Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 10, 2006
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.
News & Resources
* One-stop Shopping for Farm Energy Savings Tools
Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.
* USDA Launches Farmers Market Survey
* Avian Influenza Workshop Recordings Online
* Sustainability and Local Foods - Conversations from the Field
* Vermont Legislature Passes GMO Seed Bill
* European Biofuel Plan Raises Food Industry Concerns
* North Central Region SARE Research and Education Grant Program
* Floriculture Industry Research and Scholarship Trust
* EPA Region 1 Resource Conservation Challenge Grant Program
* Sustainable Rural Enterprises/Multi-species Grazing Conference
* Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the Proper Application of Pesticides Workshop
* Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
News & Resources
One-stop Shopping for Farm Energy Savings Tools
Farmers who are seeking ways to reduce their energy costs can now get helpful tools and information at one easy-to-use Web site. Farm energy calculators can help farmers assess their current energy use and costs. In some cases, farmers can determine how they can change their energy consumption by changing equipment or practices.
"NCAT's new farm energy calculator Web page is a work in progress," said Al Kurki, NCAT energy and agriculture specialist. "We intend to add more diverse, useful tools to the Web site as we test more of them and as more farm energy calculators are developed. Calculator users should keep in mind that not all of these tools are created equal. They are quite variable in terms of who they are intended to serve and how well they serve the user."
NCAT's farm energy saving efforts are supported in part by a grant from Farm Aid and through NCAT's ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
USDA Launches Farmers' Market Survey
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced May 5 that it will survey more than 3,400 farmers' market managers nationwide for its 2006 USDA Farmers' Market Survey. The data collected will show how farmers' markets have changed since USDA last conducted a poll in 2001, quantifying many areas of the industry. Additional questions were added this year to chart emerging market trends. The survey will gather information on the current state and economic impact of farmers' markets throughout the country, and is designed to help farmers' market managers and vendors of farm products make strategic business decisions.
Avian Influenza Workshop Recordings Online
Highlights from an April 18 workshop on avian influenza are available online as digital recordings. The workshop was presented by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Penn State Cooperative Extension, the Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network, The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The information is geared to independent pastured-poultry producers; owners of small-scale, hobby and specialty flocks; show-bird enthusiasts; and game-bird breeders. Video presentations and a question-and-answer session cover topics such as biosecurity, surveillance, disease symptoms, and other issues.
Sustainability and Local Foods - Conversations from the Field
ATTRA recently sat down with Josh Slotnick, a community farm director and sustainable agriculture educator, to discuss the importance of local foods and sustainable ag. Read the interview in Conversations from the Field, a new offering of the ATTRA Web site, featuring interviews with leaders in the sustainable agriculture field. Josh wears two hats – one as the PEAS ( Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society) Farm Director for Garden City Harvest and the other as Director of the PEAS Program based in the Environmental Studies Program (EVST) at The University of Montana.
Vermont Legislature Passes GMO Seed Bill
The Vermont Legislature recently passed a bill that addresses the legal responsibilities of companies that sell genetically modified seeds that may end up cross-pollinating crops grown on certified organic farms, the Rutland Herald reported this week. The bill places legal responsibility for damage caused by the seed with the companies that develop and sell it. Known broadly as the GMO (genetically modified organisms) seed bill, the legislation is designed primarily to lessen legal tensions between organic farmers and their neighbors who plant GMO seed crops. Drift pollination from GMO seed crops has contaminated organic crops in Vermont and elsewhere, causing farms to lose valuable certified organic designation. The bill offers farmers who suffer contamination from GMO cross-pollination the right to sue the company that sells the seed. The bill does not address the debate over the value of GMO crops. Many farmers, including some in Vermont, argue that GMO engineered seeds resist certain pests and allow producers to use less pesticide on their land, making the crops more environmentally benign. Vermont Governor James Douglas has expressed an interest in a veto on the grounds that the bill presents an anti-business message, the paper reports.
European Biofuel Plan Raises Food Industry Concerns
The Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA) has responded to a European Commission plan to increase biofuels production with concern, reports FoodNavigator.com. In a position paper the group warned that increasing biofuel production could lead to increased prices for agricultural ingredients, particularly rapeseed, which can be used both as a food oil and in biofuel production. The position paper called for careful monitoring of the effect that biofuel production has on food ingredient prices and supplies, and recommended that biofuel production be based on diversified agricultural products, rather than concentrated on a few commodity crops.
Related ATTRA Publication: Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions
> More Breaking News
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North Central Region SARE Research and Education Grant Program
North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) is requesting proposals (PDF) for research and education grants. Projects must address sustainable agriculture issues of current and potential importance to the North Central Region. Successful projects should contribute to two or more of the following NCR-SARE broad-based outcomes: improving the profitability of farmers and associated agricultural businesses; sustaining and improving the environmental quality and natural resource base on which agriculture depends; and enhancing the quality of life for farmers/ranchers, rural communities, and society as a whole. The North Central Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Proposals are due June 20, 2006.
Floriculture Industry Research and Scholarship Trust
FIRST, the Floriculture Industry Research and Scholarship Trust, invites horticulturists and researchers in related sciences to submit research proposals for funding of their research projects. Funding is offered for a number of research opportunities, including: economical means for recycling greenhouse waste, plug production techniques, production techniques to conserve water and protect ground water, and control of pest and disease problems.
Proposals are due September 1, 2006.
EPA Region 1 Resource Conservation Challenge Grant Program
The Resource Conservation Challenge Grant Program is EPA New England’s competitive grant program that promotes solid waste management and pollution prevention projects. The Region expects to award four to eight grants or cooperative agreements to eligible applicants for amounts between $10,000 and $50,000. Eligible organizations include public authorities (interstate, state, and local), federally recognized tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations.
Proposals are due June 9, 2006.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Sustainable Rural Enterprises/Multi-species Grazing Conference
May 23-24, 2006
A conference and tour funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) program will feature speakers with experience in developing rural enterprises focused on sustainable livestock and resource management strategies. The field tour will take place at the Sprague Lake invasive vegetation field trials, and will feature a field review of invasive vegetation management using goats, a discussion regarding the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife interpretive trail program, a review of USDA Farm Bill programs, and a historical perspective on land use of the area.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the Proper Application of Pesticides Workshop
June 22, 2006
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture presents a free workshop for farmers' market gardeners and small-scale producers of fruits and vegetables. Tulsa County Extension Horticulturist Sue Gray and Kerr Center staffers Alan Ware and David Redhage will teach farmers about IPM practices such as scouting and ways to determine insect populations. They will also cover calibrating and properly using a backpack sprayer so producers will not overuse chemicals. They will show attendees how to figure proper amounts of chemicals (and organic products) for small acreages.
Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
August 10-13, 2006
"Sprouting the Seeds of the Next Generation" is the theme for this 32nd annual conference. The event includes a pre-conference on organic agriculture education, more than 200 workshops, a children's conference, keynote speaker, local meal, fair and farmers' market.
> More Events
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