Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 2, 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
EQIP Organic Initiative Applications Due March 4
Offered by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the EQIP Organic Initiative is available in all 50 states for farmers who are certified organic, transitioning to certified organic, or organic-exempt. Experimenting with cover crops, installing intensive grazing infrastructure or establishing wildlife-friendly habitat are examples of conservation practices that could be eligible for funding under this program. NCAT/ATTRA can help you apply.
USDA Announces Decision to Fully Deregulate Roundup Ready Alfalfa
The Record of Decision released by USDA January 27 deregulates alfalfa without conditions. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the decision is based on the findings supported by science and within the context of the Plant Protection Act there is no plant-pest risk. Vilsack announced steps that USDA intends to take to preserve and protect the purity and availability of non-GE alfalfa seed from germ plasm to commercial use. The Secretary also outlined steps that USDA will take to encourage and inform appropriate stewardship practices for GE alfalfa and to work at continuous improvement to lessen any risk of gene flow. Further, Vilsack announced that he is directing the REE mission area to establish a $1 million Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grant program to take a look at shorter-term risk assessment with reference to GE alfalfa.
Reactions to the decision have been issued by The Organic Farming Research Foundation and Organic Trade Association, as well as The American Soybean Association.
Study Finds Organic Milk Dependably Healthier
Wetter, cooler summers can have a detrimental effect on milk quality, according to new research published by Newcastle University in the UK. Researchers found milk collected during a particularly poor UK summer and the following winter had significantly higher saturated fat content and far less beneficial fatty acids than in a more ‘normal’ year. They also discovered that organic supermarket milk showed higher levels of nutritionally beneficial fatty acids compared with ‘ordinary’ milk regardless of the time of year or weather conditions. The study was published in this month's Journal of Dairy Science. "By choosing organic milk you can cut saturated fats by 30-50 percent and still get the same intake of beneficial fatty acids, as the omega-3 levels are higher but omega-6 is not, which helps to improve the crucial ratio between the two," noted study leader Gillian Butler.
USDA Develops, Revises Conservation Practice Standards
USDA has revised or developed several conservation practice standards, including nutrient management, and published them in the Federal Register for public comment. USDA is seeking comments on all the practices through February 25, 2011. The nutrient management standard, code 590, helps producers and other landowners better manage nutrients on their agricultural operations. The standard sets minimum criteria for supplying nutrients for crop production while reducing impacts of non-point source pollution. It applies to all land where plant nutrients are applied to grow agricultural crops. Proper nutrient management planning stresses the importance of applying the right fertilizer at the right rate at the right time and in the right place. The revised standard promotes enhanced nutrient management planning activities at the state level.
Center for Sustainable Energy Farming Announced
Penn State plant scientists will conduct research to explore the development of cropping systems for the production of renewable biofuels, as part of a newly announced center. The nonprofit Center for Sustainable Energy Farming was founded by Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif., a company that specializes in eco-friendly biofuel feedstock research and sustainable agriculture cultivation, production and distribution. The center will use the latest techniques to perform plant-science research aimed at developing sustainable energy-farming systems of the future. Organizers said the center will strive to increase agricultural production, create a sustainable feedstock supply, reduce the use of pesticides, water and fertilizer, and develop new and sustainable biofuels.
Related ATTRA Publication: An Introduction to Bioenergy: Feedstocks, Processes and Products
Comments Sought on Farmers' Market Promotion Program Rule Proposal
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking comments on a Farmers' Market Promotion Program (FMPP) rule proposal and has announced its intention to request approval of new information collection from the Office of Management and Budget. The proposed rule would establish eligibility and application requirements, the review and approval process, and grant administration procedures for the FMPP. The grants authorized by the FMPP, originally funded in 2006 and revised under the 2008 Farm Bill, are designed to improve and expand domestic farmers' markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities. Comments may be submitted electronically or by mail, and those received by March 21, 2011, will be considered.
