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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 30, 2012

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.

Join the NCAT Team!
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist for our San Antonio, Texas, office. This is a great opportunity for a motivated, enthusiastic individual to help family farmers in Texas and surrounding states. The specialist must be experienced and skilled at building and developing relationships with small farmers and sustainable agriculture organizations. Application information is available online.

News & Resources

  • Cornell Study Reports Insect Pollination Worth $29 Billion to U.S. Farmers
  • USDA Seeks Comment on Proposed Microloan Program for Small Farmers
  • Northeast Agriculture Groups Identify Farm Bill Priorities
  • Farmers Market Updates Due by June 5
  • Updated Publication Helps Growers Prevent GMO Contamination
  • Soil Sensors Save Georgia Irrigation Water

Funding Opportunities

  • Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant
  • Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program National Integrated Water Quality Program
  • Maine Specialty Crop Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Empowering Women Veterans: Business, Agriculture & Well-Being
  • Starting an Organic Fruit Orchard: Using Innovative Practices to Build Success from the Ground Up
  • CCOF Postharvest Field Day

News & Resources

Cornell Study Reports Insect Pollination Worth $29 Billion to U.S. Farmers
According to a Cornell study published in the May 22 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, crops pollinated by honeybees and other insects contributed $29 billion to farm income in 2010. Honeybees pollinated $12.4 billion worth of directly dependent crops and $6.8 billion worth of indirectly dependent crops in 2010. Meanwhile, other insects, including alfalfa leaf cutter bees, bumblebees, horn-faced bees, and orchard bees, added $4 billion and $5.9 billion in directly and indirectly dependent crops, respectively. Any shortfall in managed or wild pollinators could seriously threaten production levels of directly and indirectly pollinated crops, according to the paper.
Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees

USDA Seeks Comment on Proposed Microloan Program for Small Farmers
USDA is seeking comments on a proposal to improve its Operating Loan Program to better meet the needs of small farmers with a new microloan program. Under the proposal, producers who need a loan for less than $35,000 could apply using simplified and streamlined procedures. The proposed rule can be viewed online. Comments should be submitted by July 23, 2012.

Northeast Agriculture Groups Identify Farm Bill Priorities
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, New England Farmers Union Educational Foundation, Wholesome Wave, and others have released A Northeast Farm Bill Agenda: Priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill. Not only does the document include policy and funding priorities, but it also provides an overview of the regional farm and food system.

Farmers Market Updates Due by June 5
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service agency works to maintain a current listing of farmers markets in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory. Market listings submitted online by June 5 will be published in the directory by June 26.

Updated Publication Helps Growers Prevent GMO Contamination
The University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center has released GMO Contamination Prevention: What Does It Take? This publication outlines practices that growers can take to prevent, or at least minimize, genetic drift, commingling, and other forms of GMO contamination. Strategies for GMO growers to use and practices for non-GMO growers to employ to prevent contamination are discussed separately. The eight-page document is online as an 8MB PDF file.

Soil Sensors Save Georgia Irrigation Water
Scientific American reports that a Georgia project is using soil moisture meters to help inform farmers when to irrigate. Other technologies, such as low-pressure and variable-rate irrigation, are also helping to save water. Together, these technologies are not only expected to save farmers money but also to conserve water in surface waterways.
Related ATTRA Publication: Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools and Methods

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant
USDA Rural Development's Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG) program provides grants up to $175,000 for technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers through eligible cooperatives and cooperative development centers.
Applications are due by July 24, 2012.

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program National Integrated Water Quality Program
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture announces the availability of approximately $4 million in grant funds to address critical agricultural water-quality issues in the United States. Projects funded through this program will work to solve water-resource problems by advancing and disseminating the knowledge base available to agricultural, rural, and urbanizing communities.
Application deadline is June 28, 2012.

Maine Specialty Crop Grant Program
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources is requesting proposals for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of Maine specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets. Individuals, commodity groups, agricultural organizations, buy-local organizations, colleges and universities, producers, municipalities, state agencies, and agricultural nonprofit organizations can apply.
Proposals are due by June 8, 2012.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Empowering Women Veterans: Business, Agriculture & Well-Being
July 7-8, 2012
Davis, California

The Farmer Veteran Coalition is hosting a conference that aims to bring women veterans together in an environment specifically designed to address their unique experiences and needs in agriculture. Women leaders in business and agriculture will speak to participants about the challenges faced by women, the tools to mitigate risk in their agricultural ventures, and available programs to help women farmers succeed.

Starting an Organic Fruit Orchard: Using Innovative Practices to Build Success from the Ground Up
June 28, 2012
Fairfield, Pennsylvania

This PASA and Future Harvest-CASA field day takes place at Apple Tree Vineyard & Farm. Participants will take away an understanding of goal setting, site selection, variety selection, training and trellis systems, and basic organic tree-fruit production techniques.

CCOF Postharvest Field Day
June 27, 2012
Pescadero, California
California Certified Organic Farmers presents a field day focused on low-tech, low-cost postharvest handling techniques for small- to mid-scale organic farmers. The field day visits three farms to observe innovative postharvest handling facilities in action. This field day will emphasize the importance of postharvest handling in maintaining the integrity of an organic product throughout the supply chain and ensuring quality delivery to the end consumer.

>> 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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© 2012 NCAT

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New Publications
Tips for Selling through CSAs - Community Supported Agriculture / Consejos para vender a través de CSAs - Agricultura Apoyada por la Comunidad

Question of the Week
What are the benefits of cover crops?

Webinars
May 31 — Tropical and Semi-Tropical Organic Crop Production
June 14Risks and Returns on Renewable-Energy Investments

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