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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 11, 2020

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

News & Resources

  • Guide Covers Edible Weeds as Supplemental Farm Crops
  • Farmworker Awareness Week Set for March 25-31
  • CRP Grasslands Signup Begins March 16
  • South Dakota Poll Says Soil-Health Farmers Less Stressed, More Optimistic
  • Domestication Made Plants Lose Ability to Interact with Soil Microbes, Says Research
  • Dairy Beef Can Add Value to Dairy Business

Funding Opportunities

  • North Central Region SARE Professional Development Grant Program
  • Pennsylvania Farm Vitality Planning Grant
  • Little Seedlings

Coming Events

  • Small Farmers Conference
  • Practical Farm Certifications Workshop
  • Soil Health Economics Forum

News & Resources

Guide Covers Edible Weeds as Supplemental Farm Crops
A project funded by Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education has produced Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast farmer's guide to self-growing vegetables. The free PDF is a resource guide on how and why to use edible weeds as crops. To the farmer, edible weeds provide supplemental income, diversify production, abate biological risks, increase the dollar-per-acre yield, offset labor costs and fossil fuel input, and open new markets. The guide includes production information and recipes.

Farmworker Awareness Week Set for March 25-31
National Farmworker Awareness Week occurs annually during the last week of March to raise awareness of farmworker conditions and honor their important contributions. The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) has created a website that honors the contributions of farmworkers and offers suggestions on how consumers and farmers can support them. EFI and its partners are building awareness of the links between training and engaging farmworkers, improved working conditions, and increased food safety.

CRP Grasslands Signup Begins March 16
USDA announced that farmers and ranchers may apply to enroll grasslands in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup beginning March 16, 2020. Through CRP Grasslands, participants retain the right to conduct common grazing practices, such as haying, mowing, or harvesting seed. Participants will receive an annual rental payment and may receive up to 50% cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices. Signup runs through May 15, 2020.

South Dakota Poll Says Soil-Health Farmers Less Stressed, More Optimistic
A poll conducted by South Dakota State University, in partnership with the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, shows that a significantly higher percentage of producers who are using soil health-improving practices on their operations experienced less stress, are more satisfied with farming and/or ranching, and are more optimistic about their futures than their conventional peers.
Related ATTRA Tutorial: Soil Health

Domestication Made Plants Lose Ability to Interact with Soil Microbes, Says Research
Research led by the University of California, Riverside shows that as domestication of plants yielded larger crops, it also had a negative effect on the way plants interact with their microbiomes. Domesticated plants became more dependent on fertilizer than their wild relatives, as they lost their ability to interact with soil microbes that provide beneficial nutrients. Crossbreeding with wild plants could help restore those traits.
Related ATTRA Publication: Nutrient Cycling in Pastures

Dairy Beef Can Add Value to Dairy Business
A project funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is helping dairy farmers decide whether a crossbreeding enterprise for beef production would be a good addition for their business. Holstein-beef crossbred calves can bring a market premium over purebred Holstein calves. The final report for the "Where's the Beef in Value-Added Dairy-Beef Crosses Research Project" is available online.
Related ATTRA Publication: Dairy Beef

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North Central Region SARE Professional Development Grant Program
The North Central Region SARE Professional Development Grant Program supports state professional development programs and competitive grants for training agricultural professionals. Professional Development Program competitive grants emphasize training agricultural educators in extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, private, and nonprofit sectors, using farmers as educators and addressing emerging issues in the farm community. Project awards have a maximum of $90,000, and approximately $900,000 will be available.
Proposals are due April 2, 2020.

Pennsylvania Farm Vitality Planning Grant
Pennsylvania's Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program will help fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. Farmers and prospective farmers are eligible to apply for reimbursement grants up to $7,500 and 75% of project costs. The Department of Agriculture will provide up to $1 million for program grants in the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year. Grants may be used for creating business plans, transition of ownership plans, diversification or expansion plans, and other planning projects specified.
The application period is open until April 3, 2020.

Little Seedlings
Little Seedlings is an annual fellowship powered by Little Sesame in partnership with the National Young Farmers Coalition that supports the next generation of farmers. Grants are awarded to farms to grow, scale, and meet the changing demands of the market. In 2020, Little Seedlings will award $5,000 grants to two farms located in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia.
Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2020.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Small Farmers Conference
April 13-15, 2020
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Alcorn State University presents "Creating Pathways for Farm Families through 20/20 Vision." This conference includes sessions on crop and livestock production, marketing, and business topics. Keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, and on-farm educational presentations are scheduled.

Practical Farm Certifications Workshop
April 9, 2020
Alexandria, Louisiana
Join Louisiana SARE with the LSU AgCenter to learn which certifications are practical for your growing operation. Learn about produce safety, branding, and organic certifications, including GAPs, FSMA, USDA Organic, SQF, Certified Naturally Grown, and more.

Soil Health Economics Forum
April 14, 2020
St. Paul, Minnesota
The Minnesota Office for Soil Health presents a Soil Health Economics Forum to examine the financial side of building soil health, identify gaps in knowledge, and plan next steps for research and building partnerships.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Podcast
The Haney Soil Test

Question of the Week
How can I use livestock to manage weeds?

Ask an Agriculture Expert
Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Pig-Poultry Rotational Grazing
March 12, 2020
Join NCAT's Lee Rinehart for this FACT webinar.

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