NRCS Announces Energy Audit and Implementation Initiative
USDA has announced the expansion of a USDA initiative to help farmers and ranchers conduct energy audits and improve their overall energy efficiency. The initiative builds on the existing energy audit initiative to also help producers implement the energy conservation and efficiency recommendations that result from an energy audit. The On-Farm Energy Audit/Implementation Initiative is offered through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which provides technical and financial assistance for this purpose through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Producers who have had an on-farm energy audit conducted that meets or exceeds the criteria of an EQIP Agricultural Energy Management Plan may apply for technical and financial assistance to implement the audit’s recommendations. Interested producers should contact their local NRCS office immediately to determine their State’s specific deadline and payment schedule. Application deadlines may be no later than February 25, 2011.
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EPA Community-Based Environmental Grants
Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) is a competitive grant program that offers an innovative way for a community to organize and take action to reduce toxic pollution in its local environment. Through CARE, a community creates a partnership that implements solutions to reduce releases of toxic pollutants and minimize people's exposure to them. By providing financial and technical assistance, EPA helps CARE communities get on the path to a renewed environment. Local, public non-profit institution/organizations, federally-recognized Indian tribal government, Native American organizations, private non-profit institution/organization, quasi-public nonprofit institution/organization both interstate and intrastate, local government, colleges, and universities could be eligible to apply for CARE funds. Level I cooperative agreements range in approximate value from $75,000 to a maximum of $100,000. Level II cooperative agreements range in approximate value from $150,000 to a maximum of $300,000.
Proposals are due March 22, 2011.
Environmental Justice Small Grants Program
EPA is now accepting grant applications for $1.2 million in funding to support projects designed to research, educate, empower and enable communities to understand and address local environmental and public health issues. Environmental Justice Small Grants funding is available for two categories of projects: 40 grants of up to $25,000 each, to support projects that address a community’s local environmental issues through collaborative partnerships; 4 grants of up to $50,000 each, to support research on the environmental and human health impacts of exposure to multiple sources of pollution in communities.
Proposals are due March 31, 2011.
Wisconsin Value Added Services Funding
The Wisconsin Agriculture Innovation and Development Center (AIDC) invites proposals for projects that provide direct services to producers and assist them to market or produce value added agricultural products, other than dairy. This funding has been made available through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Agency. The AIDC has allocated $350,000 for value added producer service projects in 2011. The maximum award is $50,000 per project. Proposals will be accepted from individuals, groups, businesses and organizations involved in Wisconsin agriculture.
Proposals are due March 31, 2011.
>> More Funding Opportunities
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HACCP for the Organic Professional 2-Day Training Course
March 9-10, 2011
This two-day course provides instruction in the seven principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), how they relate to prerequisite and organic certification programs, how to write HACCP Plans and implement HACCP in organic food environments. It is is designed for individuals responsible for organic and food safety programs in small to medium sized processing facilities as well as those responsible for the communications messaging of the facilities, and is recommended for organic and food safety programs professionals, communications professionals, certifiers, and inspectors.
Greenhouse Tomato Short Course
March 8-9, 2011
At this program expert speakers will present seminars on a variety of fields relevant to the production of greenhouse tomatoes. Special topics of focus this year will be greenhouse environmental control (heating, cooling, new technology, etc.), budget for greenhouse growers, plant nutrition, maximizing yield, physiological disorders, diagnosing problems, biocontrol, bumblebee pollination, and a pest management workshop. Exhibitors from across the U.S. and Canada will be available to show their products and discuss how to use them. Participating in this program will be the best way to learn all about producing greenhouse tomatoes.
Tri-State Forestry Conference
March 12, 2011
This conference is designed specifically for landowners in the Midwest. Topics will range from traditional woodland management techniques, timber taxes, game and non-game wildlife management to soils and soil erosion in woodlands. Concurrent sessions will provide participants with the knowledge and skills to manage woodlands using good stewardship principles.
>> More Events
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