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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 16, 2008

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.

ATTRA Returning to Full Strength!

NCAT’s ATTRA project has been funded for fiscal year 2008. ATTRA’s funding was part of the omnibus appropriations bill funded by Congress and signed by the President on December 26, 2007.

Our toll-free phone lines (1-800-346-9140) are now staffed from 7am Central to 7 pm Central, Monday through Friday. During busy times when our specialists are on the phone with others, you may get our voice mail---please DO leave a message so that they can call you back, or keep trying.

Once again, we are able to accept research questions about sustainable agriculture and we have begun updating and writing new publications to assist farmers, ranchers and others in obtaining up-to-date, cutting edge information on sustainable agriculture. Our website is once again dynamic, and you can submit questions there 24/7.

After a year with significantly cut budgets and services, we are looking forward to working with our ATTRA clients to provide the information and services you want and need.

Special thanks to our Weekly Harvest readers. Thank you for your donations and your kind words of support and encouragement. The money you sent allowed us to keep the website up and running, the phones answered for a few hours each day, and allowed us to write and send the Weekly Harvest throughout the year. We look forward to continuing to bring you new information and ideas each week—without you it would not have been possible!

Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.

News & Resources
* Publication Aids Producers with Selling Strategies
* Comments Due on USDA Proposed 'Naturally Raised' Standard
* New Study Reveals Benefits of Switchgrass-based Ethanol
* Scholarships Available to SARE's New American Farm Conference
* USDA Seeks Comment on Genetically Engineered Alfalfa
* Missouri Seeks Applicants for Master Farmer Award

Funding Opportunities
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative/Food Quality Protection Act Grant Program, EPA Region 9
* Oregon Challenge Cost Share Program
* Pennsylvania Farmers' Market Development Matching Grant Program

Coming Events
* Ohio River Valley Farm Marketing Conference
* NOFA Vermont Winter Conference
* Wisconsin Grazing Conference

News & Resources

Publication Aids Producers with Selling Strategies
A new publication released by University of Missouri Extension focuses on Selling Strategies for Local Producers. The publication is designed to help farmers improve their sales skills, with an emphasis on building customer relationships, advocating the product, and providing quality service. The guide can help farmers selling at farmers' markets, as well as other sales direct to customers. The publication is available free online.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Direct Marketing

Comments Due on USDA Proposed 'Naturally Raised' Standard
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on its proposed voluntary standard for a naturally raised marketing claim for livestock and meat. The proposed standard will establish the minimum requirements for those producers who choose to operate a USDA verified program involving a naturally raised claim. The naturally raised marketing claim will also be a voluntary program. Comments must be received on or before January 28, 2008, and should be submitted through the Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. Written comments should be mailed to: Naturally Raised Marketing Claim, Room 2607–S, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250–0254; or faxed to (202) 720–1112.

New Study Reveals Benefits of Switchgrass-based Ethanol
Switchgrass grown for biofuel production produced 540 percent more energy than needed to grow, harvest and process it into cellulosic ethanol, according to estimates from a large on-farm study by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Results from the five-year study involving fields on farms in three states highlights the prairie grass' potential as a biomass fuel source that yields significantly more energy than is consumed in production and conversion into cellulosic ethanol. USAgNet reports this is the largest study to date examining the net energy output, greenhouse gas emissions, biomass yields, agricultural inputs and estimated cellulosic ethanol production from switchgrass grown and managed for biomass fuel. A research paper on the findings can be found here.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Switchgrass as a Bioenergy Crop

Scholarships Available to SARE's New American Farm Conference
Thanks to the support of sponsors, a limited number of scholarships are now available from the National Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) office for the 2008 New American Farm Conference, March 25-27 in Kansas City. Their priorities are to fund farmers/ranchers and nonprofits, particularly those from under-served/minority audiences and those who are new to SARE and/or sustainable agriculture: emerging leaders, beginning farmers and ranchers, and those who have never attended a SARE regional or national conference. Scholarships will be awarded as free registration (including registration for a tour), plus up to $700 allowance that can be used for specified expenses. Scholarship applications are due by February 15.

