Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 26, 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
News & Resources
Risk Management Guide for Organic Producers Released
A new publication for organic farmers in the Upper Midwest is now available. Risk Management Guide for Organic Producers is a free online manual and website that will help farmers understand the risks in organic production and make choices that minimize those risks. The fourteen chapters of this manual cover a wide range of production topics that are relevant to organic farmers while integrating recent organic research and tips from local experienced organic farmers. Subjects covered include: Rotation; Soil Health and Fertility; Weed Biology and Management; Weed Profiles; Transitioning; Corn, Soybean, Small Grains and Forage Production; Winter Cover Crops; and Alternative Crops. The website also includes a link to interactive quizzes that producers can take to gauge their risk level in various areas of organic production. Risk Management Guide for Organic Producers is a publication developed by the University of Minnesota with funding from the USDA’s Risk Management Agency and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Lawsuit Filed Seeking to Protect Wildlife from Pesticides
The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America have filed the most comprehensive legal action ever brought under the Endangered Species Act to protect imperiled species from pesticides, suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to consult with federal wildlife agencies regarding the impacts of hundreds of pesticides known to be harmful to more than 200 endangered and threatened species. "This lawsuit is intended to force the EPA to follow the law and ensure that harmful chemicals are not sprayed in endangered species habitats," said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center. "The EPA authorizes pesticide uses that result in millions of pounds of toxins, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, entering our waterways each year, polluting our soil and poisoning our drinking water," said Miller. "Common-sense restrictions on pesticide use that protect endangered species can also safeguard human health."
USDA Launches New Biobased Product Label
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's BioPreferred program has announced that a final rule to initiate a voluntary product certification and labeling program for qualifying biobased products has been published in the Federal Register. This new label will clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources, and will promote the increased sale and use of these products in the commercial market and for consumers. Biobased products are those composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients—renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The new label indicates that the product has been certified to meet USDA standards for a prescribed amount of biobased content. Through implementation of the BioPreferred program, USDA has already designated approximately 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by Federal agencies. The new label will make identification of these products easier for Federal buyers, and will increase awareness of these high-value products in other markets. USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States.
Organic Industry Wants Farmers Protected in the Marketplace
The U.S. House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee held a member forum January 20 questioning Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's authority in considering deregulation with conditions of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa. Secretary Vilsack's prepared remarks are posted on the USDA website. Meanwhile, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) expressed the organic industry's strong support for USDA's recent proposal to consider the broad economic consequences of unrestricted deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa, including the impact on organic agriculture and products in the United States. OTA noted that USDA has taken an important first step in acknowledging organic and identity preserved (IP) agriculture’s right to exist within a policy framework of co-existence. In addition, OTA believes that meaningful co-existence must protect seed purity for organic farmers’ use, provide compensation to organic farmers in the event of losses due to contamination, and require USDA oversight of GE crop commercialization to protect all U.S. agricultural sectors.
USDA Updates Food Environment Atlas
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently highlighted updates to an online mapping tool that compares U.S. counties in terms of their "food environment"—the set of factors that help determine and reflect a community's access to affordable, healthy food. The updated U.S. Food Environment Atlas assembles 168 indicators of the food environment, up from the original 90, measuring factors such as availability of food stores and restaurants, food prices, socioeconomic characteristics, and health outcomes. With the Atlas, users can visualize and geographically compare a wide range of demographic, health, and food-access characteristics.
Powers in American Food Recognized
The Daily Meal recently released a list and slideshow featuring the 50 people they deem most powerful in affecting what and how and where and why we as a nation eat. Among the chefs, restaurateurs, and corporate CEOs of food manufacturers and retailers are several names of note in sustainable agriculture. For example, Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA; "Farm-to-Table" chef Dan Barber; author Michael Pollan; author and publisher Maria Rodale; and chef-activist Alice Waters.
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Vermont Grants for Agricultural Infrastructure Capital Improvements
In order to assist agricultural infrastructure businesses with the implementation of their business plans, the Vermont Farm Viability Program is offering grants of up to $20,000. The grants aim to support the development of local food systems, encourage business planning activities, and enhance the development of agricultural and local food infrastructure in Vermont. The program is open to all businesses that meet the eligibility requirements and particularly invites proposals for the following kinds of projects: Slaughter and meat processing facility improvements and expansions; Workforce development, particularly in meat processing; Capital improvements related to food safety; Vegetable/fruit processing, storage, marketing and distribution projects.
Proposals are due March 30, 2011.
Special Research Grants Program - Pest Management Alternatives
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requests applications for the Special Research Grants Program - Pest Management Alternatives (PMAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2011 to address needs in integrated pest management (IPM) 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.
Proposals are due March 3, 2011
Oregon Conservation Innovation Grants
NRCS Oregon requests applications for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. For fiscal year 2011, up to $486,000 may be available for the Oregon statewide CIG competition. Fiscal Year 2011, one category, the State Resource Concern Category, will be offered in Oregon. This category may include applications that focus on Market-based Approaches, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Credit Trading, or related conservation approaches and tools. Beginning or Socially Disadvantaged farmers or ranchers or eligible entities servicing Beginning or Socially Disadvantaged farmers or ranchers are encouraged to submit application(s), and will receive special consideration in the selection process. To participate in the Oregon CIG sign-up, project proposals should request federal funds of $75,000 or less and must be implemented within the state of Oregon.
Proposals are due March 31, 2011
>> More Funding Opportunities
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California Small Farm Conference
March 6-8, 2011
San Jose, California
The California Small Farm Conference is the state's premier gathering of small farmers, agricultural students, farmers’ market managers and others involved in the small farm industry. The three day educational conference includes day-long short courses and on-farm tours; focused workshops; engaging keynote addresses and numerous networking opportunities. Everything you need to plan a Big Future.
Georgia Organics Annual Conference & Expo "GO GROW!"
march 11-12, 2011
At the 14th Annual Georgia Organics Conference & Expo, every attendee will have the opportunity to grow in whatever form they choose. Five of the 10 In-Depth Workshops this year focus on farmer education, and the reason is simple: we want you to GO GROW! There are one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for gardeners, farm to school advocates, and community builders, too, because we're all growing in one way or another.
There are 12 Food and Farm Tours this year - that's more than we've ever offered before. This year we'll take you to the very beginnings of agriculture in the state, and to the roots of organic farming in Georgia, not to mention trips to some of the state's best organic farms, sustainable livestock producers, coastal habitats, and expeditions into the heart of Savannah's rich culinary heritage.
Appalachian Grazing Conference
March 4-5, 2011
Morgantown, West Virginia
The 2011 Appalachian Grazing Conference is an opportunity that no Appalachian livestock producer should miss! There will be presentations of interest to those with cattle, goats, and sheep.
The 2011 Appalachian Grazing Conference is featuring two Keynote Speakers: Greg Judy and Kathy Voth will be presenting over the two day conference.
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