the U.S. floral industry. "It's the original, American-grown floral holiday that stimulates interest in beauty, seasonality, local agriculture and sustainable floral design," says Prinzing.

California State University, Chico, has established a new Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems. According to a news story, the Center is an interdisciplinary partnership supported by the College of Agriculture, College of Natural Sciences, and College of Communication and Education. The Center will be offering degrees in the field of regenerative science and agriculture, conducting research at the University Farm, and creating curriculum. It will focus on practices that reduce greenhouse gasses, build topsoil, restore soil resiliency, increase the sustainability of farms and ranches, and address food and water insecurity.

Farmers' Legal Action Group has released Volume 1 of its seventh edition of the Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance. Volume 1: Emergency Conservation Program is the first in a series of guides that will describe the rules for programs such as the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP); Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP); Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); Farm Service Agency Emergency Loans; and other disaster-assistance programs. The publication is available free online in PDF.

Grass-fed beef producers in Iowa cooperated with Practical Farmers of Iowa in a study that looked at carcass characteristics, meat quality and fatty acid composition of 100% grass-fed beef. The research found that that ultrasound was not a viable tool for predicting optimal harvest windows for these farmers, when used on live grass-fed cattle prior to harvest. The project also tested grass-fed ribeyes for omega-6:3 ratio and found that both these producers' products fall within the range of recommendations for healthy diets. Furthermore, the study found that omega ratio and meat quality were not negatively affected by feeding cattle over the winter.

The University of Minnesota is conducting an online survey of farmers regarding opinions toward volunteerism for citizen science programs. The goal of this research is to identify the best communication strategies, channels, and content to explain environmental science research and engage agricultural producers in citizen-science data-collection programs. The survey takes about 20 minutes.

New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. are among cities that are using dry ice as a tool for rat control, reports Marketplace. Exterminators place dry ice pellets in burrow entrances, where they give off carbon dioxide that suffocates rats inside. Although the method is more labor-intensive than using rodenticide, it can be more effective in a network of burrows, and it prevents secondary poisonings of predators.

A feature on C-ville describes how Virginians are working to add the missing link of grain back into the local food economy. Grain growers, millers, and bakers have formed an organization called the Common Grain Alliance to help promote local grain and forge links between members. Some bakers are interested in showcasing bread made from local grains, but they note that it can take time to form a working relationship with farmers and develop a product that works, because local, artisanal flour isn't like commodity products. Brewers interested in local grains face the same types of challenges. Redeveloping a local grain economy involves building demand and processing infrastructure concurrently with supply, to help support the investment in specialty equipment required by farmers.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is inviting submission of workshop proposals for its 34th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, to be held November 1-3, 2019, in Durham, North Carolina. A listing of priority topics is available online. Most sessions are 75 minutes. Complimentary registration for the full conference, including meals, will be provided for one speaker per workshop. Additional speakers will receive complimentary registration on the day of the scheduled session. The deadline for proposal submissions is June 10, 2019.

American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published a report on a new strategy to determine organic authenticity. Researchers developed a method to analyze the metabolites generated within plants when pesticides break down. The test can determine that organic produce has been fraudulently treated with pesticides, even if the pesticides themselves have degraded. The test can also reveal accidental contamination of organic produce. It can also identify pesticide treatment of organic grapes by testing wine made from those grapes. The researchers say that their methodology, with some refinement, should aid in food regulators' efforts to crack down on illegal practices in organic farming.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the application window is now open for round one of the Grow-NY food and agriculture competition. The competition is focused on growing an enduring food and agriculture innovation cluster in New York's Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Southern Tier regions. The competition, which will run for three rounds, will offer a total of $3 million in funding for each round to innovative high-growth start-ups that are focused on the food and agriculture industry. Applications are open to start-ups from across the globe competing to win a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes, and four $250,000 prizes. The winners will have to commit to operating in the Finger Lakes, Central New York, or Southern Tier regions for at least one year and will have to agree to participate in an equity-share program in which a portion of their profits will be returned back to the program. Applications will be accepted through July 15, 2019.

Clemson University researchers held a workshop recently where they shared results from a range of cover crop studies. Demonstration plots highlighted different cover crop mixes designed for fall/winter and spring/summer seasons. The researchers identified a mix of rye, oats, crimson clover, hairy vetch, rape, and radish as the combination that provided the most mulch. One researcher found that cover crops can increase soil moisture by as much as 10% in sandy soils. They also provide a host of other benefits, ranging from suppressing weeds to preventing soil compaction, fixing nitrogen, and adding organic matter. The researchers are also exploring variety choice and seeding rate alternatives that can reduce cover crop costs.

Purdue Extension has appointed its first hemp production specialist, Marguerite Bolt. Bolt's vision for her position is to design an Extension program that provides the groundwork for prospective commercial hemp production through public meetings, field days, and updates to Purdue's hemp website. Bolt plans to educate interested growers on how to get started with hemp, including how to obtain a permit and seeds for the crop, which cultivars are best for the region, and where to find reliable information. When hemp production becomes fully operational in 2020, Bolt plans to work with the State Chemist's Office to provide webinars focusing on the application process to obtain a hemp production permit. Bolt also plans to develop and release a series of webinars to address growers' questions, along with fact sheets and eventually a hemp production guide for Indiana.

USDA Risk Management Agency has announced provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that will benefit military veterans with farms or ranches who are seeking federal crop insurance coverage. The 2018 Farm Bill provides veterans with an exemption from paying the administrative fee for catastrophic and additional coverage policies; an additional 10% premium subsidy for additional coverage policies that have premium subsidy; the ability to use another person's production history for the specific acreage transferred to veterans who previously were involved in the decision making or physical activities of crop production on the acreage; and an increase in yield adjustment, from 60% to 80% of the applicable transitional yield. These changes will allow veterans who are farming and ranching to have higher insurance coverages than if they relied upon county averages to establish their insurance guarantees or a lower percentage of the county average to substitute low yields because of an insurable cause of loss. For the 2019 crop year, producers can access these benefits for crops with a sales closing date on or after December 20, 2018.

A memo from the USDA National Organic Program summarizes the rules that organic certifiers must follow when determining the eligibility and compliance of container systems for organic crop certification. The letter clarifies that the Organic Food Production Act requirements related to the three-year transition period apply to all container systems built and maintained on land, such as container, hydroponic, and other plant pot-based systems, with or without soil as the growing media. The memo addresses issues of eligibility and compliance that certifiers must consider with regard to container systems.

European researchers have published a study in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment that shows planting strips of perennial flowers between orchard rows can help with pest control. Trials in seven European countries showed higher numbers of natural enemies in orchards with perennial flower strips, and they also found reduced fruit damage in those orchards. In particular, there were fewer codling moths in the orchards with flowers rather than conventional orchard vegetation. The study also made recommendations for flower-strip composition for different countries.

A study published in Plants, People, Planet explored the success of collaborative initiatives to address "plant blindness," or modern civilization's disconnection from the plant world, through education about food plants. The international team of researchers found that botanic gardens play an important role in both educating the public about the value of plants and in preserving a living seedbank that can contribute to food-plant preservation and development. "In an era confronted by many global problems such as climate change, habitat destruction, plant and animal extinctions, population explosion, hunger and poverty, we cannot afford to ignore plant blindness any longer," said Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture and Center for Global Initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens and one of the co-authors of the study.

Organic Growers School is accepting applications until September 1, 2019, for its 2019-2020 Farm Beginnings program. Farm Beginnings is a 12-month, farmer-led program that involves more than 200 hours of training. The program begins with 60 hours of Whole-Farm Business Planning Courses from October through March, held in Arden, North Carolina. It continues with a variety of on-farm and other learning opportunities and mentorship with an experienced farmer mentor. A discount is offered for applications received by August 1, 2019.

