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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 8, 2006

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

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News & Resources
* Aid for Agricultural Producers Affected by Hurricanes Of 2005
* State of the Union Address Ignites Switchgrass Interest
* Companies Introduce Online Sustainable Agriculture Resources
* Fact Sheet Draws Agriculture Lessons from Katrina
* New Guide to Northwest Farm Resources Available
* A Push for Healthy Flowers

Funding Opportunities
* North American Wetlands Conservation Act Small Grants
* National FFA Collegiate Scholarship Program
* North Central SARE Professional Development Grants

Coming Events
* Northeast Sustainable Livestock Conference
* National IPM Symposium
* All Things Organic

News & Resources

Aid for Agricultural Producers Affected by Hurricanes
On January 26, 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $2.8 billion in aid to assist victims of the 2005 hurricane season. USDA will provide $1.2 billion in aid to agricultural producers, primarily in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas. USDA will provide disaster payments to farmers, ranchers and others through eight separate programs. USDA is providing $250 million for crop disaster, livestock, tree, and aquaculture assistance. These funds will be distributed through five new programs: (1) Hurricane Indemnity Program, (2) Tree Indemnity Program, (3) Feed Indemnity Program, (4) Livestock Indemnity Program, and (5) Aquaculture Grants. Sign-up dates for the new programs will be announced as soon as new regulations and software are developed.
Related ATTRA Content: Hurricane Assistance for Agricultural Producers

State of the Union Address Ignites Switchgrass Interest
When the President mentioned switchgrass in his State of the Union address, people across the country rushed to find out more about this potential renewable fuel source. What they found, reports ABC News, is a native plant that grows across the South and Great Plains and can be used to make ethanol more efficiently than it can be made from corn. However, the technology for converting switchgrass to ethanol has so far been tested only in pilot projects in the United States, and there are no commercial plants yet planned. A Switchgrass Profile is posted on the Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network Web site.

Companies Introduce Online Sustainable Agriculture Resources
Two different organic food companies have announced new Web site features aimed at promoting sustainable and organic agriculture. On its newly redesigned site, Horizon Organic has a special section for farmers that discusses transitioning to organic production, with stories of farmers who have made the switch and an outline of the organic certification process. Meanwhile, Organic Valley has also introduced a new feature on its Web site, called "The Heart of Farming." Award-winning photojournalist Carrie Branovan tells the story of a different organic farmer each month, in a multimedia presentation that combines photos, video, audio, music and text. The feature highlights the values that farmers share with organic consumers.

Fact Sheet Draws Agriculture Lessons from Katrina
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy recently released a fact sheet titled "10 Lessons for Agriculture after Hurricane Katrina" (PDF / 100 kb) that considers some of the lasting impacts of the storm and how they point to vulnerability in the nation's agriculture system. The fact sheet points to the current agricultural system's dependence on fossil fuels and chemicals, and says the storm offers us lessons in the areas of energy, transportation, markets, fertilizers, CAFO regulation, valuing the commons, and climate change.

New Guide to Northwest Farm Resources Available
The 2006 Farming Sourcebook for the Pacific Northwest is now available. Produced by Celilo Group Media, publishers of the Sustainable Industries Journal, the goal of the sourcebook is to provide a one-stop guide to the most current tools, resources, and information available with respect to certified and sustainable agricultural production. It includes sections on marketing, certification and labeling, management practices, water quality, soil health, pest management, seeds and starts, farm energy, and more. The publication is available online (PDF / 3.6 MB).

A Push for Healthy Flowers
Valentine’s Day is approaching and proponents of organic agriculture and human rights are once again using the occasion to raise awareness about the pesticide-intensive traditional cut flower industry and available organic alternatives. An article on SFGate.com points out that the cut flower industry lags behind such things as food and chocolate in terms of eco-friendliness, and it explains the conditions under which most cut flowers sold in the U.S. are grown in Colombia and Ecuador. The article draws attention to Fairness in Flowers, a campaign of the International Labor Rights Fund, and interviews Gerald Prolman, founder of Organic Bouquet. In addition to selling flowers, Prolman’s company works with domestic growers who want to transition to organic. Prolman also helped create the Veriflora certification label, which represents a stepping stone to organic certification. More on the history and development of Organic Bouquet can be found in a feature article on Internet Retailer.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Cut Flower Production

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North American Wetlands Conservation Act Small Grants
The purpose of the 1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), as amended, is to promote long-term conservation of North American wetland ecosystems, and the waterfowl and other migratory birds, fish and wildlife that depend upon such habitat. Principal conservation actions supported by NAWCA are acquisition, establishment, enhancement and restoration of wetlands and wetland-associated uplands. The North American Wetlands Conservation Council has created a Small Grants program to promote long-term wetlands conservation activities through encouraging participation by new grantees and partners who otherwise may not be able to compete in the Standard Grants program. Also, the Council believes that a Small Grants program can be important in developing a pool of new partners/grantees who eventually might participate in the Standard Grants program. Maximum grant under the program is $75,000.
Proposals are due December 1, 2006.

National FFA Collegiate Scholarship Program

he National FFA Organization is accepting applications for its Collegiate Scholarship Program. Each year the organization awards more than $2 million in scholarships to members. Scholarships are given for a wide variety of experiences, career goals and higher education plans. Different awards may be used at colleges, universities and post-secondary agricultural programs. The scholarships are sponsored by numerous agricultural businesses through the National FFA Foundation, and new scholarships are added every year.

North Central SARE Professional Development Grants
The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program (PDP) is requesting pre-proposals for professional development projects that provide training to agricultural professionals and educators in the Cooperative Extension Service (CES), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other governmental agencies, and educators in the profit and nonprofit sector serving the food and fiber system. The North Central Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Projects can be two to three years in duration, and funding level is capped at $75,000 total for each project. Approximately $280,000 will be available for funding projects.
Pre-proposals are due March 22, 2006.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Northeast Sustainable Livestock Conference
March 2-3, 2006
Fairlee, Vermont

This is a collaborative effort between NOFA-VT and UVM Extension with sponsorship monies from NESARE, VHCB's Vermont Farm Viability Program, and Risk Management Agency. This two-day conference will include topics on energy, soils, crops, finances, grazing, animal health, and marketing. For more information or to receive a brochure, contact: Heather Darby, UVM Extension, at 802-524-6501 or Lisa McCrory, NOFA-VT, at 802-434-4122.

National IPM Symposium
April 4-6, 2006
St. Louis, Missouri

The Fifth National IPM Symposium, "Delivering on a Promise," will address state of the art strategies and technologies to successfully solve pest problems in agricultural, recreational, natural and community settings.

All Things Organic
May 6-9, 2006
Chicago, Illinois

As the only exclusively organic event in North America, the annual All Things Organic, presented by the Organic Trade Association, serves up more organic exhibitors and products than any other industry trade event. Touch, taste and see everything from new products, new faces, new trends, new companies, and new contacts to established companies at the root of this fast growing industry.

> More Events

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