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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 12, 2014

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

  • Farms Selling Locally Boost Economic Growth in Some Regions
  • Regional Climate Hubs to Help Agriculture, Forestry Mitigate the Impacts of a Changing Climate
  • Cornell Study Considers Local Economic Impact of Food Hubs
  • USDA Expands Organic Crop Insurance Opportunities
  • Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative Reports Lessons Learned
  • RAFI Joins Farm Hack to Document and Promote Farmer-Driven Innovation

Funding Opportunities

  • Conservation Innovation Grants
  • EQIP Initiative: California Drought Assistance
  • Iowa Water Quality Demonstration Projects

Coming Events

  • Tennessee Value-Added Beef Conference
  • Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond
  • Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa Workshops

News & Resources

Farms Selling Locally Boost Economic Growth in Some Regions
Farms that sell their products locally may boost economic growth in their communities, at least in some regions, according to a team of economists that published their work in the February 2014 issue of Economic Development Quarterly. By establishing that direct sales have a positive effect on total agricultural sales, which in turn have an effect on income growth, this study demonstrates that direct sales expand local economies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Regional Climate Hubs to Help Agriculture, Forestry Mitigate the Impacts of a Changing Climate
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change. The Hubs will provide outreach and information to producers on ways to mitigate risks; public education about the risks climate change poses to agriculture, ranchlands, and forests; regional climate risk and vulnerability assessments; and centers of climate forecast data and information.

Cornell Study Considers Local Economic Impact of Food Hubs
A three-year Cornell study on the economic benefits of food hubs to local communities was released in December through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Researchers found that medium-scale farms benefited the most from the services that food hubs provide, especially freight and storage facilities, and access to new wholesale markets. These medium-scale farms were more likely than commodity-oriented farms to spend their money in the local economy.

USDA Expands Organic Crop Insurance Opportunities
Beginning in 2014, organic producers will no longer be charged a 5% surcharge on crop insurance premiums. Organic prices are available for corn, soybeans, cotton, processing tomatoes, avocados, fresh freestone peaches, fresh nectarines, and plums. Eight additional crops will be added for organics starting in 2014. March 15 is the sales closing date for purchasing insurance for many spring-planted crops.

Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative Reports Lessons Learned
The Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative (GLCCI) promotes cover crops and conservation farming systems. Between 2010 and 2013, participating farmers planted over 34,500 acres of cover crops. In November, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) hosted a cover crop summit that allowed participating growers to share their insights. A three-page summary of vital lessons learned during the project is available online.

RAFI Joins Farm Hack to Document and Promote Farmer-Driven Innovation
The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) is partnering with Farm Hack in the creation and promotion of Growing Innovation, a project to celebrate a 17-year history of farmer innovation in North Carolina. More than 500 farmer-led projects across North Carolina, funded by the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, will be featured as models for other farmers.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Conservation Innovation Grants
About $15 million will be made available nationwide by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. State and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental and educational organizations, private businesses, and individuals are eligible to apply.
Applications are due by March 7, 2014.

EQIP Initiative: California Drought Assistance
USDA will make $20 million available through NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for agricultural water-conservation efforts throughout California to combat the effects of drought. Funds are available statewide to install a number of conservation practices including irrigation efficiency, cover crops, rehabilitation of existing spring developments, protection of grazing lands, and other supporting components.
Applications are due by March 3, 2014.

Iowa Water Quality Demonstration Projects
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has issued a request for applications for targeted watershed demonstration projects focused on water quality. Projects must be within the nine large priority watersheds. The Department will make available up to $2.5 million to support demonstration projects.
Applications must be submitted by March 31, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Tennessee Value-Added Beef Conference
March 18-19, 2014
Manchester, Tennessee

This conference will provide educational information and networking opportunities for those interested in producing and marketing locally raised beef products. Cattle producers, farm-based retail meat marketers, and operators of harvesting and processing businesses are encouraged to attend.

Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond
March 19-20, 2014
Riverside, California

This conference will reconnect the City of Riverside to its agricultural roots as well as provide a template for other cities interested in identifying the economic and community advantages of local sustainable farming. The conference will define opportunities for food production within Riverside's environs, explore solutions to sustainably increase local food in an economically viable manner, and develop practical next steps to leverage the area's rich agricultural assets.

Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa Workshops
March 13 or 15, 2014
Red Oak or Storm Lake, Iowa

Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa (FVCIA) is hosting workshops that will provide veterans interested in Iowa agriculture with networking opportunities and education. The workshops will feature educational presentations about farm business development, sustainability, legal issues, and other concerns veterans may have.

>> More Events

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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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