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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 3, 2015

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • Organic Agriculture More Profitable, According to Comprehensive Study
  • Southern SARE Develops Topic Room of Pollinator Resources
  • EPA Proposes Pesticide Restrictions to Protect Bees
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program Incentives to Resume
  • Conservation Client Gateway Helps Farmers, Ranchers Work with NRCS Online
  • Research Explores Double-Cropping Bioenergy Feedstock and Vegetables

Funding Opportunities

  • USDA Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program
  • Ceres Trust Organic Research Initiative
  • California State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program

Coming Events

  • Drip Irrigation School
  • Sell What You Grow: Diversifying Your Market Opportunities
  • Silvopasture Training Workshop

News & Resources

Organic Agriculture More Profitable, According to Comprehensive Study
A study by Washington State University researchers found that organic agriculture is more profitable for farmers than conventional agriculture. The global study showed that despite lower yields, the profit margins for organic agriculture were significantly greater, with premiums ranging from 29% to 32% above conventional prices. The study concludes that there's room for organic agriculture to grow because it can remain profitable even if premiums drop over time.
Related ATTRA Publication: Planning for Profit in Sustainable Farming

Southern SARE Develops Topic Room of Pollinator Resources
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) program has developed an online topic room with educational materials on pollinators from decades of SARE-funded research. Pollinators: Southern Region Resources on Honeybees, Native Bees and Alternative Pollinators covers pest and disease management, as well as beekeeping practices, bee breeding, habitat development, and incorporating bees in sustainable production practices.

EPA Proposes Pesticide Restrictions to Protect Bees
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule that would place label restrictions on pesticides in order to protect bees. These would prohibit bloom-time foliar application of pesticides acutely toxic to bees when managed bees are known to be present. EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule until June 29, 2015. In addition, EPA is seeking comment on a proposal to rely on efforts made by states and tribes to reduce pesticide exposures through development of locally based measures, specifically through managed-pollinator protection plans.

Biomass Crop Assistance Program Incentives to Resume
USDA has announced that the Biomass Crop Assistance Program will resume incentives this summer for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners interested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy. Financial assistance is available through BCAP for costs associated with harvesting and transporting agriculture or forest residues to facilities that convert biomass crops into energy.

Conservation Client Gateway Helps Farmers, Ranchers Work with NRCS Online
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has introduced a new online portal, the Conservation Client Gateway, that will help producers work with conservation planners online to access Farm Bill programs, request assistance, and track payments for their conservation activities. The Conservation Client Gateway gives producers a choice between conducting business online or traveling to a USDA service center.

Research Explores Double-Cropping Bioenergy Feedstock and Vegetables
University of Illinois crop scientist Marty Williams explored a cropping system using a large-seeded short-season vegetable crop (pumpkins) in combination with a fall-planted cereal rye as a bioenergy feedstock. Pumpkin yields in the double-cropping system were comparable to conventional pumpkin production and the biomass feedstock yielded an average of 4.4 tons per acre. The system looks promising for producing energy without taking land out of food production.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

USDA Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program
This program assists organizations that provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. USDA plans to make up to $3 million in grants available, with a maximum award of $175,000. Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers, and cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups.
Applications must be mailed by July 20, 2015; electronic submissions must be made by July 14, 2015.

Ceres Trust Organic Research Initiative
Ceres Trust offers a competitive Organic Research Initiative program that provides grants of up to $60,000 per year for up to three years to universities and other nonprofit applicants in the North Central Region. Priority research areas are listed online.
Applications are due by September 25, 2015.

California State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has announced that an estimated $10 million will be available to provide financial assistance to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on California agricultural operations. Agricultural operations can apply for grant funding up to $150,000 per project.
Applications are due by June 29, 2015.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Drip Irrigation School
June 29, 2015
Ames, Iowa

Attend a day of professional development at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will understand the basic principles of drip irrigation systems, be able to determine when and how much water to apply, and be able to assemble a drip system.

Sell What You Grow: Diversifying Your Market Opportunities
June 24, 2015
Online

Join this North Carolina webinar to learn more about the pros and cons of selling to a variety of local markets and how to determine if they are a good match for your operation. Find strategies and tools for connecting with buyers and promoting your products.

Silvopasture Training Workshop
June 25, 2015
Goldsboro, North Carolina

This Center for Environmental Farming Systems Workshop will cover seedling selection, spacing, pruning, fertilization, the efficiency of multi-row and multi-species tree planting, and financial assistance. A field tour is included.

>> More Events

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