Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - April 27, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Beyond the Organic Label
* Reports Say Energy Savings Can Help Small Farms and Ranches
* UC Study Shows Farmworkers Not Addressed by Organic Agriculture
* Organic Market Offers Opportunities, Challenges to Consider
* Report Looks at Field Testing of Genetically Engineered Plants
* School Lunches Fresh from the Farm Please Students
* Support for Environmental Programs in Rural Areas
* New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation Agricultural Grant Program
* Kentucky Horticulture Advertising Cost-Share Program
* Hydroponic Enterprise Start-Up Training Seminar
* Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network Field Day
* Sustainable Agriculture & Organic Farming Course
News & Resources
Beyond the Organic Label
The rapid growth of the "organic" label has brought a backlash among farmers
who practiced organic methods of production long before the U.S. Department of
Agriculture developed federal standards for "organic certification," reports
the Contra Costa Times. Several farmers and activists are embracing new terminology
to distinguish their production methods, including "biodynamic," "local," and "Food
Alliance Certified." Such terms often describe practices not covered by the organic
label. The label of the nonprofit group Food Alliance, for example, indicates
that food was grown according to specific standards that address pesticide use,
wildlife habitat, and the treatment of farmworkers. Food Alliance has already
certified 220 farms, an increase of 33 percent since last year.
URL: http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/11440261.htm (Registration
Reports Say Energy Savings Can Help Small Farms and Ranches
Three major reports have been released by the American Council for an
Energy-Efficient Economy, addressing energy use in agriculture. The
reports cover how major energy sources are used on farms, estimate the
potential savings available from energy efficiency, and review a total
of 52 energy efficiency programs nationwide that are implementing
savings in the agricultural sector. On-Farm
Energy Use Characterizations highlights significant regional variation
in both the mix of farm-type and in the use of energy found from state to state.
According to Potential Energy Efficiency
Savings in the Agriculture Sector, energy savings potential is more than
10% of total energy expenses nationwide and 35% of savings based on energy end-use.
The third report, Energy
Efficiency Programs in Agriculture: Design, Success, and Lessons Learned,
profiles models for energy efficiency programs. All three reports can be viewed
online as PDF files.
UC Study Shows Farmworkers Not Addressed by Organic Agriculture
A University of California study shows that, except for reduced
exposure to pesticides, the boom in organic agriculture has not
resulted in better working conditions for farmworkers. Because organic
agriculture rules prohibit many toxic pesticides, and organic producers
are perceived as social activists, consumers may assume that
farmworkers get more benefits from organic production than conventional
agriculture. However, organic certification doesn't specify working conditions
for farm labor. Based on surveys of almost 200 small- and mid-sized organic farmers
in California, the study finds that less than half of surveyed growers wanted
mandatory agricultural certification programs, in part because they feared such
requirements would be too hard on them financially. The authors concluded that
to create production conditions that are favorable to a broader view of “socially
sustainable,” change is needed in the entire food system. Details
of the study are available online.
Organic Market Offers Opportunities, Challenges to Consider
Entering organic production can bring farmers price premiums, says an
article in the Hillsboro Free Press, but making the
switch can require time, patience, and willingness to learn new
practices. The Kansas Organic Producers Association is a cooperative
that is helping farmers consider whether they should make the
transition and connecting them with markets for organic produce.
While organic production may require less costly inputs, it often
requires more management and different skills to build soil and manage
pests. Finding a market can be another challenge, and tenant farmers
may need to develop new arrangements with landowners, to reflect
different practices and costs.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic
Farm Certification & the National Organic Program
Report Looks at Field Testing of Genetically Engineered Plants
A new report released by Environment Maine Research & Policy Center and Maine
Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association documents more than 47,000 field tests
of genetically engineered crops authorized between 1987 and 2004, and highlights
potential risks associated with the release of genetically engineered plants.
As of January 2005, the states that have hosted the greatest number of field
test sites are: Hawaii (5,413), Illinois (5,092), and Iowa (4,659).
School Lunches Fresh from the Farm Please Students
Public school lunch programs across the country are offering meals with
fresh local produce, which not only helps local farmers but inspires kids
to eat more fruits and vegetables. A feature posted by Michigan Land
Use Institute offers examples of how school food program personnel
overcame concerns about buying and using local foods, and how pleased
their students are with the results. From apples in Michigan to collard
greens in Florida, local foods are finding their way into school
lunches. More food service personnel are interested in introducing
local foods, but concerns about price, safety and necessary processing
and logistics may be daunting. The National
Farm to Cafeteria Conference set for June in Gambier, Ohio, can
help both farmers and food service personnel overcome some of the barriers to
increasing local food supplies in schools.
Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing
Local Food to Local Institutions
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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Support for Environmental Programs in Rural Areas
The Laura Jane Musser Fund proposes to assist public or not-for-profit
entities to initiate or implement projects in rural areas to undertake
consensus-based activities in environmental stewardship or dispute
resolution. The Fund is most interested in new programs and is
willing to fund planning or implementation. Grants of up to $35,000
are available. Applications are due October 1, 2005.
New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation Agricultural Grant Program
New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation offers the
Agricultural Grant Program, established to provide monies for
innovative projects that create a positive connection between the
general public and agriculture. These matching funds are intended to
help groups or organizations with the implementation of projects in
education, production, or marketing and promotion of New Hampshire
agriculture and its products. $10,000 in total grant money is available
and applicants may request up to this amount. Projects must be
completed within twelve months. The application deadline is May 27,
Kentucky Horticulture Advertising Cost-Share Program
This program, funded through the Kentucky Horticulture Council,
promotes the sale of Kentucky-grown horticulture products. Successful
applicants may receive a 50 percent cash match of up to $4,000 per
calendar year if they follow all the guidelines for promoting and
advertising Kentucky Proud products. Applications are accepted from
Nov. 1, 2004, until Sept. 30, 2005, as funds allow.
additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Hydroponic Enterprise Start-Up Training Seminar
May 7, 2005
Microfarm Sustainable Research and Education presents this seminar,
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency.
The session will teach the basics of hydroponic growing, developing a
business and marketing plan, risk management, and how to put together a
low-cost, low-tech system for producing high-value, legal crops.
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network Field Day
June 21, 2005
La Crescent, Minnesota
This is the second of three summer field days planned by the Upper
Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network. It will be hosted by Hoch
Orchard, with a speaker from Michigan State University on "Orchard Ecological
Sustainable Agriculture & Organic Farming Course
June 27 - August 18, 2005
The Student Farm at the University of California-Davis is offering a
course in the Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture and
Organic Farming. Thirteen hours of field activities per week are
combined with lectures, discussions and field trips to provide an
in-depth introduction to sustainable agriculture and organic farming
practices, with a focus on annual crop production.
events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.
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from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural
Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT
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