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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 22, 2006

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.

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News & Resources
* Mad Cow Disease No Longer Front Page News
* Outdoor Poultry Concerns Oregon Agriculture Officials
* Shareholders Protest Industrial-Scale Organics
* Food Alliance Offers New Resource Guide
* Terra Madre 2006 Accepting Delegate Applications
* Exhibit Features Art from Farms

Funding Opportunities
* Farmers Market Promotion Program
* Southern SARE 2007 Research and Education Grant
* Children of Strawberry Workers Eligible for Scholarships

Coming Events
* Southwest Regional Hispanic Ranchers and Farmers Conference
* Putting Food Systems on the Urban Map
* Rural Action Landowners Conference

News & Resources

Mad Cow Disease No Longer Front Page News
A third case of Mad Cow Disease was confirmed in the United States by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week, but the discovery hasn't produced the national headlines that followed earlier detections, according to a survey by the news agency Reuters. A cow in southern Alabama was confirmed by the USDA on Monday to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as BSE or Mad Cow Disease. The sick cow, estimated to be about 10 years-old, was killed and buried on the farm; no body parts entered the human food chain. A veterinarian collected brain tissue samples for testing. It marks the third confirmed case in the U.S. in a 27-month period. According to Reuters, concerns about avian flu have kept the issue out of the major agriculture news headlines. Meanwhile, the USDA has defended its planned scale-back of testing for Mad Cow Disease. The online news service China View reports that the U.S. has had a long-range plan to reduce testing to a "maintenance" program. The USDA had ramped up testing following the first confirmed case in 2003. About 55 tests were performed per day in 2003; the level of testing jumped to about 1,000 tests per day in 2004. "By any stretch of the imagination, we have proven we have a very low incidence" of BSE, said Chuck Lambert, acting undersecretary of USDA. New proposed levels are expected to be about 110 tests per day. The USDA maintains a BSE Web page with recent information and background material.

Outdoor Poultry Concerns Oregon Agriculture Officials
Agriculture officials in many jurisdictions have expressed fears that poultry raised outdoors will be more vulnerable to avian influenza. An Associated Press article on Oregon Live reports that state animal health officials are making lists of people who keep chickens outdoors, to aid them in a planned educational campaign on preventing the spread of bird flu. Some chicken owners are concerned that officials want to prevent them from raising their own nutritious eggs, but officials say that knowing where chickens are kept would help control spread of the disease if it struck an area flock.

Shareholders Protest Industrial-Scale Organics
A group of shareholders within Dean Foods, a major U.S. marketer of organic dairy products, has challenged management to respond to criticism that industrial-scale organic dairies violate consumer trust and may violate USDA organic food labeling requirements. According to a recent release by the Cornucopia Institute, Dean Foods became the largest marketer of organic dairy products when it acquired Horizon, Alta Dena, and Organic Cow of Vermont. The Wisconsin-based farm policy institute last year filed a formal complaint with the USDA over farm practices at certain dairies in the West, alleging that cattle were maintained in feedlots rather than allowed access to open pasture. The dairies included some that sold product to Horizon. The protest is a continuation of a five-year debate within the organic industry over the introduction of large-scale factory-style dairy farms. According to the Cornucopia Institute, some farms milk as many as 5,000 cows per day. According to its Web site, Dean Foods is the nation's leading manufacturer of soymilk, organic milk, and other organic foods. In addition to Horizon, the company also owns Silk brand soymilk.

Food Alliance Offers New Resource Guide
Looking for sustainable agriculture products and producers in the Northwest? Check out the new resource guide produced by the Food Alliance. The Northwest Resource Guide (PDF) contains up-to-date information on certified products and producers, a directory of market partners, promotional materials, and much more. Food Alliance is a nonprofit organization working to increase sustainable agricultural practices through market incentives and education. Among its activities is a voluntary certification and eco-labeling program for environmentally responsible agricultural practices.

