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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 27, 2009

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
* Cornell Releases Organic Vegetable Publications
* Niche Meat Directory Features Maryland Producers
* USDA Releases Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Publication
* Bee Losses Reported in New Survey
* Watermelons Studied for Ethanol Production
* National Organic Standards Board Seeking Member Nominations


Funding Opportunities
* EQIP Organic Initiative
* New York Farm Viability Grants
* North Central Region SARE Research & Education Grant


Coming Events
* National Value Added Agriculture Conference
* Biodiesel Workshop
* The Organic Summit



News & Resources

Cornell Releases Organic Vegetable Publications
Cornell University has published four new guides to producing organic vegetables for processing. The new guides cover carrots, peas, snap beans, and winter squash. They may be downloaded as free .pdf documents.

Niche Meat Directory Features Maryland Producers
Maryland’s niche meats and poultry producers and the Ag Marketing Program of the University of Maryland Extension have joined together to produce the first Maryland Niche Meats and Poultry Producers Directory. The purpose of the directory is to help restaurants, consumers, food brokers, producers, or anyone looking to purchase the freshest, best quality farm-raised meats available directly from the Maryland farmers who raise it. The directory is available in pdf form at this website (www.agmarketing.umd.edu/) or a hard copy is available upon request.

USDA Releases Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Publication
USDA defines beginning farmers and ranchers as those who have operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less either as a sole operator or with others who have operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less. Beginning farmers tend to be younger than established farmers and to operate smaller farms or ranches, some of which may provide no annual production. Beginning farmers often face obstacles getting started, including high startup costs and limited availability of land. USDA—through the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service—provides loans and conservation assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. This report draws on data from annual surveys and the Census of Agriculture to provide policymakers with a better understanding of beginning farmers and ranchers, including how they contribute to U.S. agricultural production.

Bee Losses Reported in New Survey
Honey bee colony losses nationwide were approximately 29 percent from all causes from September 2008 to April 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 26 percent of apiaries surveyed reported that some of their colonies died of colony collapse disorder (CCD), down from 36 percent of apiaries in 2007-2008. The survey checked on about 20 percent of the country's 2.3 million colonies.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Beekeeping/Apiculture


Watermelons Studied for Ethanol Production
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies in Lane, Okla., have shown that simple sugars in watermelon juice can be made into ethanol. In 2007, growers harvested four billion pounds of watermelon for fresh and cut-fruit markets. Around 800 million pounds--or 20 percent of the total--were left in fields because of external blemishes or deformities. Now, instead of being plowed under, such melons could get an economic "new lease on life" as ethanol. On average, a 20-pound watermelon will yield about 1.4 pounds of sugar from the flesh and rind, from which about seven-tenths of a pound of ethanol can be derived.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Ethanol Opportunities and Questions


National Organic Standards Board Seeking Member Nominations
USDA is Seeking Nominations to the National Organic Standards Board. There are five vacant positions: Organic Producers (2 positions); Retailer (1 position); Organic Handler (1 position); and Environmentalist (1 position). All applicants are required to commit to 5 years of volunteer membership. Most NOSB work is completed through committees on monthly or periodic conference calls, and may also require additional independent time researching issues and drafting documents. Nominations are due by July 17, 2009. For more information, contact: Katherine.Benham@usda.gov or at (202) 205-7806.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

EQIP Organic Initiative
USDA has announced $50 Million for a new initiative to meet the Obama Administration's promise to encourage more organic agriculture production. Funding for the initiative is being made available as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Organic producers may also apply for assistance under general EQIP. Under the Organic Initiative required minimum core conservation practices will be determined by specific resource concerns. The practices are: Conservation Crop Rotation; Cover Crop; Nutrient Management; Pest Management; Prescribed Grazing; and Forage Harvest Management. States must consider using any appropriate practice that meets the resource concern on a particular operation. Applications received from organic producers or producers in transition to organic farming will be accepted under this initiative between May 11 and May 29. The 2009 Organic Initiative will be administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility.
Proposals are due May 29, 2009.

New York Farm Viability Grants
The New York Farm Viability Institute offers several grant programs in an attempt to fund a diversity of projects that address barriers and opportunities to farming in New York State. The unique combinations of collaborators, project delivery and design, program goals, geography, experience, farming practices, and much more, are responsible for much of the innovation in the state’s agriculture, as well as the continued viability of New York farming. Grant programs include: Agriculture Innovation Center program; Energy Management & Bioenergy; and Outreach & Applied Research.
Proposals are due June 7, 2009.

North Central Region SARE Research & Education Grant
The Research and Education (R&E) Grant Program is currently one of four NCR-SARE grant programs. The R&E Grant Program provides funds to collaborative teams of scientists, farmers, institutions, organizations, and educators who are exploring sustainable agriculture through in-depth research projects or education/demonstration projects. Preproposals from any location are accepted, but the preproposal must convince reviewers that project results will benefit NCR agriculture. Most R&E grants go to organizations that are used to handling federal grants and that can meet federal auditing requirements.
Proposals are due June 10, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

National Value Added Agriculture Conference
June 2-4, 2009
Moline, Illinois

Sponsored by Iowa State University Extension Value Added Agriculture Program, University of Illinois, National Food Industry MarketMaker and the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), the conference promises dynamic speakers, great networking opportunities. Conference topics to include value-added agriculture, regional food systems, agri-tourism, and business development.


Biodiesel Workshop
June 2-3, 2009
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

LSU AgCenter is hosting a two-day comprehensive workshop on how to make your own biodiesel fuel from used vegetable oil. Each participant will take home a titration kit including laboratory equipment such as beakers, pipettes and syringes along with safety goggles, a mask and an apron.


The Organic Summit
June 3-5, 2009
Stevenson, Washington

The Organic Summit is a forum for complex discussion and learning for leaders in the organic industry. From family farmers to large scale manufacturers, co-ops to big box, NGOs to academics, the Organic Summit provides a singular opportunity for all groups to come together and have equal voice.


> More Events

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