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Produce Safety Team is helping produce growers across the state access free water testing by offering sample collection materials and drop-off sites at farmers markets. Members of the On-Farm Produce Safety Team will receive the samples at the drop-off locations and return them to the Iowa State lab in Ames. Some producers are required to have their water tested, depending on the size of operation and the source of water, in order to comply with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Although the compliance deadlines have been pushed to at least 2022, early testing can help producers identify and begin to address water-quality problems.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is accepting applications from military veterans enrolled in a New York State Veteran Affairs medical center (VISN2 Region) who want to attend our week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training from July 29, 2019, through August 2, 2019. The free training program in the Victor, New York, area allows veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore agriculture as a viable career. ATF's engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on experience, and interactive classroom instruction gives participants a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farm. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. Applications are due by June 30, 2019.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has canceled registration for 12 neonicotinoid-based pesticides, including products from Syngenta, Valent, and Bayer, reports Bloomberg Environment. Seven of the products were for seed coating. Farmers will still have access to other neonic-based products for now, although some organizations are pressing for a ban on all neonic products based on their known harm to bees. The entire class of neonicotinoid products is due for re-registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act by 2022.

North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has selected Barbara James Norman and Jim Stordahl as recipients of the 2019 NCR-SARE Hero Recognition. The award recognizes individuals who have provided 1) service to NCR-SARE and/or national SARE, 2) leadership in sustainable agriculture locally and regionally, and 3) lasting impacts on sustainability in the North Central region. Barbara Norman is a legacy Michigan blueberry farmer who has used and promoted sustainable practices such as cover crops, composting, no till, natural/organic, and innovative marketing strategies. In addition, Norman has also dedicated her career to improving the quality of life for farmers and ranchers, particularly historically underserved producers. Dairy and sheep farmer and educator Jim Stordahl was recognized posthumously for his longtime work with North Central SARE as a grantee and advisor.

Cargill and the Soil Health Institute have announced a new partnership to assess, demonstrate, and communicate the economics of soil health management systems across North America. Supported by an $850,000 grant from Cargill, the Soil Health Institute's Agricultural Economists will develop enterprise budgets to compare profitability of soil health-promoting systems with conventional management systems on approximately 100 farms near 120 research sites across North America.

Three PhD students at Imperial College London have developed an edible biopolymer to wrap hay and silage, reports Farmers Weekly. The project is contending for the Venture Catalyst Challenge that could fund further development, such as lacing the edible plastic with nutrients or probiotics. The developers believe the product could be available to farmers within three to five years, offering a way to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by agriculture and prevent livestock from consuming dangerous plastic scrap. They also predict that large-scale production would make the product affordable.

The University of California, Santa Cruz is accepting applications for the 2020 Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. The Apprenticeship is the longest running university-based organic farming training program in the U.S. This year's program will offer a record number of scholarships to participants. The 6-month, full-time residential program takes place at the 30-acre organic farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Application deadlines for the 2020 program are August 15, 2019, for international applicants, and September 30, 2019, for U.S. applicants.

The Savanna Institute announced that it has released a series of Understanding Agroforestry infographics. These free, downloadable infographics provide descriptions of five common agroforestry practices: riparian buffers, forest farming, alley cropping, silvopasture, and windbreaks. Each two-page PDF infographic includes an illustration of the practice, a summary of its challenges and benefits, and a section of frequently asked questions about implementing the practice.

American Farmland Trust's Farms for the Next Generation initiative has certified its first group of Land Access Trainers. The 25 experienced agricultural educators and service providers will deliver a professionally designed experiential curriculum to teach beginning farmers and ranchers how to lease, purchase, and receive land through inheritance or gift, along with finding and assessing land, and the basic financial skills needed to make informed land-access decisions. Land Access Trainers are spread throughout the country to specialize in their region's unique land issues.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Minnesota Grown Program is encouraging consumers to purchase shares in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms while they are still available. Minnesota Grown notes that by joining a CSA farm, you are showing your support for local business, connecting with a local farmer, and providing your family with fresh produce. The Minnesota Grown Directory, available in print or searchable online, includes 87 CSA farms with 142 drop sites around the state.

Researcher Chris Wright, the executive director of Midwest American Mycological Information, has become one of the first to cultivate morel mushrooms outdoors in the United States, reports Lansing State Journal. Wright uses a self-fertilizing strain of morels, grown in nutrient bags. He predicts that Michigan farmers could be profitably growing morels by 2021. Researchers are continuing to advance the production process, under funding from a SARE grant.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is seeking letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives to participate in the State's Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. The Department is encouraging all new and existing agricultural cooperatives that have considered entering into the industrial hemp industry to capitalize on this growing agricultural and industrial sector. Letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives wishing to participate in the industrial hemp research program must be submitted by June 6, 2019. New York State is accepting grower applications from individuals and businesses for the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. Applications for future research partners can be submitted in the areas of grain, fiber, and Cannabidiol (CBD). Applicants are advised to have firm commitments for the sale of the industrial hemp that they intend to grow and should focus on the 2020 growing season.

University of California, Berkeley researcher and PhD student Aidee Guzman is exploring how small, diverse farms affect soil health, reports High Country News. Guzman's work won't be published for another two years, but she is trying to prove that the small, immigrant farms of the Central Valley are important environmental models, in addition to their economic and cultural contributions to the area. Preliminary results show these diverse farms attract more native pollinators than conventional monocultures, and Guzman points to the importance of recognizing their agroecological model.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Minnesota Grown program has recognized Minnesota grocers who promoted locally grown products and farms exceptionally well. Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen announced winners from four regions, as well as the annual People's Choice Award recipient. Scores were based on several factors--including the number of Minnesota Grown products and the number of Minnesota Grown farmers that the grocer carried. Judges also looked at how the grocer used ads, displays, social media, and other events to promote Minnesota Grown items to customers.

A study by researchers from the European Union Joint Research Centre estimated the global cost of soil erosion by water at $8 billion annually, reports Forbes. The erosion causes reduced crop yields and increased water usage, calculated in this study using two models, RUSLE and MAGNET. The study concluded that, as a result of soil erosion, food production is reduced by 33.7 million tons of food worldwide.

Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has introduced a new topic room for Sustainable Production and Use of On-Farm Energy. The online resource presents guidebooks, videos, webinars, and other free materials to help farmers pursue sustainable energy strategies on their farms or ranches, realizing reduced costs and increased profits. Topics include growing and using biofuel feedstocks such as oilseeds, fruits, and grass pellets, as well as creating biodiesel, ethanol, and biofuels from anaerobic digestion, and generating affordable and renewable energy from solar and wind power.

Ohio State University is working with a network of micro farms as part of a $2 million project that's aiming to bring healthy food to urban food deserts, reports ideastream. The new model for urban farming connects and supports micro farms so that they're economically and environmentally sustainable. Unlike traditional urban farms, the micro farm model maximizes the number of crops produced in a small space and takes a whole-food-system approach to make farms profitable. The farms are saving space compared to field farms, and because they're organic, they reduce chemical use. Also, because of the micro farms' urban locations, transportation emissions are minimal, meaning that this type of food production could reduce the carbon footprint. Ten growers are participating in this year's pilot project.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will hold its Fall 2019 Meeting October 23-25, 2019, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The NOSB will meet to discuss substances petitioned for addition to or deletion from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, substances due to sunset from the National List in 2021, and guidance on organic policies. The NOSB invites public comment on agenda topics and will hear comments in-person at the meeting in Pittsburgh and during one of the webinars leading up to the meeting. Written comments may be submitted via Detailed meeting information, including agendas, locations, proposals, and public comments will be posted online as it becomes available.

