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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 11, 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
* Local Food Could Trigger $30 Billion in Illinois Economic Activity
* USDA Plans Biotechnology Regulation Scoping Meeting
* Organic Milk Producers Lose Contracts
* California Drought Threatens Farm Water Supply
* Energy Training Planned For Agricultural Professionals
* National Organic Program Clarifies Recent Liquid Fertilizer Regulation


Funding Opportunities
* Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act Partnership Grants
* Enhancing Ecosystem Services From Agricultural Lands: Management,
    Quantification, And Developing Decision Support Tools
* Iowa Watershed Improvement Grants


Coming Events
* International Public Markets Conference
* New Jersey Farm to School Conference
* Demonstration Organic Farm Day



News & Resources

Local Food Could Trigger $30 Billion in Illinois Economic Activity
A statewide task force report delivered to the Illinois General Assembly presents a local farm-and-food development strategy that experts say could trigger $20 to $30 billion in new economic activity every year, creating thousands of new jobs while revitalizing rural communities. The report of the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force concludes that even small increases in the amount of food grown for local consumption can generate an enormous amount of new economic activity, all of it within the state, for farmers and others in food-related businesses. The report presents a strategy for increasing the amount of money spent on Illinois-grown food to 10 percent of the statewide total by 2020 and to 20 percent by 2030. Legislation has been filed in both the House and Senate to get key elements of the plan underway. The full report and an executive summary are both available online at the Local Food, Farms & Jobs website.

USDA Plans Biotechnology Regulation Scoping Meeting
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) invites interested parties to discuss the agenda and format for public meeting(s) to be held in April 2009 on a proposed rule to revise existing regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms. The public scoping session will be on March 13. Transcripts of the March scoping session and April public meeting(s) will be made part of the rulemaking record. In order to ensure all transcriptions are available for public consideration, APHIS is extending the comment period for the proposed rule, which currently closes on March 17, until 60 days following the April meeting(s).

Organic Milk Producers Lose Contracts
Too much supply and too little demand in a recession have caught up with the fast-growing organic milk industry, dealing a harsh blow to Maine producers. Bangor Daily News reported eight of the 72 farms in Maine producing organic milk have been told their contracts won't be renewed. Other organic producers have been told they must cut their production by 15 percent. “They told us they have too much milk,” organic dairyman Vaughn Chase of Chase Farms in Mapleton said. “It is the worst possible news at the worst possible time.”
Related ATTRA Publication:   Dairy Resource List: Organic and Pasture-based


California Drought Threatens Farm Water Supply
Recent snowfall in California has brought snowpack levels up to only 80 percent of normal, says a Reuters news story on Planet Ark. As the severity of the state's ongoing drought worsens, both municipalities and farmers are facing reduced water supplies in the coming summer. Earlier coverage in The Christian Science Monitor reported that some farmers would receive a zero water allocation for this year. According to that story, the University of California estimates that the drought may cause 847,000 acres to go unplanted this year.

Energy Training Planned For Agricultural Professionals
The National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems are beginning an effort to train Cooperative Extension agents and other agriculture professionals as Energy Educators. The training will begin with a session September 30 - October 2 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Extension employees and USDA field staff members throughout the South may apply by April 30 to participate in the training.

National Organic Program Clarifies Recent Liquid Fertilizer Regulation
On February 20, 2009 the National Organic Program (NOP) released a statement (PDF/41KB) that they are no longer confident that the following liquid fertilizer products can be shown to be compliant with the NOP regulations: Marizyme™ and Agrolizer™. Continued use of those products could jeopardize the organic status of operations. The NOP has called for a third-party inspection of all high nitrogen liquid fertilizers to verify they meet NOP regulations.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act Partnership Grants
EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is soliciting initial proposals to advance partnerships that focus on pesticide risk management issues with a special focus on integrated pest management (IPM) approaches. Awards are intended to support a diverse set of project types, including, but not limited to demonstrations, transfer of innovative IPM technologies, outreach, and education. The total amount of funding available for award is expected to be $1 million. The maximum funding level is $250,000 per project. This competition begins with a call for initial proposals from which candidates will be selected and offered an invitation to submit full applications.
Proposals are due April 15, 2009.

Enhancing Ecosystem Services From Agricultural Lands: Management, Quantification, And Developing Decision Support Tools
The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as part of its Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grants Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, are seeking applications proposing research on the ecosystem services provided by agricultural lands. USDA and EPA are sponsoring research on ecosystem services, environmental management options, and the development of decision-support tools to assist decision-making by farmers and ranchers, state and local governments and by tribal nations. EPA: Approximately 2 awards are anticipated with an estimated total funding level of approximately $1 Million. USDA: Approximately 7 awards are anticipated with an estimated funding level of approximately $3.5 Million. Proposed project budget requests must not exceed $500,000.
Proposals are due May 26, 2009.

Iowa Watershed Improvement Grants
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources offers Iowa groups looking to improve the state's streams, rivers and lakes the opportunity to apply for grants. These grants allow groups, such as Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other organizations, to create watershed projects that help individual Iowans make changes on the land in order to improve the quality of water entering our rivers, streams and lakes.
Proposals are due April 1, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

International Public Markets Conference
April 24-26, 2009
San Francisco, California

The 7th International Public Markets Conference will showcase the vital role markets play in reconnecting local economies and communities. For this conference, Project for Public Spaces is seizing the opportunity to explore all the ramifications of how markets are providing access to healthy, safe food; revitalizing local neighborhoods through dynamic places; creating jobs by keeping dollars in the local economy; providing real opportunities for minorities and new immigrants; and creating more sustainable communities and regions. First-class speakers from around the world will be on hand to deliver lectures, workshops, and breakout sessions.


New Jersey Farm to School Conference
April 18, 2009
Lawrenceville, New Jersey

This conference will address topics in tracks including school gardens, farm to school policy, food service director perspectives on connecting farm to cafeteria, and curriculum tie-ins through school gardens.


Demonstration Organic Farm Day
April 17, 2009
Dover, Florida

Florida Organic Growers, with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is operating a program that provides free technical assistance to Florida farmers who commit to transition to organic production or reduce pesticide use. Gain first-hand experience at a farm with organic soil management, cropping, and pest and disease control approaches, in a morning tour of Jordan Farms.


> More Events

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