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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 16, 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
* Publication on Organic Farming and Climate Change Released
* Global Organic Statistics Compiled
* Lawsuit Challenges EPA to Stop Use of Four Organophosphate Pesticides
* Illinois Program Promotes Sustainable, Healthy Foods for Children
* Scientists Consider Produce Irradiation for Food Safety
* Carbon Impact of Livestock Debated in UK


Funding Opportunities
* Northeast SARE Research & Education Grant Program
* Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team Grant
* BioAg Program Request for Proposals


Coming Events
* Energy on the Farm: A Toolkit for Taking Control of Energy Bills
* Product Costing Workshops for Iowa Meat Processors
* Agroforestry Training Workshop for Natural Resource Professionals



News & Resources

Publication on Organic Farming and Climate Change Released
The International Trade Centre has published a new report entitled Organic Farming and Climate Change (PDF/1.3MB). This publication concludes that organic agriculture has much to offer in both mitigation of climate change through its emphasis on closed nutrient cycles and is a particularly resilient and productive system for adaptation strategies. It also raises the issue of whether organic agriculture should be eligible for carbon credits under voluntary carbon offsetting markets and the Clean Development Mechanism.

Global Organic Statistics Compiled
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the Foundation Ecology and Agriculture (SÍL) have compiled the latest statistics about organic agriculture worldwide in The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2008. The study shows that 30.4 million hectares are currently certified according to organic standards (data as at the end of 2006). Australia continues to account for the largest certified organic surface area, with 12.3 million hectares, followed by China (2.3 million hectares), Argentina (2.2 million hectares) and the USA (1.6 million hectares). In terms of certified land under organic management as a proportion of national agricultural area, Austria (13%) and Switzerland (12%) top the statistics. According to the report, the global market for organic products reached a value of 38.6 billion US Dollars in 2006, with the vast majority of products being consumed in North America and Europe.

Lawsuit Challenges EPA to Stop Use of Four Organophosphate Pesticides
A coalition of farmworker advocates and environmental groups filed a lawsuit April 4 against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the continued use of four deadly organophosphate pesticides. The four organophosphates at issue in the case are methidathion, oxydemeton-methyl, methamidophos, and ethoprop. They are used primarily in California on a wide variety of fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. The lawsuit was brought by Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice on behalf of Pesticide Action Network North America, United Farm Workers, Teamsters Local 890 in California, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Beyond Pesticides, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee of the AFL-CIO.

Illinois Program Promotes Sustainable, Healthy Foods for Children
Seven Generations Ahead (SGA), an advocacy group in Illinois, is promoting environmental sustainability and healthy eating habits in the youngest Americans. The group offers a comprehensive "farm-to-school" program called Fresh from the Farm. "Fresh from the Farm is very focused on promoting healthy eating habits among children," SGA founder Gary Cuneen said. "We're trying to connect children to the earth and the source of their food, and in the process, teach them the link between nurturing their bodies with healthy food and nurturing the environment through growing food in ecologically healthy ways." Seven Generation's Fresh from the Farm program reconnects students, parents, and teachers in the Chicago metro area with the joy, value and importance of eating a well-balanced and healthy diet. The group teaches children the health and environmental benefits of eating fresh, locally grown and organic food. Illinois Ag Connection reports recent program evaluations show that students' knowledge about healthy eating and locally grown foods has increased significantly, and parents and students are reporting greater awareness about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and are reporting increased consumption of healthy foods as well.

Scientists Consider Produce Irradiation for Food Safety
USDA scientists presenting at the recent American Chemical Society conference said irradiation could destroy E. coli inside fruits and vegetables, where conventional washing treatments won't reach, reports The Los Angeles Times. They say that using the process on fruits and vegetables could be key to destroying pathogens and improving food safety. Using irradiation on produce is meeting with some skepticism, according to the article, because it could add processing time, might decrease shelf life, and may not be accepted by consumers. In addition, produce that is irradiated cannot be sold as organic.

Carbon Impact of Livestock Debated in UK
Groups in the United Kingdom are debating the climate change impact associated with livestock production, according to coverage in the Farmers Guardian. After a group called Sustain advised consumers to reduce their intake of meat and dairy products to reduce carbon footprints, Camden Council removed meat and dairy products from its menu choices. Meanwhile the National Farmers' Union responded with a defense of livestock production's effect on greenhouse emissions, saying that current impact calculations fail to consider the carbon-mitigating and other environmental benefits of keeping land in pasture for livestock, and the organic fertilizer that livestock contributes to other crop production.

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Research & Education Grant Program
The Northeast Region SARE program seeks proposals for research, education and on-farm demonstration projects. The program emphasis is on projects that lead directly to improved farming practices and an enhanced quality of life for farmers and rural communities. Anyone can apply, but a preproposal is required. Project activities and project impact must occur within the Northeast SARE region, which is made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington D.C.
Proposals are due May 31, 2008.

Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team Grant
The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), via the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Southwest Regional Development Commission, seek to provide limited financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. CERTs now have over $150,000 to distribute across greater Minnesota for clean energy or energy efficiency projects, typically in the amount of $5,000 per grant. These mini-grants are for labor only to help keep the dollars circulating within local communities and are intended to leverage community resources and interest around projects that increase energy efficiency or create renewable energy.
Proposals are due April 18, 2008.

BioAg Program Request for Proposals
The Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) Biologically-Intensive Agriculture and Organic Farming (BIOAg) program builds sustainable agriculture for healthy farms, communities, & ecosystems by fostering the development, understanding, and use of biologically-intensive & organic strategies. BIOAg has issued a Request for Proposals offering $400,000 for projects by Washington State University faculty, including collaboration between research, extension, and teaching faculty, and non-WSU entities. Proposals will be accepted for BioAg, integrated, outreach mini-grants, learning site, or education projects.
Proposals are due May 19, 2008.

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Coming Events

Energy on the Farm: A Toolkit for Taking Control of Energy Bills
May 29, 2008
Shavertown, Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Piedmont Biofuels, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) are pleased to announce a full day workshop on farm energy audits and biodiesel production and use. The day will begin with an introduction to biodiesel production presented by Piedmont Biofuels. This field day will also focus on emphasizing farm energy audits as a means for farmers to explore potential energy savings. A tour of The Lands at Hillside Farms and its milk processing facility will demonstrate how farmers can benefit from an energy audit. Information on how to have an energy audit performed on your farm will be provided along with a description of what resources are available to improve energy efficiency in your operation.


Product Costing Workshops for Iowa Meat Processors
June 11, 2008
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Participants will receive individual, hands-on instruction to evaluate cash flow and product profitability. They will learn how to use software to help them determine product costs and custom processing rates for maximum profitability in their operations. The workshops are supported in part by the Small Meat Processors Working Group, a member of the Value Chain Partnerships project coordinated by the Leopold Center.


Agroforestry Training Workshop for Natural Resource Professionals
June 5, 2008
Lanesboro, Minnesota

This training-workshop is intended for professionals in forestry, agriculture and natural resources within the State and Federal Government Agencies, University Extension, Non-Profit, and Professional Organizations who deal with land management issues and/or interact with farmers and landowners. This workshop will enhance and improve the capacity and understanding by natural resource managers of the design and application of agroforestry practices as natural resource management and sustainable agriculture options.


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