Penn State has announced that it will host "Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown," the first international conference on climate solutions, in partnership with Project Drawdown. The three-day conference will include analysis and review of individual solutions--ranging from renewable energy and energy efficiency to forests, agriculture, and food systems; provide a forum for documenting and advancing the science of positive climate solutions; and serve as a platform for discussing future research initiatives. The event will be held September 16-18, 2019, in University Park, Pennsylvania.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Office of Community Food Systems has announced that it will collaborate with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers. NCAT will work with the National Farm to School Network and New York University in a multi-year project that will conduct a needs assessment among agricultural producers in collaboration with State agencies and then develop curricula and promote and execute trainings that use a tiered, train-the-trainer approach. The project will assist producers in entering the large, stable, long-term market offered by the National School Lunch Program.

Farmers looking to increase their bottom lines are looking to a new crop, reports KCET: solar energy. The combination of solar panels and agricultural activity is called "agrivoltaics." In Boulder County, Colorado, farmer Byron Kominek plans to install five acres of solar panels on 24 acres of farmland to generate 1.2 megawatts of electricity. In his model, Jack's Solar Garden will offer customers energy by subscription, the same way that a CSA offers fruit and vegetables. Kominek has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Lab, which, along with other research institutions, is testing the potential for agrivoltaics through 20 or so projects across the country.

The American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHS) has announced that open access will become effective January 1, 2020, for its journals Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science and HortScience. This action follows the successful transition of HortTechnology to full open access on January 1, 2019. The move will help to increase the impact of authors' work, and it will reduce limitations on page length and inclusion of images. In addition, the step will reduce publishing delays, because articles can be made available as soon as they are completed. A pricing structure for publishing fees will be announced soon.

The 2019 Organic Industry Survey released by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) shows that organic sales in the United States rose 6.3% in 2018 to reach $52.5 billion. Approximately 5.7% of the food sold in the United States is now organic. OTA notes that the growth rate for organic continued to easily outpace the general market. Fruits and vegetables are a particularly strong organic performer, accounting for 36.3% of all organic food sales and comprising nearly 15% of all the produce sold in the United States. In 2018, the organic non-food category also grew strongly, at a rate of more than 10%, to reach $4.6 billion in sales.

Michigan State University Extension offers online organic grain crop enterprise budgets updated for 2019. Microsoft Excel budgets are available for organic yellow corn, food-grade soybeans, oats, soft white winter wheat, and barley. They provide estimates of returns and selected costs for each crop. Enterprise budgets help farmers with budgeting and planning, record-keeping, and benchmarking.

Maine's Mid Coast Farmers Alliance is conducting an online survey of regional food buyers, to help connect local food buyers to the products they need and inform marketing decisions for local growers. All commercial food buyers, including general stores, restaurants, grocers, schools, and hospitals, are encouraged to participate in the online survey, which is available until June 1, 2019. Mid Coast Farmers Alliance has already completed a preliminary growers survey, which indicated that respondents were interested in expanding their operations and collaborating with other growers to reach a wider range of markets.

Renewing the Countryside has released the second edition of Come & Get It: What you need to know to serve food on your farm. The updated five-part Come & Get It publication offers an industry overview, including how to determine if an on-farm food service business is right for your farm. Case studies of nine farm businesses in Minnesota and Wisconsin offer behind-the-scenes tips and first-hand experiences from farmers already running successful pizza nights and other on-farm food service events. The five downloadable sections include the manual, case studies, specific sections on laws and regulations for Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a customer assessment.

A study by the University of Helsinki found more birds in agricultural environments in proximity to organic livestock farms. The study showed that organic animal farms were particularly beneficial to insectivore birds. The European Union aims to improve biodiversity in agricultural environments, and researchers concluded that increasing support for organic agriculture is an effective environmental subsidy because of its positive impact. The study was published in PLOS One.

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for five food and agriculture projects that will accelerate growth and create jobs by increasing capacity, implementing new technology, and improving efficiency. True Blue Processing Inc. of Grand Junction, Michigan, will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant for the purchase of new machinery and equipment that will enhance their processing capacity of fresh blueberries at their facility. In another project, Berrybrook Enterprises will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant for the construction of a new controlled-atmosphere apple storage facility in Hartford, Michigan. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.

The National Farm Viability Conference is seeking proposals for workshop sessions that fit the goals of the conference and provide relevant professional development to the target audience. The peer-to-peer professional development event is set for October 22-24, 2019, in Red Wing, Minnesota. The majority of the workshops will fall into one of the following categories: facilitated discussion with attendees, lecture, or panel presentation. Each time slot will be around 75 minutes long. Conference themes are listed online. Proposals are due June 12, 2019.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting proposals through July 15, 2019, for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, a new sub-program created by the 2018 Farm Bill for the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. On-Farm Trials include a Soil Health Demo Trial, also created by the 2018 Farm Bill. Through On-Farm Trials, NRCS and partners will collaborate to encourage the adoption of innovative practices and systems on agricultural lands. On-Farm Trials funding goes directly to partners, which in turn provide technical assistance and incentive payments to EQIP-eligible producers to implement innovative approaches on their lands. On-Farm Trials awards will range from $250,000 to $5 million. Private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture, non-governmental organizations with experience working with agricultural producers, and non-federal government agencies are eligible to apply.

A study by researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany concluded in favor of coordinated approaches that combine nature conservation and agricultural production in sustainably managed landscapes. "Many researchers argue that agricultural production on existing land should be intensified to increase yields while reducing agricultural pressure on the last areas of wilderness," explains study author Dr. Ingo Grass. "However, biodiversity and agriculture are often closely intertwined and many species are also beneficial to the farmer." Study authors recommend that protected areas and high-yield food-production areas should be connected by hedges or strips of land in order to create maximum biodiversity and benefits to people.

University of California Cooperative Extension has hired the state's first Extension specialist dedicated to organic agriculture. Long-time UC Santa Cruz researcher Joji Muramoto will lead a statewide program to support organic growers, focused on production of strawberries and vegetables. Muramoto says he plans to address soil fertility and the organic management of soil-borne diseases, coordinating short courses and statewide outreach on these subjects. In the new position, Muramoto will have a joint affiliation with UC's Cooperative Extension and the Environmental Studies Department and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Northern Border Regional Commission have announced assistance through the 2019 Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) program to help 15 communities with revitalization strategies that boost the local economy, improve health, and protect the environment. LFLP partner communities in 11 states will work with a team of agricultural, environmental, public health, and regional economic-development experts to set goals and identify local assets that can support the local food economy. Communities also develop an action plan and identify potential resources from the participating federal agencies to support implementation. Brief descriptions of the community projects selected are available online.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS), and Southeastern African American Farmers' Organic Network (SAAFON) recently presented scholarship awards to three students committed to working on issues that affect black farmers. Vanessa Garcia Polanco, Tyneshia Griffin, and Najma Muhammad each received a Cynthia Hayes Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to help further their work in sustainable agriculture and with communities of color. The scholarship program, named for SAAFON's former director, a founder of the first network for African American organic farmers in the United States, aims to support students of color within MANRRS who are interested in doing work within sustainable agriculture and are committed to working on issues that impact black farmers.

