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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 22, 2013

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

  • USDA Unveils Organic Agriculture Vision
  • Poultry Drug Increases Levels of Toxic Arsenic in Chicken Meat
  • Web-based Tool Tailors Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendations
  • ERS Studies How Energy is Affecting Agriculture
  • Nematode-Resistant Wheat Can Help Protect Tomatoes in Rotation
  • Social Media Helps Farmers Reduce Waste, Boost Profits

Funding Opportunities

  • Southern Region SARE Professional Development Program
  • Georgia Conservation Innovation Grant
  • Indiana Specialty Crop Block Grant

Coming Events

  • Montana Organic Association's Summer Farm Tour
  • Perennial Permaculture Farm and Organic Valley Field Trip
  • How to Sell Fruits and Vegetables to the USDA Webinar

News & Resources

Agriculture Secretary Unveils Organic Agriculture Vision
Speaking to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed his vision for U.S. organic agriculture. Vilsack announced a number of changes and new initiatives to support the continued growth of organic agriculture, including increased crop insurance coverage options for organic producers. Vilsack also said USDA will be providing new guidance and direction on organic production to all USDA agencies.

Poultry Drug Increases Levels of Toxic Arsenic in Chicken Meat
A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and published in Environmental Health Perspectives is the first to show concentrations of specific forms of arsenic in retail chicken meat, and the first to compare those concentrations according to whether or not the poultry was raised with arsenical drugs. The Center says the findings provide evidence that arsenical use in chickens poses public health risks. In addition, the researchers were able to identify residual roxarsone in the conventional meat they studied. In the meat where roxarsone was detected, levels of inorganic arsenic were four times higher than the levels in USDA Organic chicken.

Web-based Tool Tailors Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendations
A free Web-based tool developed at Cornell, Adapt-N, draws on local soil, crop, and weather data to provide real-time estimates of nitrogen fertilizer needs for corn, throughout the season. The tool helped farmers save an estimated $200,000 in 2012 by reducing fertilizer use on approximately 7,500 acres of land. Plans are to further refine the Adapt-N simulations to incorporate soil health indicators and cover crops.

ERS Studies How Energy is Affecting Agriculture
USDA Economic Research Service has released a new report, Agriculture's Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products. The study found that farmers have adapted to rising energy prices and evolving policies by adjusting their use of energy-based agricultural inputs, altering energy-intensive production practices, and growing more energy-feedstock crops.
Related ATTRA Resource: Conserving Fuel and Electricity

Nematode-Resistant Wheat Can Help Protect Tomatoes in Rotation
A study published online in Crop Science says that researchers found a resistant strain of wheat called Lassik that can reduce nematode numbers in soil, thus protecting tomato plants grown in the field in the next crop rotation. The results from the study offer a promising option for reducing nematode damage.
Related ATTRA Publication: Nematodes: Alternative Controls

Social Media Helps Farmers Reduce Waste, Boost Profits
When a family farm in Sonoma County, California, was faced with unsold vegetables after farmers markets, they turned to Facebook to help sell them quickly, reports KQED. Success in that instance led the farmer to create the website CropMobster. In the six weeks the site has been operating, it has found homes for 11,000 pounds of local food that would otherwise have been wasted.
Related ATTRA Publication: Social Media Tools for Farm Product Marketing

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Southern Region SARE Professional Development Program
The Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program is requesting pre-proposals for projects that provide training on sustainable agriculture for agricultural professionals and educators who serve farmers and other interested people in USDA's southern region. For 2013, the program is inviting pre-proposals focused on training trainers in each state/protectorate in the region to help limited resource farmers/ranchers understand how to apply for and participate in Federal and State sustainable agricultural programs.
Pre-proposals must be submitted by June 3, 2013.

Georgia Conservation Innovation Grant
NRCS is requesting applications for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. For fiscal year 2013, up to $300,000 is available for the Georgia State CIG competition. Individual grants will not exceed $75,000 from NRCS.
Applications are due by June 3, 2013.

Indiana Specialty Crop Block Grant
Grants can be used for enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops through a number of identified issue areas: increasing consumption of specialty crops; improving distribution systems; developing good practices; specialty crop research; enhancing food safety; developing new and improved seed varieties; pest and disease control; sustainability; and market promotion.
Applications are due June 1, 2013.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Montana Organic Association's Summer Farm Tour
June 29, 2013
Belgrade, Montana

Participants will be touring three farms in the Bozeman area: a grass-finished beef, hay, and small grains operation; an organic goat dairy; and Towne's Harvest on the Montana State University campus, where students get hands-on instruction in organic vegetable systems.

Perennial Permaculture Farm and Organic Valley Field Trip
July 5-6, 2013
Viola, Wisconsin

Join Mark Shepard, founder and president of the Restoration Agriculture Institute and an Organic Valley member-farmer, for a special two-day tour of sustainable agriculture in southwest Wisconsin. On Saturday, participants will tour New Forest Farm's 100-acre property to see polycultures of perennial plants.

How to Sell Fruits and Vegetables to the USDA Webinar
June 27, 2013
Online
At 2:00 p.m. EDT, USDA will present a free interactive webinar. Tune in to learn everything you need to get started selling your fruits and vegetables to USDA. This webinar is designed for fruit and vegetable growers, processors, and distributors of all sizes. Registration is required and space is limited.

>> 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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