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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 4, 2017

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • Soil Health Research Library and Search Engine Launched
  • USDA Reviews Microloan Program Participation and Outreach
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa Launches Small Grain Video Series
  • Fresh Produce Toolkit Helps Small Retailers Work with Local Producers
  • Cash- and Cover-Crop Rotations Deliver Organic Vegetable Production
  • SARE Documents Impact of Graduate Student Grant Program

Funding Opportunities

  • Organic Transitions
  • Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water
  • Minnesota Value Added Grant

Coming Events

  • OEFFA Annual Conference
  • Western Montana Grazing and Agriculture Conference
  • Arkansas Blackberry School

News & Resources

Soil Health Research Library and Search Engine Launched
The Soil Health Institute has released the Soil Health Research Landscape™ tool, an online library and search engine. The free resource includes information on soil health and its relationship to soil amendments, cover crops, erosion control, and other agricultural and land-management practices, as well as data, metadata, methods descriptions, standards, and related economic impacts.

USDA Reviews Microloan Program Participation and Outreach
USDA Economic Research Service issued a 33-page report, USDA Microloans for Farmers: Participation Patterns and Effects of Outreach. It says the Microloan program grew from 3,833 loans with total obligations of $88.8 million in 2013 to 5,674 loans and total loan obligations of $162.2 million in 2015. Microloans attracted 8,182 borrowers new to FSA's direct-loan programs, with beginning farmers receiving 81% of the loans.

Practical Farmers of Iowa Launches Small Grain Video Series
Practical Farmers of Iowa has posted "Small Grains: A Revival," the first episode in its new video series, Rotationally Raised. In the video, farmers talk about growing small grains, from seed selection and planting to harvest and marketing. The weekly series explains how raising corn, soybeans, small grains, and hay rotationally—and feeding those crops to livestock—helps farmers reduce inputs and improve stewardship.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Small Grain Production Overview

Fresh Produce Toolkit Helps Small Retailers Work with Local Producers
Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships has developed a Fresh Produce Toolkit to help small groceries incorporate locally grown fresh produce. The toolkit offers PDF publications on Storing and Handling Fresh Produce, Produce Merchandising Techniques, and Purchasing Locally Grown, among other titles.
Related ATTRA Publication: Tips for Selling to Grocery Stores

Cash- and Cover-Crop Rotations Deliver Organic Vegetable Production
Researchers at the University of Georgia found that cool-season cash crops paired with warm-season cover crops in the southeastern United States can both build soil health and improve crop health. Their study compared two different crop rotations that incorporated organic vegetable production and cover crops. The authors concluded that mid-scale certified organic production can reach reasonable yields with rotations of organic cool-season vegetables using cover crops in the southeastern United States.

SARE Documents Impact of Graduate Student Grant Program
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has issued Investing in the Next Generation of Agricultural Scientists, an online and print report on its Graduate Student Grant Program. The impact of 600 grants is shared through stories, video, testimonials, and numbers. Online visitors can also access a database of funded projects to explore the research findings of all SARE Graduate Student grantees.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Organic Transitions
NIFA requests applications for $3.8 million in funding through the Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program – Organic Transitions to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems. NIFA expects to make a total of seven to eight awards, not to exceed $200,00 per year. Applications may only be submitted by colleges and universities. Funding priorities are listed online.
Applications are due by March 9, 2017.

Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water
National Science Foundation, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and others are combining resources to fund the most meritorious and highest-impact projects related to understanding interactions across the food, energy, water (FEW) nexus. Total project funding is $40 million, with no single project to exceed $2.5 million. There are three research tracks, with five to 10 awards anticipated in each track. Proposals may be submitted by colleges and universities or by non-profit, non-academic organizations.
Proposals are due by March 6, 2017.

Minnesota Value Added Grant
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for $1 million in Value Added Grants to purchase equipment or make physical improvements. The competitive grant process will fund projects that increase the sales, diversify the markets, or improve the food safety of value-added Minnesota agricultural products.
Applications are due by March 6, 2017.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

OEFFA Annual Conference
February 9-11, 2017
Dayton, Ohio

There will be nearly 80 educational workshops on a wide range of food, farming, and policy topics; a three-day trade show; and four full-day, pre-conference intensive workshops led by farmers, for farmers.

Western Montana Grazing and Agriculture Conference
February 9-10, 2017
Missoula, Montana

This conference will provide a forum for livestock producers, farmers, and agricultural organizations to share their knowledge and experience relating to the implementation of improved grazing management and livestock production.

Arkansas Blackberry School
February 9, 2017
Clarksville, Arkansas
University of Arkansas Research & Extension is holding a four-session Blackberry School for beginning commercial growers or growers interested in starting to produce blackberries. The seasonal course will include sessions in April, June, and September.

>>More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

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New ATTRA Resource
Scaling Up for Regional Markets Tutorial: Livestock Marketing and Processing

Question of the Week
What can you tell me about feeding rabbits?

Ask an Agriculture Expert
Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Video Premiere
A Culture of Health: Farm to Hospital in Montana premieres January 21 at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest.

ATTRA Spanish Newsletter
Subscribe to Cosecha Mensual (Monthly Harvest), ATTRA's Spanish-language e-newsletter

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