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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 12, 2011

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

News & Resources

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events


News & Resources

CSP 2011 Sign-Up Deadline Extended; New CSP Enhancements Approved and Scored
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reports that USDA has extended the application deadline for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for 2011 from January 7 until January 21, 2011. The extension will provide a few more weeks for farmers and ranchers to consider whether to submit an application at their local USDA office. Earlier this week, the Natural Resources Conservation Service made available to NSAC the full list of conservation enhancements and conservation practices available for the 2011 sign-up. These include 26 regular conservation practices, 82 conservation enhancements that were also offered in 2010, and 20 enhancements available for the first time in 2011. Six enhancements offered in 2010 have been discontinued. NSAC has posted a list of all the 2011 enhancements and practices, ranked from highest to lowest environmental benefit scores.

Health Leaders Call for 'Healthy Farm Bill'
U.S. health professionals are calling on new leadership in Congress to make health a priority in writing the next Farm Bill, reports USAgNet. National health leaders, including Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Marion Nestle, have signed onto a "Charter for a Healthy Farm Bill" that calls for a food system that incorporates health into the entire lifecycle of how food is produced, processed, consumed and disposed. Such a food system must protect the environment as well as ensure farmers and workers are fairly compensated. The charter's principles emphasize a food system that is healthy, sustainable, resilient, fair, diverse, economically balanced and transparent. Read the full charter at HealthyFoodAction.org.

USDA Provides Update on Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan has announced that more than 2,400 seasonal high tunnels are being constructed by farmers in 43 states through a pilot project initiated by USDA in fiscal year 2010. USDA also posted a YouTube video of how NRCS-funded seasonal high tunnels are helping farmers extend the growing season, diversify production, conserve water, and reduce inputs. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing financial assistance for seasonal high tunnels as part of a three-year trial to determine their effectiveness in conserving water, reducing pesticide use, maintaining vital soil nutrients, and increasing crop yields. The pilot is offered under the Know your Farmer, Know your Food initiative. In FY 2010, NRCS provided $13 million to landowners through its conservation programs to install high tunnels, and additional funding is available in FY 2011.
Related ATTRA publication: Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners

"Changing the Way We Eat" Available by Webcast
"Changing the Way We Eat" is being held in New York City on Saturday, February 12, 2011. Sponsored by The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming, this one-day TEDx event will explore the food system--from what happened, to where we are, to what we are doing to shift to a more sustainable way of eating and farming. A large slate of speakers is scheduled. The goal of "Changing the Way We Eat" is to create new connections and collaborations across disciplines, to unite different areas of the food movement and to introduce the audience to the exciting and innovative work being done in the field of sustainable food systems. Those outside New York are invited to host a viewing party of the live webcast. TEDx has made it simple to host your own viewing party, complete with links to a Viewing Party Tool Kit, which outlines rules and ideas.

California Approval of Methyl Iodide on Strawberry Fields Challenged
A coalition representing farmworkers and environmental groups is challenging the state of California's approval in December of the agricultural fumigant methyl iodide, a state-listed carcinogen, for use on strawberry fields, according to Los Angeles Times Greenspace. The lawsuit contends the California Department of Pesticide Regulation violated the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Birth Defects Prevention Act and the Pesticide Contamination Prevention Act, which protects groundwater from pesticide pollution, among other laws. Methyl iodide is used as a substitute for the banned fumigant methyl bromide.

Demo Video of Farm Management Tool Online
AgSquared is offering record keeping software for small farms. They have created a demo video of their first release, geared toward simplifying farm management for diversified vegetable growers. The free online software is designed for farm planning and managing a farm plan over the course of the year. The video highlighting the software features is available at the AgSquared website.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grant
USDA's Office of Advocacy and Outreach requests applications for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program (OASDFR). This announcement seeks applications from eligible organizations (institutions of higher learning, nonprofits, and tribal governments) able to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and forest landowners within a defined geographic area in a linguistically appropriate manner. The intent of this portion of the OASDFR program is to focus specifically on connecting socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to USDA programs. The Agency will fund up to $1,200,000 per grant for project activities identified in this RFP. Approximately $19 million will be available through this RFP.
Applications are due February 15, 2011.

South Dakota Conservation Innovation Grants
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces the availability of $225,000 for state level Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) in South Dakota. South Dakota NRCS is seeking pre-proposals for the state level CIG program that targets establishment of wetland mitigation banks; effective pest management in organic production systems; and innovative water and nutrient management treatment for surface and sub-surface drainage systems including bioreactors. All eligible producers and groups are encouraged to apply, including those who are, or who work closely with, producers that qualify as 'Beginning Farmers and Ranchers' under USDA rules.
Application deadline is February 11, 2011.

Grass Energy: Pelletization & Market Development RFP
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is seeking proposals that will lead to the design, fabrication, demonstration and use of a pelletizing system capable of converting at least 1-ton of grass biomass per hour into densified fuel. Projects must be able to identify at least one in-state source of grass biomass that will be pelletized and at least one in-state end-user of the pelletized fuel. Any organization, farm, individual or business that maintains an active and physical presence within Vermont may apply for up to $100,000 in funding for the research and development of a mobile or stationary pelletizing system capable of processing grass fibers into fuel.
Proposals must be submitted by February 28, 2011.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

MOSES Organic Farming Conference (OFC)
February 24-26, 2011
LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Join Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service for their 22nd annual conference, an educational weekend packed with 70+ workshops, 150+ exhibitors, terrific food, foot stompin' entertainment, acres of food and farming books, and plenty of time and space to network and mingle. The farmer-centered OFC is celebrated as the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community.

ASAP Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference
February 26, 2011
Swannanoa, North Carolina

Join Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), local farmers, agriculture professionals, and marketing specialists for this day-long conference with business and marketing workshops designed just for you. The event includes networking opportunities, a resource notebook, and dozens of 90-minute sessions to choose from taught by farming, business, and agricultural leaders of the region.

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Annual Conference
February 19-20, 2011
Granville, Ohio

OEFFA's 32nd annual conference--Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities--will feature nationally recognized keynote speakers Joan Gussow and Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; a trade show; a fun and educational kids' conference; great homemade meals featuring local, organic foods; a child care area; and Saturday evening entertainment.

>> More Events

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

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

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