Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - February 9, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Report Describes How to Reduce Pesticide Pollution and Save Money
* Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Details President's Budget
* Producers Find Niche Market with Greenhouse-Grown Crops
* Biodiesel on State Legislative Agendas
* Study Says Organic Ag May Raise Antioxidant Levels in Produce
* Proposal Assistance for Community Food Project Grant Applicants
* California Environmental Quality Incentive Program Assistance
* 2006 Summer Food Service Rural Transportation Grants
* USDA Export Assistance Programs
* Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Annual Conference
* Growing Your Community Food System
* Local and Organic in a Global Food Economy: What is Our Role?
News & Resources
Report Describes How to Reduce Pesticide Pollution and Save Money Global competition, suburban encroachment, tighter regulations, and rising input costs are making farming in California more difficult and, in some cases, less profitable. At the same time, pesticide pollution from farming is causing significant harm to California's surface and groundwater, air quality, and human health. But there is a way to reduce pesticide use, protect the environment, and help farmers stay competitive according to a new report, "Investing In Clean Agriculture: How California Can Strengthen Agriculture, Reduce Pollution And Save Money," (PDF 320 KB) published by the Pacific Institute. The report describes how farmers can be rewarded for learning voluntarily about sustainable agricultural practices. A modest increase in the statewide "mill" fee, now levied on pesticides, is returned to farmers who take a short course on sustainable agriculture techniques and storm runoff management. This helps farmers stay competitive while reducing pesticide use - which will protect human health, preserve the environment, and eventually save taxpayers money by reducing medical costs.
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Details President's Budget
An analysis by the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition finds that the President’s fiscal year 2006 budget proposal for USDA would cut mandatory funding by 35 percent for key farm bill conservation, rural development, agricultural research, and renewable energy programs. The Administration proposes to cap the Conservation Security Program at 42% of the farm bill level and to scale back mandatory funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Value-Added Producer Grants Program, and Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, among others. The Conservation Security Program, projected by the Congressional Budget Office for FY 2006 at $649 million, would be capped under the President’s plan at $273.9 million. This is an increase of $72 million over the FY 2005 level, but a 58% reduction compared to full funding. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the primary federal cost-share program for conservation practices on farm and ranch land, would be scaled back from $1.2 billion to $1.0 billion. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program would be cut $25 million to $60 million. The Value-Added Producer Grants program, which provides grants for new rural farm-related businesses to strengthen farm income, would be scaled back from $40 million to $15.5 million. The Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, which funds competitive grants for agricultural research, including environmental, food safety, and small and moderate-sized farm viability research, would be reduced from $160 million to $75 million. The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency program would be reduced from $23 million to $10 million. With respect to discretionary spending, the President’s proposal also would scale back sustainable agriculture research and education by 22 percent, from $16.6 million to $13 million, while eliminating organic farming transition research ($2 million) and the flagship sustainable and organic farming outreach and information program ($2.5 million). The proposed budget also would eliminate the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program ($40 million) and cut the Resource Conservation and Development program in half, from $51.6 million to $25.6 million.
Producers Find Niche Market with Greenhouse-Grown Crops
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette profiled two farmers who are successfully filling niche markets with greenhouse-grown crops. At Natural Produce, Jay Fulbright produces salad mix 52 weeks a year, growing the greens in compost inside greenhouses. Meanwhile, Winters Park Farm's Janine Winters has succeeded with a greenhouse-based fresh herb business. In addition to marketing the herbs, Winters has introduced value-added herb products that she markets online and through retailers. Both operations are succeeding with year-round production that enables them to fill a market niche, and benefiting from growing consumer interest in fresh, locally produced food.
Related ATTRA Publication: Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners
Biodiesel on State Legislative Agendas
As many as 27 state legislatures will consider biodiesel initiatives this year, predicts National Biodiesel Board analyst Scott Hughes in a story on Illinois Ag Connection. In 2004, 27 biodiesel-related laws were passed from 130 biodiesel proposals introduced. In 2005, 45 pieces of legislation have already been introduced in a total of 18 states. The state initiatives join federal efforts to promote biofuels use.
