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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 1, 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
* Guide Aids Understanding of Federal Commodity Payments
* Organic Produce Continues to Command Price Premium
* Mobile Slaughter Facilities Could Help Niche Producers
* Michigan Asparagus Growers Tackle Fresh Pack Market
* Forage-fed Appalachian Beef Shows Less Fat, More Omega-3
* California Winegrowers Battling Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

Funding Opportunities
* American Lamb Board Matching Grant Program
* Northeast SARE Farmer/Grower Grants
* Assistance to High Energy Cost Rural Communities

Coming Events
* Niche Grains: Flax and Low-Lin Soybeans Field Day
* Horse Progress Days 2005
* Grazefest Mississippi 2005


News & Resources

Guide Aids Understanding of Federal Commodity Payments
The Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA has released a new publication explaining how field crop commodity programs work. The Non-Wonk Guide to Understanding Federal Commodity Payments (PDF / 4 MB) is an attempt to explain how field crop commodity programs work, and what these programs mean to the budgets of family farmers. The 30-page publication goes through the payments that farmers receive, how they are calculated, and how they fit together.

Organic Produce Continues to Command Price Premium
An outlook report published by the USDA Economic Research Service in May says that price premiums for organic produce are continuing, even as the organic market expands. Price Premiums Hold on as U.S. Organic Produce Market Expands examines trends in organic prices and market margins for broccoli, carrots, and mesclun mix. The data show that, while organic wholesale price premiums for mesclun mix are narrowing, wholesale and farmgate premiums for broccoli and carrots remain strong. The data from the report, with monthly organic farmgate and wholesale prices for broccoli, carrots and mesclun mix, are available online.
URL: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/vgs/may05/vgs30801/

Mobile Slaughter Facilities Could Help Niche Producers
The Montana legislature recently passed a measure that authorizes state inspection of mobile slaughter facilities, reports the Billings Gazette. Currently, mobile units are used to slaughter animals for personal consumption, but state inspection of the units means that producers will be able to sell their meat to restaurants, individuals, and stores across the state. The units will cater to small-scale niche marketers and will reduce stress on animals by virtually eliminating the distance they are shipped to slaughter. A farmers' cooperative in Washington State has a successful mobile slaughter program in place, and several other states are considering the concept.
URL: http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/

Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Meat Marketing

Michigan Asparagus Growers Tackle Fresh Pack Market
Asparagus growers in Michigan, facing low prices in the canned and frozen asparagus markets, are working their way into the fresh pack market, says a feature from Michigan Land Use Institute. While South American imports drove asparagus prices lower, they also helped build a market for the vegetable, and now Michigan growers are taking advantage of their location to supply fresh asparagus in their region. The farmers' efforts have been aided by the Select Michigan promotional campaign that helped publicize the in-state asparagus industry and keep prices higher for fresh asparagus that didn't have to travel thousands of miles. The growers have also worked to develop distribution chains that keep the asparagus cold en route, to maintain quality. Michigan asparagus growers have formed a cooperative, to position them for the fresh-food market and demonstrate their ability to reliably supply product.
URL: http://mlui.org/growthmanagement/fullarticle.asp?fileid=16870

Forage-fed Appalachian Beef Shows Less Fat, More Omega-3
A three-year research project on forage-fed Appalachian beef shows that it may be a hit with health-conscious shoppers, reports Georgia FACES. The University of Georgia analyzed beef raised solely on forages in Virginia and West Virginia, and found the fat content of the forage-finished steaks to be 40 percent lower than that of grain-finished steaks. In addition, the forage-fed beef had higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acid, and a better ratio of omega-6-to-omega-3, as well as being higher in fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin E and beta carotene. It also had double concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid. According to the story, the project will continue this fall, as researchers begin taste-panel studies and start comparing three types of forage feeding systems.
URL: http://georgiafaces.caes.uga.edu/storypage.cfm?storyid=2508