The National Farm to School Network has released State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018, a tool for those working to advance the farm to school movement. The Handbook summarizes and analyzes bills and resolutions introduced in state government. It enables users to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic. The publication also includes case studies on successful farm to school advocacy efforts in Hawai'i, Michigan, New Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Vermont, and provides additional resources for advocates and policymakers to support state farm to school policies. The publication is online in PDF.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has notified consumers that laboratory testing has shown that "Triple Action Neem Oil Broad Spectrum Fungicide, Insecticide, and Miticide" contains synthetic pesticide active ingredients not listed on the product label. During testing, the presence of malathion, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin were confirmed. The product is manufactured by Southern Agricultural Insecticides Inc. in Palmetto, Florida, lists its only active ingredient as "neem oil," and is approved by the Organic Material Review Institute for use on organically grown commodities. The Department advises consumers, distributors, and pesticide applicators to cease the sale and use of Triple Action Neem Oil.

Farmers Legal Action Group and Minnesota Farmers Union have posted a new, 32-page guide titled Farmers' Guide to Solar and Wind Energy in Minnesota. The resource is intended as a starting point for farmers who are considering large-scale solar or wind projects, and it can be downloaded or viewed free online by farmers, farm advocates, farm attorneys, and others.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) will offer a new, weekly, 26-episode video series beginning May 13, 2019, on its YouTube channel. A team of professors from California's public universities with agricultural programs – UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State, and CalPoly San Luis Obispo - has created a series of 7-minute to 47-minute videos designed to spark interest and begin training future farmers and ag workers in sound agronomic, economic, and environmental stewardship skills. According to a blog post from UC ANR, the "videos depict state-of-the-art technologies and techniques that are in use in many production regions of California today, vegetable farming systems used in other parts of the world, and increasingly popular cottage farming systems that are popping up in urban areas for easy access to healthful foods."

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University is accepting nominations for the 2019 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture. The Spencer Award honors the beliefs, innovations, and stewardship of Norman and Margaretha Spencer, who farmed near Sioux City for 40 years. It serves as a lasting memorial to the Spencers, who believed that it is the obligation of each generation to leave the world a better and healthier place for the next generation. The winners have shared a desire to improve Iowa’s landscape, albeit in very different ways. Nominations are due June 30, 2019.

The Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University has added video for two new livestock operations to its collection of case studies focusing on increasing resilience among farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest. The case studies address livestock, irrigated, and dryland farming. The two new livestock videos are Grazing for Multiple Use Goals: Russ Stingley and Resilience Through Engagement: Brenda & Tony Richards. Printed case studies on these same livestock operations are forthcoming.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has announced the winners of the eighth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards. The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals, and the planet. Winners in the category of Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability were Cinnamon Ridge Farms in Iowa, Majestic Crossing Dairy in Wisconsin, and Philip Verwey Farms in California. The Outstanding Dairy Supply Chain Collaboration award went to General Mills and Foremost Farms, a network that is using an on-farm assessment tool to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit won the Outstanding Community Impact award.

Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN) is requesting proposals for sessions at its 2019 Food & Farm Forum. At this event, approximately 200 diverse participants from across the state convene to swap stories, ideas, and wisdom, in order to together build a more robust local food system in Alabama. The Forum will address a variety of topics related to cultivating a resilient agricultural system in Alabama. Priority will be given to those with ties to the Alabama food system, and to sessions that reflect ASAN priorities as listed online. Proposals are due by June 17, 2019.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is seeking public comment on the draft Request for Proposals and application materials developed for the 2019 Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Technical Assistance Grant Program. The program provides funds for technical assistance providers from Resource Conservation Districts, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and nonprofit organizations to aid applicants of the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), the Healthy Soils Program (HSP), and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). Listening sessions for public comment are scheduled for May 15, 2019, in Sacramento and May 20, 2019, in Salinas. Comments may also be submitted via e-mail until May 24, 2019.

Recently approved regulations will allow the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to open registration with county agricultural commissioners for industrial hemp cultivation. Registration applications are now available on the CDFA Industrial Hemp webpage. CDFA plans to propose additional regulations for industrial hemp cultivation later this year, including sampling and testing procedures, and the establishment of an agricultural pilot program.

USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced 2018 Farm Bill updates to Annual Forage insurance for the 2020 Crop Year. The Annual Forage pilot program now offers a Dual Use Option in select counties of six Great Plains states. Producers who select this option can insure their small-grains crops with both an Annual Forage Policy for grazing and a multi-peril Small Grains Policy for grain. The Dual Use Option is ideal for producers who plant a small grain by October 15, 2019, to use as a grazing crop over the winter and to harvest for grain the next summer. The option is available in counties where RMA considers "grain/graze" a good farming practice in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition to the Dual Use Option, RMA announced additional Annual Forage program updates, including offering Catastrophic Risk Protect (CAT) for grazing, restoring the 1.5 productivity factor program-wide, and updating the county base values to account for the varying yield potential within a state.

Dane County, Wisconsin, is providing $750,000 in incentives for farmers to convert land that is currently in an annual crop into perennial cool-season grass mix, native prairie mix, or grazing mix, for a 15-year contract period. Funding is available for approximately 300 acres for the 2019 pilot year, with approximately 100 acres devoted to each of the following goals: wildlife, buffers, and grazing. The total upfront payment is between $1,650 and $2,500 per acre, depending on the type of cover selected. The initiative is designed to help curb agricultural runoff into lakes and streams, and it allows for harvesting and grazing of the cover. Applications for acreage from .5 to 40 acres are being accepted until May 31, 2019.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) has published an enterprise budget for cherry tomato production based on the experiences of Buffalo Ridge Orchard and Echollective Farm in 2018. Each farm reported on yield, revenue, net income, expenses, and labor. Both farms showed that cherry tomatoes were a profitable crop, but the enterprise budget reveals the high labor cost of this crop. It also shows how differences in production methods affect yields per square foot, and how yield and price factors together determine income.

Researchers from the University of Bristol have published study findings that reveal seasonal gaps in the nectar supply on farmland that limit pollinator success. They found that on farmland in the United Kingdom, there are gaps in the nectar supply in early spring (March) and late summer (August to September). Plantings designed for pollinators often make nectar available during the peak summer season, when supplies are already plentiful. Lead study author Tom Timberlake commented, "Early-flowering plants like willows and dandelions, or late-flowering red clover and ivy could all help to fill the hungry gaps, if we allow them to survive and flower on farmland."

USDA National Organic Program has launched an online Organic Integrity Learning Center that provides free training for organic professionals. Initial course offerings include the following: Introduction to the USDA Organic System; Sound and Sensible Organic Certification; Fundamentals of Inspection; Compliance and Enforcement: Adverse Actions, Appeals, and Reinstatements; and Import Oversight Essentials. Future courses will include Dairy Compliance, Traceability Techniques, Advanced Inspections, Materials Reviews, Certification Administration, and Sampling and Testing. Each training lesson includes assessments to track learning progress.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has announced nine local food projects as recipients of the latest round of Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grants. The competitive grant program is designed to strengthen Wisconsin's food industries by reducing marketing, distribution, and processing hurdles that impede the access of Wisconsin food products to local purchasers. Projects selected to receive FY2019 grants include season extension for local herb production, development of single-serve packages for organic maple syrup, aronia promotion, and a farm-to-freezer project that will extend the seasonal availability of local produce.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has published an interim final rule in the Federal Register to make regulations consistent with the changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill. These changes include expanding the membership of State Technical Committees, enabling representatives from the State Cooperative Extension Service and land grant universities to serve on the state committee that assists NRCS in guiding locally led conservation. Additional changes include authorizing that certification of technical service providers be through a qualified non-federal entity and requiring that $3 million of the funds to implement the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program be used to encourage public access for hunting and other recreational activities on wetlands enrolled in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. NRCS is accepting comments on this interim final rule through July 5, 2019.

