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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 21, 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.

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News & Resources
* Naturally Raised Livestock Claim Standard Issued
* Group Developing Sustainability Index for Specialty Crops
* Organic Potato Pest Management Plan Offered Online
* USDA Reopens Comment Period on Proposed Rule for Biotechnology
    Regulations
* Publication Gives Guidelines for Establishing Wildlife Habitats on Farms
* Montana State Offers New Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Degree


Funding Opportunities
* Sow the Seeds--Local Longer Fund
* Wisconsin Agricultural Development and Diversification Grant Program
* North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program


Coming Events
* California Small Farm Conference
* USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum 2009
* Heritage Turkey Workshop



News & Resources

Naturally Raised Livestock Claim Standard Issued
The U. S. Department of Agriculture has issued a voluntary standard for naturally raised livestock and meat marketing claims. The standard will be published as a notice in the Federal Register January 21, 2009. The naturally raised marketing claim standard states that livestock used for the production of meat and meat products have been raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics, and have never been fed animal by-products. The voluntary standard will establish the minimum requirements for those producers who choose to operate a USDA-verified program involving a naturally raised claim.

Group Developing Sustainability Index for Specialty Crops
A group of more than 30 leading growers, suppliers, buyers, technical experts and environmental and public interest organizations announced in December the formation of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops. Through an inclusive effort, the group will develop and share a comprehensive system for measuring sustainable performance across the supply chain—at farms, processors, distributors, food service providers, and retailers. The project is currently seeking public comment on an initial list of issues it believes should be measured to assess sustainable performance. Feedback on the draft list will be accepted until February 1, 2009. The list and a comments form are available online.

Organic Potato Pest Management Plan Offered Online
A pest management strategic plan for Western organic potato production is now available online through the Western Integrated Pest Management Center. Pest Management Strategic Plans developed by growers, commodity associations, land-grant specialists, food processors, crop consultants, and EPA are available online . Development of the organic potato plan was led by Ronda Hirnyck of University of Idaho Extension and Jennifer Miller of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. The plan takes a pest-by-pest approach to identifying current management practices and summarizes the research, regulatory and education needs of the region’s organic potato growers. It includes insects, diseases, weeds, nematodes and vertebrates and production overviews of Idaho, California, Colorado, Columbia Basin, Klamath Basin and west of the Cascade Mountains.

USDA Reopens Comment Period on Proposed Rule for Biotechnology Regulations
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will be extending the public comment period for another 60 days on a proposed rule to revise existing regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms. APHIS is extending the public comment period to allow more time for interested parties to prepare and submit comments. "We received more than 15,000 comments during the initial comment period on our proposed changes to our biotechnology regulations," said Cindy Smith, administrator of APHIS. "That shows the significance of this proposal. With today's reopening of the comment period, we ask the public to give us further feedback on specific aspects of our proposal." With this extension, APHIS will consider all comments received on or before March 17, 2009.

Publication Gives Guidelines for Establishing Wildlife Habitats on Farms
A new University of Missouri Extension guide outlines techniques for establishing wildlife habitats in field borders and fence lines and describes how they not only help wildlife but can have agronomic and economic benefits as well. Field Borders for Agronomic, Economic and Wildlife Benefits explains that field edges next to mature woodlands may suffer yield reductions of 30 percent or more, making them unprofitable to plant, fertilize, treat with pesticides and harvest. Eligible landowners may receive rental or cost-share payments for converting certain croplands to wildlife habitat through state and federal conservation programs.

Montana State Offers New Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Degree
Beginning this spring Montana State University will offer a new degree program designed to contribute to the development of bioenergy and a stronger, more secure food system in Montana. The Board of Regents approved the new undergraduate Bachelor of Science program in sustainable food and bioenergy systems (SFBS), and students enrolled in the program will be able to take their first courses in the spring semester. Students who enroll in the program should develop well-rounded knowledge of food and bioenergy systems, as well as practical skills to help them land a variety of jobs including food safety, agricultural biosecurity, rural economic decline and poverty, obesity, loss of indigenous foods, and bioenergy production and improvement.

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Funding Opportunities

Sow the Seeds--Local Longer Fund
As part of the Sow the Seeds project, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is offering small grants to support farmer education and outreach related to season extension for fruit and vegetable production in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. In keeping with Sow the Seeds’ mission, the funds are dedicated to supporting education among farmers. Awards of $2,000-$5,000 will be given to conduct farmer outreach and education to support greater understanding and adoption of season extension for fruit and vegetable production.
Proposals are due January 30, 2009.

Wisconsin Agricultural Development and Diversification Grant Program
The Agricultural Development and Diversification Grant Program invites proposals for projects that are likely to stimulate Wisconsin's agricultural economy through the development and exploration of new value-added products, new markets, or new technologies in agriculture. ADD grants are awarded competitively each year. Individuals, associations, agribusinesses and industry groups can submit proposals for an ADD grant. Currently, the program has $380,000 to award to projects with a maximum grant amount of $50,000.
Proposals are due March 15, 2009.

North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program
NCR-SARE funds Graduate Student grants in Sustainable Agriculture for projects that address sustainable agriculture issues and are part of the student's degree program. NCR-SARE awards grant funds for grad student projects up to $10,000, and projects may last up to three years.
Proposals are due January 28, 2009.

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Coming Events

California Small Farm Conference
March 1-3, 2009
Sacramento, California

The California Small Farm Conference is the state's premier gathering of small farmers and those who support them. The three day educational conference includes on-farm tours, focused workshops, general educational sessions and opportunities for peer networking. This year's theme is "Farming for the Future."


USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum 2009
February 26-27, 2009
Arlington, Virginia

"Global Agriculture & Rural America in Transition" is the topic for this 85th annual Outlook Forum. The Secretary of Agriculture and government, farm, and industry leaders will discuss the future of American agriculture. A Distinguished Plenary Panel is planned on Food & Energy: Expectations & Realities.


Heritage Turkey Workshop
February 21-22, 2009
Adams Run, South Carolina

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy offers an opportunity to learn how to do it right from the nation’s leaders in heritage turkey production. Topics include breeding, health, feeding, processing and marketing. Scholarships are available for qualified agricultural educators.


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