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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 21, 2006

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
* Organic Milk Supply to Spike in 2007
* Rhode Island Establishes Program to Promote Local Foods
* Iowa College Studying Potential of Organic Program
* Brown University Developing On-Campus Farm
* Consumer Demand for Organic Dairy Brings High Prices in Vermont
* Hawaiian Legislature Ponders Moratorium on Genetically Modified Taro


Funding Opportunities
* Mississippi Catfish Grant Program
* Weyerhaeuser Family Trust's Sustainable Forests Grants
* Global ReLeaf Forests Ecosystem Restoration Program


Coming Events
* Lake Barkley Beekeeping School
* Guinea Fowl Breeders Association Convention
* Growing Your Community Food System From the Ground Up



News & Resources

Organic Milk Supply to Spike in 2007
The Associated Press reports that the supply of organic milk is expected to spike in 2007 due to a federal rule change. Farmers completing the transition to organic milk production prior to June 2007 are able to feed 80 percent organic feed and 20 percent conventional feed in the year before they become certified organic. Those that started the transition process after June 2006 have to use 100 percent organic feed in the final transition year, increasing their transition costs. Many farmers jumped into organic transition before June 2006 to take advantage of the "80/20 rule". There is an expected 70 percent increase in organic milk as the newly certified farms come on line.

Rhode Island Establishes Program to Promote Local Foods
Rhode Island residents and visitors looking for local foods have a new resource to help them find it. The Rhode Island Fresh Networkóa new marketing campaign working to promote local chefs and food businessesówill produce dining guides that identify restaurants, caterers and other food retailers selling local, organic and fair-trade foods. The guides are expected to be available later this spring. The program also will feature Fresh Bucksó$5 and $10 tokens that can be used as local currency at local restaurants, retail stores and farmers' markets. The network is a project a Farm Fresh Rhode Island.

Iowa College Studying Potential of Organic Program
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has awarded a $15,000 grant to Western Iowa Tech Community College to investigate the feasibility of a new organic agriculture programóthe first of its kind in the tri-state area. If developed, the program would provide assistance to help farmers develop new organic farming systems and transition from conventional farming to organic, reports the Sioux City Journal.

Brown University Developing On-Campus Farm
The Sustainable Food Initiative at Brown University is developing an on-campus farm that will integrate local food and sustainable agriculture for its students. The farm will be operated by students and will tentatively be located on a 4,000-square-foot plot on campus. The project is still under development, but has gained wide support among students and university administrators. The Sustainable Food Initiative is a student group that serves as an umbrella organization for a number of food-related projects working toward more environmentally and socially sustainable food systems on campus, in the community, and in the region.

Consumer Demand for Organic Dairy Brings High Prices in Vermont
While traditional dairies in Vermont are suffering economically, organic dairies are prospering. According to this report in the Burlington Free Press, consumer demand for organic products has led to a rapid increase in organic farming. The number of certified organic dairy farms in Vermont has grown from 14 in 1995 to 126 today, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association predicts that number will grow to more than 200 by the end of this year. As a result of consumer demand, organic dairy products are bringing high farm-gate prices for farmers. Traditional dairies, however, are suffering from low milk prices, high energy costs and a poor growing season last year. The article calls for strong state support to help both organic and traditional farmers address critical needs, which include a strong dairy infrastructure, technical support programs, and an equitable pricing system.

Hawaiian Legislature Ponders Moratorium on Genetically Modified Taro
The Hawaii Legislature is considering a bill that would ban the testing and growing of genetically modified taro in Hawaii for five years, the Honolulu Advertiser reports in its online edition. Supporters of a moratorium consist primarily of Native Hawaiian taro farmers who say the development of genetically modified taro, or kalo in Hawaiian, is unnecessary and an affront to Hawaiian culture and tradition. Taro is a traditional staple in many tropical areas of the world. It is grown as a vegetable food and is believed to be among the earliest cultivated plants. An underground corm is harvested and processed into a wide variety of starchy products. Taro is of the Araceae family of plants and approximately 10 percent of the world's population depend on taro-like plants as a staple. The University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture are engaged in research into genetically protecting the plant from lethal insects and diseases that have devastated crops elsewhere in the Pacific, the Advertiser reports. The bill has advanced out of the House Agriculture Committee and will be considered by the full House.

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Funding Opportunities

Mississippi Catfish Grant Program
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is offering a grant program for commercial catfish producers that had catfish feed losses as a result of the 2005 hurricanes. Applications will be received until March 2, 2007. Awards will be given to cover the cost of lost feed, not exceeding $80,000.
Proposals are due March 2, 2007.

Weyerhaeuser Family Trust's Sustainable Forests Grants
The Weyerhaeuser Family Trust funds nonprofit and public organizations, particularly those within a 50-mile proximity of a Weyerhaeuser holding. The Foundation looks for projects that promote solutions to local problems by integrating a three-faceted approach that includes ecology, economy, and community. The Sustainable Forests and Communities Initiative promotes forest conservation and environmentally sustainable economic development, along with community building, and integrated approaches to enhancing ecology, the local economy, and community. Regions in which the family foundation's business interests originated are particularly targeted: Idaho, Oregon, Washington, northern California, western Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Guidelines may be downloaded by touching on the above links. Deadline for applications has traditionally been in the spring of each year.
Proposals are due April 15, 2007.

Global ReLeaf Forests Ecosystem Restoration Program
American Forests is always looking for quality tree-planting projects to be funded by their Global ReLeaf Forests ecosystem restoration program. They are particularly interested in partnering with private and public sector organizations and agencies to plant trees and improve the environment in projects that would otherwise not be feasible. Projects must be on land owned by a government entity, or on public-accessible private land meeting special criteria. Applications are accepted January 15 and July 1 each year.
Proposals are due July 1, 2007.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Lake Barkley Beekeeping School
March 7-10, 2007
Wingo, Kentucky

This four-day school will cover all aspects of getting started as a beekeeper.


Guinea Fowl Breeders Association Convention
March 16-18, 2007
State College, Pennsylvania

This event is hosted in part by Penn State University, and offers programs and demonstrations on guinea fowl research, reproduction, processing, and more. Guinea fowl are touted as one of the world's best non-pesticide bug and weed control options.


Growing Your Community Food System From the Ground Up
March 16-18, 2007
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Growing Power presents "Growing Your Community Food System," an intensive, hands on, training workshop offering diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate, and sustain community food projects. Project participants leave the workshop with improved skills that they can take back into their communities and pass on to others. These workshops are for both rural and urban projects.


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Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.


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