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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 16, 2012

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

  • Natural Habitats for Predatory Insects Reduce Farmer Costs, Says Study
  • USDA Grants to Provide Farmers Markets SNAP Access
  • National Water Quality Initiative Launched
  • Locavore Index Ranks States on Local Food Commitment
  • Wind Erosion Causes Loss of Beneficial Soil Microbes, Says Research
  • Company Establishes Foundation to Support Sustainable and Organic Food Systems

Funding Opportunities

  • Western SARE Research & Education Grants
  • Sprout Lenders
  • Tennessee Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • National Value Added Ag Conference
  • National Farmers Union Women's Conference
  • North Carolina A&T Small Farms Field Day

News & Resources

Natural Habitats for Predatory Insects Reduce Farmer Costs, Says Study
Providing natural habitat for ladybugs can help increase their abundance in crops where they control pests, and thus help farmers reduce their pest-control costs, says a Michigan State University study. Natural habitats provide vital food and shelter resources, and may be more important for pest control than planted strips designed to attract beneficial insects.

USDA Grants to Provide Farmers Markets SNAP Access
USDA has announced that $4 million in grant funding will allow states to provide wireless equipment to farmers markets not currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As of the end of the last fiscal quarter, there were 1,548 farmers markets participating in SNAP. USDA is looking to expand the number of participating farmers markets and increase annual SNAP redemptions.
Related ATTRA Publication: Montana Farmers Market EBT Manual

National Water Quality Initiative Launched
Under a new National Water Quality Initiative, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will make available at least $33 million in financial assistance this year to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to implement conservation practices to help provide cleaner water. Using funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to producers for implementing conservation practices such as cover crops, nutrient management, filter strips, and terraces in 157 selected watersheds. Applications must be submitted by June 15, 2012, for this fiscal year's funding opportunity.

Locavore Index Ranks States on Local Food Commitment
The Strolling of the Heifers announces its new Locavore Index, which measures the commitment of states to locally sourced foods by measuring the per-capita presence of Community Supported Agriculture enterprises and farmers markets. The top five states for locavorism, according to the Index, are Vermont, Iowa, Montana, Maine, and Hawaii.

Wind Erosion Causes Loss of Beneficial Soil Microbes, Says Research
A new study led by USDA-ARS has revealed that wind erosion can not only carry away soil particles, but also beneficial microbes that help build soil, detoxify contaminants, and recycle nutrients. The findings suggest that specific bacteria inhabit specific locations in soil—and thus different groups and species can be carried away, depending on the kinds of particles that erode. This means that wind erosion can both reduce the overall microbial diversity in farm fields and deplete topsoil of specific groups of essential bacteria.

Company Establishes Foundation to Support Sustainable and Organic Food Systems
United Natural Foods, Inc. has announced the establishment of a charitable foundation. The foundation will fund innovative non-profit programs emphasizing sustainable agriculture and organic farming, as well as initiatives designed to increase organic food production and consumption. Beginning August 1, 2012, the Foundation will accept mission-specific grant applications from eligible organizations.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Western SARE Research & Education Grants
Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education is accepting pre-proposals for Sustainable Agricultural Research & Education grants. The grants fund research and extension projects that obtain data, develop conclusions, demonstrate technologies, and lead educational programs that promote the Western SARE goals.
Pre-proposals are due by June 6, 2012.

Sprout Lenders
The mission of Sprout Lenders is to support a vibrant and healthy local food system by making small loans to farmers, producers, and food system entrepreneurs that serve the greater Boston area.
Spring Round 2012 loan applications are due May 21, 2012.

Tennessee Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for Specialty Crop Block Grant Program-Farm Bill funds to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Universities, institutions, cooperatives, community-based organizations, or industry organizations may submit a proposal. Eligible proposals must demonstrate significant potential for increasing Tennessee farm income through the improvement or expansion of farm or agribusiness operations involving the production of specialty-crop products.
Proposals must be received by June 1, 2012.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

National Value Added Ag Conference
June 24-26, 2012
Traverse City, Michigan

The Michigan State University Product Center and American Farm Bureau co-host the 14th National Value Added Ag Conference. A Rural Communities focus has been added this year to emphasize the importance of rural economic development in building vibrant rural communities.

National Farmers Union Women's Conference
June 21-23, 2012
Bailey, Colorado

National Farmers Union is hosting a conference for farm women that brings “Annie's Project” to Colorado. Trained instructors will teach family farm finances, budgeting and cash flow, cooperatives, marketing, action planning, estate transfer planning, business planning, and leadership skills.

North Carolina A&T Small Farms Field Day
June 20-21, 2012
Greensboro, North Carolina

The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T is hosting the SAES's 11th Annual Small Farms Field Day at the University Farm. In addition to demonstrations and research updates, trainings on high tunnel construction and irrigation are scheduled.

>> 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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© 2012 NCAT

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New Publications
Tips for Selling to Grocery Stores / Consejos para vender a Tiendas de Abarrotes

Question of the Week
How can I grow apples organically?

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