ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter


Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 16, 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
* Home Grown Economy Conference Proceedings Available Online
* Arizona Prohibits Mandatory Animal ID
* Organic Seed Production Manuals Available Online
* Project Considers Extreme Weather Effects on Conservation Efforts
* Pesticides and Nitrates in Surface Water Factor in Premature Births

Funding Opportunities
* Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
* Western SARE Research & Education Program
* Food Security Learning Center Grant


Coming Events
* American Forage & Grassland Council Annual Meeting
* Quality Milk & Udder Health on Organic Dairy Farms
* Cover Crop Research & Management Summit



News & Resources

Home Grown Economy Conference Proceedings Available Online
Recently, in an effort to address and explore how local foods can be an economic development engine for rural communities, Congressman Collin Peterson sponsored a conference called "The Home Grown Economy: Foods from Local Farms as an Economic Development Tool". The proceedings from this conference are now available online. Presentation materials and videos of parts of the conference are available to download from www.morris.umn.edu/HomeGrownEconomy/. Additional resources, such as biographies and contact information for the speakers, are also available on the web site.

Arizona Prohibits Mandatory Animal ID
Arizona became the first state in the nation to prohibit mandatory participation in a National Animal Identification System. The NAIS was first proposed by USDA as a mandatory program to begin in 2007. Opposition from livestock owners forced officials to redesign the program as "voluntary at the federal level," while continuing to fund mandatory and coercive state programs. USAgNet reports at least a dozen other states are considering legislation to block efforts by both state and federal government to require livestock animal owners to participate in the NAIS.

Related ATTRA Publication: The National Animal Identification System (NAIS): What it is, and how to participate in the process


Organic Seed Production Manuals Available Online
The Organic Seed Alliance has produced three crop-specific seed production manuals to assist current and would-be seed growers in producing quality seed. The manuals were part of a two-year WSARE-funded, farmer-led education project that involved field days, workshops, and development of manuals on seed production. Three separate manuals are available online as PDF files, covering organic seed production for radishes, beans, and spinach.

Project Considers Extreme Weather Effects on Conservation Efforts
The Soil and Water Conservation Society has released the final report from a joint U.S.-Canadian project that incorporates the effects of extreme weather events into conservation planning and pollution prevention efforts. Planning for Extremes (PDF / 1.4M) summarizes the conclusions and recommendations developed during a Soil and Water Conservation Society workshop held to (1) evaluate the scope and magnitude of the conservation challenges and environmental threats posed to the Great Lakes ecosystem by upward trends in the amounts and intensities of precipitation and (2) recommend improvements to conservation tools, approaches, and policies to meet those challenges and to manage those threats. Workshop participants were particularly concerned that increased probability and severity of erosion, runoff, and pollution were occurring at the same time that demands on our soil water, and agricultural watersheds are increasing.

Pesticides and Nitrates in Surface Water Factor in Premature Births
Research results released by Paul Winchester, M.D., professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, show that preterm birth rates peaked when pesticides and nitrates measurements in surface water were highest (April-July) and were lowest when nitrates and pesticides were lowest (Aug.-Sept.). These results were consistent across maternal demographics. Study results released last year showed that birth defects peak in Indiana and in the United States as a whole during April through July, the same months as pesticides and nitrates reach their maximum concentrations in surface water. Additional research publicized by the team reveals that children conceived in those months when pesticide and nitrate levels in surface water are highest attain lower cognitive scores in testing.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announces the availability of approximately $6,895,000 in block grant funds to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. State departments of agriculture interested in obtaining grant program funds are invited to submit applications to USDA. State departments of agriculture, meaning agencies, commissions, or departments of a State government responsible for agriculture within the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, are eligible to apply. State departments of agriculture are encouraged to involve industry groups, academia, and community-based organizations in the development of applications and the administration of projects.
Proposals are due April 11, 2008.

Western SARE Research & Education Program
The Administrative Council of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program announces the request for Research and Education (Chapter 1) pre-applications. R&E grants fund projects that typically involve scientists, producers, ag support agencies, nonprofit organizations and others in an interdisciplinary approach. Projects must include both research and education components, and address Western SARE goals.
Proposals are due June 14, 2007.

Food Security Learning Center Grant
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are eligible to submit a proposal for the Food Security Learning Center. The Food Security Learning Center should be designed to create and maintain a national, web-based clearinghouse of information on community food security concerns and common community problems related to the underlying causes of hunger and poverty, including the loss of farms and ranches, rural poverty, welfare dependency, hunger, food access issues, the need for job training, and the need for self-sufficiency by individuals and communities.
Proposals are due June 7, 2007.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting
June 23-26, 2007
State College, Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council and Penn State University will host the joint 2007 American Forage and Grassland Council and Northeast Branch ASA & SSSA Annual Conference.


Quality Milk and Udder Health on Organic Dairy Farms
June 8, 2007
Waterbury, Vermont

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont(NOFA-VT) announces a Producer Workshop and Veterinarian Roundtable for organic and non-organic dairy farmers interested in learning how to improve milk quality and udder health on organic farms. A morning session will consider strategies and methods for improving milk quality, udder health, disease management, improving milking and milking systems, approaches to disease treatment and effective treatments with organically approved products. Lunch will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&As with Dr. Linda Tikofsky, Senior Extension Veterinarian, Quality Milk Production Services, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, and several experienced organic dairy farmers and veterinarians.


Cover Crop Research & Management Summit
June 5, 2007
Rock Springs, Pennsylvania

During this cover crop management field day, you will have an opportunity to see and hear about the latest cover crop research at Penn State as well as observe first hand some of the tools and practices being tested. Topics will include choosing cover crops based on farming goals, how to grow or capture nutrients and the importance of carbon and nitrogen, improving soil quality, controlling cover crops including using rollers/crimpers and how cover crops can help control weeds. Pre-registration is required.


> More Events

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Comments? Questions? Email the Weekly Harvest Newsletter editor Mary Ann Thom at johne@ncat.org .

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