New York has announced a new Grape-to-School program in which 10 school districts will serve NYS Grown & Certified Concord grape juice through the end of the school year. In addition, the participating districts will provide educational activities and taste tests to promote New York agriculture and expand locally sourced products on school menus. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is working in partnership with American Farmland Trust, through New York State's collaborative Farm-to-Institution initiative, on the pilot program. More than 65 additional districts across the state will also be serving the local grape juice to help achieve local food purchasing goals.

USDA is seeking nominees to fill five National Organic Standards Board vacancies. The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint new members for five-year terms to begin in January 2020. Current vacancies are as follows: One individual with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation; One individual who owns or operates an organic farming operation or employees of such individuals; One individual who owns or operates a retail establishment with significant trade in organic products or an employee of such individuals; Two individuals who own or operate an organic handling operation or employees of such individuals. Nominations are due by May 20, 2019.

The Sage Grouse Initiative has released a free manual for riparian restoration, Low-Tech, Process-Based Restoration of Riverscapes Design Manual. This resource outlines restoration strategies using low-tech tools—simple hand-built structures made from natural materials that have short-term lifespans—to initiate processes that allow Mother Nature to heal itself. It gives practitioners step-by-step instructions for how to plan, design, and build low-tech structures and also lays out 10 principles that guide the whole approach. This restoration is widely applicable for wadeable rural streams and, due to its low cost, large areas.

More and more farmers are using bio-fertilizers, inoculants, and microbe additives for their soil in an attempt to improve soil quality. However, a multi-year study at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus found that added microbes often didn't establish in the soil, although in some cases they became invasive and took over the soil. In either case, the added microbes seemed to have no effect on the crops grown in the field. Study leader Miranda Hart noted, "If the farmer invested thousands on the inoculate, it may have been a waste of money.” Furthermore, Hart says she is concerned about a lack of knowledge about the environmental effect of microbe introductions. "What we're doing is releasing invasive species into the environment and we don't know the long-term effect of what's happening to the soil."

A Life Cycle Analysis conducted by Quantis at White Oak Pastures in south Georgia showed that the farm is storing more carbon in the soil than its cows emit during their lives. General Mills funded the study, which compared soil in fields that had been holistically managed for 0 to 20 years. The results showed that farmer Will Harris' grazing methods are adding soil organic matter and sequestering more carbon than the cows produce. A press release reports that data indicates that White Oak Pastures is offsetting at least 100% of the farm's grassfed beef carbon emissions and as much as 85% of the farm’s total carbon emissions.

Purdue Extension-Marion County is offering a series of two-hour urban agriculture workshops from May through September. The evening workshops offer site tours and instruction on topics from seed starting to extending the growing season. The workshop series is part of an overall effort to support urban agriculture that includes an Urban Agriculture Certificate Program and a comprehensive urban agriculture map.

USDA published a final rule in the Federal Register, amending the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for organic livestock production and handling. This amendment allows elemental sulfur to be used in organic livestock production as a topical treatment to repel mites, fleas, and ticks from livestock and their living spaces. It also reclassifies potassium acid tartrate from a nonagricultural substance to an agricultural substance, requiring handlers to use the organic form when it is commercially available. The amendments take effect May 30, 2019.

Practical Farmers of Iowa has released a Strawberry Establishment and Production Enterprise Budget, the result of farmer-led research. Growers Lee Matteson and Rose Schick determined differences in cost and labor for strawberry bed establishment using two methods: biodegradable plastic and a matted row of mulch. For two years, the farmers tracked expenses, labor, yield, and revenue on four varieties of strawberries to determine which establishment system was better for their farm. Even with poor yields due to extreme heat, the biodegradable plastic system provided a net profit of $0.66 per pound. Meanwhile, the straw mulch system had a net loss of $0.50 per pound.

FruitGuys Community Fund has announced that 15 farms and agricultural nonprofits from 12 different states will receive a total $53,479.74 in funding from its 2019 grants. Projects will include season extension, cover crop seed, irrigation-system improvements, and pollinator habitat. Descriptions of the winning projects are available online, and project updates will be offered by FruitGuys Community Fund over the course of the year.

Lehigh University investigated how willing produce buyers would be to purchase East-Coast broccoli with different quality characteristics if they knew it was locally grown. As part of The Broccoli Project, researchers have worked to develop broccoli that can be grown well on the East Coast, but these new varieties grown in hot and humid weather do not have the bud and head uniformity of California broccoli. Lehigh University researchers surveyed 27 regional wholesale and retail buyers representing 50% of the retail grocery market and found that broccoli appearance was more important to them than being locally grown. They concluded that growers should approach the natural food store market, which is less visually demanding, with local produce first, before attempting to sell to larger retailers.

Long-term cover-crop research by Penn State has shown that individual cover crops are either good at reducing nitrogen leaching or increasing nitrogen supply to cash crops, but not both. Recently, researchers have been testing cover-crop mixes to try to balance the two objectives, and they reported study results in PLOS One. Tests of six cover-crop monocultures and four mixtures showed that all of them reduced nitrogen leaching to some extent. However, the most effective mix for boosting crop yield and reducing nitrogen pollution combined a high proportion of legumes with rye. The researchers say their results could be especially important for organic growers seeking to be more productive without causing nutrient pollution.

Practical Farmers of Iowa invites Iowa farmers who currently graze livestock of any kind, or hope to in the future, to participate in new farmer-led grazing groups the organization is forming across the state. The new grazing groups aim to address the need for more peer-to-peer grazing support. Participating is free, and farmers do not need to be Practical Farmers members. The first six regional gatherings will take place in May and June, each hosted by a farmer, and will run from 4:30-7:00 p.m. Dinner will also be provided at each. Each group will take a pasture walk together and discuss spring grazing management on lush pastures, first-cut hay, planting summer annuals, and more.

USDA has released the USDA Agroforestry Strategic Framework for fiscal years 2019 through 2024. To help agroforestry reach its full potential in the United States, USDA is encouraging the widespread adoption of agroforestry practices on farms, ranches, and woodlands. The Framework provides a roadmap for advancing agroforestry through the following three goals: 1) Reach out—Ensure all landowners and communities have access to the latest tools and information that support agroforestry adoption; 2) Investigate—Conduct applied and basic research to advance the science and technology that supports the use of agroforestry; 3) Integrate—Facilitate the integration of agroforestry information, research, tools, and technologies to meet the goals and objectives of USDA agencies. The publication is available online in PDF.

The Freeland family in Caputa, South Dakota, has taken a regenerative approach and is diversifying its farm operation, reports Tri-State Neighbor. Shawn Freeland reduced his cattle herd to 200 and has focused on expanding grazing with alternative forage crops, so that the cattle do more of the work. He is also moving toward smaller-framed cattle that will grass-finish more effectively. Meanwhile, the family is introducing new enterprises, such as a pumpkin patch and honey production, to the operation.

Research at Cornell University has partnered Cornell Lab of Ornithology with the Cornell Maple Program to explore how maple syrup producers can adjust management practices to foster bird habitat within their sugar bushes. Studies in Vermont with experimental forest plots and maple syrup producers have found that a sugar bush that contains at least 25% non-maple trees supports a greater abundance and diversity of birds. In addition, producers are finding that these diverse forests experience shorter and less-intense insect outbreaks than maple monocultures.

