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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 2, 2008
Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

We Have Great News to Share!

NCAT’s ATTRA project has been funded for fiscal year 2008. ATTRA’s funding was part of the omnibus appropriations bill funded by Congress and signed by the President on December 26, 2007.

We have called our staff back from lay-off and will begin providing full services on January 2 nd. Our phone lines will be open for 12 hours per day and you can call and get assistance from one of our program specialists. We will be taking on new research cases and will begin writing new publications to assist farmers, ranchers and others obtain up-to-date, cutting edge information on sustainable agriculture. Our website, which has been kind of quiet for the last few months will once again be dynamic and informational.

After a year with significantly cut budgets and services, we are looking forward to working with our ATTRA clients to provide the services they want and need. Look for new and exciting publications, updates to the website, new partnerships and trainings.

Special thanks to our Weekly Harvest readers. You were so supportive of our efforts to continue our work. Thank you for your donations and your kind words of support. The money you sent allowed us to keep the website up and running, the phones answered for a few hours each day and allowed us to write and send the Weekly Harvest throughout the year. Thank you for your great support.

Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.

News & Resources
* New Organic Compliance Publication Available
* How-to Publication Aids Farmers' Markets with Cooking Demonstrations
* Contract Grazing Opportunities Explored
* Census of Agriculture Forms Mailed
* Web Site Promotes Missouri's Organic Products
* USDA Releases Animal Disease Traceability Plan

Funding Opportunities
* Conservation Innovation Grants
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative Program, EPA Region 6
* Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternative

Coming Events
* Healthy Farms Conference
* OEFFA Annual Conference: Coming Home to Eat
* Wisconsin Cut Flower Growers School

News & Resources

New Organic Compliance Publication Available
The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture recently released a new publication, How to Assess Organic Compliance: A Tool for Market Growers, Market Managers, Produce Buyers, Extension Agents, and Others(PDF/1.2MB). Small farmers, as well as the managers of the markets at which they sell, may find the USDA organic standards complicated and confusing. This new Kerr Center publication simplifies the process of determining whether an organic farming operation is in compliance with the USDA standards.

How-to Publication Aids Farmers' Markets with Cooking Demonstrations
Kansas Rural Center partnered with USDA's Risk Management Agency to develop Cooking Demonstrations: Providing the Perfect Ingredients to Season Your Farmers´ Market, a 6-page publication online in PDF (902K). Kansas Rural Center says that cooking demonstrations are a sure bet to increase attendance, excitement and most importantly sales at farmers' markets. They note that cooking demonstrations attract media attention that is more effective than advertising, and offer shoppers opportunities to taste and learn to use produce that is new to them. The publication offers information on what it takes to launch a demonstration program, tips on how to keep things running smoothly on the big day, and ideas for promoting your market's new venture.

Contract Grazing Opportunities Explored
Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) is working on a custom grazing project funded by the Ecology Initiative of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Smart management and a focus on forages can help producers take advantage of the demand for grass-based dairy and beef, and custom grazing arrangements can open the door for new and younger farmers. For landowners who do not own livestock, leasing the land to graziers can be profitable as well. The Leopold Center-supported project includes an evaluation of existing grazing arrangements, distribution of tips and examples of good contracts to landowners and graziers, and facilitating of networking among producers for successful business arrangements. In a cooperative effort with the Iowa Beef Center, ISU Extension and PFI, 50 producers in Iowa and northern Missouri who currently have livestock grazing under some form of custom grazing contract were interviewed. Information was gathered about characteristics of custom grazing operations, including management practices, rates being charged, and what items were included in custom grazing rates. Three factsheets were developed from the survey results: Demographics and Management Practices; Stocking rates, fees and services; and Strategies and implications.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Grazing Contracts for Livestock

Census of Agriculture Forms Mailed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years. The Census is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and many other areas. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. Census forms were mailed December 28 to collect data for the 2007 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2008. Producers can return their forms by mail or, for the first time, they have the option of filling out the Census online.

Web Site Promotes Missouri's Organic Products
The Missouri Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Missouri Organic Association (MOA) and the University of Missouri Extension, is working on promoting Missouri organic products and educating consumers about the organic industry through online media. MOA has recently redesigned their Web site adding a Buyer's Guide for viewers to easily search for organic products in their area and includes a weekly organic podcast. Missouri AgConnection reports the organic podcasts will consist of multiple topics including certified organic products and how to decipher organic labels, nutritional benefits of organic fruits and vegetables, concerns about pesticide residue for children, nutritional benefits of organic dairy products, risks of antibiotic resistance, pesticide residue in and on food, pesticide residue in the watershed, interpreting labels, nutritional benefits of organic meats and where can you find organic foods.

USDA Releases Animal Disease Traceability Plan
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released its draft of a Business Plan for Advancing Animal Disease Traceability (PDF/793KB). The business plan supports the 48-hour traceback long-term goal of the National Animal Identification System as well as provides benchmarks to guide the program as it moves towards optimum traceability. The draft plan provides a comprehensive look at the country's current traceability status, including a breakdown by species. It details seven strategies that will provide the greatest amount of traceability progress in a short amount of time. USDA will periodically review and update the plan to leverage new opportunities, address unforeseen challenges and maintain forward movement towards the ultimate goal of 48-hour traceback. USDA also released the official version of the National Animal Identification System User Guide (PDF/660KB), which replaces the November 2006 draft version.
Related ATTRA Publication:   The National Animal Identification System (NAIS): What it is, and how to participate in the process

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Conservation Innovation Grants
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals. CIG enables NRCS to work with other public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the Nation's most pressing natural resource concerns. CIG has two competitions available in fiscal year 2008--National and State. The National competition is now open; individual states will announce funding availability through separate requests for proposals.
Proposals are due February 20, 2008.

Strategic Agricultural Initiative Program, EPA Region 6
EPA Region 6 is soliciting proposals to help implement the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and to support efforts by the agricultural community to "transition" away from high-risk pesticides to lower risk pesticides and sustainable practices in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension and demonstration projects for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture. Implementation of all projects must occur within one or more of the five states of EPA Region 6: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Proposals are due February 29, 2008.

Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternative
The purpose of Pest Management Alternatives Program (PMAP) is to provide support for and encourage the development and implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) practices, tactics and systems for specific pest problems while reducing human and environmental risks. Objectives for the grant are to develop or adapt IPM tactics and technologies to address specific pest problems in both pre- and post-harvest systems; adapt, evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of modified or alternative IPM tactics and technologies; and describe proposed field demonstration tactics and how anticipated results can be economically and effectively integrated into production systems for individual crops.
Proposals are due February 1, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Healthy Farms Conference
February 1-2, 2008
Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska Society for Sustainable Agriculture hosts a wide range of speakers covering interests ranging across the spectrum—from production to marketing to conservation in farming and beyond. Workshop Tracks include: Food and Health Connections, Acquiring and Preparing Local Foods, Small Farm Opportunities, Common Sense Conservation, and a Youth Track.

OEFFA Annual Conference: Coming Home to Eat
February 16-18, 2008
Granville, Ohio

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association presents a conference with keynote speakers, nearly 50 workshops, a kids' conference, and a trade show. Topics include vegetable and livestock production and marketing and farm business.

Wisconsin Cut Flower Growers School
February 9-10, 2008
Madison, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Cut Flower Growers School is a two-day workshop designed to help new and beginning growers learn the ins and outs of producing and marketing cut flowers. Learn from experienced growers about variety selection, planting and harvest methods, post-harvest handling, pest management, and direct marketing.

> More Events

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Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives Available Online
Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

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