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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 17, 2013

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 Proposes Simplified Application Process for Renewable Energy Funding
  • Conservation Stewardship Program Information Alert Issued
  • NOSB Rejects Extension of Oxytetracycline Use
  • Locavore Index Ranks States on Commitment to Local Foods
  • ERS Reports on Alternative Beef Production Systems
  • Online Grazing Publication Debuts

Funding Opportunities

  • Minnesota Wetland Restoration Projects
  • Arkansas Conservation Innovation Grant
  • North Carolina Specialty Crop Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Mother Earth News Fair
  • American Forage and Grassland Council National Tour
  • Grassfed Beef Conference

News & Resources

USDA Proposes Simplified Application Process for Renewable Energy Funding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a series of changes to make it easier for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for renewable-energy and energy-efficiency funding. The proposed changes would affect applications for loans and grants through USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). USDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through June 11, 2013.

Conservation Stewardship Program Information Alert Issued
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has issued a five-page Information Alert on the 2013 sign-up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The publication is available online as a PDF file. In addition to providing the timeline for the sign-up and enrollment process, the Alert includes basic sign-up information and describes changes made to the program for this sign-up, including new conservation enhancements being offered. Sign-up is expected to begin soon, and interested farmers and ranchers will have only 30 days to complete the initial application form to compete for a spot in the 2013 enrollment class for the program.

NOSB Rejects Extension of Oxytetracycline Use
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has rejected a petition to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to treat fire blight in apple and pear production beyond October 21, 2014. Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, and The Center for Food Safety issued a joint statement that calls the decision a victory for the organic standard and says it advances efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Locavore Index Ranks States on Commitment to Local Foods
Strolling of the Heifers has released its second annual Locavore Index, ranking the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of their commitment to local foods. The index incorporates farmers markets, consumer-supported agriculture operations, and food hubs in its per-capita comparison of consumers' interest in eating locally sourced foods. The top five states for locavorism, according to the index, are Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Iowa.

ERS Reports on Alternative Beef Production Systems
USDA Economic Research Service's new report, Alternative Beef Production Systems: Issues and Implications, notes that U.S. beef markets are undergoing rapid change as alternative production systems evolve in response to consumer demands and compete with conventional grain-fed beef production. The 34-page report examines the specific production technologies behind alternative production systems and products, including organic beef, grass-fed beef, and locally sourced products.
Related ATTRA Publication: Beef Marketing Alternatives

Online Grazing Publication Debuts
On Pasture, an online publication that translates research and experience into grazing practices that can be implemented right away, debuted in late March. Editors Rachel Gilker and Kathy Voth say they will be sifting through piles of research and grazing practices, translating them into ideas that can work for readers, and then putting together the simple steps for getting started. The inaugural issue is available free online.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Minnesota Wetland Restoration Projects
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is seeking applicants for approximately $5 million to restore wetlands and their adjacent uplands. Funding is available through a conservation easement sign-up and a request-for-proposal process. Wetland restorations will generate wetland credits, which will be used to offset impacts resulting from qualifying road improvement and rehabilitation projects.
Applications will be accepted through May 13, 2013.

Arkansas Conservation Innovation Grant
Approximately $250,000 is available through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies within Arkansas. State, tribal, and local governmental entities; non-governmental organizations; and individuals may apply for up to $75,000. For FY 2013, Arkansas NRCS will consider CIG in the following areas: nutrient management, integrated pest management, conservation technology transfer, energy conservation, high tunnels, organic, water quality, and drought.
Applications must be submitted by April 30, 2013.

North Carolina Specialty Crop Grant Program
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering approximately $1 million in grants for improving the competitiveness of specialty crops across the state. They will accept grant applications starting at $20,000 from nonprofit organizations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges, and universities.
Applications are due by April 26, 2013.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Mother Earth News Fair
June 1-2, 2013
Puyallup, Washington

Mother Earth News Fairs feature practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops on organic gardening, renewable energy, modern homesteading, and more. An extensive list of workshops and speakers is available online.

American Forage and Grassland Council National Tour
May 22-24, 2013
Syria, Virginia

The 2013 AFGC National Tour will bring together producers, scientists, and forage industry professionals from across the United States. Attendees will learn about the benefits of managed grazing systems, improved forage production systems, increased profitability, and more.

Grassfed Beef Conference
May 30-31, 2013
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is holding its third conference focused on grassfed beef production. Presentations will cover production and marketing topics relating to grassfed beef, including forage, cattle types, herd health, carcass fabrication, consumer expectations, economics, and sustainability.

>> More Events

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