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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 16, 2016

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

  • Farms that Sell Direct More Likely to Remain in Business
  • Open Source Software for CSAs Available
  • USDA Publishes CSP Final Rule
  • USDA Farm to School Census Results Released
  • Oat Trials Identify Varieties for Iowa
  • Study Says Climate Change Will Affect Crop Choices and Land Farmed

Funding Opportunities

  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program
  • Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grants
  • Nebraska Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Piedmont Farm Tour
  • Medicinal Herb Growing and Marketing Conference
  • Food Tank Summit

News & Resources

Farms that Sell Direct More Likely to Remain in Business
USDA Economic Research Service analysis of Agricultural Census data shows that farmers who market food directly to consumers have a greater chance of remaining in business than similarly sized farms who market through traditional channels. Farmers with direct-to-consumer sales had a 6 to 20% higher survival rate. However, analysts found that direct-marketing farms increase in sales more slowly.
Related ATTRA Resources: Direct Marketing Options

Open Source Software for CSAs Available
The Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA in Southern Oregon has recently unveiled innovative, open source software developed to assist CSA farmers in connecting with their members. The CSA App provides CSA members easy access to product information, recipes, cooking and storage tips, and nutritional information for their CSA produce. Access to the customizable Web platform is provided free of charge.

USDA Publishes CSP Final Rule
USDA's Final Rule on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) includes changes that will make the program more flexible and responsive to farmers and ranchers. It raises the minimum contract payment for all participants to $1,500 per year, provides increased flexibility for adopting conservation activities and enhancements, and clarifies provisions related to how land transfers affect program participation.

USDA Farm to School Census Results Released
The USDA Farm to School Census showed that schools purchased $789 million in local foods during school year 2013–2014. Nationally, 42% of school districts that responded operate farm to school programs, and more than 2,000 districts plan to start in the future. The updated Farm to School Census website is accepting nominations for the "One in a Melon" award through April 15, 2016, recognizing schools that administer creative, innovative, and/or exemplary farm to school programs.
Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

Oat Trials Identify Varieties for Iowa
In 2015, Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa State University tested 16 oat varieties and assessed each for yield, test weight, and disease susceptibility. Practical Farmers also interviewed scientists from milling companies on the oat-quality criteria they use. Results are in a new research report, Oat Variety and Fungicide Trial. The varieties Betagene, Deon, Badger, and Natty were among the top performers in terms of yield. The varieties Badger, Betagene, GM423, Goliath, and Natty met quality specifications for milling.

Study Says Climate Change Will Affect Crop Choices and Land Farmed
A new study by researchers from Brown and Tufts universities suggests that climate change will affect agricultural production not only in terms of yield, but also in terms of how much land people choose to farm and the number of crops they plant each growing season. The study showed that temperature increases of 1° C were associated with substantial decreases in both total crop area and double cropping.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Regional Conservation Partnership Program
NRCS has announced that up to $260 million is available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for partner proposals to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability. The program leverages local leadership to establish partnerships that can include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profits and other non-government partners to work with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions.
Pre-proposals are due May 10, 2016.

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grants
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is accepting applications for Graduate Student grants up to $11,000. The opportunity is open to Ph.D. and Master's students at accredited institutions in the Southern region with research projects that address sustainable agriculture issues of regional importance.
Proposal submission deadline is May 6, 2016.

Nebraska Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is accepting proposals for the Fiscal Year 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. NDA can award a total of $620,313 to projects that enhance the competitiveness of Nebraska specialty crops. Proposals should be initiated by organizations, industry groups, or academic institutions.
Concept proposals must be submitted by April 1, 2016.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Piedmont Farm Tour
April 23-24, 2016
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
This self-guided, two-afternoon event from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association offers the opportunity to visit more than 35 local and sustainable farms in the region.

Medicinal Herb Growing and Marketing Conference
April 15-17, 2016
Port Townsend, Washington
This gathering for Pacific Northwest farmers, wildcrafters, and herb companies will feature workshops, panels, round-table discussions, keynote speakers, network building, and more. Conference tracks include farming practices, marketing, regulations, and nursery production.

Food Tank Summit
April 20-21, 2016
Washington, DC
Food Tank, in partnership with American University, presents an event that will feature more than 70 speakers. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on nourishing the planet, improving nutrient density, the future of organic, investing in the food movement, legislating change in the food system, and more.

>> More Events

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© 2016 NCAT

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New ATTRA Publication
Tipsheet: Organic Cattle, Sheep, and Goats for Meat Production

Question of the Week
What are the best organic methods for dealing with a blister beetle infestation?

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Farm Foundations: Planning for Success
Free workshop for military veterans, April 5-7, Montgomery, Alabama

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