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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 13, 2008

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
* Crop Profitability Calculator Available
* National Organic Program Reorganized
* Toolkit Helps Link Local Foods with Kindergartens
* Database Offers Resources on Community, Food and Agriculture
* Scientists Developing Tests for Synthetic Fertilizers
* New Agricultural Thesaurus and Glossary Available

Funding Opportunities
* Value-Added Producer Grant
* Commodity Partnerships Small Sessions Program
* Emerging Markets Program

Coming Events
* Building a Market Community with Farmers, Customers and Community
* Organic Growers School Spring Conference
* Farm to School: Healthy Kids, Thriving Farms Conference

News & Resources

Crop Profitability Calculator Available
Research funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture led to the development of an on-line calculator that will help farmers determine the profitability of various food crops. Recently completed work studied the costs and decision-making processes of independent restaurateurs, local food producers, and restaurant patrons. Increased understanding of these attitudes may help expand the availability of locally grown foods in Iowa restaurants. The free Produce Profitability Calculator, helps producers create scenarios to help make decisions about what and how much to plant as well as sales decisions such as how, where, when and setting a price. The tool was developed as part of a Leopold Center competitive grant to the Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management (HRIM) program at ISU. A user's manual (PDF/515 KB) for the calculator is also available.

National Organic Program Reorganized
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced organizational and structural changes for the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP is reorganizing into three branches: Standards Development & Review; Accreditation, Auditing & Training; and Compliance & Enforcement. Also underway is the creation of an "electronic reading room," where all NOP records that can be made publicly available will be accessible electronically, including a new Q&A site to provide answers to questions posed to NOP.

Toolkit Helps Link Local Foods with Kindergartens
The Kindergarten Initiative toolkit, released in December 2007, outlines the story of how The Food Trust created a program that promotes healthy eating through education, snacks from local farms, parent involvement, and community support. It also demonstrates options for implementing a similar program in your area by tailoring the Kindergarten Initiative to suit your particular needs. A CD and booklet include useful resources that will save you the trouble of re-inventing things that have worked in Philadelphia including classroom lessons, sample press releases, and planning guides. The toolkit may be ordered for $5, or downloaded free.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

Database Offers Resources on Community, Food and Agriculture
Philip H. Howard, an assistant professor in Michigan State University's Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, has compiled and is making available a searchable online bibliography of 226 books and films related to community, food, and agriculture. This database focuses on recent, introductory, non-fiction works. Books are listed with ISBN numbers, while film listings include links to the producer.

Scientists Developing Tests for Synthetic Fertilizers
Researchers in Spain have developed a method that uses nitrogen isotopic discrimination to test whether plants received synthetic fertilizers, says a story on Food Navigator.com. Their research was published in the Journal of Environmental Quality. With organic markets growing, it may be important to have means of detecting organic fraud, such as the use of synthetic fertilizers on supposedly organic products. This research found that the use of synthetic fertilizers significantly reduced the ratio between the nitrogen isotopes 15N2 and 14N2 in plant leaves, stems, roots and fruits, compared to what is observed naturally in the atmosphere.

New Agricultural Thesaurus and Glossary Available
The USDA National Agricultural Library has published 2008 editions of its NAL Agricultural Thesaurus and Glossary of Agricultural Terms in both Spanish and English. The 2008 edition of the Agricultural Thesaurus and Glossary adds about 70 new definitions in Spanish and English, with expanded terminology for some terms. USAgNet reports the Thesaurus and Glossary website features a new format presenting parallel English and Spanish language interfaces, enabling users to search and read all background materials in either language.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Value-Added Producer Grant
USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service is seeking applications for the Value-Added Producer's Grant (VAPG) program. Approximately $18.4 million is available through the program this year for grants to assist independent producers, agriculture producer groups, farmer and rancher-owned cooperatives, and majority controlled producer-based business ventures with the production, processing and marketing of value-added agricultural products. Value added products include those created through a change in physical state, through differentiated production or marketing, or physical segregation. Both working capital grants of up to $300,000 and planning grants not exceeding $100,000 are available through the program, with documentation of either cash or in-kind matching funds required. All potential applicants are strongly urged to contact their Rural Development State Office to discuss their projects and make inquiries concerning the application process.
Proposals are due March 31, 2008.

Commodity Partnerships Small Sessions Program
The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), operating through the Risk Management Agency (RMA), announces the availability of approximately $500,000 (subject to availability of funds) for Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk Management Education Sessions (Commodity Partnerships Small Sessions Program). The purpose of this cooperative partnership agreement program is to deliver training and information in the management of production, marketing, and financial risk to U.S. agricultural producers in small sessions. The program is to give priority to educating producers of crops not insurable with Federal crop insurance, specialty crops, and underserved commodities, including livestock and forage. A maximum of 50 cooperative partnership agreements will be funded, five each in ten designated RMA Regions. The maximum award for any agreement will be $10,000.
Proposals are due March 24, 2008.

Emerging Markets Program
The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces the availability of funding for the Emerging Markets Program (EMP) for fiscal year (FY) 2008. The EMP assists U.S. entities in developing, maintaining, or expanding exports of U.S. agricultural commodities and products by funding technical assistance activities that promote U.S. products in emerging foreign markets. The Program is intended primarily to support export market development efforts of the private sector, but program resources may also be used to assist public organizations. Estimated total program funding is $10 million.
Proposals are due February 25, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Building a Market Community with Farmers, Customers and Community
March 6-8, 2008
Rochester, New York

This professional farmers' market managers training program is sponsored by USDA SARE Professional Development Program and represents the second in a three-year series of workshops. The goal of the program is to develop the skills of farmers' market managers, develop standardized procedures, and raise the overall quality of management of farmers' markets to create profitable marketing venues for small family farmers, reliable venues for local residents to find fresh local foods, and build a sense of community with a farmers' market at its core.

Organic Growers School Spring Conference
March 8, 2008
Flat Rock, North Carolina

This 15th annual event offers a day of workshops for beginning gardeners to advanced commercial growers. This year's school will include tracks on gardening, healthy soils, livestock, alternative energy, commercial farming, pest management, homesteading, urban growing, fruit production, herbs, sustainable forestry, sustainable landscaping and more.

Farm to School: Healthy Kids, Thriving Farms Conference
March 12, 2008
Traverse City, Michigan

This regional conference for schools, camps, parents, students and farms seeks to help kids eat healthy, learn well, and connect to their community with locally grown foods. Healthy Kids, Thriving Farms builds on the experiences of more than 30 schools in the region that have added a dozen local farm foods to their menus. Speakers, workshops, and exhibits are planned.

> More Events

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