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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 25, 2005

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.

News & Resources
* Study Shows Antibiotic Use in Chickens Contributes to Resistance
* Shiitake Mushroom Farm Showcases Sustainable Practices
* Value-added Pork Breeds Success
* 'Select Michigan' Program Promotes State Food
* GM Food Study Raises Human Health Concerns
* Editorial Supports Development of Regional Food Policies

Funding Opportunities
* Native Plant Conservation Initiative
* Energy Trust Biomass Energy RFP
* Pennsylvania Public Grazing Education

Coming Events
* Range Field Day: Sustaining the Land, Sustaining the People
* CSA Budgeting and Labor Management Workshop
* Midwest Specialty Grains Conference & Trade Show


News & Resources

Study Shows Antibiotic Use in Chickens Contributes to Resistance
Mounting evidence indicates that the use of antibiotics in the poultry industry is contributing to antibiotic resistance in strains of foodborne bacteria that infect humans. Campylobacter is one bacterium that causes food poisoning as a result of eating undercooked contaminated chicken. A new study published in the May 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives looked at Campylobacter isolates in chicken products from four companies: two that had once used the antibiotic fluoroquinolone for flock-wide treatment and two that never had. Researchers found antibiotic-free products were not more likely to carry Campylobacter, that a high percentage of conventional brands were contaminated with fluoroquinolone-resistant bacteria, and that conventional brands had significantly higher odds of carrying resistant strains of Campylobacter compared with antibiotic-free products. The abstract and full article are available online.
URL: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2005/113-5/ss.html#poul

Shiitake Mushroom Farm Showcases Sustainable Practices
The Columbia Missourian recently ran a feature on Ozark Forest Mushrooms, highlighting the sustainable practices used by growers Nicola Macpherson and Dan Hellmuth. Ozark Forest Mushrooms produces shiitake mushrooms on oak wood harvested from their own land. Some trees are cut each year on the property, as part of an agroforestry plan. The logs are sold and the branch wood is used to grow mushrooms. When the logs can no longer grow mushrooms, they are used as fuel to heat a greenhouse that helps extend the farm's mushroom-producing season. The farm is certified organic.
URL: http://columbiamissourian.com/taste/story.php?ID=13831
Related ATTRA Publication: Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing

Value-added Pork Breeds Success
Small-scale hog producers are seeking out niche markets in order to compete in an industry dominated by large-scale production and a few big packers, according to an AP article carried by Forbes. Hog farmers are engaging in direct marketing to consumers, offering natural and organic pork, and assuring that their hogs are raised humanely in order to capture markets not likely to be filled by larger producers. Farmers also are raising more heirloom breeds, such as Berkshire hogs, which grow more slowly and produce smaller litters but fetch higher prices at market.
URL: http://www.forbes.com/business/feeds/ap/2005/05/16/ap2028469.html

'Select Michigan' Program Promotes State Food
Michigan has launched its 2005 "Select Michigan" promotion aimed at increasing awareness and consumption of Michigan-grown, processed or manufactured food products, says Michigan Ag Connection. Select Michigan encourages purchase of state agricultural products as a means of strengthening local economies, supporting farm businesses, and preserving the state's agricultural heritage. The program uses a logo to help consumers identify agricultural products originating in the state. This year Select Michigan is working with retailers to promote the state's soybeans, asparagus, peaches, carrots and apples, and will also sponsor a December promotion of holiday foods from the state.
URL: http://www.michiganagconnection.com/story-state.cfm?Id=258&yr=2005

GM Food Study Raises Human Health Concerns
Confidential internal research carried out by Monsanto has raised concerns that eating genetically modified (GM) corn may harm human health, reveals The Independent. The research shows rats fed a heavy diet of GM corn developed smaller kidneys and changes in the composition of their blood. The same changes were not observed in a control group of rats fed non-GM food. The disclosures come as the European Union prepares to vote on whether to allow the sale of MON 863, a product that is genetically modified to protect against corn rootworm. Monsanto has dismissed the furor over the study results, according to Reuters, claiming the differences are inconsequential. Scientists and British ministers, however, are calling for further studies. MON 863 has been grown commercially in the United States since 2003.
URL: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/

Editorial Supports Development of Regional Food Policies
An editorial by Neil Peirce in the Houston Chronicle asks whether America is ready for a metropolitan agriculture policy and examines some of the issues that impact the answer. Peirce notes that Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., has called for a shift in federal farm subsidies from supporting big commodity crops to supporting sustainable agriculture, creating a farmer's market in every community, and embracing conservation goals. There are several reasons the time is ripe to support a dramatic restructuring of agricultural policy, argues Peirce, including a growing demand for fresh local food at universities, mounting health concerns, and the success of the organic foods industry.
URL: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/editorial/outlook/3193380

For more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.

