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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 16, 2005

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.

News & Resources
* Online Tool Allows Comparisons of Conventional and Organic Farming
* Latino Agricultural Resource Center Launched at Penn State
* Court Ruling Points to Inconsistencies in Organic Regulations
* Research Could Help Reduce Insect Resistance to Bt
* Elementary School Enjoys Local Lettuce
* Dairy Grazing Lowers Costs

Funding Opportunities
* Five-Star Restoration Grant
* Vermont Rural Business Opportunity Grant
* Montana Conservation Innovation Grants

Coming Events
* Southwest Marketing Network Conference
* Small Family Farm Conference
* Dynamic Farmers' Market Conferences


News & Resources

Online Tool Allows Comparisons of Conventional and Organic Farming
The New Farm Web site now features an online economic modeling tool called FarmSelect™ that allows farmers to compare the economic returns of organic and conventional grain production. FarmSelect was designed by farmers, for farmers, and the program has been made as easy to use as possible. Farmers can enter their Zip Code, the crops they'd like to compare and the acreage. The program fills in the rest with historical data derived from the USDA and projections from research conducted by The Rodale Institute®. Then FarmSelect shows a line-by-line comparison of the two systems so farmers can see just how they would stack up on their farm, in their own climate. And the whole process takes less than a minute.
URL: http://www.newfarm.org/farmselect/

Latino Agricultural Resource Center Launched at Penn State
Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has established a Latino Agricultural Resource Center in response to the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States and its growing involvement in agriculture. Between 1997 and 2002, the number of Hispanic-run farming operations in the United States rose by 51 percent, and during the same time frame, the number of Pennsylvania farms owned and operated by Hispanics grew by 27 percent, to 350. The Latino Agricultural Resource Center will coordinate development of Spanish language instruction and materials, as well as fee-based translation of publications and other materials. The center will also collect, analyze and maintain data on domestic and international issues related to the growth of Latinos in agriculture.
URL: http://aginfo.psu.edu/news/february05/latino.html
Related ATTRA Publication: ATTRAnews: Spanish-speaking farmers and ranchers

Court Ruling Points to Inconsistencies in Organic Regulations
The Court of Appeals in Boston has called for changes in the regulations of the National Organic Program, pointing out that some areas are inconsistent with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, according to DairyReporter.com. Specifically, the court addressed the issue of synthetic substances used in multi-ingredient organic products, and said that manufacturers wanting to use non-organic substances in products labeled organic would have to have those substances individually reviewed and approved. Also, the court highlighted differences in organic feed requirements for transitioning dairy herds between the 1990 law and the current NOP regulations.
URL: http://www.dairyreporter.com/news/news-

Research Could Help Reduce Insect Resistance to Bt
A team led by biologists at the University of California, San Diego has discovered a molecule in roundworms that makes them susceptible to Bacillus thuringiensis toxin. Their findings, published February 11 in the journal Science, should facilitate the design and use of Bt toxins to prevent insects from developing resistance to Bt, extending the life of this natural pesticide. Bacillus thuringiensis toxin is a pesticide produced by bacteria and widely used by organic farmers to ward off insect pests. It is non-toxic to vertebrates. The new research details the structure of a molecule to which Bt attaches in the lining of the intestines of insects and roundworms.
URL: http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/sbtresist.asp

Elementary School Enjoys Local Lettuce
An Associated Press article in The Sun News describes how students at one North Carolina elementary school are now enjoying locally grown lettuce at the cafeteria salad bar. As school nutrition programs try to introduce more healthy fruits and vegetables, groups like the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project are working to connect school food buyers with local farmers. ASAP's Growing Minds/Farm to School program brought together farmers and school food providers in a workshop, and the lettuce agreement for Hall Fletcher Elementary School is one result of that effort. Though local food may be more expensive, it is fresh and of high quality. In addition to the local lettuce, Hall Fletcher students also enjoy extra fruits and vegetables provided by a USDA pilot program grant.
URL: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/

Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

Dairy Grazing Lowers Costs
The Northern Indiana Grazing Conference held early in February highlighted opportunities for dairy farmers to graze their cows instead of feeding them in barns, reports The Journal Gazette. Allowing dairy cows to graze, rather than feeding them in a barn, lowers the farmer's costs. Even though grazed cows may give less milk, the strategy can still pay off by reducing feed costs. Speakers emphasized the importance of practicing rotational grazing, rather than just turning the animals onto pasture. Rotational grazing in small fenced paddocks encourages the animals to make more efficient use of the forage available. Dairy grazing is most practical for herds of 50 to 150 cattle, which makes it a good fit for Indiana farms, which average 81 cows.
URL: http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/business/10891302.htm
Related ATTRA Publication: The Economics of Grass-Based Dairying

For more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.

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Funding Opportunities

Five-Star Restoration Grant
The National Association of Counties, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Wildlife Habitat Council, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Community-Based Restoration Program within NOAA Fisheries are pleased to solicit applications for the Five-Star Restoration Matching Grants Program. The Five-Star Restoration Program provides modest financial assistance on a competitive basis to support community-based wetland, riparian, and coastal habitat restoration projects that build diverse partnerships and foster local natural resource stewardship through education, outreach and training activities. Projects must involve diverse partnerships of ideally five organizations that contribute funding, land, technical assistance, workforce support, and/or other in-kind services. Awards are between $5,000 and $20,000. Projects must include a strong on-the-ground wetland, riparian, or coastal habitat restoration component and should also include training, education, outreach, monitoring, and community stewardship components. Applications must be postmarked by March 1, 2005.
URL: http://www.lgean.org/html/whatsnew.cfm?id=858

Vermont Rural Business Opportunity Grant
Communities and non-profit organizations in the Northeast Kingdom Rural Economic Action Partnership zone may apply for the Fiscal Year 2005 Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), Rural Business Opportunity (RBOG) and Enterprise Grant RBEG program for the Northeast Kingdom area. Funded activities must provide area wide planning, technical assistance, loan funds or a facility (owned and operated by the applicant) that will benefit a small business or businesses (less than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross profit). The deadline for accepting applications in Vermont is March 11, 2005.
URL: http://www.vermontsheep.org/grants.html

Montana Conservation Innovation Grants
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Montana will accept applications for single- or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, submitted to the NRCS from eligible applicants. The purpose of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is 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. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS technical manuals or guides, or to the private sector. Applications are due April 11, 2005.
URL: http://fedgrants.gov/Applicants/USDA/NRCS/59715/NRCS-MT-05-

For additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.

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Coming Events

Southwest Marketing Network Conference
March 13-15, 2005
Albuquerque, New Mexico
This third annual conference will include tracks on alternative marketing opportunities, boosting production and processing, marketing approaches, business tools, and policy, as well as special workshops on marketing coops, grass-fed livestock, food and agricultural policy.
URL: http://www.swmarketing.ncat.org/2005_conference/

Small Family Farm Conference
March 18-19, 2005
Wilmington, Ohio
This 5th annual conference is presented by the Ohio Association of Resource and Development Councils. Sustainability and profitability are the focus of the event. Small, limited resource and beginning farmers, farm organizations, and individuals interested in improving the sustainability of small family farms are encouraged to attend this conference.
URL: http://www.ifoh.org/UpcomingEvents.html

Dynamic Farmers' Market Conferences
April 5 and 6, 2005
Staples and Waseca, Minnesota
Two conferences on farmers' markets are being presented by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and USDA Risk Management. Topics will include displaying products, regulation compliance, and market organization. For more information contact Terry Nennich or Mary Gieske from the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Center in Crookston (888) 241-0781.

More events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.

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Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives Available Online
Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are now available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
URL: http://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageThe National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our sustainable agriculture projects.

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