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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 18, 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
* National Small Farm Conference Issues Call for Presentations
* Organic Vegetable Certification Publication Available
* Research Shows Crop Diversity Reduces Nitrogen Pollution
* Temple Grandin Creates New Humane Handling Certification
* Research Examines CO2 Emissions from Cropland
* 'Restaurant Supported Agriculture' Concept Introduced

Funding Opportunities
* EPA Region 9 Strategic Agricultural Initiative
* Maine Organic Farmer Loan
* New Mexico Specialty Crops Funding

Coming Events
* Organic Growers School Spring Conference
* Forum for Rural Innovation
* Advanced Grazing Clinic

News & Resources

National Small Farm Conference Issues Call for Presentations
The 5th National Small Farm Conference will be held September 15 to 17 in Springfield, Illinois. The deadline for submitting abstracts for presentations and posters is Friday, March 13. Proposals may address topic areas including Implementing the Farm Bill, Exploring Alternative Enterprises and Marketing Opportunities, Building Community Support, Developing Sustainable Farming Systems, or Meeting Energy Needs.

Organic Vegetable Certification Publication Available
In the new publication, “Organic Certification of Vegetable Operations,” (PDF/1.64MB) Jim Riddle explains organic certification requirements in common sense, understandable terms. The publication explains the requirements for organic seeds, seedlings, greenhouses, crop rotations, soil amendments, pest and disease control inputs, harvest, and storage, as well as how to transition your operation to certified organic production.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Organic Certification Process

Research Shows Crop Diversity Reduces Nitrogen Pollution
Researchers have identified a link between the diversity of crops grown in farmlands and the pollution they create in lakes and rivers. In "A Century of Changing Land-Use and Water Quality Relationships in the Continental US" (PDF/611KB), ecologists show that when the biodiversity of crops is high, less dissolved nitrogen is found exiting the surrounding watersheds. The researchers compiled data from the past 100 years on watersheds varying in size from the Illinois Cache River basin (400 square miles) to the Mississippi River Basin (more than a million square miles). The researchers compared this watershed data with land-use practices since the early 1900s.

Temple Grandin Creates New Humane Handling Certification
Dr. Temple Grandin, animal handling and welfare expert and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, recently announced the "Dr. Temple Grandin Certified, Sustainable & Humane" program, a 21-principle certification offered to any processor who believes in not only proper animal husbandry practices but also in following sustainable agriculture methods. The program was unveiled exclusively to The National Provisioner and Niman Ranch's business partners, and was created in conjunction with Niman Ranch. It is founded on the belief that animals should be treated with respect and allowed to fulfill their instinctive behaviors without damaging the environment, as well as the belief that the land is a natural resource that must be preserved for generations to come. Starting in August 2009, the program will be available to any processor. Companies wishing to be certified will be audited on 21 core principles developed by Grandin and Niman Ranch.

Research Examines CO2 Emissions from Cropland
For the first time, farmers have data that tracks at the county level on-site and off-site energy use and carbon dioxide emissions associated with growing crops in the United States. This information is vital for examining changes in cropland production and management techniques, said Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Tristram West, lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Environmental Quality. The researchers were particularly interested in variations in energy consumption that occur when field management strategies change. For example, they found that the adoption of reduced tillage practices from 1990 to 2004 resulted in a net fossil emissions reduction of 8.8 million metric tons of CO2.

'Restaurant Supported Agriculture' Concept Introduced
A Milwaukee-area chef has launched a business modeled on community supported agriculture, but which supplies restaurants with local food, according to an Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune. Braise RSA currently coordinates local produce orders and deliveries for 20 farms and eight restaurants. Farmers receive part of the money in advance of the season, and the RSA alerts chefs when crops will be available and negotiates prices. Entrepreneur David Swanson hopes to expand the business to offer cheese, poultry, eggs, meat and other regional specialties.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Selling to Restaurants

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

EPA Region 9 Strategic Agricultural Initiative
EPA Region 9 is soliciting proposals to carry out the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and to support efforts by the agricultural community to transition away from high-risk pesticides to lower risk pesticides and sustainable practices in food production. EPA Region 9 anticipates awarding approximately 3 to 5 grants totaling approximately $350,000. EPA Region 9 anticipates that each grant will range in size from approximately $50,000 to a maximum of $100,000. Region 9 serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations.
Proposals are due March 18, 2009.

Maine Organic Farmer Loan
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is now offering an organic farmer loan. The Organic Farmer Loan Funds, generally in amounts of $5,000 to $10,000, may be used for working capital or farm equipment, and will be available to: MOFGA-certified organic farmers; farmers transitioning to organic production; and current participants and graduates of MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program. This fund will help to fill part of the loan gap for organic farmers, particularly those who have not established a credit history for their farms or for farms in need of short-term working capital.
Proposals are due February 27, 2009.

New Mexico Specialty Crops Funding
The New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) seeks New Mexico companies, individuals, agricultural organizations, commodity groups, and nonprofits which have a long-term commitment to improving the economic viability of New Mexico's rural economy or have projects with a significant value-added and marketing potential for high-value specialty crops. NMDA's objectives are agricultural growth, rural stability, maintaining market share, market development, value-added, and product development. The maximum amount which will be awarded to individuals is $5,000-$10,000 and the maximum amount which will be awarded to companies and organizations is $25,000-$30,000.
Proposals are due May 15, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Organic Growers School Spring Conference
March 21-22, 2009
Asheville, North Carolina

The Organic Growers School Spring Conference is a one-of-a-kind event that brings people of all walks of life together for a weekend of learning and networking. The two-day event offers more than 70 classes and hands on workshops on a variety of topics, from starting your first vegetable garden, baking bread, and saving on home energy costs, to raising your own goat herd. The agenda includes classes, a trade show, seed and plant exchange, silent auction, and children's program.

Forum for Rural Innovation
March 13, 2009
Winchester, Virginia

This forum will focus on innovative production, development of marketing skills and opportunities, and resources available to fund new projects. The conference is planned to provide farmers, landowners, rural business owners, local elected and appointed officials, and Extension educators, economic development and planning professionals an opportunity to see and hear industry leaders discuss innovative practices and methods of agricultural development. The forum will feature a series of presentations, with an emphasis on farming for high profitability by using innovative and sound business approaches particularly suited to the Mid-Atlantic region.

Advanced Grazing Clinic
March 20-21, 2009
Afton, Iowa

This Jim Gerrish clinic will cover year-around grazing, designing systems and forages to accomplish extended grazing and limiting or eliminating hay feeding.

> More Events

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