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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 26, 2010

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 Releases Local Food Systems Report
* New Publication Gives Overview of Organic Agriculture
* Sign-up for Direct Payment and ACRE Programs Ends June 1
* MOSES Accepting Farmer of the Year Nominations
* Saving Fuel on the Farm by Making Hay
* Slide Show Highlights Urban Farmers

Funding Opportunities
* North Central SARE Research & Education Grant
* NY Farms! Grant
* Organic Transitions Program

Coming Events
* Organic Apple Intensive Workshop
* Goat Parasite Workshop
* Entrepreneurial Farming Workshop

News & Resources

USDA Releases Local Food Systems Report
USDA Economic Research Service has just released a new report entitled: "Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts and Issues" (PDF/1.5MB). This comprehensive overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems.

New Publication Gives Overview of Organic Agriculture
The meaning and origin of the USDA-certified organic label remain a mystery to many Americans. A new, free online publication, "A Brief Overview of the History and Philosophy of Organic Agriculture," (PDF/605KB) from the Kerr Center, an Oklahoma non-profit foundation, can help fill that knowledge gap. The report offers valuable background for anyone seeking to understand the past - or potential future - of organic food, farming, and regulation.

Sign-up for Direct Payment and ACRE Programs Ends June 1
Growers not yet signed up for the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP) or the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program should plan to do so before June 1, the sign-up deadline. USDA said this week that more than 75 percent of an expected 1.7 million farms have already enrolled in the program, but time for signing up is quickly coming to a close. Numerous resources are available to help producers make informed decisions on program enrollment. Farm Service Agency county office staff can answer many questions on program rules, application procedures and possible benefits. FSA also has launched an ACRE Web page with educational information, including an electronic program payment calculator. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) offers an ACRE calculator that has been updated as of early April . ACRE calculators and decision tools can also be found on some land grant university websites. Producers may complete and sign 2010 ACRE election forms and DCP and ACRE contracts at any USDA Service Center or they can enroll on the USDA website.

MOSES Accepting Farmer of the Year Nominations
The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Organic Farmer of the Year Award is given to an organic farmer practicing outstanding land stewardship, innovation and outreach. MOSES is seeking nominees that are innovative in their organic farming management, show excellence in enhancing farm resources, and are an inspiration to organic farmers, consumers and/or others in the organic community. Nominations are due September 15, 2010.

Saving Fuel on the Farm by Making Hay
A new look at crop rotation could cut energy use for agriculture. Farmers can slash their fossil fuel use, while still growing bumper crops and turning a profit—all with the help of a little more crop rotation, concluded the team of researchers from Iowa State University after a six-year study. In tests on a research farm in Iowa, the team mixed oats, alfalfa, and other crops into the rotation along with corn and soybeans, the two mainstays of the U.S. Corn Belt. With a more diverse set of crops, the farms needed only a fraction of the normal amounts of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, both of which are typically manufactured from natural gas. One key was using alfalfa, which captures nitrogen from the air and stores it in the soil. Thanks to this natural fertilization, the fields planted with alfalfa needed only about one-quarter the usual amount of nitrogen from chemical fertilizers. Agronomy professor Matt Liebman and a team of researchers at Iowa State University found that a farm could cut its fossil fuel use in half by shifting to a four-year cycle—adding a year of another grain, such as oats, and a year of alfalfa, a legume, to the typical corn-soy rotation. These low-energy fields produced as many calories worth of crops, and generated about the same amount of money. "Our interest was not just how much corn we might be able to produce, but how much income might be generated on the farm," Liebman said.

Slide Show Highlights Urban Farmers
This slide show is a tour of some of the country’s most innovative approaches to urban agriculture. These urban farms are training entrepreneurs, teaching kids about farming, and providing food for communities. From indoor fish farms to business training for refugees, enjoy this slide show of 11 pioneers.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Start a Farm in the City

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North Central SARE Research & Education Grant
Many agricultural researchers today acknowledge the connection between nature and what we eat, generating ideas on environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible agricultural systems. The USDA’s North Central Region (NCR) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program supports innovators with competitive Research and Education grants. Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000.ganizations, Tribes, or individuals. The grants require a 50-50 match between the agency and the applicant.
Proposals are due June 10, 2010.

NY Farms! Grant
The mission of NY Farms! is to strengthen New York agriculture and food systems by: creating public awareness of the importance of farming; promoting agriculture and food system literacy; and fostering consumer loyalty to New York farm products. NY Farms! links farmers, consumers, businesses and organizations to build a sustainable future for New York State agriculture. NY Farms! funds will be distributed as organizational operating grants and as grants for specific projects that will work toward achieving the founding vision of NY Farms!
Proposals are due June 11, 2010.

Organic Transitions Program
The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. In FY 2010, ORG will focus on environmental services provided by organic farming systems that support soil conservation and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Proposals are due July 1, 2010.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Organic Apple Intensive Workshop
June 5-6, 2010
Groveton, New Hampshire

This "organic apple everything" weekend with Michael at the farm inspires people to pursue their own orchard dreams. Come gain the practical insights needed to establish your own fruit planting based on the biological systems approach used here at Lost Nation Orchard.

Goat Parasite Workshop
June 5, 2010
Poteau, Oklahoma

The Kerr Center and OSU Cooperative Extension will jointly sponsor this workshop to help goat producers learn the most effective strategies for parasite prevention and management.

Entrepreneurial Farming Workshop
June 7, 2010
Springfield, Illinois

"Is Entrepreneurial Farming For You?" is a half-day, interactive workshop designed to help you decide if entrepreneurial farming is for you. You will have the opportunity to meet experienced sustainable farmers, Farm Beginnings graduates, and other prospective farmers who will help you assess your resources and readiness to launch a farm business.

> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageThe 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. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

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