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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 11, 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
* Census of Agriculture Information Released
* MarketMaker Website Updated and Improved
* Northeast Farm Bill User Guide Released
* Extended Grazing Publication Now Available
* Maine Plans Online Local Food Network
* Farm Rescue Accepting Applications for Planting Assistance


Funding Opportunities
* Montana Growth Through Agriculture Program
* Vermont Farmers' Market Mini-Grants
* Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Working Group RFP


Coming Events
* Small Farm Conference and Trade Show
* Spring Growth Conference: Growing Grains in Maine
* Just Food’s CSA in NYC Conference



News & Resources

Census of Agriculture Information Released
The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The 2007 Census counted 2,204,792 farms in the United States, a net increase of 75,810 farms. Nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002. Compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms tend to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also work off-farm. In the past five years, U.S. farm operators have become more demographically diverse. The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well.

MarketMaker Website Updated and Improved
Since 2003, the University of Illinois MarketMaker website has been helping connect farmers and producers to markets. The website, which began as a free online database of Illinois businesses, has recently received a makeover. The MarketMaker website has one of the largest collections of searchable food industry-related data in the country. Ten states are currently included, with several more 'in progress.' The information is categorized by buyers, sellers, location and other demographic information. Site improvements include new features such as the MarketMaker Blog where a team of MarketMaker bloggers will share their insights and expertise. And, the Buyers Sellers Forum will now include a calendar of product availability. Businesses who are registered on the site will also be able to track how many users have viewed their information and for what reason.

Northeast Farm Bill User Guide Released
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) has developed a new publication that explains the new Farm Bill and highlights some of the Bill's programs. The online "Northeast Farm Bill User Guide" can be easily navigated and explored. The Guide also explains how organizations and producers can take part in the implementation of the new Farm Bill.

Extended Grazing Publication Now Available
A new publication developed by forage and grazing specialists in five states addresses this issue that can affect the profitability of livestock operations. “Extending Grazing And Reducing Stored Feed Needs” (PDF/3.7MB), was written by Don Ball at Auburn University, Ed Ballard, retired from the University of Illinois, Mark Kennedy with Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missouri, Garry Lacefield at the University of Kentucky, and Dan Undersander at the University of Wisconsin. While the best techniques to reduce stored feed needs vary with geographic region, type of farming operation, and other factors, this publication outlines strategies that can be used to extend grazing and to increase profit.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Pasture, Rangeland, and Grazing Management


Maine Plans Online Local Food Network
With interest in local food growing, a group in Maine is setting up an online network that will facilitate more efficient local food purchasing, reports the Portland Press Herald. Organizers envision Maine Street Marketplace as an online ordering system for Maine foods, backed by a central warehouse and distribution system that will make foods from across the state more accessible to customers. They hope to have the system in place by the 2010 growing season, and are launching the effort with a public session to help plan the network.

Farm Rescue Accepting Applications for Planting Assistance
Farm Rescue is currently accepting planting requests from farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, western Minnesota and eastern Montana, says South Dakota Ag Connection. Farm Rescue provides planting of up to 1000 acres and harvesting assistance to farm families that have experienced a major illness, injury or natural disaster. Families assisted are selected based on a number of factors, including extent of need, farm size, farm viability, and geographic location. Applications postmarked by March 31 receive priority consideration.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Montana Growth Through Agriculture Program
The Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) program is a grant and loan program established by the Montana Legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana's agricultural industry through the development of new agricultural products and processes. Public and private entities and organizations, business and industry, educational institutions, local governments and individuals are eligible to submit proposals. Proposals must have practical, near-term application involving new or alternative technologies, practices or organizational arrangements that will stimulate expanded agricultural development, economic activity and employment growth. The maximum limit in any one round of financing is $50,000.
Proposals are due April 30, 2009.

Vermont Farmers' Market Mini-Grants
Thanks to the generosity of a private foundation, NOFA Vermont has $100,000 to support farmers’ markets across the state. The 2009 Vermont Farmers' Market Mini-Grants provide farmers’ markets with supporting grants of up to $5,000 to support expansion projects at existing markets or to help communities create new farmers' markets.
Proposals are due March 1, 2009.

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Working Group RFP
A new group that is working across the supply chain to make Iowa-grown fruit and vegetables more readily available is looking for innovative ideas for research and development projects in 2009. The Fruit and Vegetable Working Group, coordinated by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Iowa State University Extension, has set aside $12,000 for projects that address issues in specified areas, including marketing, post-harvest handling, infrastructure development, labor supply, risk management, and education. One to three grants will be awarded.
Proposals are due March 2, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Small Farm Conference and Trade Show
March 14, 2009
Wilmington, Ohio

The Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Conference & Trade Show, "Opening Doors to Success," will give participants the opportunity to choose from over 35 different seminars taught by Extension professionals and industry leaders on a wide variety of agricultural enterprises.


Spring Growth Conference: Growing Grains in Maine
March 14, 2009
Unity, Maine

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners presents a full day of presentations and discussions for home-scale and commercial growers, addressing varieties, fertility, harvesting and storage, and seed saving. Keynote speakers are Klaas & Mary-Howell Martens of Lakeview Organic Grain.


Just Food’s CSA in NYC Conference
March 8, 2009
New York, New York

Just Food’s annual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in NYC Conference will include workshops on agricultural policy issues, the link between food and culture, running a CSA, CSA best practices, preserving your CSA bounty and much more. Conference highlights include a discussion with New York State CSA farmer and MacArthur "Genius Award" Winner, Cheryl Rogowski; a panel discussion and Q & A with New York City regional CSA farmers; and a CSA Expo and Reception.


> More Events

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