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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 23, 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
* Seattle Progressing with Local Food Action Initiative
* Local Food Cooperative Software Available Online
* Resource Available for Small Meat Processors
* ARS Releases New Purple Vetch for Northern U.S.
* Food Facts Resource Available
* University to Create Sustainable, Organic Agriculture Programs

Funding Opportunities
* Western SARE Graduate Student Grant
* National Good Food Network RFP
* Conservation Effects Assessment Project

Coming Events
* IFOAM Organic World Congress
* Organic Pecan & Fruit Orchard Field Day
* Agriculture and the Environment: Achieving Balance

News & Resources

Seattle Progressing with Local Food Action Initiative
Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin has introduced a resolution for a Local Food Action Initiative. Resolution #31019 will establish goals, create a policy framework, and identify specific actions to strengthen Seattle’s food system sustainability and security. The Seattle City Council Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee held an informational meeting on local food policy April 11, and a meeting to accept public comment on the initiative on April 16. The resolution is to be voted on by the Seattle City Council in April or May.

Local Food Cooperative Software Available Online
Oklahoma Food Cooperative announces a new website for its Local Food Cooperative Management System software. Version 1.4.2 of the software has just been released. This software operates on an order cycle. Producers and farmers can log in and add products for sale to their product catalog at any time. During a designated time, cooperative members place orders for available products, and producers coordinate order fulfillment. This online system is available free under the general public license system. It can be downloaded online, but is not a "plug-and-play" system.

Resource Available for Small Meat Processors
The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development recently released the Iowa Meat Processors' Resource Guidebook: A Guide to Building, Upgrading or Expanding a Small Meat Processing Facility (PDF/1.5MB). The book is a result of the Small Meat Processors Working Group's discussions, research, and hands-on work with individual meat processors. Iowa Ag Connection reports the guidebook examines areas where small meat processing plants struggle: business planning and feasibility, financing and financial assistance, plant design, plant construction, labor, and government rules and regulations.

ARS Releases New Purple Vetch for Northern U.S.
USDA Agricultural Research Service geneticist and breeder Thomas Devine and collaborators have released "Purple Bounty," the first winter-hardy, early-flowering vetch for the northern United States. Until now, hairy vetch—a cover crop and weed-suppressing mulch favored particularly by organic farmers—had limited use north of Maryland because it copes poorly with northern winters. But Purple Bounty has survived winters as far north as upstate New York. It flowers two weeks earlier than a commonly used variety, allowing farmers to plant their main crop earlier in spring and use corn and tomato varieties that require a longer growing season. Limited quantities of seed should be available for planting in 2008, with commercial quantities available in 2009.

Food Facts Resource Available
"Food Facts: Results from Marketing and Food Systems Research" summarizes the findings of the Leopold Center's research, demonstrations, studies and surveys in this rapidly growing area where food culture, economics and environmental issues intersect. Since 2001, the Leopold Center has invested $1.6 million in 80 projects as part of its Marketing and Food Systems Research Initiative. Users of the new resource will see key findings from work supported by the Leopold Center. The results are categorized by type of project, from food miles and place-based research to research on niche meat markets, transaction costs and various aspects of the grape and wine industry. The resource is designed for use by farmers, food entrepreneurs, local food system practitioners and other researchers.

University to Create Sustainable, Organic Agriculture Programs
The University of Minnesota has approved a plan that will create new resources and programs for sustainable and organic agriculture. "The University is committed to meeting the needs of all of agriculture and that includes sustainable and organic farming," said Beverly Durgan, Dean of University of Minnesota Extension. "There are growing opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture and we want to help Minnesota be a leader in realizing this potential." Minnesota Ag Connection also reports the University is exploring the creation of an Organic Advisory Task Force comprised of organic farmers, University faculty engaged in organic research and outreach, and members of the organic business community.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Western SARE Graduate Student Grant
The Western SARE Graduate Student Grants in Sustainable Agriculture must address issues in sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the Western Region. These grants provide a maximum of $25,000 and may last for up to two years. Applicants may receive only one Graduate Student Grant in Sustainable Agriculture during his or her graduate program. Western SARE will consider applications from graduate students (masters and Ph.D.) enrolled at accredited colleges or universities in the Western region. For more information see the Request for Applications (PDF/146 KB).
Proposals are due May 30, 2008.

National Good Food Network RFP
The Wallace Center at Winrock International is establishing a National Good Food Network. The Wallace Center seeks proposals from organizations and collaborative efforts to serve as Regional Lead Teams (RLT) for the National Good Food Network. Awards of up to $30,000 are available to a total of seven teams, which the Center will select both for their ability to accomplish regional objectives and their commitment to serving as important nodes of the National Good Food Network. A one-to-one match is required.
Proposals are due June 16, 2008.

Conservation Effects Assessment Project
CSREES requests applications for the Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program—Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2008 to develop research, and extension projects aimed at improving the watershed health of grazing land watersheds across the Nation. In FY 2008, CSREES anticipates that approximately $2 million will be available to support CEAP projects, including funds contributed by NRCS. CEAP seeks to fund projects that evaluate the effects of grazing land conservation practices, especially how their timing and spatial distribution throughout a watershed influence their effectiveness for achieving locally defined watershed health goals. Applications may be submitted by colleges and universities.
Proposals are due June 17, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

IFOAM Organic World Congress
June 18-20, 2008
Modena, Italy

The 16th Organic World Congress will be based on the IFOAM Principles of Organic Agriculture: Health, Fairness, Ecology and Care. Conferences, workshops, seminars, round tables, forums, active and living poster sessions are planned: many parallel events following different threads, but seamlessly woven together. "Cultivate the Future" is the conference theme.

Organic Pecan & Fruit Orchard Field Day
June 20, 2008
Lamkin, Texas

Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association announces an event featuring speakers on Soil Fertility, Soil Microbials, Integrated Pest Management, and Marketing, as well as exhibitors, lunch, demonstrations, and networking.

Agriculture and the Environment: Achieving Balance
June 1-3, 2008
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Join the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and leaders from throughout Pennsylvania’s agricultural and environmental community for a conference designed to tap the collective wisdom in identifying opportunities for improving the state’s water quality. This two-day conference will bring together the state’s foremost experts to identify opportunities and solutions for better stewardship of the land and waters.

> More Events

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