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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 2, 2007

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
* MISA Releases Marketing Local Food Handbook
* Congress Hears Organic Industry Testimony
* Report Released on CSP's Influence on Resource Management
* Corn Exporters Concerned Over GMO Planting
* Studies Strengthen Link Between Pesticides and Parkinson's Disease
* Graduate Assistantships Available at Iowa State University

Funding Opportunities
* Northeast SARE Professional Development Program
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative
* Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant

Coming Events
* Heartland Festival
* Farmer-to-Farmer Training Pastured Poultry Production and Marketing
* Basic Skills Workshop

News & Resources

MISA Releases Marketing Local Food Handbook
Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture has released Marketing Local Food(PDF/1.8 MB). This handbook is designed to help Minnesota farmers explore the various options for marketing local food. It introduces the basics of different marketing systems, suggests resources and includes profiles of farmers who are selling farm products directly to consumers via farmers' markets, roadside stands, CSAs, on-farm stores; as well as information and profiles about selling indirectly via retail food establishments or food services.

Congress Hears Organic Industry Testimony
Organic producers and industry representatives have recently testified before Senate and House committees, requesting increased federal funding for research and market development, according to a Reuters news story on Planet Ark. Testimony highlighted growing demand for organic foods, inadequate supplies, and unequal spending in support of organic production, given the number of organic farmers. Testimony from board members and staff of the Organic Trade Association is available on their Web site.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Organic Certification Process

Report Released on CSP's Influence on Resource Management
The Minnesota Project, in collaboration with Midwest partner organizations, has released a report entitled The Conservation Security Program Drives Resource Management: An Assessment of CSP Implementation in 5 Midwestern States (PDF/772 KB). The report describes the CSP’s influence on farmers’ decisions related to the production resources and natural resources of farming operations. A total of 67 farmers and NRCS staff were interviewed for the report.

Corn Exporters Concerned Over GMO Planting
Corn exporters say they are concerned that a genetically modified corn being planted by U.S. farmers this year could jeopardize the export market if it commingles with corn for export, says a Reuters news story on Planet Ark. Some U.S. farmers are planting Agrisure RW seed corn developed by Syngenta to resist root worm. The corn has been approved in the U.S. for food and animal feed, but has not been approved overseas. Some export companies fear the GMO corn will contaminate corn meant for export, through commingling and wind pollination, and are warning farmers that they will not accept the corn. Meanwhile, the rice industry and food industry are among those opposing the cultivation of genetically engineered rice in Kansas to produce pharmaceuticals. A recently released report from The Center for Food Safety discusses potential adverse health impacts of the rice-grown drugs.

Studies Strengthen Link Between Pesticides and Parkinson's Disease
Taken together, a number of studies appear to strengthen evidence for a link between pesticides and Parkinson's disease, according to a Reuters news story. One of the studies showed that farmworkers who used the weedkiller paraquat had two to three times the normal risk of Parkinson's. Other studies linked both paraquat exposure and Parkinson's with destructive buildup of a particular protein in the brain.

Graduate Assistantships Available at Iowa State University
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University is proud to be a sponsor of several graduate assistantships for students interested in pursuing a master's degree in sustainable agriculture with a minor in business, or a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a minor in sustainable agriculture. Candidates chosen will work as part of a Leopold Center team involved in either the Value Chain Partnerships for a Sustainable Agriculture project or the Marketing and Food Systems Initiative. The deadline for application is June 1, 2007. For detailed information, please contact: Charles Sauer, Grad Program in Sustainable Agriculture: csauer@iastate.edu or (515) 294-6518; Amy Hutter, MBA grad program: ahutter@iastate.edu or (515) 294-8118; Rich Pirog, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture: rspirog@iastate.edu or (515) 294-1854.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Professional Development Program
The Northeast SARE Professional Development program funds projects that help Cooperative Extension educators and other agricultural professionals get and use the knowledge needed to help farmers move toward greater sustainability. The program emphasis is on training the trainers, disseminating sustainable practices and technologies, advancing new training strategies, and developing an educational infrastructure that is directly linked to the practice and improvement of agricultural sustainability. Project impact must occur within the Northeast SARE region, which is made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington D.C. Proposed projects must address certain priority areas, and awards will likely range from $60,000 and $175,000.
Proposals are due May 31, 2007.

Strategic Agricultural Initiative
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 is soliciting proposals to help implement the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and to support efforts by the agricultural community to “transition” away from high risk pesticides to the use of less and reduced risk pesticides, alternative methods of agricultural pest control, and sustainable practices in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension, demonstration, and studies for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture.
Proposals are due June 5, 2007.

Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant
The Southern Region USDA Program on Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is requesting proposals for Graduate Student research projects that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the Southern Region and the nation. The program grants a one-time project maximum of $10,000 for projects to be conducted by graduate students enrolled at an accredited college or university in the Southern Region. The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
Proposals are due June 1, 2007.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Heartland Festival
June 2, 2007
Livingston, California

The Heartland Festival is a bridge-building event, bringing together a broad range of community members including family farmers, the urban and rural public, businesses, environmental groups, and educators. Through both celebration and education, the Heartland Festival encourages a closer understanding between the valley's long-term agricultural residents and its rapidly growing urban population.

Farmer-to-Farmer Training Pastured Poultry Production and Marketing
May 11-12, 19, 2007
Del Valle, Texas

The training sessions will offer detailed, practical information developed by the Alexander family through their years of operating a sustainable farm in Central Texas, and will be presented in a “how-to” style with hands-on learning opportunities throughout the program. Attendees will also receive a take-home reference binder of resources and reference materials that will include specific production recommendations from the farmer. The depth of this comprehensive information will benefit new and beginning farmers, as well as current farmers who intend to refine or expand their operations.

Basic Skills Workshop
May 12, 2007
Poteau, Oklahoma

The Kerr Center’s
"Basic Skills" Workshop is back by popular demand. Just moved to the farm or farmette or started a new venture on your farm? Maybe you need to sharpen your skills in some area. If so, this hands-on workshop might be just what you need.

> More Events

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