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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 18, 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.

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News & Resources

  • Guide Helps Agricultural Producers Navigate Disrupted Production Cycles
  • Farmers Market Coalition Provides Resources for Markets Responding to COVID-19
  • New USDA Team Focuses on Serving Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
  • Natural Habitat around Farms Protects Yields and Environment, Study Says
  • Soil Health Innovations Conference Postponed
  • Organic Seed Producers Directory Connects Seed Growers and Buyers

Funding Opportunities

  • Northeast SARE Partnership Grant Program
  • Special Research Grants Program — Aquaculture Research
  • North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grants

Coming Events

  • Biochar: What is it?
  • Ideas for Starting Rural Agriculture Businesses
  • Trees for Livestock Food and Medicine

News & Resources

Guide Helps Agricultural Producers Navigate Disrupted Production Cycles
Purdue University released an online guide to help producers navigate disruption to local production cycles. The guide notes that postponement and cancellation of farmers markets, as well as changing demand from restaurants, could have a major impact on local food producers. The guide recommends that producers become proactive in connecting with customers, perhaps by changing business models. CSA delivery and online sales may be options. The guide also offers reminders about food safety standards, suggestions on inventory management, and information on delivery systems.
Related ATTRA Publication: Community Supported Agriculture

Farmers Market Coalition Provides Resources for Markets Responding to COVID-19
The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) maintains that farmers markets are necessary for the livelihood of tens of thousands of farmers and for food access for millions of consumers. FMC asserts that farmers markets should be addressed in the same manner as grocery stores and other essential public services. FMC has posted a web page, Farmers Markets Respond to COVID-19, that provides news updates, as well as resources for mitigating risks in market operation and suggestions for communicating effectively with market vendors and customers.

New USDA Team Focuses on Serving Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
A new USDA team will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers. The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national beginning farmer and rancher coordinator position and state-level coordinators for the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Risk Management Agency, and Rural Development. National Coordinator Sarah Campbell will work closely with state coordinators to develop goals and create plans to increase beginning farmer participation and access to programs.

Natural Habitat around Farms Protects Yields and Environment, Study Says
A study led by the University of California, Davis, showed that natural habitat around strawberry farms helps protect yields, reduce grower costs, and protect the environment. Additionally, the presence of natural habitat posed no threat to food safety. The study indicated that adding natural habitat can decrease costs of crop damage by birds by 23%, while removing natural habitat can increase costs by as much as 76%.
Related ATTRA Publication: Beneficial and Pest Birds: Vertebrate IPM Tip Sheet

Soil Health Innovations Conference Postponed
NCAT has been closely monitoring developments related to the coronavirus disease and, in consultation with our co-sponsors, has made the difficult decision to postpone the Soil Health Innovations Conference scheduled for March 30-31, 2020. We will be working closely with Montana State University to schedule a future date for the conference. Watch for an announcement of new dates soon.

Organic Seed Producers Directory Connects Seed Growers and Buyers
Organic Seed Alliance has unveiled a searchable online Organic Seed Producers Directory that connects organic seed producers with seed companies and wholesale seed buyers. Seed producers are invited to create a profile so wholesale seed purchasers can easily find them. Companies looking for wholesale seed can use the directory to find farmers growing organic seed for wholesale or interested doing so.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Partnership Grant Program
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is accepting proposals for its Partnership Grant Program. The program funds projects conducted by agricultural service providers who work in direct partnership with farmers. Projects may conduct research, demonstrations, and education to address current challenges to the health of farming and food systems in the Northeast or to strengthen working partnerships between farmers and agricultural service providers. Grants are capped at $30,000. Projects must be conducted in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C., or West Virginia.
Proposals are due by April 14, 2020.

Special Research Grants Program — Aquaculture Research
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications for $1.2 million in competitive grants through the Special Research Grants Program — Aquaculture Research. This program funds applied aquaculture research projects to address issues related to the following: 1) Genetics of commercial aquaculture species; 2) Critical disease issues impacting commercial aquaculture species; 3) Design of environmentally and economically sustainable commercial aquaculture production systems; or 4) Economic research for increasing commercial aquaculture profitability.
Applications are due by April 22, 2020.

North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grants
Graduate students enrolled at colleges or universities in the North Central Region can submit proposals for Graduate Student Grants up to $15,000 to fund sustainable agriculture projects. North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR-SARE) expects to fund about 20 projects in the 12-state region. NCR-SARE strongly encourages students to involve farmers and ranchers in their projects.
Proposals must be submitted by April 9, 2020.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Biochar: What is it?
March 19, 2020
Online
This webinar is the first in an 11-month series on biochar created by the USDA Forest Service. This episode covers basic information about biochar, applications, environmental benefits, and more. There will also be a brief overview of production technologies.

Ideas for Starting Rural Agriculture Businesses
March 19, 2020
Online
The Texas AgrAbility program, in collaboration with Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, will present a free webinar for those interested in starting a rural natural resource-based business or wanting to supplement their farm or ranch income with an additional enterprise.

Trees for Livestock Food and Medicine
March 25, 2020
Online
This free webinar is offered by Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT). Steve Gabriel presents on medicinal and feed values trees can offer ruminant livestock. Willow, poplar, and black locust offer exciting opportunities in silvopasture systems. Learn about these trees and how to manage them in your landscape.

>>More Events

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

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New ATTRA Podcast
The PLFA Soil Test

Question of the Week
What species of lavender is suitable for Zone 5B?

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

Electric Deer Fencing with Kenny Simon
A video recording of the workshop that NCAT led on November 15, 2019, at Cobblestone Farms in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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