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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 13, 2016

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

  • National Organic Program Introduces Sound and Sensible Organic Resources
  • Building Local Food Systems Topic Brief Available from SARE
  • Agricology Offers New Online Sustainable Agriculture Resource
  • Publication Reports on Research into Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments
  • Study Finds Water Conservation Driven by Farmer Economics
  • Pulse Crops Add Nitrogen and Carbon to Soil Long-Term

Funding Opportunities

  • Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program Organic Transitions
  • Connecticut Farm Transition Grant
  • Blue Hill Peninsula Community Food Grants

Coming Events

  • Business of Farming Conference
  • New Mexico Organic Farming Conference
  • Midwest Soil Health Summit

News & Resources

National Organic Program Introduces Sound and Sensible Organic Resources
USDA National Organic Program has introduced guides, videos, and other tools resulting from the Sound and Sensible Initiative. The resources are designed to help farms and businesses understand the USDA organic standards, certification process, and inspections in more depth. These new resources include tipsheets on organic standards, produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, as well as a pre-inspection questionnaire, inspection report form, and organic system plan template.

Building Local Food Systems Topic Brief Available from SARE
SARE's new four-page topic brief, Building Local and Regional Food Systems, provides an introduction to different facets of local and regional food systems and directs readers to resources. This topic brief is a companion to SARE's Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems Topic Room. Topics covered in the print brief and online include business planning, marketing, distribution and aggregation, farm to school, food processing, and community development.

Agricology Offers New Online Sustainable Agriculture Resource
Three charitable organizations in the United Kingdom have launched "Agricology," an online resource that translates scientific research into practical advice to help farmers become more profitable and more sustainable, while protecting the environment. Topics covered by Agricology's resources include improving soil structure, quality, and health; minimizing pressures of pests, diseases, and weeds; utilizing grassland and homegrown feeds for livestock; reducing antibiotic use; and encouraging biodiversity.

Publication Reports on Research into Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments
A new publication by researchers from Purdue and 12 other universities, The Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments in Soybean, summarizes current research on both the crop-protection benefits of neonicotinoids and some of the unintended consequences that have been documented since their widespread introduction. The publication is intended as an information resource for farmers.

Study Finds Water Conservation Driven by Farmer Economics
A recent study by Texas A&M AgriLife Research found that success in saving water is driven by profit incentives. Because farmers tend to make short-term decisions in response to current prices and input costs, a unit subsidy for saved water and a subsidy for water-conserving crops are more effective policies than are subsidies for new technology.
Related ATTRA Publication: Measuring and Conserving Irrigation Water

Pulse Crops Add Nitrogen and Carbon to Soil Long-Term
Canadian research on pulse crops shows that growing the crops to maturity and harvesting seed creates more nitrogen in the soil than using the pulse as a green-manure crop, according to a news release from the American Society of Agronomy. Nitrogen is released for several years after the pulse crop is grown, so it's important to avoid excess runoff. The study also found pulse crops increase soil carbon.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program—Organic Transitions
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture requests applications for Organic Transitions grants to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems. Approximately $3.8 million is anticipated for the program. Project funding up to $200,000 per year is available. Colleges and universities are eligible to apply.
Applications are due by April 15, 2016.

Connecticut Farm Transition Grant
This competitive, matching-grant program is designed to strengthen the economic viability of Connecticut farmers and agricultural cooperatives. Producers and agriculture cooperatives can apply for a maximum $49,999. Grants may be used for projects that allow a farm to expand, diversify, and improve the existing operation.
Application deadline is April 7, 2016.

Blue Hill Peninsula Community Food Grants
This program is accepting proposals for projects to increase food sustainability and improve the health and well-being of Blue Hill Peninsula (Maine) residents. Projects should place an emphasis on creating a more just and sustainable local food system through food production, education, or related efforts. Nonprofit organizations, schools, community groups, or individuals can apply to receive grants up to $3,000.
The deadline for applications is February 29, 2016.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Business of Farming Conference
February 20, 2016
Asheville, North Carolina
ASAP's annual Business of Farming Conference is a day of learning and networking for farmers and those seriously considering farming as a profession. The conference offers business and marketing workshops, networking opportunities, and resources to help farmers grow and diversify their businesses.

New Mexico Organic Farming Conference
February 19-20, 2016
Albuquerque, New Mexico

This conference provides producers and researchers from around the Southwest an opportunity to share their experiences and expertise. The 2016 conference Keynote Session will feature four regional pioneers in certified organic agriculture.

Midwest Soil Health Summit
February 17-18, 2016
Alexandria, Minnesota

The Sustainable Farming Association's Midwest Soil Health Summit features soil-health experts and farm leaders for two days of education and farmer networking—all geared at improving soil health for all farmers. A highlight this year is a special event, "Building Soil Health Experts: Advanced Training for Professionals."

>> More Events

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Weekly Harvest Archives
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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.

Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

© 2016 NCAT

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New ATTRA Resource
Tip Sheets on Organic Standards

Question of the Week
What are the best organic methods for dealing with a blister beetle infestation?

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

ATTRA Presentations
Find information on coming workshops by ATTRA specialists.

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