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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 4, 2009

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

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News & Resources
* National Organic Action Plan Draft Available for Comment
* Site Features Local Food Distribution Models
* Ten Principles of Sustainable Soil Published
* Report Explores Farm Viability on Urban Edge
* Project BudBurst Invites Participation
* CSA Concept Extends to Fiber


Funding Opportunities
* Biomass Research and Development Initiative
* Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative, EPA Region 6


Coming Events
* Georgia Organics Annual Conference
* ANR Week
* Farm to Fork Summit



News & Resources

National Organic Action Plan Draft Available for Comment
A National Organic Action Plan Summit is being convened in LaCrosse Wisconsin, February 25 and 26. Prior to the summit, a draft Action Plan has been posted by the National Organic Coalition. The 40-page Action Plan (PDF / 1.5M) draft describes the process by which the plan is being developed, and details eight priority objectives with some goals and some benchmarks. These categories include Environment, Health, Social and cultural change, Research, Eduction, Organic Integrity, Marketplace, Transition and incentives. They are also accepting written comments on the plan via e-mail until March 1, particularly on priorities, timelines, benchmarks, and objectives.

Site Features Local Food Distribution Models
With support from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) is researching distribution models for local food. Across the United States, entrepreneurs, cooperatives and nonprofits are filling an important missing link in local food systems: aggregating food from local farms and distributing it to stores, restaurants, eaters and other retailers and end users. CIAS has created a map of some of these distribution models.

Ten Principles of Sustainable Soil Published
Ohio State University soil scientist Rattan Lal has synthesized years of scientific literature on soil degradation and restoration and developed 10 basic principles of sustainable soil management. His list of principles was published in Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, and the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development, reports Ohio Ag Connection. The ten principles encompass not only soil science, but also agricultural policy and the impact of economic factors on soil management.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Sustainable Soil Management


Report Explores Farm Viability on Urban Edge
American Farmland Trust has partnered with Dick Esseks and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to release a report regarding the long-term viability of agriculture in counties that are becoming increasingly urban. The report, titled Farm Viability in Urbanizing Areas, explores which public policy efforts have been effective in retaining the spectrum of benefits provided by local agriculture. The report contains 15 county-level case studies from 14 states, and is arranged into chapters covering production inputs, marketing, farmland protection and outlook for the future. The research findings, as well as recommendations for state and local government policy that resulted from the report, are available online.

Project BudBurst Invites Participation
Project BudBurst invites members of the public to join in gathering valuable environmental and climate change information from around the United States. This national field campaign engages the public in making careful observations of the phenological events such as first leafing, first flower, and first fruit ripening of a diversity of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses in their local area. Details on participation are provided online.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Phenology Web Links


CSA Concept Extends to Fiber
Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm and Hudson Valley Fiber Farm have taken the CSA concept into a new realm by introducing the yarn CSA. Share purchasers can invest in the operation's spring harvest of wool and mohair. After the wool is processed and spun, each shareholder receives a portion of the yarn. The amount of wool each shareholder receives depends on the size of the clip, but the number of shares available for purchase is limited to ensure that each shareholder receives a plentiful supply of yarn for their $150 share. Spinner's shares of roving, rather than yarn, are also offered.

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Funding Opportunities

Biomass Research and Development Initiative
The U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) have announced up to $25 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products, subject to annual appropriations. The FOA will fund projects in the following three technical areas: Feedstocks development; Biofuels and biobased products development; Biofuels development analysis. Award amounts are planned to range from $1 million to up to $5 million with project periods up to four years, subject to annual appropriations. Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, national laboratories, federal research agencies, state research agencies, private sector entities, non-profit organizations, or a consortium of two or more of those entities.
Proposals are due March 6, 2009.

Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
Up to $58.4 million in financial assistance is available to agricultural producers and entities through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), established in the new farm bill to promote ground and surface water conservation and water quality improvement. USDA is seeking project proposals from potential partners through this program. AWEP offers financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers carry out water enhancement activities that conserve ground and surface water and improve water quality on agricultural lands such as cropland, pasture, grassland and rangeland. Under this new program, USDA-NRCS can contract directly with agricultural producers who are included in approved partner proposals. Eligible partners include federally-recognized tribes, states, units of local government, or agricultural or silvicultural associations.
Proposals are due March 2, 2009.

Strategic Agricultural Initiative, EPA Region 6
EPA Region 6 Pesticide Program is seeking applications from eligible organizations that will facilitate the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). The program supports efforts to reduce the exposure to toxic pesticides through the adoption of pest management practices that transition away from the use of high-risk pesticides. The in-field adoption by farmers of already identified potential low-risk integrated crop or pest management tools and strategies is a priority. The total estimated funding for this competitive opportunity is approximately $150,000. All projects must be carried out within one or more of the states of EPA Region 6 (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Texas), or Tribal Nations in Region 6.
Proposals are due March 16, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Georgia Organics Annual Conference
March 20-21, 2009
Decatur, Georgia

The Georgia Organics 12th Annual Conference and Trade Show is one of the South’s largest sustainable agriculture educational experiences, climaxing with the Saturday night capstone event, the Farmers Feast, featuring key note speaker Michael Pollan. The two-day conference includes 9 tours of sustainable farms, and educational sessions led by 60 nationally and internationally recognized experts on topics such as food safety, marketing and social media, soil fertility, mushroom cultivation, and biodynamics.


ANR Week
March 6-14, 2009
East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources extends a cordial welcome to visitors to the 93nd of Agriculture and Natural Resources Week. The event now hosts more than 150 programs and annual association meetings, including Growing of Michigan’s Organic Future, the Michigan Organic Conference, Farmers' Market Manager Boot Camp, a Beekeeping program, and much more.


Farm to Fork Summit
March 2-3, 2009
Raleigh, North Carolina

Participants in the day and a half summit organized by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems will explore the outcomes of the six regional meetings and Working Issues Teams, provide input about "game changer" and "local tool box" ideas, and help produce a Statewide Action Plan for Building a Local Food Economy.


> More Events

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