California Winegrowers Battling Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter
California winegrowers are voting this month on a self-assessment program that would fund continued research on the glassy-winged sharpshooter, says KTVU.com. The tax of $3 per $1000 of grapes sold would provide money for continued research on controls for the insect, which spreads a vine disease called Pierce's Disease that can be fatal for grapevines and also threatens other plants. Meanwhile, the winegrowers will soon have a new tool to use against sharpshooter infestations. Last week a parasitic wasp from Minnesota was approved by the USDA for use as a biocontrol agent in California, reports The Sacramento Bee. This wasp will join four others used in the state's biocontrol program, but the Minnesota wasp is outstanding for its winter-hardiness and the number of offspring it produces.
URL: http://www.ktvu.com/news/4529624/detail.html
Related ATTRA Publication: Kaolin Clay for Management of Glassy-winged Sharpshooter in Grapes

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

American Lamb Board Matching Grant Program
The American Lamb Board is now soliciting 2005 Matching Grant Program proposals. The ALB developed the Matching Grant Program to expand its marketing and promotions activities by creating collaborative partnerships with industry organizations. Industry organizations are invited to submit proposals that expand or strengthen the market for American Lamb. The projects funded in 2004 expanded ALBs efforts to educate consumers, retailers and chefs at the local level. A total of $40,000 is budgeted for 2005 grant funding. The grants require a 1-to-1 cash match from the grant recipient. The deadline for receiving grant applications is July 8, 2005.
URL: http://www.americanlambboard.org/index.phtml

Northeast SARE Farmer/Grower Grants
The Northeast Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) has recently released updated application materials for its Farmer/Grower grant program. These grants support Northeast farmers who want to explore innovative sustainable practices on their farms. To apply, you must be a full- or part-time commercial farmer in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Vermont, or Washington, D.C. Community farms and farms associated with a nonprofit institution may apply, but only if they are growing and selling agricultural products under the same economic constraints that affect commercial growers. Farmer/Grower Grant applications can be downloaded from the Northeast SARE Web site, or a printed application can be requested by calling (802) 656-0471 or by emailing nesare@uvm.edu. The deadline for applications is December 6, 2005.
URL: http://www.uvm.edu/%7Enesare/FGinfo.html

Assistance to High Energy Cost Rural Communities
The USDA's Rural Utilities Services High Energy Cost Grant Program offers financial assistance to provide, improve, or reduce the costs of energy generation, transmission, and distribution services for rural communities with home energy costs that are over 275 percent of the national average. Grants may be used for the acquisition, construction, installation, repair, replacement, or improvement of energy generation, transmission, or distribution facilities in high energy cost communities. On-grid and off-grid renewable energy projects, and implementation of energy efficiency, and energy conservation projects are eligible. Estimated total program funding is $19.5 million. Applications are due July 25, 2005.
URL: http://fedgrants.gov/Applicants/USDA/RD/RUS/

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

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Coming Events

Niche Grains: Flax and Low-Lin Soybeans Field Day
June 21, 2005
Washington, Iowa

This event is the first in the 2005 series of field days hosted by Practical Farmers of Iowa. The event looks at organic flax: production tips; flax variety comparison; market options and outlook, on a farm with 300 acres farmed organically.
URL: http://www.practicalfarmers.org/news_details.asp?ID=&I=54

Horse Progress Days 2005
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
July 1-2, 2005

Horse Progress Days is the only trade show in the world focusing on newly designed and manufactured horse-powered farming and logging equipment, all demonstrated by a variety of breeds of draft horses and mules. Hitches of 1-12 animals demonstrate plowing, hay making, produce planting and lots of other farm-related activities.
URL: http://www.ruralheritage.com/progress/

Grazefest Mississippi 2005
July 22-23, 2005
Jackson, Mississippi

Pasture-based farmers, chefs, and representatives from farm organizations and the farm products and services industry gather for presentations, panel discussions, a trade show and food festival.
URL: http://www.usgrassfed.com/_wsn/page4.html

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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