Related ATTRA Publication: Biodiesel —A Primer
Study Says Organic Ag May Raise Antioxidant Levels in Produce
The Organic Center's second State of Science Review (SSR) concludes that organic farming methods have the potential to elevate average antioxidant levels, especially in fresh produce. The report, Elevating Antioxidant Levels Through Organic Farming and Food Processing (PDF 1.57 MB), reveals that on average, antioxidant levels were about 30 percent higher in organic food compared to conventional food grown under the same conditions. The report reviews, among other data, 15 quantitative comparisons of antioxidant levels in organic versus conventional fruit and vegetables. Organically grown produce had higher levels in 13 out of 15 cases. On average, the organic crops contained about one-third higher antioxidant and/or phenolic content than comparable conventional produce. Several studies found levels of specific vitamins, flavonoids or antioxidants in organic foods to be two or three times the level found in matched samples of conventional foods.
Proposal Assistance for Community Food Project Grant Applicants Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) has issued an offer of technical assistance to help applicants understand the USDA's Community Food Projects program and submit a strong proposal. The Community Food Projects (CFP) Competitive Grants Program provides the major funding source for community-based food and agriculture projects nationwide. Approximately $4.6 million in funds were granted in 2004, and a similar amount will be available in 2005. The Request for Applications was released on January 27, with proposals due by March 30.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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California Environmental Quality Incentive Program Assistance
Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers may receive financial and technical help to install or implement structural and management practices on their land. The objective of EQIP is to optimize environmental benefits that: 1) reduce nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity; 2) reduce emissions from agricultural sources that contribute to air quality impairments in non-attainment areas; 3) reduce excessive soil erosion and sedimentation on agricultural and rangeland; and 4) promote at-risk species habitat conservation. Applicants will be responsible for assisting NRCS in providing technical assistance necessary to plan and implement conservation practices to assist land users with crop, grazing land, and dairy waste related resource use problems/concerns.
NRCS expects to award up to three cooperative agreements based on proposals submitted and benefits derived for the current fiscal year. Funds available for the current fiscal year are: $20,000 for San Joaquin County and $40,000 in up to two agreements for Stanislaus County. Please note that not all counties need to be addressed in a proposal; therefore, please specifically identify the county/counties you are interested in carrying out the work in when submitting your proposal. Proposals are due not later than March 3, 2005 at 3:30 pm local time.
2006 Summer Food Service Rural Transportation Grants
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 authorizes the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to award grants in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for innovative approaches for overcoming limited transportation resources in rural areas. The program provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas, during long school vacations, when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast. Although 16 million children depend on free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), only three million of these children receive meals during the summer months through the NSLP and SFSP. A maximum of $2 million will be available for Fiscal Year 2006; a maximum of $1 million will be available for each of FY2007 and FY2008. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis through a maximum of five eligible State agencies, to not more than 60 eligible service institutions, to increase participation at congregate feeding sites. Eligible service institutions include public and private nonprofit school food authorities; units of local, municipal, county or State government; and private, nonprofit organizations. FNS will award the grants through a single competitive process. Service institutions may use the grant funds for the duration of the project period.
USDA Export Assistance Programs
USDA is accepting applications for four programs designed to help expand commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural commodities, administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. Applications for participation in the Emerging Markets Program (EMP), Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program (FMD), Market Access Program (MAP) and Quality Samples Program (QSP) are due by March 14, 2005. Applicants may submit a single application for all of the export assistance programs.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Annual Conference
March 5-6, 2005
"Seeding the Soil, Setting the Table: Working Together to Grow" offers speakers, workshops and a trade show, focusing on organic and sustainable farming, gardening, markets, and lifestyles.
Growing Your Community Food System
March 12-13, 2005
Growing Power presents a two-day intensive, hands on, training workshop offering diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate, and sustain community food projects. Workshops include beekeeping, worms, marketing and more.
Local and Organic in a Global Food Economy: What is Our Role?
March 12, 2005
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association presents Spring Growth 2005, a day-long engagement with the future of our food system featuring big thinkers from Maine and around the world.
More events at http://www.attra.org/calendar/index.php
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