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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 18, 2016

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

News & Resources

  • USDA Unveils Online Training for Local Food Funders
  • Farmers' Guide Helps Organic Producers Apply for New Buffer Initiative
  • FDA Issues Preventive Controls Rules Draft Guidance
  • Farm to School Toolkit Offered by Minneapolis Public Schools
  • On-Demand Tutorial on Farming Implements Posted
  • Iowa Producers Learn from Vegetable Variety Trials

Funding Opportunities

  • Southern SARE Research & Education Grants
  • Outreach and Education, Technical Assistance, and Financial Education for FSA Programs
  • Value Added Producer Grant

Coming Events

  • ASAP Farm Tour
  • California Farm Demonstration Network Farm Visit
  • Urban Food Systems Symposium

News & Resources

USDA Unveils Online Training for Local Food Funders
USDA has unveiled a new online interactive training to help potential funders—from traditional financial institutions to nonprofit and philanthropic partners—understand the work of regional food enterprises that are connecting local producers with local markets. What's the Big Deal? Assessing and Financing Regional Food Enterprises helps funders and investors better understand and assess regional food businesses by providing an introduction to the food sector and regional food enterprises, a framework for conducting due diligence, and a case-study exercise to practice assessment.

Farmers' Guide Helps Organic Producers Apply for New Buffer Initiative
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has published Organic Farmers' Guide to the Conservation Reserve Program Field Border Buffer Initiative, a guide intended to assist organic farmers in accessing USDA's new Organic Buffer Initiative. NSAC's guide includes eligibility and application information, program basics, and detailed descriptions of key conservation practices and associated payments, as well as two producer profiles and resources for additional information.

FDA Issues Preventive Controls Rules Draft Guidance
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced draft guidance to assist qualified facilities, such as very small businesses, in complying with the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule or the Preventive Controls for Animal Food Rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The draft guidance explains how to determine whether a business meets the definition of "qualified facility" and how to submit the FDA form attesting to its status as a qualified facility. The draft guidance will be available for public comment for a 180-day period that began May 16, 2016.

Farm to School Toolkit Offered by Minneapolis Public Schools
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) has released the MPS Farm to School Toolkit, a case study of how MPS buys fresh, sustainably grown produce from small and medium-sized local farmers. The toolkit offers a summary of MPS' farm to school procurement process with pictures and links to useful documents and templates. The 24-page publication is available online in PDF.
Related ATTRA Publication: Tips for Selling to Institutional Markets

On-Demand Tutorial on Farming Implements Posted
USDA NRCS Science and Technology has posted a tutorial titled Farming Implements in Action: Impacts on the Soil, Erosion Potential of Tillage Systems, and Economics. This tutorial, which includes videos, provides an opportunity to learn about the types of soil disturbances that tillage implements have on soil and the effects of disturbance on soil loss. The effects of different tillage types are demonstrated and discussed.

Iowa Producers Learn from Vegetable Variety Trials
Five Iowa fruit and vegetable growers are conducting on-farm research in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa. In 2015, they compared the performance of two bell pepper varieties. This summer, the farmers will assess which broccoli variety performs best as a summer broccoli, which determinate tomato variety performs best in high tunnels, and which of three annual flowering herbs is most attractive to pollinators. The full report on the 2015 research, Bell Pepper Variety Trial—Olympus and Revolution, is available online.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Southern SARE Research & Education Grants
Research & Education Grants are competitive grants that encourage a systems approach in sustainable agriculture. Teams of researchers from public and private institutions, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations are eligible to apply for funding ranging from $100,000 to $300,000. Systems-oriented research must address production, post-harvest food-systems research, or a combination of the two.
Pre-proposals are due June 3, 2016.

Outreach and Education, Technical Assistance, and Financial Education for FSA Programs
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) seeks proposals to further support and expand its existing outreach and education efforts. Emphasis will be afforded to proposals that address producers who are ethnic minorities, women, new and beginning, veterans, urban, or who grow non-commodity crops (e.g., fruits and vegetables or specialty crops). The subject matter should include an introduction to FSA, its programs, and common provisions that generally apply. Public and State institutions of higher education and nonprofits can apply for cooperative agreements up to $99,999.
Applications are due by July 11, 2016.

Value-Added Producer Grant
USDA is making $44 million available to farmers, ranchers, and businesses to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. These grants support planning activities, such as developing a business plan, as well as provide working capital to implement viable value-added business plans. The maximum is $75,000 for planning grants and $250,000 for working capital grants.
The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, 2016. Electronic applications are due June 24, 2016.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

ASAP Farm Tour
June 25-26, 2016
Western North Carolina
The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm Tour is a chance to discover some of Western North Carolina's unique and beautiful working farms through tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Pick up a tour map, choose your route, and set out with your friends and family to learn about the region's agricultural heritage.

California Farm Demonstration Network Farm Visit
June 24, 2016
Firebaugh, California
The California Farm Demonstration Network is hosting a series of farm visits for agricultural producers during May and June that will demonstrate how long-term goals for healthy soil are being achieved at each farm—without compromising production.

Urban Food Systems Symposium
June 22-25, 2016
Olathe, Kansas
This symposium shares knowledge on urban agricultural production, local food systems distribution, urban farmer education, urban ag policy, planning and development, food access and justice, and food sovereignty. The symposium is a partnership between the Kansas State University Global Food Systems Initiative and Cultivate Kansas City.

>> More Events

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Question of the Week
What can you tell me about contract grazing?

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Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Armed to Farm in New York
NCAT is accepting applications until July 1, 2016, for a week-long sustainable agriculture training for military veterans to be held in New York August 8-12, 2016.

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