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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 7, 2014

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

News & Resources

  • USDA Accepting Applications for Rural Energy for America Program
  • Food Hub Benchmarking Study Results Available
  • USDA Details New Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers
  • USDA Report Examines Successful Small Acreage Farms
  • SARE Topic Room Offers Food System Resources
  • USDA Announces Agricultural Conservation Easements Program

Funding Opportunities

  • Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops
  • Iowa State Soil Conservation Committee Research and Demonstration Grant Program
  • Massachusetts Agricultural Energy Grant Program

Coming Events

  • UVM Food Systems Summit
  • Pasture Walk for Healthy Pastured Livestock
  • SE Ohio Farm to School Conference

News & Resources

USDA Accepting Applications for Rural Energy for America Program
USDA is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy-efficiency improvements or to install renewable-energy systems. For fiscal year 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Requests for grants may not exceed 25% of a project's cost. Applications for grants or combined grants and loans are due by July 7, while applications for loan guarantees are due by July 31.

Food Hub Benchmarking Study Results Available
The National Good Food Network Food Hub Collaboration has released Food Hub Benchmarking Study: Report on Findings, 2013. The report is the result of a study undertaken to help not only farmers and food hub operators, but also lenders, investors, and grant makers understand how this market sector works. The study considered scope of operations, products, organization and operations, sources of revenue, labor expenses, customers, and other factors. The 13-page publication is available online.

USDA Details New Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers
USDA recently announced a new Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers, administered by Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The program is designed as a verification tool to certify that animals meet the requirements of the grass-fed marketing claim standard and are marketable as "USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef."

USDA Report Examines Successful Small Acreage Farms
USDA Economic Research Service has released Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States. This report looks at small-acreage farms having gross sales of $10,000 or more in a given year to better understand the product choices and strategies used by profitable small farms.

SARE Topic Room Offers Food System Resources
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has introduced a new topic room titled "Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems." This online collection of resources provides information for those who are striving to reconfigure the nation's food system so more value stays in food-producing communities. Subjects covered include business and marketing, distribution, food safety, food processing, and training.

USDA Announces Agricultural Conservation Easements Program
Through the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available up to $366 million for conservation easements under the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). The funding will be available to state and local governments, Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations, and private landowners. ACEP consolidates three former easement programs: the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the Grassland Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program. Applications for funding consideration in fiscal year 2014 must be submitted by the individual state deadline or June 6, 2014, whichever is earlier.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops
The Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program administered by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service provides funding to U.S. organizations for projects that address sanitary, phytosanitary, and technical barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. Awards are for a maximum of $500,000 per year.
Applications must be received by May 19, 2014.

Iowa State Soil Conservation Committee Research and Demonstration Grant Program
The Iowa State Soil Conservation Committee Research and Demonstration Fund provides grants up to $75,000 over a two-year period to collaborative teams of scientists, farmers, institutions, organizations, and educators who are exploring sustainable agriculture and nonpoint pollution through research projects or education/demonstration projects.
Proposals are due by May 23, 2014.

Massachusetts Agricultural Energy Grant Program
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Agricultural Energy Grant Program provides funding to improve energy efficiency and to facilitate the adoption of clean-energy technologies by Massachusetts farms. The program will fund renewable-energy or energy-efficiency projects up to $20,000.
Applications are due by May 30, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

UVM Food Systems Summit
June 17-18, 2014
Burlington, Vermont

The 2014 Summit will focus on local-level responses to globalization in the food system through the following themes: the impact of our geopolitical context on our food system, the biophysical constraints we face for food production globally, and the implications of behavior and culture for our food system.

Pasture Walk for Healthy Pastured Livestock
June 11, 2014
Hopewell, New Jersey

PASA, Rutgers University, and NOFA NJ present this field day at Double Brook Farm. Topics will include soil dynamics, proper soil-sampling techniques, weed and forage identification, forage and pasture planning for multi-species grazing, establishment of perennial feed options, and selection of stock for pasture-based systems.

SE Ohio Farm to School Conference
June 10, 2014
Nelsonville, Ohio

Join school teachers and staff, farmers, and food producers in a regional day of learning and networking to bring farms and schools together.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA - was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

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