Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 6, 2008
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.
News & Resources
* Comment Period Extended for Naturally Raised Standard
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* Report Shows Farm Numbers Declining, Size Increasing
* U.S. Consumers Concerned over Social, Environmental Aspects of Food Purchases
* Study Shows Co-op Helps Potato Farmers
* Gulf Dead Zone Fueled by Agricultural Nutrients from Nine States
* CSA Accepts Electronic Food Stamp Benefit Payment
* Community Outreach and Assistance Partnership Program
* Connecticut Farm Reinvestment Grant Program
* Indiana Specialty Crop Marketing Grants
* Small-Scale Poultry Training
* New American Farm Conference: Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture
* Organic Grain and Forage Production Workshop
Conversations from the Field: In our latest feature interview with a sustainable agriculture leader, NCAT Program Specialist Andy Pressman talked with Jeff Moyer, Farm Manager of The Rodale Institute, about reduced and no-till practices and the invention of the cover crop roller.
News & Resources
Comment Period Extended for Naturally Raised Standard
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that it is reopening and extending the comment period for the proposed voluntary standard for a naturally raised marketing claim for livestock and meat. The Jan. 28, 2008, deadline has been extended to March 3, 2008. The comment period is being changed because a number of interested producers, processors, and marketers requested additional time to evaluate the full impact of the requirements of the proposed standard in order to provide more meaningful and substantive comments.
Report Shows Farm Numbers Declining, Size Increasing
The latest figures from USDA show the number of farms in the country declining, while average farm size increased, reports USAgNet. Total land in farms also declined, by 1.5 million acres, or 0.16 percent, from 2006. Industry consolidation and conversion of land to non-agricultural uses contributed to the current statistics. Farm sales are broken down into five economic classes, and the numbers showed farms in the $1,000 - $9,999 and the $10,000 - $99,999 sales classes declining, while numbers in some of the higher classes grew slightly. The story notes that these declines in number of small farms may be due to higher commodity prices pushing farms into the next higher sales class.
U.S. Consumers Concerned over Social, Environmental Aspects of Food Purchases
A survey of 22,000 U.S. food shoppers by Information Resources, Inc (IRI) shows that about half of these consumers consider eco-friendly or fair trade aspects of products before making a purchase, reports Food Quality News.com. Furthermore, one-fifth of the respondents were "sustainability driven", requiring two organic, green, or ethical aspects before purchasing a product. Forty percent of the respondents claimed to look for organic products when shopping.
Study Shows Co-op Helps Potato Farmers
Results of a new study on the impact of the United Potato Growers of Idaho were recently released by University of Idaho agricultural economist Chris McIntosh at UI’s 40th annual Potato Conference. The study found the cooperative reduced the price-risk exposure to farmers. “Our objective has always been to improve grower returns and profitability, and the way you do that is take the risk out,” United President Jerry Wright said. Ag Weekly reported United Potato Growers of Idaho has also aided producers with marketing, which has also helped the industry.
Gulf Dead Zone Fueled by Agricultural Nutrients from Nine States
A report by the U.S. Geological Service reveals that the majority of nutrients contributing to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone come from nine states, according to a story on Environment News Service. USGS says that agricultural nonpoint sources contribute more than 70 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus delivered to the Gulf, and Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi contribute more than 75 percent of those nutrients. The USGS report, "Differences in Phosphorus and Nitrogen Delivery to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin," was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
CSA Accepts Electronic Food Stamp Benefit Payment
The Local Harvest newsletter contains a feature on a CSA in Bellingham, Washington, that is serving low-income members by accepting electronic food stamp benefits (EBT). Uprising Farm serves exclusively low-income people with its CSA. To meet USDA rules for accepting EBTs, the CSA had to adopt a structure more like a farmstand: members pay a portion of their fee every few weeks, when they pick up produce. The farm operators say that it was surprisingly simple to make arrangements with USDA for the program, though they warn others to start the process well in advance of the growing season.
> More Breaking News
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Community Outreach and Assistance Partnership Program
The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), operating through the Risk Management Agency (RMA), announces the availability of approximately $5 million in fiscal year 2008 for collaborative outreach and assistance programs for limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers, who produce Priority Commodities. Educational institutions, community based organizations, associations of farmers and ranchers, state departments of agriculture, and other non-profit organizations with demonstrated capabilities in developing and implementing risk management and other marketing options for priority commodities are eligible to apply.
Proposals are due March 24, 2008.
Connecticut Farm Reinvestment Grant Program
By providing money for capital enhancement to farms, it is the Department of Agriculture's hope to help preserve Connecticut’s agricultural base and improve farm production. These competitive matching grants will be awarded on the basis of the quality of the business plan that is a part of their application. The farmer applicant must match or exceed the amount of the grant being requested. These funds must be used for projects that are defined as capital fixed assets and have a life expectancy of 10 years or more. The funds may be used for the expansion of existing agricultural facilities, or diversification—expansion into new production areas and site improvements related to such expansion or diversification.
Proposals are due April 30, 2008.
Indiana Specialty Crop Marketing Grants
Indiana State Department of Agriculture will award grants ranging from $5,000-$20,000 to qualifying projects. ISDA will fund two types of grants. Market promotion grants are for domestic or international promotion of Indiana food and agricultural products. Distribution grants are to mitigate trade barriers that prevent or slow entry of Indiana food and agricultural products into foreign markets. Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, development and printing of marketing materials, promotional campaigns and events, actual transporting of product, market research, trade shows and outbound missions. Organizations eligible to apply for the grants include commissions, public entities, associations and/or nonprofit organizations that represent specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops.
Proposals are due March 7, 2008.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Small-Scale Poultry Training
March 10-12, 2008
A 2 1/2-day training on pasture-based poultry production, processing, and marketing for small-scale commercial production. Topics include production systems, small fixed and portable housing options, and fencing for free-range production, breeds, layer management, nutrition, health and biosecurity, processing in small plants, and economics. Focus on natural and organic management. Hands-on training in the field in production and processing. Meat chickens and layers are covered. The final day includes a special session on turkeys, geese, ducks, and guineafowl by Frank Reese.
New American Farm Conference: Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture
March 25-27, 2008
Kansas City, Missouri
Don’t miss SARE’s 20th Anniversary New American Farm conference. Tap into 20 years of groundbreaking SARE-funded research, experience and innovations. SARE’s New American Farm conference is open to farmers, ranchers, teachers, researchers, students, advocates—or simply curious consumers. Anyone is welcome who wants to learn more about groundbreaking work in the exciting and rapidly expanding field of sustainable agriculture in America.
Organic Grain and Forage Production Workshop
March 11, 2008
Farmers interested in growing organic feed stocks and exploring new marketing opportunities are encouraged to attend a workshop that will cover how to transition to organic grain and forage production, how to become certified organic, find ways to maximize the conservation benefits of organic farming, and explore various marketing and funding opportunities. Speakers will include nationally renowned expert, Dr. John Teasdale of USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Beltsville, as well as local farmers who have successfully made the transition to organic. The workshop is free and includes lunch, but pre-registration is requested by February 15. Contact Kate Mason at email@example.com 410-841-5779.
> More Events
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