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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 18, 2014

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

  • Farm Commons Releases Food Safety and Farm Event Legal Guides
  • Publication Examines History of Local Food Movement
  • High Tunnel Construction Guide Available Online
  • Ceres Report Says Water and Climate Risks Threaten U.S. Corn Production
  • Report Explores Investments in On-Farm Water Use Efficiency
  • Local Governments Look at Economic Development Potential of Local Food

Funding Opportunities

  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants and Combined Grants and Loans
  • Michigan Energy Efficiency Matching Grants
  • Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Request for Pre-proposals

Coming Events

  • Grasstravaganza: Pasture Soil Health Creates Wealth
  • Using Perennial Plantings to Improve Water Quality Workshop
  • California Meetings to Answer Your Farm Bill Questions

News & Resources

Farm Commons Releases Food Safety and Farm Event Legal Guides
Farm Commons has released Farmers' Guide to Reducing the Legal Risks of a Food Safety Incident. Detailed legal explanations explore the background behind the law while action points help farmers move forward with reducing their legal risk exposure. In addition, Farm Commons has updated the guide Hosting Safer, More Legally Secure On-Farm Events. Both publications are available for download from the Farm Commons website's Resources section.

Publication Examines History of Local Food Movement
The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems has released The Local Food Movement: Setting the Stage for Good Food. This 28-page publication provides a brief history of the U.S. local food movement and its link to "good food"—food that is healthy, affordable, fair, and green.
Related ATTRA Resource: Local and Regional Food Systems

High Tunnel Construction Guide Available Online
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has published High Tunnel Hoop House Construction Guide. The guide introduces the novice grower or hoop-house builder to the various tools and techniques used in constructing a wide range of commercial and homemade hoop houses. The 102-page publication is online in PDF.
Related ATTRA Video: Hoop Houses for Extending Your Growing Season

Ceres Report Says Water and Climate Risks Threaten U.S. Corn Production
A new report from Ceres shows that water and climate-change risks are rising in the $67-billion U.S. corn sector. The increasing risks are contributing to production and price volatility and growing concern that the nation's largest crop needs to be grown more sustainably. This report provides detailed recommendations for how corn-buying companies and their investors can catalyze more sustainable agricultural practices.

Report Explores Investments in On-Farm Water Use Efficiency
A study conducted by Community Alliance with Family Farmers found that efforts to address California's chronic water scarcity and drought have neglected to support crucial steps farmers can take to optimize their water usage. The study, entitled Beyond the Irrigation District: Investing in On-Farm Water Stewardship for California's Future, was jointly released with the California Climate and Agriculture Network. A summary and the full report are available online.

Local Governments Look at Economic Development Potential of Local Food
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission has made agriculture the centerpiece of economic development for 11 towns, reports the Telegram & Gazette. Planners identified 700 farms in the region and surveyed farmers about their practices and needs. The planners are exploring ways to foster distribution and help bring products to market. Meanwhile, in Lexington, Kentucky, the Office of Economic Development has created a new position of local food coordinator. The coordinator will work with Central Kentucky farmers to help them find markets and will help educate and create more individual and institutional demand for locally produced food.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants and Combined Grants and Loans
REAP offers grants, loans, or combined grants and loans for the development and construction of renewable-energy systems and for energy-efficiency improvement projects. The program is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs. Approximately $12.38 million will be available in grants.
Applications will be accepted until July 7, 2014.

Michigan Energy Efficiency Matching Grants
A total of $150,000 is available from the Michigan Energy Office in matching grants for energy-efficiency projects to retrofit existing buildings on all types of farms including greenhouses or small businesses in Michigan. The grants encourage cost-effective energy upgrades that reduce operating costs for the owner, support local jobs, and free up capital to re-invest in businesses. Matching grants range from $5,000 to $20,000.
Proposals must be submitted by August 31, 2014.

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Request for Pre-proposals
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture's annual competitive grants program awards funding for research and for projects designed to carry out demonstration, educational, planning, capacity-building, or outreach efforts. Focus areas for 2014 are soil health, biotic integrity, identifying and managing vulnerabilities to agriculture, and food hubs. Investigators representing any Iowa nonprofit organization/agency and/or educational institution may apply.
Pre-proposals are due by July 8, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Grasstravaganza: Pasture Soil Health Creates Wealth
July 17-19, 2014
Morrisville, New York

This three-day conference includes knowledgeable speakers, site tours, and vendors. It is designed for farmers, consumers, and agriculture professionals who would like to improve their bottom line through greater soil health.

Using Perennial Plantings to Improve Water Quality Workshop
June 24 or July 16, 2014
Fairmont or Glenwood, Minnesota

University of Minnesota Extension presents a day-long workshop on how perennial plantings and systems can improve water quality. The workshops will look at agroforestry options, wetlands, cover crops, herbaceous and woody perennials, and controlling invasive species.

California Meetings to Answer Your Farm Bill Questions
June 24 or 25, 2014
Yuba City or Fresno, California

The new 2014 Farm Bill brought changes in conservation, commodity programs, crop insurance, rural development programs, loans, disaster programs, energy opportunities, and much more. Interested farmers, ranchers, agencies, and organizations are invited to attend workshops to hear about Farm Bill changes from NRCS, the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and Rural Development. Meetings are co-hosted by the Farm Bureau.

>> More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Photovoltaic Applications in Aquaculture: A Primer

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