Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 23, 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.
News & Resources
* Mobile Poultry Processing Unit Slated for Vermont
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* Washington County Creating Business Plan for Agriculture
* Study Shows Organic Transition Improved Soil
* Winter Farmers' Markets Aid Farmers
* USDA Enrolls One Millionth Acre in Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
* Pennsylvania to Allow Milk Labels
* Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity
* Frontera Farmer Foundation 2008 Grants
* Western North Carolina Ag Options Grant
* Organic Farming Conference
* California Small Farm Conference
* ASAP Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference
News & Resources
Mobile Poultry Processing Unit Slated for Vermont
With funding from Vermont's legislature, a state-inspected mobile slaughter facility for poultry will be available by spring, according to an article in the Times Argus. The state's small poultry operators currently face challenges in getting birds to a state- or USDA-inspected facility, limiting the opportunity to sell birds through co-ops or to food service operations. The new mobile unit, which should process up to 200 birds per day, will be leased, sold, or rented to an independent operator, who will operate it with the goal of processing 8,000 chickens the first year. The state may fund construction of additional units if demand warrants, as part of a plan to augment the state's agricultural infrastructure.
Related ATTRA Publication: Small Poultry Processing Plants and Services
Washington County Creating Business Plan for Agriculture
Snohomish County, Washington, is working on an Agriculture Sustainability Project, reports The Seattle Times. The project is a grass-roots initiative to strengthen and grow the county's agricultural economy, ensure a quality and thriving food supply and support existing farming operations. The project includes an inventory of agricultural lands and identification of policies to promote economic growth in agriculture. The county will collect input on the project in a series of public meetings during January and February, and use this feedback in developing a business plan to advance agriculture in the county.
Study Shows Organic Transition Improved Soil
A study appearing in the Agronomy Journal documented the effect of the transition to organic farming on chemical and biochemical properties of a loam soil through a succession of five crop cycles over a 3-year period. This Spanish study, "Effect of Implementing Organic Farming on Chemical and Biochemical Properties of an Irrigated Loam Soil," found organically fertilized soils showed an increase in quantity and quality of organic matter, and an improvement in nutrient content, compared to inorganically fertilized soils. The study also noted that in general, animal compost improved chemical and biological properties more than vegetal compost.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sources of Organic Fertilizers and Amendments
Winter Farmers' Markets Aid Farmers
When the outdoor farmers' market season ends, farmers still have bills to pay, and may still have wares to sell. Associated Press reports that in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, indoor farmers markets are being held during the winter months. The Churches' Center for Land and People, a group composed of religious denominations in the three states, is sponsoring about 50 winter markets. According to the story, farmers who sell at the markets are asked to donate 10 percent of their market proceeds to the Harvest of Hope emergency fund to help farm families get through financial difficulties.
USDA Enrolls One Millionth Acre in Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
USDA has enrolled the one millionth acre in its nationwide Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). A component of USDA's Conservation Reserve Program, CREP is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat and safeguard ground and surface water. Partnering with tribal, state and federal governments and, in some cases, private groups, USDA establishes contracts with agricultural producers to retire highly erodible and other sensitive cropland and pastureland. During the 10- to 15-year contract period, participants convert enrolled land to grass, trees, wetlands, wildlife cover and other conservation uses.
Pennsylvania to Allow Milk Labels
Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell announced January 17 that milk labels informing consumers that it was produced without rBST or artificial growth hormones can continue to be used, in a reversal of a state policy change announced in October. New standards for labeling about artificial growth hormones given to dairy cows to will go into effect, to bring labels in line with other states. Dairy processors intending to use labels stating no rBST or artificial growth hormones will be required to certify that the milk they are marketing was not produced with rBST. If these companies wish to have that reflected on their labels they are required to vouch for their production methods so the Department of Agriculture can verify those claims. The Governor pointed out that Pennsylvania’s new standards for milk labels will enhance consumer confidence.
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Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Healthy Eating Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The program supports research on environmental and policy strategies to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among low-income and racial/ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. Round 3 funding focuses on policy and environmental studies in four areas: Food pricing and economic approaches; Food and beverage marketing and promotion; Interventions and policies to increase access to affordable healthy foods in low-income communities; and Evaluations of other promising food-related policy and environmental strategies.
Proposals are due February 6, 2008.
Frontera Farmer Foundation 2008 Grants
The Frontera Farmer Foundation is committed to promoting small, sustainable Midwestern farms serving the Chicago area, by providing them with capital development grants. The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area at farmers markets and otherwise.
Proposals are due January 31, 2008.
Western North Carolina Ag Options Grant
The objective of this grant program is to encourage Western North Carolina farm owners who are dependent on tobacco income or who live in tobacco-dependent communities to diversify their operations in 2008 by trying new agricultural enterprise opportunities. Farmers who would like to supplement their agricultural income through agricultural tourism ventures and /or a diversified mix of agricultural commodity production are eligible to apply.
Proposals are due January 25, 2008.
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Organic Farming Conference
February 21-23, 2008
The 19th annual conference includes a Pre-Conference Organic University that offers intensive day-long sessions on specific topics in organic agriculture. The conference itself features more than 60 workshops, exhibits, and the first Midwest Organic Research Symposium.
California Small Farm Conference
February 24-26, 2008
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. The theme of the 2008 California Small Farm Conference is "Growing Opportunities."
ASAP Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference
February 24, 2008
Swannanoa, North Carolina
ASAP’s Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Conference is a single day packed full of information about how farms can effectively promote themselves, crops and techniques to consider for farm diversification, and tips to reach local markets from direct to wholesale. Attendees are working farmers and others seriously considering farming as a profession. Speakers include agriculture experts, farmers experienced in reaching local markets, buyers, and ASAP staff.
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