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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 1, 2012

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • USDA Unveils New Plant Hardiness Zone Map
  • U.S. Organic Cotton Acreage Continues to Grow
  • United States and Canada Take Step Toward Organic Equivalency
  • New CAST Paper Considers Energy Issues of Corn-Soybean Systems
  • FoodCorps Recruiting Service Members
  • Animal Welfare Approved Awards Good Husbandry Grants

Funding Opportunities

  • Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program
  • Alaska Statewide Conservation Innovation Grant
  • Oregon Specialty Crop Grant Program

Coming Events

  • California Small Farm Conference
  • Organic Growers School Spring Conference
  • Sustainable Living Conference & Natural Growers Guild Meeting

News & Resources

USDA Unveils New Plant Hardiness Zone Map
USDA has released a new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in this edition of the map have shifted in many areas. The new map is generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States.

U.S. Organic Cotton Acreage Continues to Grow
The U.S. organic cotton market continues to grow, encouraged by consumer demand, price premiums, and regulatory shifts that will ease marketing restrictions for organic cotton products, according to the 2010 and Preliminary 2011 U.S. Organic Cotton Production & Marketing Trends report released by the Organic Trade Association. The survey showed planted acres were up 36 percent, to 11,827 acres, in 2010.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Cotton Production

United States and Canada Take Step Toward Organic Equivalency
Canada now considers U.S. National Organic Program requirements for pasture access equivalent to its standards for ruminant stocking rates, USDA has announced. Now U.S. organic dairy, beef, sheep, goat, and bison producers exporting products to Canada can benefit from more streamlined trade. The change reflects efforts by both countries to harmonize standards and move toward full equivalence.

New CAST Paper Considers Energy Issues of Corn-Soybean Systems
A new Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Issue Paper examines energy issues within the corn/soybean production system as a model for understanding the complexity of addressing global energy challenges. Energy Issues Affecting Corn/Soybean Systems: Challenges for Sustainable Production proposes a landscape vision for sustainable corn/soybean systems that would provide sustainable grain and biomass feedstock supplies for the bioenergy industry, protect water quality, lessen producer/environmental risk, and promote biodiversity.

FoodCorps Recruiting Service Members
FoodCorps recruits talented leaders for a year of paid public service building healthy school food environments in high-obesity, limited-resource communities. FoodCorps service members teach children about food and nutrition, grow healthy food in school gardens, and connect farms and schools. Service sites operate in Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon. Pending funding, FoodCorps will expand into Connecticut and Montana this year. The 2012-2013 Service Member Application is open until March 25, 2012.

Animal Welfare Approved Awards Good Husbandry Grants
Animal Welfare Approved announces that 36 Good Husbandry Grants have been awarded to farms across the nation to improve animal welfare and allow pasture-based farmers to increase productivity in their operations. The grants were open to current Animal Welfare Approved farmers and those who have applied to join the program, and funding priorities included genetic improvement for pasture-based systems, outdoor access and mobile housing, non-lethal predator control, and other innovative projects that improve the welfare of animals.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting proposals for General Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (General WREP). Through General WREP, NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners to carry out high-priority wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities and improve wildlife habitat on eligible lands. States, local governments, Indian Tribes, and non-governmental organizations are eligible to submit a proposal. WREP partners are required to contribute matching financial or technical assistance.
Applications are due by February 10, 2012.

Alaska Statewide Conservation Innovation Grant
NRCS is seeking project pre-proposals for fiscal year 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). Up to $160,000 will be available through the Alaska Statewide CIG program to stimulate innovative approaches to conservation measures in conjunction with Alaska's agricultural and subsistence practices. Priorities for this year's program include innovative practices in energy conservation and best management practices for high tunnel growers.
Pre-proposals are due by February 24, 2012.

Oregon Specialty Crop Grant Program
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is accepting concept proposals for project ideas as part of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Approximately $1 million will be available to agriculture industry associations, producer groups, processors, commodity commissions, non-profits, for-profits, and local government agencies in Oregon. Specific funding priorities for 2012 are listed online.
Concept proposals must be submitted by February 27, 2012.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

California Small Farm Conference
March 4-6, 2012
Santa Clarita, California

The three-day educational conference includes day-long short courses, on-farm tours, focused workshops, engaging keynote addresses, and numerous networking opportunities. This year's theme is "Cultivating the Next Generation."

Organic Growers School Spring Conference
March 3-4, 2012
Asheville, North Carolina

The Organic Growers School Spring Conference offers over 70 classes and half-day hands-on workshops in tracks including livestock, poultry, soils, commercial farmers, and alternative energy. Scholarship opportunities are available.

Sustainable Living Conference
February 25, 2012
Raymond, Mississippi

The third annual Sustainable Living Conference includes a meeting of the Natural Growers Guild and the Farm to School Summit, as well as sessions on renewable energy and backyard farming.

>> More Events

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Nutrient Management in Organic Small Grains

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Does leaving green beans in the soil at the end of their life cycle have any nitrogen-fixation benefits?

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