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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 21, 2010

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
* USDA Extends Sign-up for Emergency Assistance to Eligible Producers of
    Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish
* Mycotoxin Fact Sheet now Available
* Texas Organic Food Production, Marketing on the Rise
* Eastern Tent Caterpillar Numbers Up Again
* Agricultural Research Service Publishes Guide for Remote Solar Water
   Pumps
* Table Grapes' New Ally: Muscodor albus


Funding Opportunities
* Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships Grant
* Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Climate Change Grant
* Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council Common Fund


Coming Events
* National Organic Standards Board Meeting
* Production and Inventory Management Tools for Small Meat Processors
   and Marketers Webinar
* Ecological Restoration Workshop



News & Resources

USDA Extends Sign-up for Emergency Assistance to Eligible Producers of Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish
USDA has announced that it will accept applications for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses that took place in calendar years 2008 and 2009. ELAP sign-up ended on Dec.10, 2009, for 2008 losses and on Feb. 1, 2010, for 2009 losses. However, because of changes to program eligibility provisions, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is accepting late-filed applications for 2008 and 2009 livestock, honeybees, and/or farm-raised fish losses through May 5, 2010. In addition, the requirements to document losses for honeybee producers who suffered losses due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) were modified to allow documentation by an independent third party for losses in 2010 through Sept. 31, 2011.

Mycotoxin Fact Sheet now Available
A fact sheet about mycotoxin contamination of corn is now available from the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University (ISU). John Patience, associate professor of animal science, said he hopes pork producers, nutritionists and veterinarians will find the fact sheet helpful in understanding what mycotoxins are and how their presence in corn can affect swine. "The fact sheet explains the relationship between molds and mycotoxins, and provides vital information on how to detect, prevent, and in some cases, utilize contaminated corn," Patience said. "We want to provide practical management recommendations for corn growers, swine producers, nutritionists and veterinarians in the pork industry." In the publication, Patience and Steve Ensley of ISU College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine department explain how molds and mycotoxins can be related, and describe several common forms of each. A current listing of mycotoxin field test kit suppliers also is included.

Texas Organic Food Production, Marketing on the Rise
A growing health-conscious segment of the population is contributing to the increased demand for organic food products as retail sales in the U.S. have grown from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $21.1 billion in 2008, according to Extension economists. Economists with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service have noted growing trends related to organic food production across the Lone Star State as sales in 2008 totaled $149 million, according to an initial survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service. In Texas there are 342 farms that produce organic commodities on 314,000 acres, a majority on pasture or rangeland (242,000 acres), according to the statistics service. Organic foods coming from Texas include milk, peanuts, vegetables, potatoes, melons and cotton, said Dean McCorkle, AgriLife Extension economist.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Numbers Up Again
Experts report that eastern tent caterpillar numbers are up for the third consecutive year, although populations vary from location to location. According to Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture entomologist, now is the time to check wild cherry and related trees for eastern tent caterpillar activity to determine whether management is necessary. Controlling eastern tent caterpillars is vital to area horse farms, as UK research has strongly linked the caterpillars with outbreaks of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, which can cause late-term foal losses, early-term fetal losses and weak foals. During the 2001-2002 MRLS outbreak, an estimated 30 percent of that year's Thoroughbred foal crop was lost, and the state suffered an economic cost of approximately $336 million due to losses suffered in all breeds of horses.

Agricultural Research Service Publishes Guide for Remote Solar Water Pumps
A guide to choosing a solar water pump for remote (off-grid) applications has been published by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. For this guide, agricultural engineer Brian Vick and colleagues drew on the ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory's 31 years of testing stand-alone water pumps. The laboratory is located near Bushland, Texas. Vick found that for pumps with motors rated less than 1,500 watts, solar is usually the best choice. With current technology and costs, wind power or a hybrid wind/solar pump is usually best for power needs of 1,500 watts or more. Their guide offers case studies in the Bushland area, where wells are more than 230 feet deep. One example is a four-person household, for which they recommend a helical pump powered by a 500-watt photovoltaic (PV) array. To supply water to 150 head of beef cattle, they would use a helical pump powered by a 640 watt PV array. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Table Grapes' New Ally: Muscodor albus
A beneficial microbe called Muscodor albus may help protect fresh grapes from troublesome gray mold. Experiments conducted over the past several years by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologist Joseph L. Smilanick and his ARS and industry colleagues have shown that M. albus can combat Botrytis cinerea, the organism that causes gray mold. Gray mold can ruin the taste and appearance of fresh-market grapes, according to Smilanick. For organic growers, Botrytis is especially troublesome because these producers canít use the typical treatment, sulfur dioxide, to quell it. That's why, if commercialized, M. albus could benefit conventional and organic growers alike.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships Grant
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships program forges relationships between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and local grantmakers to fund promising, original projects that can significantly improve the health of vulnerable people in their communities.
Proposals are due June 30, 2010.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Climate Change Grant
For FY 2010, approximately $55 million is available to support the Climate Change Challenge Area within the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI.) In the Climate Change Challenge Area, specific program areas are designed to achieve the long-term outcome of mitigating and adapting to climate change in agriculture and forestry.
Proposals are due July 16, 2010.

Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council Common Fund
The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) is accepting grant applications for statewide and regional agricultural education initiatives across Minnesota. The Common Fund Grants Program will have up to $235,000 available in this fiscal year.
Proposals are due May 15, 2010.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

National Organic Standards Board Meeting
April 26-29, 2010
Woodland, California

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will meet April 26-29. NOSB committees will present recommendations to the full board for a vote concerning the use or prohibition of several substances.


Production and Inventory Management Tools for Small Meat Processors and Marketers Webinar
April 27
10am Pacific/1pm Eastern

This is the latest Webinar hosted by the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network. Please login at the website 10 minutes prior to start time.


Ecological Restoration Workshop
April 30-May 2, 2010
Red Canyon Reserve, New Mexico

The Quivira Coalition would like to invite you to attend our 2010 Ecological Restoration Workshop at Red Canyon Reserve. The workshop will build on previous treatments and offer you a chance to work directly with leading ecological restoration specialists as they try out innovative techniques in erosion control, stream-grade and stream-bank stabilization.


> More Events

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