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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 17, 2019

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

News & Resources

  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Offers Information to Help with CSP Sign-Up
  • Census of Agriculture Results Announced
  • Limits Increase on USDA Farm Loans
  • Low-Impact Solar Development Incorporates Other Land Uses
  • Windbreak Bibliography Available Online
  • Southern Wisconsin Livestock Producers Identify Processing Needs

Funding Opportunities

  • Western SARE Research & Education Grants
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
  • Michigan Value-Added Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Strolling of the Heifers
  • Chestnut Growers of America Annual Meeting
  • Georgia Farm to School and Early Care and Education Summit

News & Resources

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Offers Information to Help with CSP Sign-Up
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has released an Information Alert on the 2019 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up opportunity. The 17-page publication explains updates to the CSP program and provides producers with detailed instructions on completing the sign-up process. NSAC is notifying farmers that they must file an initial application before May 10, 2019, for enrollment in the program during Fiscal Year 2019.

Census of Agriculture Results Announced
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Among key findings were that both farm numbers and land in farms have continued to decline. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. In addition, the average age of farmers and ranchers continues to rise. Average farm income is $43,053, but just 43.6% of farms had positive net cash farm income in 2017.

Limits Increase on USDA Farm Loans
The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow as direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) and made changes to other loans financed and serviced by FSA. The Direct Operating Loan limit increased to $400,000, and the Guaranteed Operating Loan limit increased to $1.75 million. In addition, the Farm Ownership Loan limit increased to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased to $1.75 million. Producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan.
Related ATTRA Publication: Financing Your Farm: Guidance for Beginning Farmers

Low-Impact Solar Development Incorporates Other Land Uses
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has posted an update on the Innovative Site Preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment (InSPIRE) project that is exploring benefits and barriers of low-impact solar development. Low-impact solar incorporates other land uses, such as pollinator habitat and agricultural uses ranging from grazing to vegetable production. Having vegetation in place can make solar panels perform better, while shade from solar panels can improve the water efficiency of vegetable production.
Related ATTRA Publication: Locally Owned Renewable Energy Facilities

Windbreak Bibliography Available Online
A new Windbreak (Shelterbelts) Bibliography is available online through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The bibliography of scientific literature on windbreak-related research references more than 500 papers, and new citations are added on a regular basis. It is searchable by title, author, year of publication, or keywords.

Southern Wisconsin Livestock Producers Identify Processing Needs
Livestock producers in southwest Wisconsin received a SARE grant to help them explore opportunities in local meat processing, reports Agri-View. They conducted a feasibility study for a cooperatively owned, federally licensed, and women-farmer-led mobile slaughtering unit and/or retail butcher establishment. A survey of 80 livestock producers in a three-county area revealed that producers would be likely to increase their business if local slaughtering capacity increased.
Related ATTRA Publication: Working with Your Meat Processor

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Western SARE Research & Education Grants
Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is accepting pre-proposals for Research & Education Grants. Projects should addresses a critical need in sustainable agriculture in the Western region. Projects must contain both research and education components and involve agricultural producers in planning, design, implementation, and educational outreach. Total funds requested may not exceed $350,000 over three years.
Pre-proposals are due May 28, 2019.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). This program supports the delivery of education, mentoring, and technical-assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers with entering, establishing, building, and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises. Standard grants, Educational Team grants, and funding for a Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse are available. Applications may only be submitted by a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of qualified public and/or private entities. Approximately $14 million is available.
Applications are due by May 16, 2019.

Michigan Value-Added Grant Program
Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) is offering grants to promote the expansion of value-added agriculture production, processing, and access and to enhance Michigan's food and agriculture industry. MDARD will accept proposals to establish, retain, expand, attract, and/or develop value-added agricultural processing in Michigan; expand or develop regional food systems; or expand access to healthy food. Projects will be awarded a maximum of $125,000, and applicants must provide a minimum 30% match.
Proposals are due May 8, 2019.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Strolling of the Heifers
June 7-9, 2019
Brattleboro, Vermont
This year's theme is "Farmers Are Our Heroes." The weekend includes the annual parade, a Slow Living Expo and farmers market, the Farmers Breakfast featuring local food, the Tour de Heifer bike tour, and guided farm tours.

Chestnut Growers of America Annual Meeting
June 7-9, 2019
Hickory Corners, Michigan
This event includes presentations on research, management, marketing, and policy, followed by field tours on the second day.

Georgia Farm to School and Early Care and Education Summit
June 7-8, 2019
Macon, Georgia
The Summit welcomes early-care providers and staff, teachers, school nutrition staff, students, parents, farmers, distributors, and others interested in learning more about Georgia's farm to ECE and farm to school community.

>>More Events

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