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Funding Opportunities

Native Plant Conservation Initiative
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with the Plant Conservation Alliance, is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals for the 2005 Native Plant Conservation Initiative (NPCI). Through this initiative, grants of federal dollars will be provided to non-profit organizations and agencies at all levels of government to promote the conservation of native plants. NPCI grants are modest, ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 with an average grant size of $15,000. It is expected that all grant funds will be matched by non-federal contributions from project partners. There is a strong preference for "on-the-ground" projects that involve local communities and citizen volunteers in the restoration of native plant communities. Projects that include a pollinator conservation component are also encouraged. Pre-proposals for the next funding round are due August 15, 2005.
URL: http://www.nfwf.org/programs/npci.htm

Energy Trust Biomass Energy RFP
Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc., seeks proposals for projects that will generate electricity from certain biomass resources. Eligible projects must produce electric power from wood waste, manure digestion, landfill gas, or other eligible sources of biomass. Projects must be grid-connected and located in the service territory of Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) or the Oregon territory of PacifiCorp. Or, if they are located elsewhere, they must secure a power purchase agreement with one of those utilities and arrange power delivery. Energy Trust has a strong preference for Oregon-based projects. Up to $4.7 million in funding will be available. Round 1 proposals are due June 24, 2005.
URL: http://www.energytrust.org/RR/bio/forms.html

Pennsylvania Public Grazing Education
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pennsylvania State Office, is soliciting proposals from interested parties to increase the awareness of landowners and the general public of the benefits of properly grazed lands by promoting grazing knowledge throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under the solicitation, two grants of up to $30,000 can be awarded for entities to assist the NRCS in educational programs within Pennsylvania, through activities such as newsletters, a Web site, news releases, field days, and conferences. Applications must be received by 4:00 PM on June 22, 2005.
URL: http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/USDA/NRCS/17110/

For additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.

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Coming Events

Range Field Day: Sustaining the Land, Sustaining the People
June 28, 2005
Union, Oregon

Oregon State University's range field day is a cooperative effort of the Department of Rangeland Resources and the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Featured presentations include monitoring riparian zones, new techniques for managing rangelands, impacts of western juniper on watersheds, and new ideas about how grazing influences soil compaction. Afternoon topics include riparian grazing research, managing forests for timber and forage, and an overview of research on the riparian ecosystems of Catherine Creek.
URL: http://www.orcattle.com/OSURangeDay05.htm

CSA Budgeting and Labor Management Workshop
June 30, 2005
Glen Rock, Pennsylvania

This event in the PASA Farm-based Education series offers an in-depth look at how to create a realistic budget, plan for labor and make the most of volunteers in your CSA. Presenters will provide examples of record keeping and give tips on managing surplus trading. The event is hosted by Sproutwood Farm, a 26 acre educational non-profit farm with a 100-member CSA.
URL: http://www.pasafarming.org/programs/2005_csa_management.html

Midwest Specialty Grains Conference & Trade Show
August 23-25, 2005
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Midwest Shippers' Association (MSA), a regional cooperative association consisting of specialty grain growers and processors, is hosting the 2nd annual conference, "Enhancing Relationships in the Global Marketplace." Attendees at the Midwest Specialty Grains Conference will have a great opportunity to meet a multitude of specialty grain growers, processors and end-users, brought together to learn from one another and to be exposed to the current trends and challenges facing the emerging specialty grain industry.
URL: http://www.mnshippers.com/conference/index2.cfm

More events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.

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Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives Available Online
Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are now available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
URL: http://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageThe National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our sustainable agriculture projects.

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