Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 22, 2006
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
* New Books Provide Perspective on Food and Agriculture Worldwide
Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.
* College to Expand Farm to Include More Sustainable Ag Offerings
* Farmers Happy with Michigan Directive to Buy Locally
* Nebraska Food Cooperative Markets Local Products
* Southern California Farmers Promote Agritourism
* Agricultural Outlook Forum Speeches Posted
* USDA Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Grants
* California Sustainable Community Food Systems Grants
* Wisconsin Biobased Industry Opportunity Grant Program
* Farmer-Chef Connection Conference
* Heifer International Women's Lambing Programs
* The Future of Agriculture: Science, Stewardship, and Sustainability
News & Resources
New Books Provide Perspective on Food and Agriculture Worldwide
Several new books related to food and agriculture have been published recently. In an article for Grist, Tom Philpott reviews Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It, by Michael Ableman, and Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio. For the first, Ableman traveled across the U.S. talking to and photographing small-scale organic producers from a variety of ethnic and economic backgrounds. Menzel and D’Aluisio, on the other hand, traveled the world, visiting 30 families and documenting what each eats in a week and how food fits into their lives. In another recent book, titled Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Food, reporter George Pyle writes about the Midwestern corn industry and its impacts both nationally and globally.
College to Expand Farm to Include More Sustainable Ag Offerings
Alfred State College in New York has approved a multi-million dollar “Smart Farm” business plan developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension experts. The Centennial Farm will be operated on principles of sustainable agriculture, and a portion of the farm will be certified organic. As part of the plan, the farm will add an organic dairy herd to its existing conventional herd, and the farm management system will be based on a more sustainable model featuring grasslands dairy management. Officials hope to expand the farm’s research and demonstration projects and partner with other agricultural organizations to provide programs and workshops.
Farmers Happy with Michigan Directive to Buy Locally
In her recent State of the State address, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm highlighted the success of her directive for government departments to purchase Michigan products first. Today, more than 85 percent of purchases made by the State of Michigan come from Michigan businesses, including food producers. A feature article on Michigan Land Use Institute explores the implications of the directive for Michigan’s farmers and institutions. In the first year alone, for example, the Department of Corrections spent over $5 million dollars of its food budget on Michigan grown or produced products. With multi-year food contracts up for renewal, the state expects a substantial increase in local purchasing.
Related ATTRA Content: ATTRAnews: Delivering Local Food to Local Institutions
Nebraska Food Cooperative Markets Local Products
The Nebraska Food Co-op will help state farmers market their value-added agricultural products to consumers eager for locally grown food, says an article in Farm and Ranch Guide. The new co-op, which should be operational by this spring, is modeled on the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, a Web-based system that allows customers to order from 1,600 listed farm products. Farmers then deliver their products to one central location where orders are sorted and packed. Development of the co-op was funded through grants from USDA.
Related ATTRA Publication: Local Food Directories
Southern California Farmers Promote Agritourism
A group of farmers near the southern California community of Beaumont are trying to promote their area as an agritourism destination, reports an Associated Press article that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The farmers are trying to model the agritourism programs that helped make wine-growing counties a travel destination in their own cherry-growing region. However, their effort faces a challenge from a growing population in the area that has diminished the number of cherry orchards and the amount of agricultural land. Now the city administration is working to preserve agricultural land, and the local utility may plant orchards on some of its vacant acreage.
Agricultural Outlook Forum Speeches Posted
"Prospering in Rural America" was the theme of the 2006 Agricultural Outlook Forum held this week in Arlington, Virginia. More than 130 speakers participated in the event, and webcasts of many presentations have been posted online, as well as PowerPoint files from other presentations. Topics of available presentations include "Rural America’s New Economic Frontier Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Collaboration," "Bio-fuel Production and New Energy Forms in Rural Areas," and "USDA’s Conservation Role in Bio-fuel Production."
> More Breaking News
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USDA Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the opening of an annual funding solicitation for rural renewable energy projects and energy efficiency improvements. This year's solicitation allows for $11.4 million in competitive grant funds and $176.5 million in guaranteed loans for the purchase of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements for agriculture producers and rural small businesses. Grant awards for renewable energy projects will be between $2,500 and $500,000 and $1,500 and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements; grant amounts cannot exceed 25 percent of eligible project costs.
Proposals are due May 12, 2006.
California Sustainable Community Food Systems Grants
The University of California’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) has issued a Request for Proposals for 2006 Sustainable Community Food Systems Grants. The RFP is targeted to County-based UC Cooperative Extension personnel (CE Advisors and Directors). Applicants must partner with community-based organizations (e.g., grower groups, consumer groups, local governmental agencies or others) to show community engagement. Letters of support from community partners are required. Cooperation with campus faculty is also encouraged. Total funding is approximately $60,000. Only one-year projects will be considered.
Proposals are due March 15, 2006.
Wisconsin Biobased Industry Opportunity Grant Program
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Biobased Industry Opportunity (BIO) Grant Program invites proposals for projects that will create new enterprises and opportunities through the development of biobased industry initiatives. Biobased industries include energy, fuels, or value-added chemicals and materials generated from plant, agricultural, forestry or other biological materials. The program has a total of $700,000 available for the grant program. The maximum grant award, to each entity, is not more than $150,000 for planning and not more than $150,000 for implementation. Grant applicants must provide at least 50 percent of eligible project expenses.
Proposals are due March 1, 2006.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Farmer-Chef Connection Conference
March 6, 2006
During this one-day event, farmers and ranchers join forces with restaurant chefs, grocery retailers, specialty food store owners, food service operators, institutional buyers and distributors to cultivate partnerships.
Heifer International Women's Lambing Programs
March 23-26 or March 26-31 or March 31 - April 2, 2006
This spring, Heifer International offers three different-length women's lambing programs: weekend, extended weekend, or week-long. All women’s lambing programs include a brief study of pre-natal care, delivery and post-natal care of the ewes and lambs. Participants will take part in learning opportunities, including educational classes on wool crafts and/or cheesemaking and assist with ranch chores. Additionally, women learn about gender equity, sustainable agriculture, and Heifer’s livestock practices.
The Future of Agriculture: Science, Stewardship, and Sustainability
August 7-9, 2006
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Hazardous Substance Research at Kansas State University, a consortium member of the Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center (HSRC), will host the International Conference on The Future of Agriculture: Science, Stewardship, and Sustainability (Integrating Science, Technology, and Policy to Address Environmental Challenges in the Agricultural Setting). Participants will include innovative producers and processors, regulators and policy experts, environmental and remediation professionals, research and extension faculty and students, industrial exhibitors, and community leaders.
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