New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station has released Growing Kiwiberries in New England: An Online Guide for Regional Producers. The resource includes a statewide market assessment, a detailed production manual, and an enterprise analysis for regional growers. The Experiment Station has been conducting kiwiberry research since 2013 and is providing information to help Northeast growers decide whether or not to plant this increasingly popular crop. Researchers say there is great potential for kiwiberry, citing consumer interest, the Northeast's established valuation of local produce and direct-market horticultural crops, and the extremely low level of regional production to date.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) has introduced a new video series on organic weed control in field-crop production. In the 12-minute first video of the series, several PFI farmers share their knowledge on early-season tillage, seedbed preparation, and timing of planting. Additional episodes in the series will explore crop rotations; early-season, light-tillage implements like rotary hoes, tine weeders, and harrows; an in-depth look at row crop cultivators; and more.

Organizers of the 2019 Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's It Takes a Region conference are requesting session proposals. The conference is set for November 7-9, 2019, in Jersey City, New Jersey. Organizers are looking for sessions that tackle systemic issues with engaging activities and presentations that prioritize the leadership and voices of those most impacted by the issue discussed. Priority will be given to sessions presented by traditionally underrepresented groups that directly address some aspect of inequity in the food system. Five conference tracks will be offered this year. Submissions will be accepted through June 8, 2019.

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR-SARE) has announced grant awards for 2019 in three programs. The Partnership Grant Program fosters cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture. NCR-SARE awarded almost $566,000 to 15 projects. Under the Farmer Rancher Grant Program, 48 grant projects were selected to receive a total of more than $663,000 to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. For the 2019 Youth Educator Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded $42,000 to 11 projects. Summaries of the funded projects are available online.

A study led by Michigan State University shows that populations of half the bumble bee species found in the state have declined by more than 50%. Study results, published in Ecology, compared the distribution of 12 different bumble bee species across the state before and after the year 2000. The species that have declined the most are the rusty patched bumble bee, American bumble bee, yellow banded bumble bee, and yellow bumble bee. Species that depend on fewer species of plants were the most likely to decline, particularly as habitat for those plants is lost. Bumble bees are important pollinators not only for wild seeds and berries that wildlife depend upon, but also for many human food crops including blueberries.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have anounced the launch of a public-private initiative to advance climate smart agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on agricultural lands. This partnership will create a mechanism for leading businesses in the food and fiber supply chain to directly fund climate projects on California farms and ranches. CARB and CDFA will convene a working group composed of subject matter experts to design an approach to invest private dollars in climate smart agricultural projects. In developing this new effort, CARB and CDFA will work with a California nonprofit, the Perennial Farming Initiative, and its Zero Foodprint Program to launch Restore California Renewable Restaurants. Through this voluntary initiative, diners can choose zero-carbon restaurants that are funding real on-farm emissions reductions.

Massachusetts state government has awarded $1 million in grants to 40 agricultural operations in the state to install practices that help mitigate their impacts on climate change and adapt to changing climate conditions. The grants were awarded through the Agricultural Climate Resiliency & Efficiencies (ACRE) Program, which funds materials and labor for the implementation of practices that work to improve soil health and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The program also offers incentives for agricultural operations to proactively address risks and strengthen their economic and environmental resiliency as they adapt to the changing climate. Proposals that address both mitigation and adaptation in their proposals are prioritized for funding. A list of funded projects is available online.

PASA Sustainable Agriculture announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has approved its Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship as the first formal apprenticeship program for farmers in the state. The Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship provides a guided pathway for training aspiring vegetable farmers to manage or start a farm, while also meeting the employment needs of established farms. The curriculum trains apprentices in core competencies from soil fertility and irrigation to marketing and business administration. Apprentices receive more than 2,700 hours of on-the-job training at an established farm and complete more than 200 hours of related technical instruction over the course of two seasons. Under the terms of the program, the apprentices are paid an hourly wage that increases as they advance their skills.

The recently released Census of Agriculture showed that dairy goats have been the fastest-growing group of livestock over the past decade, reports The Washington Post. The number of dairy goats grew 61% between 2007 and 2017, even as cattle, sheep, and chicken numbers held steady and numbers of llamas, emus, and ostriches plummeted. The number of meat and fiber goats also declined by double digits. The feature notes that American appetite for goat milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir is growing. It also points to declines in the number of goat dairies, even as the number of dairy goats has risen, indicating the prevalence of larger operations in today's market. One industry leader comments that it takes at least 1,000 goats to have a viable business, and that the economics of making a price-competitive value-added product are tricky.

The global banana industry is facing devastation by Panama disease, a Fusarium wilt to which nearly all of the commercial banana plants grown worldwide are susceptible, writes University of Westminster's Stuart Thompson in The Conversation. The deadly disease is devastating banana plantations that it infects, because Cavendish banana plants are so genetically similar and planted in wide swaths. Options for dealing with the situation range from quarantines--which are only temporarily successful--to genetic engineering and conventional plant breeding, both of which are expensive and would still leave bananas vulnerable to a new strain of disease. Thompson argues that an agricultural system with more diversity, crop rotation, and companion plants that combat the disease is a better long-term solution, not just for bananas, but for food production in general.

Stevens Institute of Technology is spearheading an international project to map the global flow of phosphorus, as the first step in an effort to recapture and recycle this valuable nutrient whose supply from rock is limited. The map, published in Earth’s Future, locates regions where there is both a significant demand for fertilizer and potential for recapturing the nutrient from animal and human waste. The map reveals potential for phosphorus recapture for 72% of croplands that have manure production nearby and for 68% of croplands with significant human populations nearby. "Ideally, the 45 million metric tons of phosphorus fertilizers used each year would be completely reused, and we'd harvest their maximum potential to support food production," said Stevens' David Vaccari. "This work is a step toward understanding how to get to that point."

Scientists at the University of California have found a red algae seaweed that reduces bovine methane production by as much as 50% when small amounts of the seaweed are added to their feed. Now scientists are exploring how they might be able to cultivate Asparagopsis taxiformis on a large scale, and how they might increase its concentration of bromoform, the chemical responsible for halting methane production in cattle. Researchers say there is much work to be done to understand the complete life cycle of the seaweed and the best way to cultivate large quantities of it that would be needed to use it effectively as a cattle feed additive.

The 2019 N.C. AgVentures cost-share grants will help 34 North Carolina farmers grow or diversify their operations. Grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 will help with a wide variety of projects, including expanding a honey-processing operation, increasing mushroom production, and converting tobacco greenhouses into hemp houses. Other projects include pastured-pork and pastured-poultry processing, high tunnels, purchase of seed-processing equipment, and installation of equipment for value-added food products. Funding is provided by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, and the program is administered by NC State Extension. A list of funded projects is available online.

A study published by the University of Guelph in Canada shows that exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides reduces honey bees' ability to groom and rid themselves of deadly varroa mites. The researchers experimented with three sublethal doses of clothianidin, all similar to what the bees would experience while feeding on flower nectar of neonic-treated crop fields. The bees were also introduced to varroa mites. The study found a complex and non-additive interaction between the two stressors, even at the lowest level.

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program is awarding more than $79,500 in grants to farmers around the Southern Region to further sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices. Projects funded by Producer Grants will include bee pollen identification, season extension, essential oils, walnut syrup production, and agroforestry. Grant recipients will share their results with fellow farmers in an education and outreach capacity. Southern SARE will also award $116,154 for eight on-farm research grants on topics including sheep parasites, bale grazing, regenerative grazing, technology for organic no-till vegetable production, and more. A complete list of funded projects is available online.

The Council of Development Finance Agencies has released the second white paper in its Food Finance series, Food Systems and Access to Capital. This series aims to define the food system as an asset class worthy of utilizing traditional development finance tools that will support economic growth and community development. This second paper focuses on small businesses, micro-enterprises, and entrepreneurs, arguing that food-related businesses are no different than other small businesses. It shows how small businesses can access and utilize different types of financing tools.

