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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 2, 2005

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.

News & Resources
* Asian Soybean Rust Worries Iowa's Organic Growers
* Study: Oregon Farmers and Communities Reap Wind Power Benefits
* Colleges Increase Buying from Small Farms
* Report Warns GMOs Pose a Threat to Vermont's Organic Agriculture
* Free Certified Organic Seed Sourcing Service Announced
* Montana Community Food Group Pushes for Farmland Protection

Funding Opportunities
* CSREES Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program
* Water Quality Program—Conservation Effects Assessment Project
* Conservation Innovation Grants -- Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Coming Events
* National Farmers Union Convention and Trade Show
* Center for Rural Affairs Annual Gathering
* Risk Management Strategies for Northeast Small Farmers

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News & Resources

Asian Soybean Rust Worries Iowa's Organic Growers
With more than 60,000 acres of organic soybeans, Iowa growers are watching with concern the advance of the Asian soybean rust, reports the Agri-News. There are chemical fungicides to battle the rust, but thus far no organic alternative. "The chance of finding a material as effective as the already identified synthetic fungicides is not good,'' said Kathleen Delate of organic agriculture program at Iowa State University. "If the disease is found in Iowa, conventional soybean farmers will need to assess the economic risks and benefits of spraying, and ISU will help determine costs of materials and best methods for organic producers to deal with this disease. Longer crop rotations and compost applications can help with general disease management, but the long-term effect of these strategies for soybean rust is still not known.''
URL: http://webstar.agrinews.com/agrinews/111963537121227.bsp

Study: Oregon Farmers and Communities Reap Wind Power Benefits
A report from the Renewable Northwest Project illustrates the economic development benefits that local and regional businesses experienced during project planning and construction of the 24 megawatt Klondike Wind Farm in Sherman County, Oregon. Revenue from the wind farm is helping to sustain this historically single-engine economy that is under increased stress from low wheat prices and decreasing harvests. "Wind power helps to diversify the economy. It’s another crop we can harvest and it helps fill gaps in the county budget," said Sherman County Judge Mike McArthur. The amount of property tax that the county received from this project in 2002-2003 represented a 10 percent increase in the county’s total tax revenue over the previous year and is expected to generate approximately $250,000 in property taxes annually over its twenty to thirty year lifetime. In addition, some farmers in Sherman County receive annual royalty payments of between $2,000 and $4,000 for each turbine sited on their property. According to Lee Kaseberg, a local wheat and wind farmer, the turbines are compatible with regular farming operations. "Put them up, we can farm around them easily," declares Kaseberg. A neighboring farmer, John Hilderbrand, adds, "The turbines make money in the winter when I can’t work my land."
URL: http://www.rnp.org/News/pr_RNPKlondikeDec04.html

Colleges Increase Buying from Small Farms
Colleges across the country are improving their dining hall fare with products purchased directly from local farmers, says an Associated Press article carried in the Northwest Herald and elsewhere. According to the National Farm to College Program Manager of the Community Food Security Coalition, 200 colleges nationwide buy at least one product from a local small farm. Purchasing fresh, local food is a growing trend for college dining facilities, and it's resulting in students eating more vegetables, and serving as a recruitment tool for colleges that offer local, organic, fresh food options.
URL: http://www.nwherald.com/MainSection/other/304854493400875.php Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

Report Warns GMOs Pose a Threat to Vermont's Organic Agriculture
A new report by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group underscores the potential for genetically modified crops (GMOs) to undercut Vermont's rapidly growing organic agriculture sector. The report, titled "The GMO Threat to Vermont's Organic Future-Premier Growth Industry Threatened by Uncontrollable Technology", (PDF 2.43 MB) examines the growth of Vermont's organic farming sector, current and projected market growth in organic, and policy options for promoting the organic industry while protecting it from the expanding use of GMOs. In 2004, roughly 23% of Vermont's total vegetable acres were farmed organically, the highest percentage of farmland in the country. At the same time that consumer demand is leading to rapid growth in the organic sector, present and future use of GMOs in Vermont and across the planet poses a serious challenge to the survival of Vermont's thriving organic farm community. GMO contamination through windborne cross pollination of corn has already been found in Vermont in a previous VPIRG study, and GMO seed sales in Vermont continue to increase. In a related story, last week the Vermont Senate Agriculture passed a bill that would hold seed companies liable for damages caused by GM seeds or crops.
URL: http://www.vpirg.org/pubs/GMO press release 1.27.05.htm

