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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 26, 2014

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • USDA Announces Growth of U.S. Organic Industry, Updates List of Certified Organic Operations
  • New Resource Introduces Food Industry to Regional Food Hubs
  • Farm Bill Modifications to Farm Loan Program Detailed
  • New England Food Policy Report Released
  • Research Reveals True Value of Cover Crops
  • 'Maple Water' New Potential Product for Forest Owners

Funding Opportunities

  • North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program
  • Minnesota Crop Research Grant Program
  • Water Bank Program

Coming Events

  • New York Nut Growers Association Meeting
  • The Business of Season Extension Farming
  • Climate Change and Horse Keeping Conference

News & Resources

USDA Announces Growth of U.S. Organic Industry, Updates List of Certified Organic Operations
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the organic industry continues to grow. Through the National Organic Program, USDA helped 763 producers become certified organic in 2013, for a total of 18,513 certified organic farms and businesses in the United States. Certified organic operations appear in the updated List of Certified USDA Organic Operations maintained by the National Organic Program.

New Resource Introduces Food Industry to Regional Food Hubs
The Wallace Center has released a new report, Food Hubs: Solving Local, designed to introduce a broader food-industry audience to regional food hubs. The report presents five case studies that show how small-farm aggregators and food retailers and distributors are teaming up to bring local food into larger-scale wholesale channels. The report encourages retailers and food service companies to get acquainted with hubs in their territories as a first step in developing programs for sourcing local food.

Farm Bill Modifications to Farm Loan Program Detailed
USDA has announced that 2014 Farm Bill modifications to the Farm Loan Program have created greater flexibility in determining eligibility, increased loan limits, and emphasized opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged producers. The modifications are described in a USDA Fact Sheet available online.

New England Food Policy Report Released
American Farmland Trust, Conservation Law Foundation, and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group have released New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System. The report identifies policies that are helping New England grow its capacity to feed itself, policies that are hindering this growth, gaps in the existing policy framework, and opportunities for new policies to strengthen the food system.

Research Reveals True Value of Cover Crops
Penn State researchers have determined that the value of cover crops to farmers and the environment is even greater than previously thought. Their research, published in Agricultural Systems, quantified eight ecosystem-services benefits of cover crops, including increased carbon and nitrogen in soils, erosion prevention, more mycorrhizal colonization, and weed suppression.

'Maple Water' New Potential Product for Forest Owners
With assistance from Cornell University, Feronia Forests has developed a new beverage product that it will release nationwide in April. Called "Vertical Water," the drink is shelf-stable maple sap. Members of the New York Maple Producers Association are supplying sap for the first batches. Feronia's managing director notes that the new product could represent untapped income potential for forestland owners.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program
This program provides funds to students who are exploring some aspect of sustainable agriculture as part of their educational program and are enrolled in graduate programs or veterinary medicine residence programs at accredited colleges or universities. In 2014, $150,000 will be available to fund about 15 projects in the North Central Region.
Proposals are due by May 6, 2014.

Minnesota Crop Research Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is seeking applicants for $1.3 million in competitive grants for applied crop research focusing on improving agricultural product quality, quantity, and value. The maximum grant award will be $250,000. Any Minnesota organization, research entity, individual, or business with agricultural research capability is eligible to apply.
Applications must be received by April 28, 2014.

Water Bank Program
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide $3.6 million in financial assistance for Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota farmers and ranchers to help conserve wetlands and improve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Applications are due by April 18, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

New York Nut Growers Association Meeting
April 26, 2014
Riverhead, New York

This free event will cover growing nut trees in a wooded area, proper pruning techniques, chestnut potential in North America, nut trees in nursery and landscaping operations, and enlarging a hobby nut tree planting into a marketing cooperative. Participants will tour a nut tree farm and see demonstrations of pruning and hazelnut layering.

The Business of Season Extension Farming Class
April 11-12, April 25-26, or May 2-3, 2014
Reno, Pahrump, or Elko, Nevada

The High Desert Farming Initiative is presenting two-day classes on the tools needed for a successful season-extension farming operation. The class addresses production methods, financial planning, and low-cost marketing techniques.

Climate Change and Horse Keeping Conference
April 25, 2014
Auburn, Washington

The King Conservation District and Horses for Clean Water are holding this conference. Experts will discuss potential impacts of climate change on the Pacific Northwest environment and agricultural community, as well as how these impacts can be managed for land and horses.

>> More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Putting a Hand on Them - How to Tell When Your Lamb is Finished

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