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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 9, 2011

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

News & Resources

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events

News & Resources

Report Recommends Ways to Lower Beef Cattle Contribution to Global Warming
Farmers who raise beef on pasture can reduce global warming emissions by storing, or sequestering, carbon in pasture soils, according to Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the United States, a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The report concluded that U.S. pasture beef producers could reduce their annual global warming impacts by as much as 140 million metric tons. Carbon sequestration, the report found, has the most potential for mitigating pasture beef's climate impact. Such practical methods as preventing overgrazing, increasing pasture crop productivity with a mix of crops, and adding adequate amounts of nutrients from manure, legume crops or fertilizers, could capture significant carbon dioxide emissions. The UCS report recommended a number of approaches that would reduce the impact of pasture-raised beef, including improving cattle's diet and managing grazing intensity.

Updated NOP Program Handbook Released
The National Organic Program (NOP) recently released an updated version of the Program Handbook, a resource to clarify existing Federal organic requirements and offer best practices to help the regulated industry comply. The latest edition of the handbook includes policy memos, or formal communications addressed to the public concerning a specific regulatory requirement. Additionally, a new instruction document addresses disclosure of information concerning USDA accredited certifying agents and certified operations. "The updated handbook is intended to help the organic industry consistently comply with the organic regulations," said Rayne Pegg, Agricultural Marketing Service administrator. "By including current and valid policy memos issued by the NOP since the inception of the program, the handbook becomes that much more of a valuable resource for organic producers, handlers, and consumers."

USDA Authorizes Planting Roundup Ready Sugar Beets
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has authorized spring 2011 planting of Genuity Roundup Ready sugar beets, reports USAgNet. In 2010, more than 90 percent of the sugar beets grown in North America were Roundup Ready varieties. Last year a federal court procedurally voided USDA's prior authorization of Roundup Ready sugar beets, requiring USDA to prepare an EIS. USDA's action authorizes farmers to continue planting Roundup Ready sugar beets in 2011, while USDA is completing an Environmental Impact Statement.

High Tunnel Production Manual Online
A revised version of the Minnesota High Tunnel Production Manual for Commercial Growers is now available online. The manual, developed by the University of Minnesota, contains sections on risk management, high tunnel structures, crop production, cultural practices and marketing. Hard copies of the publication are not yet available, but individual chapters can be downloaded as PDF files.

EU Drafts Conditions for Member State Bans on GM Crops
As part of plans to let European Union (EU) member states decide whether to grow or ban genetically modified (GM) crops, the European Commission has drafted a list of grounds on which members could justify proposed GM crop bans, reports Planet Ark. The list includes the potential of a ban to maintain public order in the face of popular opposition to the technology, a ban on public morality grounds, such as religious or philosophical concerns over GM technology, and a ban safeguarding the choice of producers and consumers to grow and buy non-GM products. The list is set to be discussed by EU government experts in Brussels on February 11.

Farmers' Legal Action Group Celebrating 25 Years
The Farmers' Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, according to Minnesota Ag Connection. FLAG has directly helped tens of thousands of family farmers avoid foreclosure, rebuild after disasters, and keep their land; trained scores of the farm advocates who work in rural communities across the country; and reached out to new populations of farmers with Hmong-speaking staff and Hmong translations of educational materials. Among other activities, FLAG has written, published, and distributed more than 100,000 copies of numerous user-friendly books, including Farmers' Guide to Minnesota Lending Law, Farmers' Guide to FmHA, Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance, Farmers' Guide to GMOs, Farmers' Guide to Wind Energy, and Planting the Seeds for Public Health, and developed a website for free and easy access by the public to virtually all of FLAG's publications, news alerts, litigation, and other materials relevant to the legal needs of family farmers. FLAG will hold a variety of celebrations in the coming months.

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Funding Opportunities

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundation Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) under which the Secretary of Agriculture may make competitive grants for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension to address food and agricultural sciences in six priority areas. The six priority areas include: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition, and health; 4) renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities. For FY 2011, subject to availability of funds, it is anticipated that approximately $78 million will be made available to support the Foundational Program within AFRI. Eligibility for the six areas is explained online. Deadlines vary by program area; and range from March to May. Letters of intent to apply are required for some program areas.
Deadlines to submit letters range from February 22 - March 16, 2011.

Minnesota Specialty Crop Grants
Minnesota specialty crop growers can now apply for grants to help enhance and promote their industry. The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grants is to give fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop producers a competitive edge in today's marketplace. Grant projects may include outreach to increase consumers' nutritional knowledge about specialty crops, assistance in the development of good agricultural practices, investment into specialty crop research, development of new and improved seed varieties, and pest and disease control. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants (horticulture and floriculture). Minnesota received $730,000 in federal funding for the 2011 program.
Applications will be accepted through April 14, 2011.

Conservation Innovation Grant Program, North Carolina
The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals. In North Carolina, CIG is intended to provide support for mature, market-ready techniques, products and market-based approaches that directly improve the condition of natural resources on farms and non-industrial forests. North Carolina NRCS CIG program will award grants not to exceed $75,000 and not less than $3,000. Funds will be awarded through a statewide competitive grants process.
Applications must be submitted by March 4, 2011.

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Coming Events

FamilyFarmed Expo
March 17-19, 2011
Chicago, Illinois

FamilyFarmed Expo is a three day conference, trade show, and food festival for farmers, businesses, the trade, individuals, and families. Thursday features the Financing Farm to Fork conference supporting the local food movement by encouraging investment in farm and food production, processing, and distribution businesses. Friday features the Midwest's leading local food trade show, a major school food track, and an innovative Food Policy Summit. Saturday features cooking demos from celebrity chefs, educational workshops, seminars and exhibits.

Carolina Meat Conference
March 25-27, 2011
Concord, North Carolina

This first annual conference will bring together independent meat producers, processors, buyers and allied professionals for a weekend of workshops, trainings, panel discussions and networking in an effort to strengthen marketing and processing opportunities for the region's rapidly growing local meat industry. Hands-on trainings for processors, farmers, chefs and consumers are planned, along with keynote, plenary and concurrent sessions.

Farm to Table Conference
March 25-26, 2011
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The conference provides consumers with a day of networking and educational opportunities. Hands-on cooking demonstrations, gardening and information about nutrition and health are available. The conference provides consumers with ideas and information about where their food comes from and where to find businesses and organizations who can provide them with healthy food and healthy lifestyle choices.

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Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

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

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ATTRA's Organic Apple Production and Marketing (A Beginner's Guide) webinar is now available on our website.

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