Free Certified Organic Seed Sourcing Service Announced
Save Our Seed has announced that it will offer a free Certified Organic Seed Sourcing Service in 2005, to support certified organic growers in finding the seeds they need, as well as being clear when the seeds they are looking for are not available. The service accepts lists from organic growers of the seeds they wish to plant and replies with a list of dealers that sell those seeds. Conversely, if no organic seeds are available, the service is able to provide documentation suitable for organic certification agents. The group is also conducting a Certified Organic Seed Availability Survey to find what seeds growers are most in need of. The seed sourcing service currently covers seeds, tubers and rootstocks.
URL: http://www.savingourseed.org/pages/sourcing.htm
Related ATTRA Publication: Suppliers of Seed for Certified Organic Production

Montana Community Food Group Pushes for Farmland Protection
A community food system group in Missoula, Montana, recently approached local government to pitch the idea of a Food Policy Council and urge greater farmland protection, according to the Missoulian. At a city council subcommittee meeting, the group presented some of its findings from its Missoula County Community Food Assessment that highlight considerable interest in local food. The study, however, also noted that 10,000 acres of farmland in Missoula County were developed during the 1990s. "We cannot have a healthy food system if we do not have farms or farm land," said project co-coordinator Neva Hassanein of the University of Montana.
URL: http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2005/01/27/news/top/news01.txt

For 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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Funding Opportunities

CSREES Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service announces the availability of grant funds and requests applications for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) for fiscal year (FY) 2005 1) to support the development of Community Food Projects (termed Community Food Projects) with a one-time infusion of Federal dollars to make such projects self-sustaining and 2) for projects that provide Training and Technical Assistance on a nationwide or regional basis to entities interested in developing new Community Food Projects or assisting current grantees.  The primary objectives of the program are to increase the food self-reliance of communities; promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues; develop innovative linkages between the public, for-profit, and nonprofit food sectors; and encourage long-term planning activities and comprehensive multi-agency approaches.  Community Food Projects are intended to bring together stakeholders from the distinct parts of the food system. Deadline for applications is March 30, 2005.
URL: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/fundview.cfm?fonum=1080

Water Quality Program—Conservation Effects Assessment Project
CSREES requests applications for the Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program—Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) for fiscal year 2005 to develop research, education, and extension projects aimed at improving the quality of water resources in agricultural watersheds across the nation. This is a joint effort with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency.  In FY 2005, CSREES anticipates that approximately $2.9 million will be available to support CEAP projects. Native American Tribal Organizations, private and public institutions of higher learning are eligible to apply. Applications are due March 29, 2005.
URL: http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/
USDA/CSREES/OEP/USDA-GRANTS-012705-003/Grant.html

Conservation Innovation Grants -- Chesapeake Bay Watershed
The USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces the availability of up to $5 million for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  This funding is in addition to the $15 million announced on Jan. 11, 2005, for the CIG nationwide competition for fiscal year 2005. The CCC will accept applications for single- or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, submitted to NRCS from eligible entities, including Federally-recognized Indian Tribes, State and local governments, and non-governmental organizations and individuals.  The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS technical manuals or guides, or to the private sector. Applications are due March 28, 2005.
URL: http://fedgrants.gov/Applicants/USDA/NRCS/
2890/USDA-GRANTS-013105-001/Grant.html

For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.

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Coming Events

National Farmers Union Convention and Trade Show
February 25-28, 2005
Lexington, Kentucky
The National Farmers Union will hold its 103rd anniversary convention and trade show, with the theme "Profitability and Quality in Rural Life."
URL: http://www.nfu.org/index.cfm?category=memb&category2=conv&category
3=x&category4=x&category5=x

Center for Rural Affairs Annual Gathering
February 26, 2005
Norfolk, Nebraska
This event will include a Small Business Fair, teach-ins, keynotes, a family-farm raised meal, and more.
URL: http://www.cfra.org/events.htm

Risk Management Strategies for Northeast Small Farmers
March 2-3, 2005
Sturbridge, Massachusetts
A two-day conference to address local marketing issues, production programs, legal liabilities, family & labor issues, food safety & security, business planning, and more. Those attending will be agricultural producers, service providers and agricultural businesses from throughout New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
URL: http://www.rma.usda.gov/

More events at http://www.attra.org/calendar/

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageThe National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our sustainable agriculture projects.

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