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NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 29, 2012

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

Great news! The ATTRA program is back! With federal funding restored, we are once again offering a full complement of technical assistance services for farmers and ranchers at no charge. If you have questions about your farming or ranching operation, simply call our toll-free help line at 800-346-9140.

News & Resources

  • Mentor-Intern Handbook for Dairy and Livestock Farmers Released
  • Carbon Ranch Website Launched
  • Sandblasting Tested as Organic Weed Control
  • Farm Weeds Critical to Food Webs, Finds UK Study
  • Food Service Provider Announces Animal Welfare Policy
  • Judge Rules Against Organic Farmers in Monsanto Lawsuit

Funding Opportunities

  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
  • Arizona Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
  • Michigan Conservation Innovation Grant

Coming Events

  • Student Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture Conference
  • Got Manure? Enhancing Environmental and Economic Sustainability
  • Everybody Eats: Promoting the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Local Foods

News & Resources

Mentor-Intern Handbook for Dairy and Livestock Farmers Released
The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems has released Passing Along Farm Knowledge: A Mentor-Intern Handbook for Dairy and Livestock Farmers, available as a PDF file. This handbook includes practical information on making a match, goal setting and evaluation, teaching and learning guidelines, things to watch out for, communication and conflict resolution, and ending the internship.

Carbon Ranch Website Launched
The Quivira Coalition has launched a new website as part of its Carbon Ranch Project, which explores strategies that use food and stewardship to build soil, sequester CO2, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build resilience in local landscapes. The site provides a virtual library of resources related to the Carbon Ranch idea, including links, publications, and videos.
Related ATTRA Publication: Agriculture, Climate Change and Carbon Sequestration

Sandblasting Tested as Organic Weed Control
The current issue of the journal Weed Technology reports on tests of sandblasting as an organic weed control. In the research, corncob grit from a compressed-air tank was aimed at weeds growing near the bases of corn plants. The corn plants were unaffected by the procedure. While sandblasting proved to be a viable technique for weed control, this experiment did not prove it to be cost-effective. Expenditures could be reduced if a farm were to collect and mill its own corncobs rather than purchasing grit, or were to substitute an organic fertilizer for the grit.

Farm Weeds Critical to Food Webs, Finds UK Study
Common weeds are a critical component of food webs on farms, according to a study by the University of Bristol, published in Science. Researchers found that some plants, such as thistles, cow-parsley, clover, and buttercups, were disproportionately well linked to animals through the food web. The research also showed that bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are more susceptible to changes in their environment, making them more fragile than other networks. This research highlights the importance of ensuring an agri-ecosystem approach is taken in land management.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Food Service Provider Announces Animal Welfare Policy
Bon Appétit Management Company, which operates more than 400 cafés for corporations, universities, museums, and specialty venues in 31 states, has announced the rollout of a comprehensive farm animal welfare policy. As part of the policy, Bon Appétit will work with meat and poultry producers to pursue Animal Welfare Approved, Food Alliance, Humane Farm Animal Care, or Global Animal Partnership certification of their animal welfare practices.

Judge Rules Against Organic Farmers in Monsanto Lawsuit
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers who said their industry is at risk from Monsanto's growing market strength, reports a Reuters news story. U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald, for the Southern District of New York, threw out the case brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and dozens of other plaintiff growers and organizations challenging the agricultural giant's patents on its genetically modified seeds.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
REAP is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs. Through REAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently accepting renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications. USDA is also accepting renewable energy system feasibility study applications.
Applications are due by March 30, 2012.

Arizona Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Arizona Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program-Farm Bill, designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Arizona. State and/or local organizations, government entities, producer associations, and other specialty crop stakeholders are eligible to apply.
Applications are due by March 27, 2012.

Michigan Conservation Innovation Grant
USDA is making $225,000 in Conservation Innovation Grants funding available for projects in Michigan. The purpose of the grants is to develop and adopt innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production. The maximum grant is $75,000.
Applications are due by March 30, 2012.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Student Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture Conference
March 31 - April 1, 2012
Appleton, Wisconsin

This student conference held at Lawrence University is also open to recent college graduates and other young people interested in sustainable agriculture. It features presentations by students, farmers, and entrepreneurs, along with documentary screenings, panel discussions, and breakout workshops.

Got Manure? Enhancing Environmental and Economic Sustainability
March 27-29, 2012
Syracuse, New York

Learn about anaerobic digestion and other viable manure-management systems at this two-day national conference and trade show. AgSTAR, Cornell's PRO-DAIRY Program, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and USDA-NRCS are co-hosting.

Everybody Eats: Promoting the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Local Foods
March 24, 2012
Archbold, Ohio

This event offers sustainable agriculture workshops for producers and educational workshops for consumers. It will highlight regional efforts in local food production and ongoing educational opportunities in sustainable agriculture.

>> More Events

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