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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 26, 2014

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • USDA Announces New Grants to Help Communities Meet Water Challenges
  • New USDA Program to Improve Pollinator Health in Midwestern States
  • EPA Proposes Measures to Protect Farm Workers from Pesticide Exposure
  • Ceres Trust Report Documents Organic Research and Outreach in North Central Region
  • Tulane Announces $1 Million Grand Challenge Prize for "Dead Zone" Solution
  • Farmland Forever Website Launched

Funding Opportunities

  • USDA Farm to School Grants
  • Strengthening Small-Scale Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems by Accelerating Food Hub Development
  • Frontera Farmer Foundation Grant Program

Coming Events

  • National Good Food Network Food Hub Collaboration
  • Organic Weed Management Webinar Series
  • Illinois Farmers Market Workshop: Grow yourself! Grow your market! Grow your business!

News & Resources

USDA Announces New Grants to Help Communities Meet Water Challenges
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make $6 million in grants available this year, and up to $30 million over the next five years, as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices, technologies, and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners, and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality. Three critical topics will be funded through this new challenge area: 1) ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; 2) improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and 3) reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation's water supply.

New USDA Program to Improve Pollinator Health in Midwestern States
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to help improve the health of bees. Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. Applications are due March 21, 2014.

EPA Proposes Measures to Protect Farm Workers from Pesticide Exposure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard with significant improvements to worker training regarding the safe usage of pesticides, including how to prevent and effectively treat pesticide exposure. Workers and others near treated fields will now be protected from pesticide overspray and fumes. In addition, EPA has proposed that children under 16 be legally barred from handling all pesticides, with an exemption for family farms. EPA is accepting public comment on the proposed changes.

Ceres Trust Report Documents Organic Research and Outreach in North Central Region
The new Ceres Trust report Organic Research and Outreach in the North Central Region—2014 documents growth in organic research, extension, and teaching at land-grant universities in the 12-state North Central region. The report includes details about student organic farms; certified organic research land and animals; sources of organic research funding; dissemination of organic research results; organic education efforts of nonprofit organizations; and other relevant information.

Tulane Announces $1 Million Grand Challenge Prize for "Dead Zone" Solution
Tulane University is offering a $1 million prize for the best solution to combat annual "dead zones" in the world's lakes and oceans, in the "Water Innovations: Reducing Hypoxia, Restoring our Water" Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge seeks innovative solutions to combat oxygen-depleted water caused mostly by excessive amounts of river-borne fertilizers and other nutrients emptying into lakes and oceans. The competition begins with a 30-day period to submit comments and letters of interest to compete.

Farmland Forever Website Launched
American Farmland Trust has unveiled a new website focused on farmland protection in the Puget Sound region of western Washington. The site explains some of the most effective tools for protecting farmland through easements and zoning and includes links to briefing materials, studies, and ordinances developed by agencies and organizations in the Northwest.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

USDA Farm to School Grants
USDA is accepting applications for the third round of Farm to School grants. Three different kinds of grants will be available, as well as a separate funding track to support trainings and events. Planning grants are intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities. Implementation grants are available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts. Support service grants are available to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum, or further develop supply chains, among other activities. New in FY 2015, grants from $15,000 - $50,000 will be available to support meetings, trainings, and events intended to strengthen farm to school supply chains or provide technical assistance.
Proposals are due April 30, 2014. Letters of Intent for the trainings and events track are due April 2, 2014.

Strengthening Small-Scale Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems by Accelerating Food Hub Development
The Wallace Center has announced Strengthening Small-Scale Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems by Accelerating Food Hub Development. The program will support food hub development and build capacity among small and mid-size farms throughout the U.S. to access regional markets, with an emphasis on minority and female farmers. Wallace Center will offer capital, intensive capacity building, and technical assistance that will benefit hubs and their source farms.
Applications are due by March 30, 2014.

Frontera Farmer Foundation Grant Program
The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area. Farmers must have been in business for at least three years and must demonstrate how the grant will improve both their farm's viability and the availability of locally grown food products.
Grant applications must be received by March 1, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

National Good Food Network Food Hub Collaboration
March 26-28, 2014
Raleigh, North Carolina

This event focuses on building capacity for healthy regional food systems. It includes tours of hubs, processors, distributors, and farmers; three-hour long intensive trainings; and 28 workshop sessions with practical information on how to make your hub run better, more efficiently, and with greater impact.

Organic Weed Management Webinar Series
March 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2014
Online

Organic Thinking presents a free webinar series on organic weed management on four Mondays in March, led by organic farmers and specialists from across the United States. Sessions are Soils and Weed Management, Managing Weeds with Crop Rotations, Different Approaches to Weed Management, and an educator webinar titled "Adapting Our Message to Better Reach Organic Farmers."

Illinois Farmers Market Workshop: Grow yourself! Grow your market! Grow your business!
March 5, 20, or 27, 2014
Mt. Vernon, Rockford, or Springfield, Illinois

Illinois Farmers Market Association offers these opportunities to learn about farmers market best practices, marketing, management, and more. Market managers, farmers, vendors, and friends of the market are welcome.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA - was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

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ATTRA Video
Michel Cavigelli - Organic Research and Needs: Cover Crops, Crop Rotation, and Soil Health

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