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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 10, 2007

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.

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News & Resources
* Report Examines Market for Organic Poultry and Eggs
* Farm Conservation Practices at Odds with Food Processing Sanitation
* Renewable Fuels: Opportunity or Glut?
* Scientists Claim Development of BSE-Free Genetically Engineered Cows
* Niche Swine Breeders Discussion Group Convening in Iowa
* Nebraska Couple Combats Depopulation with Agri-Tourism

Funding Opportunities
* Native Plant Conservation Initiative
* Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement & Diversification Program
* Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees

Coming Events
* Ohio River Valley Farm Marketing Conference
* Seattle's Farmer-Chef Connection
* Bridging the Gap: Selling to Food Service and Retail

News & Resources

Report Examines Market for Organic Poultry and Eggs
USDA Economic Research Service issued a report December 27 titled Organic Poultry and Eggs Capture High Price Premiums and Growing Share of Specialty Markets. According to the report, organic poultry and egg markets in the United States are expanding rapidly. Statistics for the sector, especially the number of organic broilers, also signal expanding domestic supply. This report examines trends in markets, animal numbers, and prices for organic poultry and eggs. Price comparisons between organic and conventional show significant organic price premiums for both broilers and eggs. The report is available online in PDF.

Farm Conservation Practices at Odds with Food Processing Sanitation
Farm practices designed to promote wildlife habitat and preserve water quality may be at odds with "clean farming techniques" promoted by food processors, says an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Food processors are pressing the farmers they buy from to remove grassy vegetation zones along waterways and vegetation under orchards, saying these areas could attract animals that are potential sources of bacterial contamination.

Renewable Fuels: Opportunity or Glut?
A study released by the National Biodiesel Board says biodiesel will contribute $24 billion to the U.S. economy between 2005 and 2015, reports GreenBiz.com. The study, funded by the soybean checkoff, also found that biodiesel production would create a projected 39,102 new jobs and divert $13.6 billion in spending from foreign oil. A new report from the Earth Policy Institute, however, paints a less rosy picture of the future of the renewable fuels industry, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The EPI report finds that 14 biorefineries being constructed to produce ethanol have not been included in government tracking estimates, meaning that nearly 1 billion gallons of extra fuel could flood the ethanol market by 2008. This could push corn prices higher, as demand for both food and fuel corn grows, and could also drive ethanol prices lower, making some ventures unprofitable, warn industry watchers.

Scientists Claim Development of BSE-Free Genetically Engineered Cows
Scientists from the U.S. and Japan have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that cause mad cow disease, a breakthrough that may make the animals immune to the brain-wasting disease. The Associated Press reports that the disease didn't take hold when brain tissue from two of the genetically engineered cows was exposed to BSE prions in the laboratory. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is commonly known as mad cow disease. Although proponents of the work claim another layer of security to people concerned about eating infected beef, any meat derived from genetically engineered animals must currently be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A radio report about the development is also available through National Public Radio.

Niche Swine Breeders Discussion Group Convening in Iowa
Swine producers with niche breeding operations are invited to participate in the Niche Sow Breeding and Gestation Discussion Group now being formed in Iowa. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension swine field specialist Dave Stender said the effort is an efficient way for people who work in sustainable hog production that pen breed sows to connect with peers over a large geographical area. Producers will select either a Tuesday or Wednesday series where they'll meet three times from noon to 1:30 p.m. The series runs from mid-January through mid-February.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Hog Production Alternatives

Nebraska Couple Combats Depopulation with Agri-Tourism
As rural populations in Nebraska decline, John and Mary Ridder have taken a unique approach to help-agri-tourism on their cattle ranch near Callaway. As reported in the North Platte Telegraph, the Ridders began offering tours of their 100-year-old ranch two years ago, and have found the tours to be a fitting addition to their cattle sales. "I really see [the tours] as a real growth opportunity," Mary Ridder said. "It's like an enterprise within our business." The Ridder ranch is one of many agricultural enterprises on the Kearney Area Ag Producers Alliance website, which helps promote rural businesses by allowing farmers and ranchers to advertise lodging, food, and adventures for tourists.

Value-added enterprises such as agri-tourism help increase both the economic value and consumer appeal of agricultural products. They offer another source of income, create jobs, and help rural areas sustain their populations.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Native Plant Conservation Initiative
The Plant Conservation Alliance puts out a yearly call for proposals for all projects to be funded under a PCA and NFWF partnership called the Native Plant Conservation Initiative. In general, the call for proposals seeks to provide funding for projects that provide plant conservation benefit, include multiple partnerships, demonstrate the ability to find matching funds exceeding the minimum 1:1 federal/non-federal requirement, and use innovative ideas such as landscape approach, shareable new technologies, and teaching by example. Projects should benefit multiple species, achieve a variety of resource management objectives, and/or lead to revised management practices that reduce the causes of habitat degradation.
Proposals are due February 15, 2007.

Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement & Diversification Program
OAEDP is a program designed to develop or improve uses for agricultural products, expand the state's production of value-added products and to encourage diversified farming. Interest free loans and grants are available through four program areas: Marketing Utilization Loan, Cooperative Marketing Loan, Basic and Applied Research Loan/Grant and Farm Diversification Grant. Loan and grant applications may be submitted at any time, but are evaluated quarterly by an appointed board of directors. Deadline for applications is the close of business the first working day of each quarter.

Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees
The 2002 Farm Bill authorized a loan program to advance access to broadband for rural communities. The Department of Agriculture's Rural Development division administers the program. The loans are generally larger than $100,000 and are for the aquisition of equipment and facilities to deliver broadband capabilities to rural areas, particularly those that have no such access. The program is directed to cooperatives, municipalities, nonprofits, limited dividend or mutual associations, limited liability companies, and Indian tribes. Broadband is defined as a technology to transmit high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video data to subscribers. Touch on the link above to view a PDF of the application process and requirements, or write to: Kenneth Kuchno, Broadband Division, Telecommunications Program, Rural Development, Utilities Programs, Stop 1599, Room 2844-S,1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250-1599.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Ohio River Valley Farm Marketing Conference
February 19-20, 2007
Louisville, Kentucky

This conference offers an affordable day and a half of presentations, workshops, and discussions, focused on agricultural marketing. The conference will address: assessing and evaluating new market opportunities, market development, and marketing for value-added agriculture. The conference will include general session speakers, breakout sessions, and trade show exhibits.

Seattle's Farmer-Chef Connection
February 5, 2007
Seattle, Washington

Come to Seattle's 2nd Annual Farmer-Chef Connection for this day-long gathering, designed to foster collaboration and direct marketing opportunities for local farmers, ranchers, chefs and retailers. If you are a grower, a food professional striving to achieve a more sustainable kitchen, or are simply interested in connecting to our local "foodshed," you won't want to miss this fantastic free event!

Bridging the Gap: Selling to Food Service and Retail
February 28, 2007
Fayetteville, North Carolina

This one-day conference is designed for farmers and Extension personnel from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, especially growers interested in year-round vegetable production and market opportunities with restaurants, food services and retail stores. It will include presentations on good agricultural practices (safe food handling), liability insurance and marketing.

> More Events

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

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