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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 24, 2010

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
* Pollinator Toolkit Available for Organic Farmers
* New Website Links Midwest Farmers with Land
* Partnership To Study Climate Impacts on Ecosystems
* Report Shows Increase in Food System Energy Use
* Organic Initiative Sign-up Extended in Some States
* Video Highlights Study of Perennial Plant Water Use

Funding Opportunities
* Florida Organic Cost Share
* Wisconsin Producers First Grant
* Alabama Environmental Education Grant

Coming Events
* Grazing Workshop
* Alcorn State University Small Farmers Conference
* Ag Entrepreneurship Workshop

News & Resources

Pollinator Toolkit Available for Organic Farmers
Organic farming offers many benefits to pollinators but some common organic-approved pesticides and practices can be potentially just as harmful to bees and other pollinators as conventional farming systems. The Xerces Society has developed Organic Farming for Bees (PDF / 3.6M), a tool kit for organic growers that includes guidance on how to minimize disturbance to pollinators from farm activities, and on how to provide nest sites and foraging patches. In particular, two fact sheets provide information on toxicity to native pollinators for all major organic-approved insecticides and about pollinator-friendly organic farming practices.

New Website Links Farmers with Land
The Land Connection has launched a new website, www.midwestfarmconnection.org. The purpose of this website is to connect retiring farmers in the midwest with young or aspiring farmers who are looking for land to farm using sustainable techniques.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Finding Land to Farm

Partnership To Study Climate Impacts on Ecosystems
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) created a joint research program to study climate effects on ecosystems. The program designates nearly $50 million to develop climate system models that provide insights on climate variability and impacts on ecosystems. The program seeks proposals that couple climate models at different spatial and temporal scales to erosion, geomorphic change, land use, water management and food production.

Report Shows Increase in Food System Energy Use
Energy is used throughout the U.S. food supply chain, from the manufacture and application of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation, through crop and livestock production, processing, and packaging; distribution services, such as shipping and cold storage; the running of refrigeration, preparation, and disposal equipment in food retailing and foodservice establishments; and in home kitchens. A new USDA-ERS analysis using the two most recent U.S. benchmark input-output accounts and a national energy data system shows that in the United States, use of energy along the food chain for food purchases by or for U.S. households increased between 1997 and 2002 at more than six times the rate of increase in total domestic energy use.

Organic Initiative Sign-up Extended in Some States
The cut-off date for the 2010 Organic Initiative sign-up was last Friday, March 12, in most states. At least eight states, however, have extended the 2010 sign-up period. The Organic Initiative is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and provides funds to organic and transitioning farmers to implement conservation practices consistent with National Organic Program practice standards.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Accessing the EQIP Organic Initiative

Video Highlights Study of Perennial Plant Water Use
Researchers at Iowa State University are looking at how perennials (plants that continue growing from year-to-year from the same roots) might be used within annual corn and soybean cropping systems to cope with weather extremes such as more frequent droughts or flooding. The team hopes that their findings will show how to manage the variations in seasonal water use by different plants as well as document how diversified systems can lead to long-term improvements in water and soil quality. The project is supported by the Ecology Initiative of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture through a long-term investment begun in 2007.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Florida Organic Cost Share
Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. (FOG) is accepting applications from certified organic growers and handlers located in Florida for reimbursement of up to 75 percent of certification costs, or a maximum of $750. Reimbursement for certification costs paid between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 29, 2010 will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are depleted. The deadline for submitting applications is Oct. 15, 2010.
Proposals are due October 15, 2010.

Wisconsin Producers First Grant
The Wisconsin Producers First Grant Program supports small-midsized farms who need technical assistance. Successful applicants will identify a need for technical assistance and receive up to $3000 to hire a consultant to meet that need. Examples of technical assistance include but are not limited to: business planning, accounting and financial organization, packaging and label development, whole farm planning, food safety, grant writing assistance, market development, and cooperative development.
Proposals are due April 19, 2010.

Alabama Environmental Education Grant
Alabama Legacy provides environmental education grants annually through the Competitive Grants Program. Funds for this program are allocated specifically to help create environmentally responsible citizens through education. Any Alabama organization planning a community based environmental program is encouraged to apply.
Proposals are due April 30, 2010.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Grazing Workshop
March 30, 2010
Ames, Iowa

As the saying goes, it’s not “your father’s kind of grazing.” The latest in grazing techniques will be the focus of a workshop sponsored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Iowa Native Lands. The workshop will feature recent findings about grazing goats, bison and cattle on native vegetation in prairies, public lands and conservation easements.

Alcorn State University Small Farmers Conference
March 29-31, 2010
Jackson, Mississippi

This statewide conference continues to focus on creative new on-farm enterprises, marketing strategies and business opportunities.

Ag Entrepreneurship Workshop
March 31, 2010
Fairplay, Maryland

This program will feature farmers and educators sharing tips and information about enterprises, practices, and trends that hold sound potential for profitability.

> More Events

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New Biodiesel Webinaroil in jar
Farm-Scale Biodiesel Production: Taxes and Financial Incentives. This free webinar is the third in a series on farm-scale biodiesel production. Register now for the April 8th webinar, which will be broadcast at 1PM MDT.

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