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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 19, 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

Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan Released
A new statewide plan for Iowa, developed by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, would boost the local food economy and increase opportunities for those who want to buy or sell Iowa-raised meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables and other crops in local and regional markets. The Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan created for the Iowa Legislature has 34 recommendations, including creation of a state-level local food and farm program, education and training for producers and local food businesses, changes in state policy to benefit local food businesses, and data collection to track growth of local food sales. The plan calls for a one-year state appropriation to hire a local food and farm state coordinator. According to the plan, the state has an opportunity to increase sales of local food, estimated to account for only 14 percent of the $8 billion each year that Iowans spend on food. The plan is designed to increase direct-to-consumer sales as well as retail and institutional sales by providing the infrastructure, research and development, and incentives to support increased local food production and marketing. Local food and farm plans have been developed in at least a dozen other states and regions including Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina and the City of New York.

House Agriculture Committee Schedules Public Forum on Biotechnology Product Regulatory Approval
The House Agriculture Committee under its new Chair Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has scheduled an unusual "Public Forum" for Thursday, January 20 "to review the biotechnology product regulatory approval process," reports USAgNet. USDA is expected to announce on January 24 whether it will allow unrestricted planting of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa or impose restrictions which could include geographic limits, harvest timing, seed labeling and/or equipment handling rules. Reports speculate that Lucas apparently wanted to air committee views on "coexistence" and whether the Agriculture Department should place restrictions on GE crops before USDA announces its decision.

The Farm School for Women Launched
NC Women of the Land Agricultural Network is offering The Farm School for Women, an eight-month on-farm training program designed specifically for women who, through knowledge and experience, value their connection to the land, have a passion for sustainable agriculture and are committed to the values of small scale farming. The residential program is located on Genesis Farm, a twenty-acre market and educational farm located near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For 10-12 hours each week, students will engage in formal classes, on-farm workshops, and field trips. The students will also spend approximately 22 hours a week working on the farm, growing the vegetables, caring for barnyard animals and learning practical skills. Applicants are evaluated and accepted by a review panel based on background, desire and commitment to the program. The program runs March 7-October 29, 2011. Application forms are available online.

Emissions Data from Animal Feeding Operations Study Now Available
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making data publicly available from a two-year study of air emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs). AFOs, which house large numbers of animals for production of meat, dairy products and eggs, were monitored for the following air pollutants: ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. Researchers monitored emissions at AFOs that raise pigs and broiler chickens, at egg-laying operations, and at dairies, with a total of 24 monitoring sites in nine states. EPA will use data from the studies to help develop improved methodologies for estimating AFO emissions. At the request of the agriculture industry, EPA also is issuing a Call for Information seeking data from other monitoring studies of AFO emissions. The agency is asking for this information for operations that raise pigs, chickens, turkeys and beef cattle, and for egg-laying and dairy cattle operations.

Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training Program Launched
Marine Corps veteran Colin Archipley has partnered with MiraCosta College to create a Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program to give combat veterans and others entry into the high-growth organic industry, reports North County Times. His first class is scheduled for later this month, when Archi's Acres Inc., a small organic farm in the hills of Valley Center, opens its gates to veterans, active-duty troops leaving the service and civilians interested in learning the basics of growing produce and herbs minus chemicals and manmade fertilizer. Classes are also set to start February 28, April 11 and May 23. During the six-week course, students will log 40-hour weeks learning sustainable agricultural techniques from seed to market, including hydroponics and marketing.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Schedules Whole Farm Workshop Series
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin, announces its schedule for Whole Farm Workshops in 2011. The first workshop is set for January 17, and numerous workshops are scheduled each month until August. This year learn all about the pests and diseases that affect your vegetables through workshops on pests, diseases and weeds. There are classes on tractors and innovative ways farmers are improving their marketing, as well as grant writing. Other workshops cover raising chickens or goats or rabbits, biodynamic agriculture or growing grapes biodynamically. There are also classes on soil sampling, cover crops and enriching your soil. A schedule, course descriptions, and registration information are available online.

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Funding Opportunities

Special Research Grants Program - Pest Management Alternatives
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture requests applications for the Special Research Grants Program - Pest Management Alternatives (PMAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2011 to address needs in integrated pest management for food, feed, fiber, forest, human and livestock health, and ornamental commodities. It is anticipated that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2011 will be approximately $1.4 million, with an award ceiling of $200,000. Applications may be submitted by State agricultural experiment stations, all colleges and universities, other research institutions and organizations, Federal agencies, private organizations or corporations, and individuals.
Applications are due March 3, 2011.

State and Regional AgrAbility Program
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requests applications for the Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities (AgrAbility)-State and Regional AgrAbility Projects for fiscal year (FY) 2011 to increase the likelihood that farmers, ranchers, farm workers, or farm family members with disabilities and their farms experience success. AgrAbility seeks to strengthen rural communities by providing employment opportunities for farmers and ranchers in production agriculture or a related occupation and accessibility to appropriate assistive technology needed for work and daily living activities in sustaining their livelihood. NIFA anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2011 will be approximately $4.6 million. Of this amount, NIFA anticipates approximately $600,000 will be available to fund new State and Regional AgrAbility Projects (SRAPs). The remainder will be used to support the National AgrAbility Project and the SRAPs eligible for continuation.
Applications must be received by close of business on March 10, 2011.

ISU On-Farm Research and Demonstration Grant Program
Iowa State University (ISU) seeks ideas and proposals for a unique program pairing farmers with Iowa State University researchers to work on topics related to conservation and sustainability. All ISU faculty, staff and students are eligible to apply. The program is a partnership of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Leopold Center and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Its goals are to address the opportunities and challenges facing agriculture through collaborative, on-farm research. A total of $25,000 will be awarded in 2011. Annual, one-time grants up to $5,000 maximum will be awarded. Awards to three or more producers proposing to work together may be up to $7,000 each.
Proposals are due on February 23, 2011.

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Coming Events

Harvest New England Ag Marketing Conference and Trade Show
March 1-3, 2011
Sturbridge, Massachusetts

"The Expanding New England Farm Enterprise: Reaping More from What We Sow" is a hands-on detail-oriented conference that features a day of pre-conference workshops, followed by a two-day conference. Pre-conference sessions are offered for market managers, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training, and marketing. Regular conference tracks include growing your business, funding your business, selling your product, marketing your product, and adding value.

Organic Growers School
March 5-6, 2011
Asheville, North Carolina

The Organic Growers School (OGS) Spring Conference is a weekend of classes, hands-on workshops, and networking for organic growers and food enthusiasts. Currently the largest gathering of its type in the southeastern US, the OGS Conference features over 100 classes on all aspects of sustainable living. Topics include gardening, farming, alternative energy, herbs, livestock and poultry, primitive skills, landscaping, forestry, soils, cooking and more. The event also features a trade show, seed and plant exchange, silent auction, benefit concert, and children's program. Registration is available online.

On-Farm Integrated Water Management Conference
March 3-4, 2011
San Jose, California

Following months of research within the farming community, this conference has been designed specifically to help growers improve their water productivity, to increase yields and better utilize natural resources and improve the bottom line. With a focus on new water management solutions and irrigation technologies, it's all about how to grow more from less, or more "crop per drop."

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January 20, 2011
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