In Wisconsin, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Waupaca County Land & Water Conservation Department have partnered with eight Wisconsin counties to launch the Upper Fox-Wolf Demonstration Farm Network. This partnership will support the fourth network of farms in the state that will demonstrate the best conservation practices to reduce phosphorus entering the Great Lakes basin. Participating farms will test the effectiveness of conservation systems, foster technology transfer, host research, and conduct outreach to share lessons learned. Ten demonstration farms have joined the network.

The UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture is offering a range of online summer classes in sustainable food and farming. Two summer terms are scheduled: from May 20 through June 28, 2019, and from July 8 through August 16, 2019. Two full-summer courses are also offered, spanning both terms. Courses available include urban agriculture, community food systems, organic vegetable production, and more. Courses may be taken individually, or toward completion of an online 15-credit Certificate, 60-credit Associate of Science, and/or 120-credit Bachelor of Science degree.

A new website has been launched by Water for Agriculture, an interdisciplinary research project led by Penn State University. The Water for Agriculture project brings together social and biophysical researchers and practitioners to work with communities in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Arizona to address the water and agriculture issues that matter most to them through effective stakeholder engagement. In addition to providing background on the project, the website houses a library of webinars, a news and update section, and a community engagement toolbox, which provides a practical guide to the major concepts, tools, and strategies for implementing effective community engagement processes.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach announced a new program, Farm, Food and Enterprise Development. The program's 20 staff members come from the former Local Foods and Value Added Agriculture programs, as well as from the current Community and Economic Development program. The team will provide resources and technical assistance on topics such as small-farm profitability, agritourism, community food systems planning and development, farm to school and farm to early childhood education, and business feasibility and financing. The program is divided into the areas of small farms, food systems, and enterprise development.

A study led by researchers at Tufts University, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that adequate intake of nutrients from food is associated with a reduction in mortality, but there is no association between use of dietary supplements and a lower risk of death. The study evaluated the association between dietary supplement use and death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in 27,000 U.S. adults. Researchers found that adequate intakes of Vitamin A and Vitamin K, as well as magnesium and zinc, from food were associated with lower risk of death, but the same did not hold true when these nutrients were sourced from supplements. Furthermore, excess calcium intake from supplements was associated with higher risk of death from cancer, although there was no association for calcium intake from foods.

The Natural Capital Finance Alliance has released Natural Capital Credit Risk Assessment in Agricultural Lending, a new template that enables financial institutions to conduct natural capital credit risk assessment across different agricultural sectors and geographies. Although most banks still lend to farmers almost solely on the basis of their most recent profit and loss accounts, lenders should recognize that performance can be improved over the short-term in an unsustainable way, but this can create medium-term risks such as degradation of land and water. The new approach outlined in this guide provides a global template for natural capital credit risk assessment that takes into account factors such as water availability, use and quality; soil health; biodiversity; energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions. The approach is designed to be consistent with the leading international standard for including natural capital in business decision-making, the Natural Capital Protocol.

Prairie strips on cropland can help farmers conserve soil and protect water quality, but it can be challenging to establish prairie affordably. Research led by the University of Northern Iowa has developed a Tallgrass Prairie Seed Calculator that can help landowners develop seed mixes that meet their goals and budgets. The Tallgrass Prairie Center has also investigated strategies that can help farmers succeed with prairie establishment, such as selling prairie biomass for energy or other uses to help offset seed costs.

Southeast Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) has posted Four Acre Farms' report on a year-long study of an insulated Langsroth hive that was funded by a SEMAP Technology, Innovation, and Excellence (TIE) grant. The 21-page PDF report details results of a project that added foam insulation board to a bee hive in an attempt to moderate weather-sourced stressors. In this study, the insulated hive thrived, producing honey in its first year, in contrast to the uninsulated control hive. The beekeepers deemed the insulated hive a success, though they note that the cost and effort required for insulating the hive are considerations in its effectiveness.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has announced that a team of researchers at Montana State University will receive a $20,000 soil health grant to evaluate the effects of seeding rates on lentil yields and competition. Lentils are an important crop for diversifying wheat-based cropping systems and are one of several pulse crops used by farmers in the Northern Great Plains to promote biodiversity, improve soil health, and generate income. Dr. Jed Eberly will lead research to select the optimum varieties to improve lentil yields, nutritional quality, and economic returns. Dr. Eberly is collaborating with organic farmers from three different locations in a series of multi-site replicated trials.

Montana organic farmer Nate Powell-Palm testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture about what the USDA organic standards mean for organic farmers, reports the Organic Trade Association. Powell-Palm said that "when farmers can receive a premium in the market for sustainable practices, it's a win-win." He is a diversified organic farmer growing organic wheat, field peas, straw, cattle, and hay, who says that organic price premiums have helped him expand his operation. He notes that the organic certification process is a way to ensure that farmers can be fairly compensated for the sustainable practices they use.

Practical Farmers of Iowa has announced meetings for six grazing groups located in different regions of the state of Iowa. Groups will meet in Lamoni, Lockridge, Remsen, Maxwell, Oxford, and Charles City during May and early June. They will go on pasture walks, discuss spring grazing management on lush pastures, first-cut hay, planting summer annuals, and more. Each meeting includes dinner and the opportunity to learn from fellow livestock producers.

The new edition of the Minnesota Grown Directory features products and services offered by more than 1,000 farms, ranches, and farmers markets across Minnesota. The updated directory is searchable by region, farm name, or product. It includes locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy items, wineries, nurseries, Christmas trees, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations, and more. Readers can search by new product categories, including On-farm Dinners/Tastings, Hemp, Microgreens, and Pick-your-own farm opportunities. In addition to searching for certified organic entries, readers can now also search by Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certified farms. The directory is available free online or in print.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has released an Information Alert on the 2019 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up opportunity. The 17-page publication explains updates to the CSP program this year and provides producers with detailed instructions on completing the sign-up process. NSAC is notifying farmers that they must file an initial application for the program before May 10, 2019, for enrollment in the program during Fiscal Year 2019.

Livestock producers in southwest Wisconsin received a North Central SARE grant to help them achieve four objectives related to opportunities in local meat processing, reports Agri-View. Among these was a feasibility study for a cooperatively owned, federally licensed, and women-farmer-led mobile-slaughtering unit and/or retail butcher establishment in south-central Wisconsin. A survey of 80 livestock producers in a three-county area revealed that producers would be likely to increase their business if local slaughtering capacity increased. Respondents indicated that wait times and lack of custom-cutting services limited their meat sales. The project organizers plan to continue working on local meat processing and develop outreach materials to help others become involved.

The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow as direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans, that are financed and serviced by FSA. The Direct Operating Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $400,000, and the Guaranteed Operating Loan limit increased from $ 1.429 million to $1.75 million. In addition, the Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million. Farm ownership loans help producers become owner-operators of family farms as well as improve and expand current operations. In another change, producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan. Previously, microloans were limited to a combined $50,000. Microloans provide flexible access to credit for small, beginning, niche, and non-traditional farm operations. Additionally, beginning and socially disadvantaged producers can now receive up to a 95% guarantee against the loss of principal and interest on a loan, up from 90%.

