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Weekly Harvest Newsletter


Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 19, 2008

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
* Organic Industry Plans Standard Aimed at Addressing GMO Contamination
* Illinois Program Hosting Interactive Sustainable Agriculture Website
* Hoophouse and High Tunnel Online Video conference Launches Series
* Website Connects Indiana Farmers and Consumers
* Study Reports On-Farm Costs of Switchgrass Production
* State Milk Labeling Rules Opposed By Organic Trade Association


Funding Opportunities
* Organic Research and Education Grants
* NRI: Agricultural Prosperity for Small & Medium Sized Farms
* Food and Nutrition Research Program 2008 Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreement Program


Coming Events
* All Things Organic™ Conference and Trade Show
* Piedmont Farm Tour
* Targeted Grazing Workshop



News & Resources

Organic Industry Plans Standard Aimed at Addressing GMO Contamination
Organic industry leaders fear that contamination of organic products with genetically modified organisms could threaten their markets, according to a Reuters story. Industry leaders will roll out a testing and standard certification plan aimed at addressing GMO contamination this week, seeking to have the organic industry agree on testing requirements and standards. Products that comply with the standards would be marketed under a seal of certification. Increasing contamination of conventional crops with GMO crops is being reported, and this is a concern for organic producers of both crops and livestock. Proponents of the new program say current USDA organic requirements are not adequate to ensure that food is free of genetic contamination.

Illinois Program Hosting Interactive Sustainable Agriculture Website
The University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program has created an interactive sustainable agriculture website, reports Illinois Ag Connection. Site visitors can quickly sign up to be members by providing their names and e-mail addresses, and members can then post information or opinions on the site. The program anticipates that the site will become a repository of information on sustainable agriculture research at U of I, and will also offer a forum for people to post events, opportunities, or opinions.

Hoophouse and High Tunnel Online Videoconference Launches Series
Purdue University is joining Michigan State University, University of Illinois, and Ohio State University to offer an interactive organic and sustainable agriculture video conference series presented by researchers, organic farmers, and extension educators. The series is sponsored by Cooperative Extension Services at Purdue University, University of Illinois, The Ohio State University, and Michigan State University, and also supported by funding from USDA's NCR Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The first installment in the series is "Hoophouses and High Tunnels," which will air with live streaming video on the evening of March 20. The conference will be archived online and available for free viewing for several weeks after the program.

Website Connects Indiana Farmers and Consumers
Indiana has become the latest state to unveil a MarketMaker website that will connect consumers, agricultural businesses and farmers, providing a one-stop shop to locate locally grown food products. Indiana MarketMaker currently has more than 150 farm enterprises listed, with more farmers and food businesses registering each day. The Web site is free to consumers, farmers and businesses. Consumers can search for dairy products, fruit and nuts, grains, herbs, meat, vegetables, and specialty products like honey from a variety of sources. MarketMaker users can narrow or expand their search using a variety of methods. Users can post requests or offer products for sale in a "Buy-Sell Forum."

Study Reports On-Farm Costs of Switchgrass Production
The on-farm cost of producing switchgrass for cellulosic ethanol averages about $60 per ton, according to a new study by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural economist and others. The study, which contracted 10 farmers in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota to grow switchgrass commercially for five years, gives a real-life look to farmers interested in growing and contracting switchgrass. The joint USDA-Agricultural Research Service and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources study will be published in the March issue of BioEnergy Research.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Switchgrass as a Bioenergy Crop


State Milk Labeling Rules Opposed By Organic Trade Association
The Organic Trade Association (OTA), the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, has posted an update regarding its response to state proposals to change milk labeling rules. OTA reports that in recent months it has been working closely with consumer, dairy and other industry stakeholders to help counteract measures proposed in various states that would interfere with organic milk producers' rights to make truthful labeling claims concerning their production practices and consumers' rights to know how the milk they purchase is produced. Several OTA fact sheets related to the issue have been posted, including OTA testimony submitted to Ohio March 12, regarding that state's proposed labeling regulations.

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Funding Opportunities

Organic Research and Education Grants
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has issued its Request for Proposals for organic research and education projects for Spring and Fall 2008 grants. OFRF offers funds for research on any topic that will improve organic production systems, and for education and outreach projects to share organic farming information with current organic producers and to farmers and ranchers considering transitioning their operations to organic. Proposals may request awards of up to $15,000 per year ($20,000 for fruit projects). Multi-year funding will be considered for fruit projects.
Proposals are due July 15, 2008.

NRI: Agricultural Prosperity for Small & Medium Sized Farms
One component of the National Research Initiative is the Agricultural Prosperity for Small & Medium Sized Farms Program. Proposals for this program must be "integrated," i.e. contain at least two of three functions: research, outreach, and education. This year the program is highlighting involvement of Extension personnel & curriculum development that involves K-12 teachers. The program also encourages applications on sustainable biofuel production.
Proposals are due June 5, 2008.

Food and Nutrition Research Program 2008 Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreement Program
USDA Economic Research Service's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program is now accepting proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2008. The three priority research areas are (1) Food Choices: Economic Determinants and Consequences, (2) Economic Incentives in Food Assistance Programs, and (3) Food Assistance as an Economic Safety Net. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 2008 is approximately $2 million.
Proposals are due May 19, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

All Things Organic™ Conference and Trade Show
April 26-29, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

The All Things Organic™ Conference and Trade Show gives chain and independent retailers, manufacturers, distributors, chefs and foodservice establishments access to organic companies and certified organic products. This show is packed with the tools and information you need to differentiate your business and achieve your financial objectives.


Piedmont Farm Tour
April 19-20, 2008
Hillsborough, Carboro, and Pittsboro North Carolina

Join Carolina Farm Stewardship Association on the 13th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour. Participants purchase a button and have the option of visiting as many of 35 open farms as they want, during two afternoons. Participating farms are organized into three regions, and visitors are encouraged to choose a region and plan to visit up to 5 farms per day, to connect with local food producers. The North region includes farms north of Hillsborough, the Central region includes farms in the Carboro area, and the South region features farms around Pittsboro.


Targeted Grazing Workshop
April 17-18, 2008
Boise, Idaho

Targeted grazing represents the application of a specific kind of livestock, at a determined season, duration, and intensity to accomplish defined vegetation and landscape enhancement goals. Please join vegetation management experts, agency managers and contract grazers to learn the techniques to implement a targeted grazing program.


> More Events

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