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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 14, 2006

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
* USDA Releases Conservation Program Analysis Paper
* Report Offers State-by-State Picture of Agriculture
* Genetically Engineered Chicken Announced by Biotech Company
* Rotational Grazing Workshops Scheduled in Iowa
* Edible Flowers Abound, But Search Out Those Grown Organically
* Santa Cruz County Set to Adopt GE Crop Moratorium

Funding Opportunities
* U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Coastal Program
* Healthy Sprouts Award
* Tennessee Producer Diversification Cost Share

Coming Events
* Soil Husbandry and Fertility II
* Grazing to Meet Your Objectives Workshop
* Bio-diesel and Waste Vegetable Oil as Fuel Workshop

News & Resources

USDA Releases Conservation Program Analysis Paper
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released the second in a series of white papers intended to provide factual information about specific topics and continue the national discussion about policy alternatives in preparation for the 2007 Farm Bill. This paper is a conservation program analysis paper authored by USDA economists. The paper discusses natural resource issues, current USDA conservation programs administered by FSA and NRCS and policy alternatives. The paper and an executive summary are available for download on the Farm Bill Forum Web site.

Report Offers State-by-State Picture of Agriculture
A new report from the Center for Food Safety offers a state-by-state portrait of agriculture in the United States. A New View of U.S. Agriculture includes a list of the top five agricultural commodities for each state by percentage and value, the value of total organic sales in the state and the state's organic sales ranking, and a description of any state legislation or regulations regarding genetically modified organisms. The complete report is available online as a PDF (462K).

Genetically Engineered Chicken Announced by Biotech Company
The biotech company Origen Theraputics has announced its development of a genetically engineered chicken that can carry a gene for a new trait into perpetuity, says an article in The Mercury News. The company made its announcement in the journal Nature. According to the article, this development could turn chickens into "feathered medicine factories," as generations of chickens continue to produce eggs with theraputic contents, such as cancer-fighting antibodies. "This work addresses a major biomedical issue-how to produce antibody-based medicines in an easy, cost-effective way," said one of the project's funders in a press release.

Rotational Grazing Workshops Scheduled in Iowa
Grazin' Days-A Pasture Management Workshop, a series of on-the-farm pasture meetings, will be held this summer around the state of Iowa for producers in the process of installing, or who have already installed, a rotational grazing system. Landowners who received funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to install rotational grazing systems are encouraged to attend. Each meeting will be conducted in "pasture walk" format at a host landowner's farm. Eight of the events are scheduled across the state, from late June through August.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Rotational Grazing

Edible Flowers Abound, But Search Out Those Grown Organically
Eating flowers has been in and out of style since the early days of the Roman Empire, reports National Public Radio contributor Bonny Wolf in her program, Kitchen Window. Roses, mallows, violets, and gladiolus bulbs were part of the feast on the Roman banquet table. Today, the culinary consumption of flowers in this country has been piqued largely by Mexican, Italian, and Oriental cuisine, Wolf reports. "Mexicans eat the delicately flavored squash blossoms in quesadillas and in an elegant soup called sopa de flor de calabaza, which actually translates as pumpkin blossom soup," she reports. "In Italy, the fragile orange-yellow zucchini blossoms-fiori di zucca-are fried, often in a beer batter." Lavender, lilacs, violets, roses and scented geraniums have a fragrant sweetness, Wolf says, while nasturtiums are peppery, and pansies taste a little like grapes. Day-lily buds have long been part of Chinese cuisine, in which they are added to soups and stir-fries. You can't just go to the florist and get a bunch of flowers to munch on the way home, Wolf notes. You should only eat flowers that are grown organically. Flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers are likely to have been treated with pesticides not used for food crops. Touch on the link above for a recipe for Squash Blossom Soup and other floral culinary delights.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Edible Flowers

Santa Cruz County Set to Adopt GE Crop Moratorium
The Santa Cruz County, California, Board of Supervisors voted recently in favor of the concept of a county moratorium on genetically engineered (GE) crops, says the San Francisco Chronicle. The action stemmed from a report commissioned by the Board, which noted lack of adequate federal and state oversight of GE crops, and recommended a precautionary moratorium. Santa Cruz joins three other California counties that have adopted ordinances against GE crops; however, the state Assembly is considering a bill that would take away the right of municipalities and counties to enact regulations on GE crops. Fifteen states have already passed laws to prevent local seed regulation.

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Funding Opportunities

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Coastal Program
The Coastal Program focuses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's efforts in bays, estuaries and watersheds around the U.S. coastline. The purpose of the Coastal Program is to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats to support healthy coastal ecosystems. The Service provides funding through the program to 22 high-priority coastal ecosystems. The program is guided by 4 goals: Serve coastal communities, Conserve pristine coastal habitats, Restore degraded coastal wetland, upland, and stream habitats by working with partners to implement on-the-ground projects, and Focus resources through conservation alliances. Nonprofits, local governments and individuals are eligible to apply for a total of $6.5 million in matching funding.
Proposals are due October 15, 2006.

Healthy Sprouts Award
Gardener's Supply is accepting applications for its 2006 Healthy Sprouts Awards. These awards support school and youth garden programs that teach about nutrition and the issue of hunger in the United States. To be eligible, schools or organizations must plan to garden in 2007 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. Winners will be selected based on their ability to demonstrate the relationship between the garden program and nutrition and hunger issues in the United States. Each of this year's 25 winners will receive a $200 gift certificate to Gardener's Supply Company and a literature and curriculum package.
Proposals are due October 15, 2006.

Tennessee Producer Diversification Cost Share
The purpose of this program is to increase farm income in Tennessee by encouraging producers to expand and improve their operations through production of diversified agricultural products. Cost share funds are provided to farmers to install farm infrastructure, purchase specialty equipment and to market their diversified farm products. Diversified agricultural products include agri-tourism, aquaculture, bees, fruits and vegetables, horticulture, goats and sheep, organics, value-added products, viticulture and others as approved by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Producers can apply for reimbursement of 35 percent cost share, up to the maximum, for activities or items within three funding categories. The maximum cost share per producer is $10,000 per fiscal year. The program will begin accepting applications July 1, 2006.
Proposals are due September 30, 2006.

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Coming Events

Soil Husbandry and Fertility II
July 14-15, 2006
East Troy, Wisconsin

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute presents this workshop and tour. Take soil management to the next level and join the discussion on manures, nutrient additives and soil testing analysis. On-site crop walks will open your eyes to the health of the soil by looking at the vitality of the plants. On Saturday receive a detailed tour and lecture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, West Ag. Site Research Station.

Grazing to Meet Your Objectives Workshop
July 13-15, 2006
Sonora, Texas

The Academy for Ranch Management presents this advanced course. Grazing animals can be the most important tool for managing your rangelands. Grazing planning is important to restore and manage your ranch. The Grazing Manager software will be provided to each participant to develop grazing strategies to meet your objectives.

Bio-diesel and Waste Vegetable Oil as Fuel Workshop
July 17, 2006
Lambertville, New Jersey

This workshop is sponsored by NOFA New Jersey. Thinking about alternative fuels for your personal vehicle or farm? Come learn about converting a diesel engine to run on waste vegetable oil. Dave Rosenstrauss of Fossil Free Fuel will share 4 years of experience converting diesel engines and collecting and filtering used oil. We will look at a converted car and talk about how to apply the system to tractors and other diesel engines to save money and reduce pollution.

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