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Among key findings were that both farm numbers and land in farms have continued to decline since the last Census in 2012. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. The 273,000 smallest (1 to 9 acres) farms make up 0.1% of all farmland while the 85,127 largest (2,000 or more acres) farms make up 58% of farmland. In addition, the average age of farmers and ranchers continues to rise. Average farm income is $43,053, but a total of just 43.6% of farms had positive net cash farm income in 2017. Other interesting statistics are that a total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable energy producing systems, and that in 2017, a total of 130,056 farms sold directly to consumers, with sales of $2.8 billion.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Direct Farm Marketing Division is sponsoring a contest for Kentucky FFA members actively involved in the production, growth, and marketing of farm commodities or value-added products. To be eligible, participants must produce and market fruits, vegetables, flowers, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, or value-added products that have direct Kentucky farmgate impact. The products must be marketed and sold directly to the consumer through farmers markets, roadside markets, or on-farm markets. Participants must turn in a written marketing plan, in which they answer 10 questions regarding market research, display skills, and direct-marketing abilities. Applicants also must submit a portfolio that should include photos of the farm operation, products in the field, promotional materials, and market displays. Applications are due May 15, 2019.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has posted an update on the Innovative Site Preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment (InSPIRE) project that is exploring benefits and barriers of low-impact solar development. Rather than devoting solar energy sites solely to energy production, low-impact solar incorporates other land uses, such as providing pollinator habitat and allowing agricultural uses ranging from grazing to vegetable production. Low-impact solar development leaves topsoil in place beneath solar arrays and often plants native vegetation. The project has found that having vegetation in place to cool the ground can make solar panels perform better. Conversely, in hot climates, shade from solar panels can improve the water efficiency of vegetable production beneath the shade of the panels, a practice called "agrivoltaics."

In California, Novato Unified School District has lifted a 10-year-old ban on beef in school meals and begun serving grass-fed beef from a local rancher, reports Marin Independent Journal. Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, whose owners Loren and Lisa Poncia have children in the school district, is supplying meat for lunches in the district every other week. Using the raw meat has meant some new food-safety protocols for the district. Miguel Villareal, director of food and nutritional services for the Novato Unified School District, has worked to bring a variety of healthy, local foods to district meals.

University of New Hampshire researchers found dramatic declines in populations of 14 wild bee species that are important pollinators of fruit crops in the Northeast. This study used museum records to compare wild bee communities in New Hampshire between 1891 and 2016. The researchers found that 13 species of New England-native ground-nesting bee and one species of cavity-nesting bee are in decline. The declining species also experienced shifts in the elevation and latitude where they are found, with half becoming more abundant in the northern end of their range.

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has published a notice in the Federal Register regarding its intent to reinstate the 2019 Organic Survey as a follow-on survey to the 2017 Census of Agriculture with mandatory reporting. NASS is accepting public comment until April 29, 2019, on (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, technological or other forms of information technology collection methods.

The Society of Organic Seed Professionals (SOSP) is launching a membership recruitment campaign. SOSP, formed in 2017, is a new membership organization of researchers and practitioners committed to the advancement of organic seed systems. SOSP fosters learning and collaboration among diverse people working in organic seed systems within and beyond the United States. SOSP invites scientists, educators, farmers, entrepreneurs, policy advocates, seed company professionals, and students to gather, share their work, and generate interpersonal connections that amplify each individual's passion and ensure a robust future for organic agriculture. SOSP offers a sliding scale of membership dues, with benefits including a member listserv, resources on the SOSP website, and mentorship opportunities for early career and experienced organic seed professionals.

A Clemson Extension agent is working to develop a butterbean variety that can successfully pollinate during warmer nights. The butterbean, or lima, is a southern dietary staple, but the most common variety won't pollinate when night temperatures rise above 75°F. Climbing temperatures in South Carolina in recent years have resulted in poor crops and crop failures. Consequently, the amount of butterbean acreage in South Carolina has been in decline, as growers move to other crops. Researcher Tony Melton says he hopes to have a heat-tolerant butterbean by the end of 2019, which growers are eagerly awaiting.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is accepting applications from military veterans who want to attend our week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training June 10-14, 2019, in the Craftsbury Common, Vermont, area. ATF allows veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore agriculture as a viable career. ATF's engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on experience, and interactive classroom instruction gives participants a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farm. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the training sessions. Additional contributors will include staff from Sterling College and USDA agencies, plus experienced crop and livestock producers. The training is free for those selected to participate. All military veterans, as well as their spouses or farm partners, are welcome to apply. However, selection priority will be given to residents of the Northeast region. Applications are due by May 3, 2019.

Researchers at the University of Würzburg published a study in Ecology Letters that illustrates the value of breaking up agricultural landscapes into small habitats. When cropland is broken up into small-scale pieces alternated with non-crop habitat, biodiversity, pollination, and pest control are all improved. The study of 1,515 agricultural landscapes in Europe showed more beneficial insects and spiders with small-scale land use, as well as increased pollination and natural pest control. "In order to reduce pests and promote biodiversity, increasing the density of seminatural habitat elements can be an ideal solution for farms. You don't have to remove much land from cultivation to reach a significant effect," says study leader Dr. Emily A. Martin.

A study from the University of Minnesota, published in Nature Sustainability, shows that health damages caused by corn production result in 4,300 premature deaths annually in the United States. The study considered pollution emissions, pollution transport by wind, and human exposure to increased air pollution levels. It also found that the damage to human health of producing a bushel of corn differs from region to region. The study revealed that in some areas, the monetary value of health damages from corn production are greater than the corn's market price. On average, health damages from reduced air quality total $3.07 per bushel of corn. This paper also estimates life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of corn production, finding total climate change damages of $4.9 billion, or $0.38 per bushel of corn. The study's results suggest potential benefits from improving nitrogen-use efficiency, switching to crops requiring less fertilizer, and changing the location where corn is grown.

USDA has announced that producers interested in enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) should submit applications to their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office by May 10, 2019, to ensure their applications are considered for 2019 funding. NRCS plans to invest up to $700 million for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program. Among them are the following: NRCS now enrolls eligible, high-ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. Additionally, higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource-conserving crop rotations. Also, CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning-to-organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for producers who have maintained cropland base acres.

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) administered by USDA provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. USDA has issued a notice on how the 2018 Farm Bill amended NAP. One significant factor is that there is an opportunity for buy-up coverage. USDA notes, "Because all 2019 application closing dates and some 2020 application closing dates for NAP crops passed before FSA announced the availability of buy-up coverage, producers can obtain buy-up coverage (or increase coverage level election to buy-up) for the 2019 and 2020 crop years retroactively." This option will be available through the later of the crop's application closing date or May 24, 2019.

MOSES has published the 11th edition of its Midwest Organic Resource Directory, listing buyers, processors, suppliers, certification agencies, consultants, resource organizations, state and federal agencies, and university programs for organic production. Suppliers are sorted by tools, soil inputs, livestock products, pest control, season extension, and seed. The directory is available online as a free PDF download or as a printed, spiral-bound book.

University of Minnesota Extension and Hmong-American farmers have developed four Hmong-language videos to help Hmong-American farmers scale up for wholesale production. The videos are part of a peer-to-peer learning project, and Hmong-American farmers participating in the project helped develop the scripts and acted in the videos. University of Minnesota Extension says the videos are intended to be used by nonprofit educational organizations and farmers to conduct on-farm training about food safety practices to reduce the risk of contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. Topics include cleaning and sanitizing tools, keeping things clean on the farm, washing vegetables, and mixing sanitizers.

The California Green Medal recipients have been announced for the fifth annual Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. The California Green Medal recognizes the leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability. Silver Oak Cellars was the winner of the Leader Award given to the vineyard that excels in the three "E's" of sustainability--Environmentally Sound, Socially Equitable, and Economically Viable practices. The Environment Award went to Scheid Family Wines, the Community Award to Smith Family Wines, and the Business Award to Domaine Carneros.