USDA Seeks Comment on Genetically Engineered Alfalfa
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment to shape the scope of an environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS is prepared to assist in the determination of the status of genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa under APHIS biotechnology regulations. Due to a court order, APHIS will prepare the EIS to evaluate potential environmental effects of deregulating the GE alfalfa. APHIS has identified 18 issues that will be studied in the EIS, which include impacts on food and feed, U.S. trade and threatened and endangered species. APHIS is seeking public comment to identify other issues that also should be addressed in the EIS. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before February 6.

Missouri Seeks Applicants for Master Farmer Award
A new Missouri Master Farmer Award program will recognize the top-notch producers in the state. Four individuals will earn $1,000 cash prizes and industry-wide recognition each year, starting in 2008. The Master Farmer Award program is created for all Missourians involved in agriculture - crop farmers, livestock producers, vegetable and fruit growers, tree farmers and vineyard owners. USAgNet reports the judging committees will be looking for the best managers with innovative ideas, sound business skills, financial recordkeeping, soil and water conservation practices, agricultural leadership and community service. The nomination deadline is July 1. For information and a nomination form, visit the Web site www.missouriruralist.com and click on "Master Farmer."

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Strategic Agricultural Initiative/Food Quality Protection Act Grant Program, EPA Region 9
EPA Region 9, which serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations, is soliciting proposals to carry out the Food Quality Protection Act and to support efforts by the agricultural community to "transition" away from high-risk pesticides to lower risk pesticides and sustainable practices in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension and demonstration projects for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture. Proposals for demonstration projects must demonstrate applications, technologies, methods or approaches that are new, innovative or experimental. In 2008, EPA Region 9 anticipates awarding approximately $400,000 to eligible applicants, through approximately 3 to 5 grants ranging in size from approximately $50,000 to a maximum of $100,000.
Proposals are due March 18, 2008.

Oregon Challenge Cost Share Program
The Challenge Cost Share (CCS) program funds the following kinds of activities: research, monitoring and inventory of resources; implementation of habitat improvement projects, protection or documentation of cultural resources; providing for enhanced recreational experiences; development and implementation of species conservation and recovery plans; environmental education; conservation projects for native plant communities and eradication of noxious and other weeds. In 2008, the Oregon program will be managed to implement a variety of important projects that include resource inventory, monitoring and research, conservation planning and implementation, environmental education, habitat and plant community restoration, cultural site protection, recreation and off-highway vehicle (OHV) management.
Proposals are due February 22, 2008.

Pennsylvania Farmers' Market Development Matching Grant Program
The Program provides matching funds to Pennsylvania-based businesses that manage or operate farmers’ markets, non-profit organizations, farmers and local governments for projects intended to promote new or existing farmers’ markets. The maximum Grant amount per farmers’ market location shall be $10,000. Each applicant shall provide at least 10% of the approved Grant amount in matching funds or in-kind goods or services.
Proposals are due February 6, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Ohio River Valley Farm Marketing Conference
February 19-20, 2008
Wilmington, Ohio

Leading agricultural professionals and stakeholders from Kentucky, Ohio, & Indiana have organized the Ohio River Valley Farm Marketing Conference (ORVFMC). The conference offers valuable and affordable presentations, workshops, and discussions, focused on agricultural marketing. The conference features general session speakers, breakout sessions and trade show exhibits.

NOFA Vermont Winter Conference
February 16-17, 2008
Randolph, Vermont

The Vermont chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association presents its annual winter conference, now expanded to two days. The theme this year, "Business Not As Usual," will bring together those interested in securing the Vermont food system with community-based businesses that play an important role in strengthening the Vermont economy.

Wisconsin Grazing Conference
February 14-16, 2008
Stevens Point, Wisconsin

"Planning a Profit, Planning a Future" offers workshop sessions and presentations on business practices, grazing research updates, and information on setting up grazing systems. Conference presentations include: Turning Cows into Weedeaters, Planning a Profit, Forage Chains, Mob Grazing, Pasture Irrigation, Grazing Research, Saving Farm Land, and more.

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