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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 17, 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.

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News & Resources
* USDA Invites Comment on Proposed Standard for Grass-Fed Marketing Claim
* Organic Company's Bagged Greens Drive Market
* Farm Policy Proposals Stir Debate
* Book Offers Solutions for Future of Family Farming
* EPA Issues National Strategy for Agriculture
* Animated Movie Promotes Sustainable Dairy

Funding Opportunities
* Rural Business-Cooperative Service Offers Competitive Funds
* New York Farmland Viability Projects
* Montana Organic Transition Incentive

Coming Events
* Tour d'Organics
* Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference
* Rodale Institute Field Day

News & Resources

USDA Invites Comment on Proposed Standard for Grass-Fed Marketing Claim
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on a proposed voluntary minimum standard for grass (forage) fed marketing claims. The standard, when adopted, will become the U.S. Standard for Grass (forage) Fed claims. Text of the standard appeared in the May 12 Federal Register, and is available online in PDF (63K). Comments must be received on or before August 10, and should be sent to Martin E. O’Connor, AMS Livestock and Seed Program, Room 2607–S, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-0254. Comments may also be sent by facsimile to (202) 720-1112, by electronic mail to marketingclaim@usda.gov, or via the Internet at www.regulations.gov. Comments should refer to Docket No. LS-05-09.

Organic Company's Bagged Greens Drive Market
The founders of Earthbound Farm first began packaging their organic baby greens in bags 20 years ago. Now the company claims 73 percent of the $202 million annual market for organic bagged salad, says an Associated Press article in The Modesto Bee. According to the article, Earthbound Farm was at the cutting edge of a trend in pre-washed bagged salad that has changed the way Americans eat, right down to popularizing spinach. Last year the company had $365 million in sales of crops produced by hundreds of growers and carried by major national retailers, making it a market giant among many small organic producers. A recent article in the New Yorker also discusses the business model of Earthbound Farm and sustainability.
Related ATTRA Publication: Specialty Lettuce and Greens: Organic Production

Farm Policy Proposals Stir Debate
On May 8 American Farmland Trust released a set of policy recommendations aimed at creating a new U.S. farm policy in 2007. The AFT recommendations are available online as Agenda 2007: A New Framework and Direction for U.S. Farm Policy. AFT sets forth three pillars to support new farm policies: 1) a safety net; 2) environmental stewardship; and 3) new markets, in place of the current subsidy-based farm policy. The AFT recommendations have met with mixed response. Proponents of the current Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) say that now that the program has been successfully established, it should be maintained. Margaret Krome addresses this topic in her column in The Capital Times.

Book Offers Solutions for Future of Family Farming
The Next Agricultural Revolution: Revitalizing family-based agriculture and rural communities introduces the reader to the Washington State Farm Summit and its findings. The publication, edited by Dr. Kent Mullinix, is filled with personal testimonials from farmers across the state of Washington about the problems farmers face today and viable solutions to them. "This volume explains, simply and succinctly, what forces and factors are acting to undermine family-based agriculture and rural community health...and what might be done to strengthen family farming in Washington State and our nation," said Dr. Christopher F. Feise, director, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.

EPA Issues National Strategy for Agriculture
On May 8 the Environmental Protection Agency released its National Strategy for Agriculture, designed to initiate a closer partnership with agriculture in fulfilling the agency's mission of protecting human health and the environment. According to an agency press release, the goals of the National Strategy include increasing EPA employee awareness of how their actions affect agriculture and how farming benefits human health and the environment, working with the agricultural industry in developing and demonstrating environmental protection solutions, coordinating research and technology development, and identifying and developing environmental improvement strategies for agriculture.

Animated Movie Promotes Sustainable Dairy
Following on the success of The Meatrix, a clever parody of the Matrix movies, The Meatrix II sequel focuses on the perils of large, industrial dairy farming and encourages viewers to support sustainable, family dairies instead. The film’s companion site includes The Meatrix 360° Interactive, an animated educational tool with more than 20 hot buttons linking to resource pages that offer in-depth information about factory farm issues. The Meatrix II: Revolting was produced by Sustainable Table and Free Range Studios.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Business-Cooperative Service Offers Competitive Funds
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development announces the availability of approximately $495,000 in competitive cooperative agreement funds for fiscal year (FY) 2006 to conduct research on the national economic impact of all types of cooperatives. The agency has open requests for proposals from institutions of higher education for the funds. Paper or electronic applications may be filed. Applicants may obtain application forms, guides, and materials for the cooperative agreement at www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/reic.htm or by contacting USDA Rural Development at (202) 690-0368. Ask for the cooperative research agreement application kit.
Proposals are due June 30, 2006.

New York Farmland Viability Projects
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets invites proposals that seek to improve the profitability and efficiency of participating farms. The program provides financial assistance in the form of matching grants to applicants for projects which contribute to overall farm profitability and sound environmental management.
Proposals are due June 20, 2006.

Montana Organic Transition Incentive
Montana ranchers may be eligible to receive funding for transitioning to organic production through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will be offering incentives to help farmers and ranchers become certified organic agricultural producers. Different incentives are offered for certifying land for livestock production and for crop production.
Proposals are due June 1, 2006.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Tour d'Organics
June 24, 2006
Portland, Oregon

This year a series of Tour d'Organics bike rides are being held in cities around the country. The rides showcase local farms. In Portland, participants will be treated to the first tastes of summer from local Portland farmers. This ride begins and ends at the epicenter for the local food movement in Portland: the Natural Capital Center in downtown. There will be 35, 65 and 100 mile options.

Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference
July 6-8, 2006
Mt. Vernon, Missouri

Learn the latest in dairy grazing systems from grazing experts and other dairy producers. Tour some of the nation's newest grazing dairies and network with some of the nation's best grazing dairy producers.

Rodale Institute Field Day
July 21, 2006
Kutztown, Pennsylvania

"Seeking Agricultural Solutions for a Sustainable World" is the theme for this event. Some of the topics that will be addressed in this field day are: soil health, no-till planting, weed management, nutrient management, Mycorrhizal
inoculates use, and production and marketing of organic certified products. Online registration is available.

> More Events

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