Terra Madre 2006 Accepting Delegate Applications
In October 2004, Slow Food held the first edition of Terra Madre, a forum for those who seek to grow, raise, catch, create, distribute, and promote food in ways that respect the environment, defend human dignity, and protect the health of consumers. The second edition of Terra Madre is set for October 26-30 in Turin, Italy. The event will expand and reinforce a growing network by introducing a number of new food communities—as well as delegations of cooks, academics, and researchers—who are interested in the production and consumption of food that is good, clean and fair, and who believe in supporting food communities that produce quality food. A food producer, cook, researcher, or academic representative must complete and submit a U.S. Terra Madre nomination form to be considered as a delegate. The deadline for application submissions is March 27, 2006.

Exhibit Features Art from Farms
A special exhibit at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington, features art inspired by Pacific Northwest farms. American Farmland Trust's Pacific Northwest office helped match 12 artists with farm families who hosted them while the artists worked to document the environmentally-friendly conservation practices on those farms. The artists have portrayed in words, images and art the complex intersection of U.S. agriculture and societal issues. Their works are on exhibit at the Maryhill Museum from March 15-July 30, 2006, as "Sustaining Change on the American Farm: An Artist-Farmer Exchange," a joint venture between American Farmland Trust and the Maryhill Museum of Art with support from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, West Coast Wealth Advisors and New Seasons Market.

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Funding Opportunities

Farmers Market Promotion Program
The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) was created through a recent amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976. The grants, authorized by the FMPP, are targeted to help improve and expand domestic farmers' markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Approximately $1 million is allocated for Fiscal Year 2006 for the FMPP, with the requirement that the maximum amount awarded for any one proposal cannot exceed $75,000. Entities eligible to apply include agricultural cooperatives, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public health corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and Tribal government.
Proposals are due May 1, 2006.

Southern SARE 2007 Research and Education Grant
The Southern Region USDA Program on Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is requesting pre-proposals for research and education activities that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the region and nation. Each proposal must address one of the priority areas identified by the SARE Administrative Council: 1) limited resource farmers; 2) organic farming systems; 3) environmentally sound practices/agricultural ecosystems; 4) marketing/economic development; 5) policy, program evaluation, and quality of life; 6) component research; and 7) women in sustainable agriculture. The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A pre-proposal must be submitted online.
Proposals are due June 1, 2006.

Children of Strawberry Workers Eligible for Scholarships
The California Strawberry Growers’ Scholarship Program focuses on high school seniors who are children of strawberry field workers currently employed or who have been employed over at least two consecutive seasons in the California strawberry growing regions of Watsonville/Salinas, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Orange County/San Diego, and Fresno. The one-year scholarship allocations are awarded on merit and applied toward full-time status at a four-year college/university, junior college, or accredited trade school. Applicants must be sponsored by a legitimate California strawberry grower for verification of eligibility in the program. Instructions and application forms are available at any Farm Bureau office, from the student’s high school academic advisor, by contacting the California Strawberry Commission, or by emailing dgarcia@calstrawberry.org.
Proposals are due April 21, 2006.

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Coming Events

Southwest Regional Hispanic Ranchers and Farmers Conference
April 30 - May 3, 2006
Endinburg, Texas

"Sustaining Border Region Agriculture through Risk Management" is the conference theme. Topics covered will include USDA programs for small and minority producers, specialty crops, value-added products, and risk management.

Putting Food Systems on the Urban Map
May 10, 17, 24 and June 7, 2006
New York, New York

The Baum Forum and the Department of Continuing Education and Public Programs, The Graduate Center, CUNY, present a four-session program that will focus on urban and community-based food systems in New York City and the emerging field of food system planning. Topics will include: community food assessments, resource mapping, wholesale and retail farmers’ markets, youth in urban agriculture, innovative food bank programs, farm
-to-school initiatives, and food policy councils.

Rural Action Landowners Conference
June 2-4, 2006
Hocking Hills, Ohio

This 8th annual conference focuses on income opportunities for farms, forests, and communities. This is an opportunity to learn from other landowners who have tried new things and learned resourceful ways to earn supplemental income while maintaining their ties to the land. Specialists will also be on hand to teach workshops and work with you to hone in on your ideas for using your land to benefit you and your family.

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