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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 30, 2005

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

News & Resources
* Demand for Farmers' Markets Outstrips Farmers
* Annie's Project Aids Midwestern Farm Women
* Organic Seed Growers' Conference Call for Presentations
* Experimental Biotech Corn Seed Mistakenly Sold to Farmers
* Local Food Campaign is Model for Success
* Strong Demand for Organic Grain

Funding Opportunities
* Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Loan and Grant Program
* National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program Applied Plant Genomics Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP)
* Food Quality Protection Act Strategic Agricultural Initiative RFP

Coming Events
* Fine Tuning Your Grazing System
* Savannah Organic Weekend
* 3rd SAFSF Forum: Sustainable Food Systems

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News & Resources

Demand for Farmers' Markets Outstrips Farmers
Demand for local and organically grown vegetables is skyrocketing, and the number of farmers' markets is on the rise, but there may not be enough farmers to supply them, according to an article from The News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, posted on the Environmental News Network. The number of Illinois farmers' markets could rise this year from 157 to 200, if enough producers can be found to provide them with goods. The amount of produce grown in the state is currently only 3 percent of the amount consumed, according to the state's Department of Agriculture. Advocates of increasing local vegetable production say it's a market opportunity for farmers, especially when coupled with agritourism activities.
URL: http://enn.com/food.html?id=172

Annie's Project Aids Midwestern Farm Women
Since University of Illinois Extension agent Ruth Hambleton began Annie's Project in 2002, over 300 women in Illinois have participated in the project and it has spread to Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Indiana. Inspired by her own mother's struggles on the family farm, Hambleton developed the project to assist farm women in adopting new technologies and management techniques. The first phase of the project includes six weeks of general agricultural education that covers such things as financial training, ownership issues, risk management, life and property insurance, and training in Excel. Additional sessions focus on marketing grain and using financial management computer software programs.
URL: http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/stories/news3091.html

Organic Seed Growers' Conference Call for Presentations
The Organic Seed Growers' Conference has issued a call for proposals for presentations and posters for the second biennial conference. Farmers, students, researchers, and seed industry professionals are encouraged to submit a poster. Potential poster topics include: seed research or education projects, extension program, farming/harvesting/cleaning techniques, legal/ownership issues, seed distribution models, or other activities related to organic seed breeding, production, and marketing. Summary papers are not required for posters, but proposals for oral presentations should include an abstract. Proposals are due by June 1, 2005. Conference organizers are also looking for input on the conference agenda and are asking potential attendees to complete an online survey to help with this task. The conference will be held sometime in winter 2005-2006.
URL: http://www.seedalliance.org/index.php?page=Call-Presentations

Experimental Biotech Corn Seed Mistakenly Sold to Farmers
Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta AG mistakenly sold hundreds of tons of experimental genetically engineered corn seeds to U.S. buyers between 2001 and 2004, according to an AP article on Agri News. The unapproved seeds were planted in open fields for four years and in four states before Syngenta acknowledged the mistake. Federal investigators claim there was no health or environmental risk due to the seeds' similarities with another approved Syngenta product; critics say the breach shows the biotech industry cannot be trusted to keep genetically modified organisms from entering the food supply. The USDA is investigating the case.
URL: http://webstar.agrinews.com/agrinews/282901780440158.bsp

Local Food Campaign is Model for Success
Institutional food buyers in Northern Iowa doubled their food purchases from area farmers last year, primarily as a result of the region's Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign, reports the Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier. The campaign is part of the University of Northern Iowa's Local Food Project. The campaign, now in its third year, includes eight restaurants, one college, eight grocery stores, three retirement homes, and two hospitals. Collectively, those buyers spent more than $465,000 on dairy, meat, fruit, and vegetables grown in Cedar Valley last year. Several other communities have taken note of the program's success and have asked director Kamyar Enshayan to talk about the economic impacts of the program, as well as the practical aspects of matching growers and buyers.
URL: http://www.wcfcourier.com/articles/2005/03/20/news/...
Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

Strong Demand for Organic Grain
Demand for organic grain is at an all-time high and expected to continue to grow, reports USAgNet. The strong demand from livestock producers and food processors is driving record prices for organic grains, says the story. Organic grain demand is not only strong for conventional corn and soybean crops, but also for specialty crops such as flax and amaranth.
URL: http://www.indianaagconnection.com/
story-national.cfm?Id=324&yr=2005

Related ATTRA Publication: Marketing Organic Grains

For more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.

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Funding Opportunities

Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Loan and Grant Program
USDA has announced the availability of $22.8 million to support investments in renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements by agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Funds will be available to support a wide range of technologies encompassing biomass (including anaerobic digesters), geothermal, hydrogen, solar, and wind energy, as well as energy efficiency improvements. Of the funding, $11.4 million is available immediately for competitive grants. Renewable energy grant applications must be for a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $500,000. Energy efficiency grant applications may range from $2,500 to $250,000. The grant request may not exceed 25% of the eligible project cost. Applications must be submitted to the appropriate Rural Development State Office postmarked no later than June 27, 2005. The remaining $11.4 million will be set aside through August 31, 2005 for renewable energy and energy efficiency guaranteed loans.
URL: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB...

National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program Applied Plant Genomics Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP)
CSREES requests applications for the National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program – Applied Plant Genomics – Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2005 to engage the applied plant-sciences, both public and private, and involve them in the application of genome discoveries and technology to U.S. crop or forestry improvement. Approximately $5 million is available for awards under this solicitation. Integrated Project Grants and Conference Grants are both being offered. State agricultural experiment stations, all colleges and universities, research foundations maintained by colleges or universities, and private research organizations with established and demonstrated capacities to perform research or technology transfer are eligible to apply. Letters of intent to apply are requested by June 1, 2005, and proposals must be received by July 1, 2005.
URL: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/...

Food Quality Protection Act Strategic Agricultural Initiative RFP
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Multimedia Planning Division, Pesticides Section, Region VI, is requesting proposals that will help implement requirements of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and support the transition to using less and lower risk pesticides in food production. The program supports innovative efforts that enable growers to decrease reliance on agricultural pesticides while maintaining economical outcomes, by developing, demonstrating, and/or applying reduced risk alternatives and ecologically based integrated approaches to pest management. Region VI includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Estimated total program funding is $160,000. Proposals must be postmarked on or before May 27, 2005.
URL: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/nofas/2005/reeigp032805.html

For additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.

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Coming Events

Fine Tuning Your Grazing System: Understanding Soil, Water & Mineral Cycles & Community Dynamics
April 21, 2005
Saratoga, New York

Regional Farm & Food Project presents this workshop, where participants will learn new ways of looking at their farms in order to effectively maximize the conversion of sunlight into high quality plants with healthy soils and good grazing management. Sarah Flack will discuss grazing management strategies and livestock, and Heather Darby will discuss soil health and water cycles on the farm.
URL: http://www.farmandfood.org/RFFP Activities/workshops.htm

Savannah Organic Weekend
May 21-22, 2005
Savannah, Georgia

Georgia Organics will host the Second Annual Savannah Organic Weekend, showcasing healthy, local foods and including a Saturday film screening and discussion and an all-organic Sunday afternoon dinner.
URL: http://www.georgiaorganics.org/

3rd SAFSF Forum: Sustainable Food Systems
June 6-8, 2005
Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders working group is holding its 3rd annual forum, "A Recipe for Success! Sustainable Food Systems: Local Picture, National Perspective." Sessions address multi-cultural food systems, climate change, alternative energy, youth in farming, and more.
URL: http://www.safsf.org/

More events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.

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Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are now available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
URL: http://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageThe National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our sustainable agriculture projects.

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