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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 4, 2008

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
* Minnesota's Organic Memorandum of Understanding to be Signed
* Vermont to Allow Hemp Production
* Soil Quality CD Available
* Food Summit to Convene
* New Study Finds Benefits in Drinking Organic Milk
* 'Farm Dreams' Workshops Offered in Illinois

Funding Opportunities
* New York Agriculture Innovation Center Grant
* Oregon State Weed Board Grant Program
* Wisconsin Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grant

Coming Events
* Texas Alliance for Water Conservation Field Day
* Conservation Tillage Systems in a Changing World
* Farmscaping for Beneficials Farm Walk at Columbia Blossom Orchard

News & Resources

Minnesota's Organic Memorandum of Understanding to be Signed
A group of state and federal agencies will formalize their commitment to Minnesota's organic agriculture industry with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week in St. Paul. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will join nine other state and federal agencies and the University of Minnesota in pledging support of this expanding industry. In the MOU, agency heads agree to share organic information and resources. The memorandum assures that these organizations will encourage and support organic research, demonstrations, and field days to showcase production practices, conservation measures and economic performance. In 2002, five Minnesota agencies formed the first state-level organic MOU in the nation. That five-year agreement will be expanded and renewed in a ceremony on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Vermont to Allow Hemp Production
Vermont farmers might have a new chance to diversify their operations. Governor Jim Douglas allowed a bill that permits farms to plant crops of industrial hemp to become law without his signature. Federal law prohibits cultivation of hemp because it comes from the same plant that marijuana does. But lawmakers believe there eventually will be a change in federal policy. Advocates say hemp can be used to make a variety of products, from cosmetics to food to clothing. So legislators overwhelmingly adopted a law that directs the Agriculture Agency to be ready when there is a change. USAgNet reports the Agriculture Agency will be required to draw up rules for hemp cultivation so farmers could be licensed as soon as federal law changes. North Dakota is the only other state that has done the same thing.

Soil Quality CD Available
Ohio State University Extension has a new tool available to educate farmers and educators about soil quality, reports Ohio Ag Connection. The Soil Quality Workshop CD includes lecture slides, video, and references that outline the fundamentals of soil quality and organic matter through various management practices. The CD addresses topics such as cover crops, tillage and compaction, and the benefits of maintaining healthy soils. The CD also walks viewers through use of the OSU Extension Soil Quality Test Kit. The CD can be ordered online for $35.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Sustainable Soil Management

Food Summit to Convene
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is convening a High-Level Conference on World Food Security June 3-5 in Rome. The objective of this conference is to assist countries and the international community in finding sustainable solutions by identifying the policies, strategies and programs required to safeguard world food security. Heads of State and Government and ministers will discuss the current global food situation with soaring food prices, how climate change affects agriculture, and how agriculture can contribute to reduce climate change.

New Study Finds Benefits in Drinking Organic Milk
In a new study, scientists found higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants and "healthy" fat in milk from organically farmed animals. The researchers believe that letting cows graze on fresh grass boosts the nutritional value of their milk. The benefits could include a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. The study, which analyzed produce from 25 farms, found that organic milk contained 67 per cent more antioxidants and vitamins than ordinary milk. Scientists at Newcastle University also found organic milk contained 60 per cent more of a healthy fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA9, which tests have shown can shrink tumors.

'Farm Dreams' Workshops Offered in Illinois
The Land Connection and the University of Illinois Extension will be offering 4-hour "Farm Dreams" workshops in five Illinois locations this summer. The interactive workshop is designed to help people decide if entrepreneurial farming is right for them. Participants meet experienced sustainable farmers, graduates of the longer 10-month Farm Beginnings course, and other prospective farmers. They learn about different successful farm enterprises, and can ask questions about the genesis and development of farm businesses. The workshop will cover resource assessment, goal-setting, financial planning, marketing options, and locating land and equipment. The first workshop is scheduled for July 15 in Springfield.

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Funding Opportunities

New York Agriculture Innovation Center Grant
The New York Farm Viability Institute seeks proposals for innovative projects that help farmers increase profits and provide models for other farmers to follow. Eligible grant applicants include farmers, producer groups, researchers, educators, organizations, agencies and businesses. Applicants may represent nonprofit or for-profit sectors. Projects should work with New York State resident farmers and outcomes should benefit agriculture in New York State.
Proposals are due July 15, 2008.

Oregon State Weed Board Grant Program
People, organizations and institutions may apply for grants to fund noxious weed control projects. It is a priority of the Oregon State Weed Board to fund projects that restore, enhance or protect fish and wildlife habitat, watershed function, and native salmonid or water quality. Grant applications must be for on the ground weed control projects for OSWB listed noxious weeds. Applications may include research, survey, project design if required to complete the control portion of the project.
Proposals are due July 11, 2008.

Wisconsin Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grant
Eligible applicants for the Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grant program include existing and start-up Wisconsin dairy producers whose farms are, or will be located in a city, town or village with a population less than 6,000. Proceeds from an award may be used only to cover the cost of having a qualified, independent third party provide the professional services necessary to assist the applicant in the start-up, modernization, or expansion of a dairy farm. Eligible professional services include activities such as the preparation of a comprehensive business plan. Applicants will be required to contribute at least 25% of the total project costs from sources other than the State of Wisconsin.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Texas Alliance for Water Conservation Field Day
July 31, 2008
Muncy, Texas

The TAWC project uses on-farm demonstrations of cropping and livestock systems to compare the production practices, technologies, and systems that can maintain individual farm profitability while improving water use efficiency with a goal of extending the life of the Ogallala Aquifer, while maintaining the viability of local farms and communities. The field day will highlight the project and its research findings, and include presentations from experts.

Conservation Tillage Systems in a Changing World
July 29-31, 2008
Tifton, Georgia

The 30th Southern Conservation Agricultural Systems Conference and the 8th Annual Conservation Production Systems Training Conference are being combined this year to bring together producers, extension and NRCS personnel from Georgia and the Southeast in a three-day meeting. The theme of the 2008 combined conference will be Conservation Tillage Systems in a Changing World. The conference will provide practical information on precision agriculture technologies and information on new and developing technologies.

Farmscaping for Beneficials Farm Walk at Columbia Blossom Orchard
July 29, 2008
Mosier, Oregon

The walk will feature Colombia Blossom Orchards, a 32-acre diverse orchard of certified organic stone fruits such as cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and grapes. The walk will take a detailed, hands-on, look into the identification, biology, and ecology of native bees, predators and parasitoids and the on-farm habitat that supports them. You will leave with a heightened appreciation for the natural biodiversity at Columbia Blossom Orchard and the opportunities that exist there and on your own farm to enhance it.

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