Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 14, 2009
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.
News & Resources
* USDA Announces Final Rule on Country of Origin Labeling
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* Agriculture Weather Site Launched
* Specialty Crop Funding Destined for COOL Enforcement
* Rodale Releases Water Quality Publication
* Ohio MarketMaker Notes Successful First Year
* Container Gardening Website Launched
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative, EPA Region 4
* Organic Farming Research Foundation Education and Outreach Grant
* Food Quality Protection Act / Strategic Agricultural Initiative Grant
Program, EPA Region 1
* Organic Farming Conference
* Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference
* New Mexico Organic Farming Conference
News & Resources
USDA Announces Final Rule on Country of Origin Labeling
USDA has announced details of the final regulation for the mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) program, which will be published in the Jan. 15, 2009 Federal Register. The rule covers muscle cuts and ground beef, lamb, chicken, goat and pork; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; perishable agricultural commodities (specifically fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables); macadamia nuts; pecans; ginseng and peanuts. Commodities covered under COOL must be labeled at retail to indicate country of origin. Excluded from COOL labeling are items derived from a covered commodity that has undergone a physical or chemical change or that has been combined with other covered commodities. The rule becomes effective on March 16, 2009.
Agriculture Weather Site Launched
The Weather Channel Interactive announced a new section on weather.com® dedicated to weather and farming at www.weather.com/farming. Within the Agriculture News & Forecast, the main feature is the Farmers Forecast, which includes up-to-date weather information that matters most to the agricultural community, such as severe weather alerts affecting crops and detailed data about precipitation, wind and soil moisture.
Specialty Crop Funding Destined for COOL Enforcement
Funding originally designated for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program could be diverted to enforcement efforts for the country-of-origin labeling law, according to a story in The Packer. The story reports that Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced his intent to transfer more than $3 million from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to fund state-level enforcement of COOL. Produce industry representatives lamented the decision, saying their industry was bearing the burden of enforcement for a law that applies to the meat and seafood industries as well.
Rodale Releases Water Quality Publication
"Water, Agriculture and You" (PDF/6.5MB) summarizes the findings from The Rodale Institute long-term experiments showing how agricultural practices and systems influence ground and surface water quality. The booklet includes a series of farm management recommendations to help improve water quality, and a listing of information resources which can be accessed over the worldwide web, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography.
Related ATTRA Publication: Protecting Water Quality on Organic Farms
Ohio MarketMaker Notes Successful First Year
In its first year of operation, the Ohio MarketMaker website received more than 425,000 hits, says a story on Ohio Ag Connection. MarketMaker helps connect local food producers with both business and individual buyers. In the coming year the website is poised to expand its producer listings and attract more buyers. In addition, the national MarketMaker program will expand beyond the ten states that currently operate MarketMaker sites.
Container Gardening Website Launched
University of Illinois Extension has launched a new website to help create special gardens to fit any situation. "Successful Container Gardens" contains a wide array of information. The new website discusses choosing a container, selecting soil mixes, choosing and combining plants, fertilizing, watering and grooming basics. Container gardening may be an option for urban gardeners. "In a world of limited time and space, container gardens seem to make more and more sense," said Greg Stack, U of I Extension horticulture educator and one of the new website's authors.
> More Breaking News
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Strategic Agricultural Initiative, EPA Region 4
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 is soliciting applications to help implement the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and to support efforts by the agricultural community to “transition” away from high risk pesticides (Organophosphates, Carbamates, and Fumigants) to the use of less and reduced risk pesticides, alternative methods of agricultural pest control, and sustainable practices in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension, demonstration, and studies for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture, especially on minor use crops. EPA anticipates awarding 2-3 grants from this announcement, of up to $100,000. All projects must occur in one or more of the Region 4 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Proposals are due February 28, 2009.
Organic Farming Research Foundation Education and Outreach Grant
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) will fund the development of educational opportunities and materials that are: pertinent to organic agricultural production or marketing; and aimed at organic producers and/or those considering making the transition to organic certification. OFRF will also accept proposals to fund activities that promote information sharing among organic agricultural researchers and organic farmers and ranchers.
Proposals are due May 15, 2009.
Food Quality Protection Act / Strategic Agricultural Initiative Grant Program, EPA Region 1
EPA Region 1 Pesticide Program is seeking applications from eligible organizations that will facilitate the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). The program supports efforts to reduce the exposure to toxic pesticides through the adoption of production agriculture pest management practices that transition away from the use of high-risk pesticides in minor crops. Total program funding is $100,000, with two awards expected. EPA Region 1 serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Proposals are due March 10, 2009.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Organic Farming Conference
February 26-28, 2009
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) presents the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community. The conference is highly regarded due to its practical workshops designed to help beginning, transitional, and experienced organic farmers. The agenda includes The Organic University, offering an in-depth look at a variety of issues relevant to successful organic production, marketing and organic farm management. Workshops, keynotes, entertainment and more are scheduled.
Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference
February 28, 2009
Swannanoa, North Carolina
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Program will hold the sixth annual Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference at Warren Wilson College. The goal of the conference is to provide farmers with networking and training opportunities and give them the knowledge they need to sustain their farms in a time of changing markets and landscapes.
New Mexico Organic Farming Conference
February 27-28, 2009
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Keynote Speaker Paul Johnson, former Chief of USDA's Soil Conservation Service, presents a survey of Aldo Leopold's ground-breaking work on farmstead conservation. NM Secretary of Agriculture I. Miley Gonzalez will deliver the welcome. 39 workshops will cover topics ranging from converting to organic beef production to soil fertility for orchard production to strategies for weed management and bee-keeping without chemicals. The conference will include over 40 exhibitors, a great organic/local lunch and demonstrations on everything from pruning to chicken tractors.
> More Events
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