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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 18, 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
* USDA Offers Disaster Assistance
* Study Compares Fuel Efficiency in Local Food Distribution
* New Guide Identifies Funding Sources for Food Retail
* Sheep Industry Report Released
* UNC to Study Link Between Sustainable Farming and Health
* Resource on Local Food Laws Available

Funding Opportunities
* Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
* Sheep and Goat Industry Grant
* Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program

Coming Events
* NOFA Summer Conference
* Organic Apple Research Field Day
* Mid-Atlantic Meat Goat Symposium

News & Resources

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance
USDA is reminding individuals and organizations that federal funding is available for areas hit by natural disasters in several states in the Midwest. In particular, USDA Rural Development has grant and loan funds available to rural communities to provide housing and shelter, public safety, health care and community facilities and business recovery assistance. In addition, Ohio Ag Connection reports that the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 created an agricultural disaster relief trust fund and a supplemental agricultural disaster assistance program with five facets. Producers who would like more information are encouraged to contact local FSA offices.

Study Compares Fuel Efficiency in Local Food Distribution
As fuel prices continue to rise along with interest in local foods, consumers and farmers alike are looking for options that will decrease their fuel use. A new study from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture looked at which transportation option consumed less fuel and emitted less carbon dioxide: farmer delivery or customer pick-up of food products for an Iowa Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprise. According to the report, weekly farmer distribution (using a four-door hybrid compact car) used 2.77 times less fuel than customer pick-up using average U.S. passenger vehicle efficiency. If all customers were to drive a similar hybrid compact car to pick up their food, farmer distribution would still use 1.35 times less fuel. Findings are outlined in the report, "Assessing fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions of two local food distribution options in Iowa." (PDF/174KB)

New Guide Identifies Funding Sources for Food Retail
The Planning for Healthy Places program has released a new online guide, "Funding Sources for Healthy Food Retail." This guide provides an overview of the range of federal and California funding programs available to support the development of new grocery stores and cooperatives, creation of farmers' markets, and improvement of the quality of foods sold at convenience stores. The guide can be downloaded as a PDF (133 KB) or viewed online.

Sheep Industry Report Released
The National Academy of Sciences recently released "Changes in the Sheep Industry in the United States: Making the Transition from Tradition." Although often described as an industry in decline, this report concludes that a better description of the current U.S. sheep industry is an industry in transition. The conclusion of the study states, "The emergence of new and alternative markets for sheep products signifies that the industry may be on the brink of a transition from traditional practices and marketing channels to new markets, new technologies, new products and a new consumer base. This offers the potential to arrest the decline experienced over the last several decades." The study can be purchased from The National Academies Press or viewed online for free.

UNC to Study Link Between Sustainable Farming and Health
A team of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers has received a grant to study the public health impact of moving toward a local, sustainable food system. The team will establish a Gillings Innovation Laboratory (GIL) through the UNC School of Public Health. Results of this two-year study will improve understanding of the health, environmental and economic issues associated with a growing national trend in local food production. "We’ll pursue research opportunities addressing environmental benefits of transitioning to sustainable farming practices, determine whether there are nutritional and health benefits, and conduct an economic analysis of opportunities and barriers to local food systems," said Alice Ammerman, director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. "We will use these data to develop and test an innovative tool to identify market opportunities for farmers, and conduct a policy analysis related to local food systems and sustainable agriculture."

Resource on Local Food Laws Available
The National Agricultural Law Center has recently completed a "Reading Room" for local food systems. The reading room features a comprehensive compilation of electronic resources and articles on law topics that pertain to local food systems. The web site features readings on major statutes, regulations, law decisions, research reports, and other resources.

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Funding Opportunities

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. Through WHIP USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed. Applications are accepted through a continuous sign-up process; however, applications received by June 27, 2008 will be evaluated and considered for the 2008 program year.

Sheep and Goat Industry Grant
The American Sheep and Goat Center (ASGC) announces the availability of up to $200,000 in competitive grants for product or business development, producer information or education, marketing and promotion for sheep or goats or their products, genetic retention, and animal health. Eligible applicants, including many business structures but excluding individuals, may apply. The intent is to fund a variety of proposals that will benefit the U.S. sheep and goat industries.
Proposals are due August 1, 2008.

Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program
TAEP supports agriculture in Tennessee by providing cost share funds to producers for long term investments in their livestock and farming operations. These cost share programs help producers maximize farm profits, adapt to current market situations, and prepare for the future. Producer programs include Livestock Equipment & Handling Facilities; Livestock Feed Storage; Cattle Genetics; Hay Storage; Grain Storage; Producer Diversification; and Feeder Cattle Incentive. There are also ag industry development programs.
Proposals are due August 1, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

NOFA Summer Conference
August 8-10, 2008
Amherst, Massachusetts

This 34th annual Northeastern Organic Farming Association conference features two keynote speakers, extensive workshops that include offerings for teens and children, and a special full-day grazing workshop.

Organic Apple Research Field Day
August 8, 2008
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network and the Agro-Ecology Program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will host this field day at Dixons Spring Research Station. Jeff Kindhart, orchard manager, and Rick Wienzierl, entomologist at UIUC, will discuss their organic system and insect pest management experiments.

Mid-Atlantic Meat Goat Symposium
August 2, 2008
Petersburg, Virginia

The Mid-Atlantic Meat Goat Symposium is designed to provide research-based production and marketing information for meat goat producers and those planning to begin raising meat goats. Its goal is to help producers and interested individuals become more knowledgeable and thus more profitable in meat goat production. The event is sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and others.

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