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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 3, 2016

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

Join the NCAT Team!
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking an Agriculture Specialist/Outreach Coordinator. The position may be located in either NCAT's office in Jackson, Mississippi, or the office in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Applications will be accepted through February 28, 2016, or until suitable candidates can be identified.

News & Resources

  • USDA Begins Organic Survey
  • Biodiversity Beneficial for Pasture-Based Dairy Production Systems
  • Long-Term Study Looks at Agricultural Impact on Land and Its Consequences
  • Good Farm Fund Supports Local Food Producers in California
  • "Innovation Challenge" Winners to Help Make Food Supply More Resilient
  • The Pasture Project Accepting Applications for Grazing Champions

Funding Opportunities

  • NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Education and Literacy Initiative
  • NRCS Wetland Mitigation Banking Program
  • Good Food Financing Fair

Coming Events

  • California Small Farm Conference
  • Organic Association of Kentucky Annual Conference
  • Indiana Small Farm Conference

News & Resources

USDA Begins Organic Survey
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has begun conducting the 2015 Certified Organic Survey. NASS is mailing the survey to all known organic farms in the United States. The form asks farmers to provide information on acreage, production, and sales for a variety of certified organic crop and livestock commodities. The agency urges all participants to respond by February 19.

Biodiversity Beneficial for Pasture-Based Dairy Production Systems
Researchers at the University of Vermont are involved in a long-term study focused on understanding how ecologic habitat disruption is associated with livestock wellbeing. This research determined that grazing on pastures managed for increased biodiversity can help to improve soil health, optimize forage utilization, increase rumen activity, improve milk composition and quality, reduce costs, and increase net farm income.

Long-Term Study Looks at Agricultural Impact on Land and Its Consequences
Researchers from Arizona State University are reporting results of The Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics Project. The study focused on small-holder farmers or herders and how they transform landscapes over long periods of time. Modeling experiments showed that farmers who try to divide their attention between herding and crops eventually fail, while those who focus on one activity or the other may succeed. In addition, the study showed how long-term small-scale farming practices affect large-scale environmental change in the Mediterranean.

Good Farm Fund Supports Local Food Producers in California
In California, the Good Farm Fund is focusing on increasing access to fresh and locally produced food. The Fund just awarded its first round of small grants to local farmers. Applicants had to demonstrate that they were using environmentally beneficial farming practices, maximizing food for local consumption, and providing affordable food for all people in the county.

"Innovation Challenge" Winners to Help Make Food Supply More Resilient
A total of $63,000 was awarded to winners of the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge, in which contestants used USDA agriculture-production open data to develop online tools that can help make the American food supply more resilient in the face of climate change. The grand prize winner is an application that allows farmers to analyze USDA data about crops grown within five kilometers of their farms. Winning projects are described online.

The Pasture Project Accepting Applications for Grazing Champions
The Pasture Project, an initiative of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, is seeking Grazing Champions, farmers or ranchers engaged in pasture-based agriculture who want to better tell their story and integrate it into the broader story of grass-fed production. Farmers or landowners throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin are invited to apply. Applications are accepted online on a rolling basis.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Education and Literacy Initiative
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering pre- and post-doctoral fellowships, undergraduate fellowships, and professional development for secondary school teachers and educational professionals. Funded fellowships will span the six challenge areas identified by AFRI: childhood obesity prevention, climate change, food safety, food security, sustainable bioenergy, and water.
Applications for pre- and post-doctoral fellowships are due February 11, 2016. Applications for professional development grants are due March 18, 2016.
Applications for undergraduate fellowships are due March 24, 2016.

NRCS Wetland Mitigation Banking Program
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $9 million to help states, local governments, or other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks that restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems. NRCS is seeking applications from eligible third parties, including federally recognized Indian tribes, state and local units of government, for-profit entities, and nongovernmental organizations.
Proposals are due by March 28, 2016.

Good Food Financing Fair
The Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference afternoon Financing Fair on March 24 in Chicago provides a dynamic environment where innovative farms and food businesses seeking capital can engage with funders, pitch their business plans, and forge new partnerships.
The deadline to apply to participate is February 29, 2016.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

California Small Farm Conference
March 5-8, 2016
Sacramento, California
This is the state's premier gathering for small-scale farmers, ranchers, and farmers market managers. The event includes tours, workshops, networking opportunities, and Sunday field courses, including one on Conservation on the Farm Field led by NCAT's Rex Dufour.

Organic Association of Kentucky Annual Conference
March 4-5, 2016
Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Conference tracks include livestock, dairy, produce, and soil. Seminars include information for new and beginning farmers, no-till organic methods, using forage to increase profits, growing organic blueberries, homesteading, health and wellness, and accessing organic markets. Keynote Speakers include Jeff Moyer and Jim Munsch.

Indiana Small Farm Conference
March 4-5, 2016
Danville, Indiana

Join the Purdue Small Farm & Sustainable Agriculture Team for the 4th Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference. Pre-conference workshops are offered March 3. Keynote speaker is Mary Berry. Tracks include restoration agriculture, vegetable production, livestock production, farm financing, on-farm energy, and farm management.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

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New ATTRA Publication
Tipsheet: Organic Pest Management

Question of the Week
What are the different types of vertical farming systems?

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