Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - January 27, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Survey Features Snapshot of CSAs in Upper Midwest
* New Manual Offers Resources on Direct Marketing and Farm Viability
* Minnesota Study Illustrates Watershed Benefits of Livestock Systems
* Studies Say Organic Ag Could Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries
* Alabama Program to Mentor Low-Income Farmers
* IPM Scouting Program Improves Vegetable Yields
* Private Stewardship Grants Program
* Graduate Research Fellowships for Natural Systems Agriculture Research
* Theodora and Arnold Johnson Undergraduate Research Internships
* Food Alliance Midwest's Fourth Annual Meeting
* National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture Annual Conference
* 16th Annual Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference
News & Resources
Survey Features Snapshot of CSAs in Upper Midwest
The Leopold Center recently released a survey (PDF 333KB) of Upper Midwest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations to evaluate their viability and provide a regional characterization of the movement. Among its findings, the survey noted that the average net return per acre for CSA farmers is $2,467, dramatically higher than the return per acre of corn ($172.11), soybeans ($134.46) and wheat ($38.10) in the United States. When asked if their share price provides them with a fair wage, over half (57 percent) of these CSA farmers replied negatively. Still, nearly all (97 percent) respondents claim to be completely satisfied or satisfied most of the time with their CSA operations
New Manual Offers Resources on Direct Marketing and Farm Viability
The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food System recently published a manual titled Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors. The manual is organized into six units, three focusing on marketing and three covering other topics related to making a small farm economically viable. Included are lessons and resources for running a CSA project, selling at farmers' markets, forming collaborative marketing groups and grower cooperatives, and selling to restaurants. Also covered are strategies to improve small farm planning, including enterprise visioning and market assessment; creating a business plan, including marketing and crop plans; and managing cash flow. Land tenure options such as cash-rent leases from non-profits, shared ownership models, conservation easements, and community land trusts are reviewed as additional mechanisms for addressing the complex issue of the economic viability of small-scale agriculture. This resource also reviews the trends and factors that influence small-scale agriculture's economics, and provides an overview of produce marketing in the U.S.
Minnesota Study Illustrates Watershed Benefits of Livestock Systems
Farming systems that rely on perennial plant systems such as grass and hay while incorporating dairy cows and other livestock could significantly improve Minnesota’s water quality, according to a new modeling study of two watersheds in the state. The results of the study appear in the January issue of the journal BioScience. It found that on hilly land, replacing row crops such as corn and soybeans with grass, hay and diverse crop rotations could significantly reduce sedimentation, pollution runoff and flooding. It also found that through policy changes, benefits could be attained at little additional cost to taxpayers while benefiting farmers financially. “These results show the positive benefits of getting more dairy cows out on the land eating perennial plants like grass and hay,” said George Boody, Executive Director of the Land Stewardship Project and one of the authors of the study. “But farmers need to be given specific incentives and support for making transitions into such systems.”
Studies Say Organic Ag Could Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries
Organic food production could promise a way out of poverty for many small farmers in developing countries, according to a thematic evaluation by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). Farmers who switched to organic agriculture achieved higher earnings and a better standard of living, the study, conducted in China and India last year, showed. Similar findings were produced by an earlier study in six Latin American countries, conducted in 2001. The studies, supported by the Italian Government, looked at the role of organic agriculture in rural poverty reduction and when, and under what conditions, organics could be integrated into development programs.
Alabama Program to Mentor Low-Income Farmers
Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and Heifer International have announced a new program to mentor low-income farmers in developing successful and sustainable enterprises, according to the Troy Messenger. The statewide program will work with 15 low-income Alabama families each year, offering seed money, one-on-one educational assistance from other farmers, group training, and marketing help.
IPM Scouting Program Improves Vegetable Yields
A Penn State Cooperative Extension scouting program in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, helped nine vegetable growers achieve greater, higher quality yields, says an Environmental News Network Affiliate news story. The project involved a grant that paid for a field scout to report insect and disease pest conditions to the growers weekly. This accurate information allowed growers to have more confidence in their pest management decisions, resulting in less pesticide application and increasing profitability. The project was so successful that growers have indicated their willingness to pay to have it continued in 2005.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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Private Stewardship Grants Program
The Private Stewardship Grants Program (PSGP) provides grants and other assistance on a competitive basis to individuals and groups engaged in private, voluntary conservation efforts that benefit species listed or proposed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting project proposals for Federal assistance under the PSGP. The amount available for fiscal year 2005 is approximately $6.5 million. Eligible projects include those by landowners and their partners who need technical and financial assistance to improve habitat or implement other activities on private lands. A PSGP proposal must include at least 10 percent cost sharing. Grant proposals are due to Regional offices on March 21, 2005.
Graduate Research Fellowships for Natural Systems Agriculture
The Land Institute offers graduate research fellowships that include grants to support Natural Systems Agriculture research, up to a maximum of $9,000. Fellows also participate in an annual week-long workshop to share information. Students are eligible if currently enrolled in a M.S. or Ph.D. program in a discipline such as: Plant Breeding, Agronomy, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, Entomology, Pathology, Microbiology, Animal Science, Soil Science, Ecological Modeling and Landscape Ecology. The award is intended to support the student and his or her research. Applications must be received by e-mail no later than February 15, 2005.
Theodora and Arnold Johnson Undergraduate Research Internships
The University of Minnesota's Theodora and Arnold Johnson Undergraduate Research Program is designed to provide students with an internship opportunity to work with a faculty member on a research topic pertaining to sustainable agriculture. The program provides an unique opportunity for students to collaborate with faculty to address issues affecting agricultural production, the environment, food science and nutrition, social impacts of farming systems, or economics of agriculture. A maximum award of $3,000 is available for each research project accepted. At least two awards will be made each year. Applications are due February 25, 2005.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Food Alliance Midwest's Fourth Annual Meeting
February 10, 2005
St. Paul, Minnesota
Food Alliance Midwest, a regional affiliate of Food Alliance, finished 2004 with over 70 market partnerships and more than 100 different Food Alliance certified products. At the annual meeting, educators will have an opportunity to learn how farmers are using Food Alliance certification and how Food Alliance market partnersdistributors, retailers and food service providersare working with certified farms to capitalize on consumer demand for local, environmentally friendly, socially responsible foods. Travel scholarships are available for Extension educators interested in attending. For more information contact Food Alliance Midwest Certification Coordinator Ray Kirsch at 651-653-0618 or firstname.lastname@example.org
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture Annual Conference February 20-22, 2005
This event is titled "Celebrating the Value & Values of Sustainable Food Systems: Mobilizing the Movement." In addition to speaker presentations, the event focuses on grassroots organizing to support sustainable agriculture policies.
16th Annual Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference
February 24-26, 2005
La Crosse, Wisconsin
The conference theme, “Make Mine Organic!”, reflects the growing excitement and enthusiasm for healthy food and farming practices across the region and around the world. The UMOFC presents a unique, farmer-centered conference, bringing together a diverse group of over 1500 participants from all over the Upper Midwest.
More events at http://www.attra.org/calendar/
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