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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 25, 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

  • Small Ruminant Toolbox Now Available Online
  • USDA Introduces New Farmers Website
  • Online Workshop on Direct Sales of Beef Available
  • American Farmland Trust Kicks Off "I Love My Farmers Market" Celebration
  • USDA Provides Incentives to Establish Honey Bee Habitats in Midwest States
  • Purdue GAPs Food Safety Course Offered Online

Funding Opportunities

  • Local Foods, Local Places
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Coming Events

  • Midwest Conference for Farmer Veterans
  • Kneading Conference
  • Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference

News & Resources

Small Ruminant Toolbox Now Available Online
Farmers and Extension educators have an expansive new resource available to them in the Small Ruminant Toolbox, a collection of practical, proven materials covering pasture and herd management, marketing, pest management, quality of life, and whole-farm sustainability. The National Center for Appropriate Technology and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) have partnered to offer the materials online and on a USB flash drive. The toolbox includes guidance on how to structure a workshop, dozens of PowerPoint presentations, and other materials.

USDA Introduces New Farmers Website
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled the New Farmers website, including in-depth information for new farmers and ranchers on how to increase access to land and capital, build new market opportunities, participate in conservation opportunities, select and use risk management tools, and access USDA education and technical-support programs. The website also features case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.

Online Workshop on Direct Sales of Beef Available
Northeast SARE is now making available Direct Sales of Beef--A Digital Workshop, developed by Pennsylvania State University. The extensive online beef-production and direct-marketing guide covers quality grading, labeling, working with processors, pricing, consumer preferences, and six case studies. The workshop is available in 13 individual downloadable segments.
Related ATTRA Publication: Beef Marketing Alternatives

American Farmland Trust Kicks Off "I Love My Farmers Market" Celebration
American Farmland Trust's "I Love My Farmers Market" Celebration, June 13 - September 13, is raising national awareness about local farmers markets and putting money directly in the pockets of family farmers. Throughout the celebration, consumers pledge how much they will spend at their local farmers markets each week and become eligible for prizes. The Top 100 markets will be recognized after the event ends.

USDA Provides Incentives to Establish Honey Bee Habitats in Midwest States
USDA has announced $8 million in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) incentives for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin farmers and ranchers who establish new habitats for declining honey bee populations. The program allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation with lower-cost, high-nutrition seed mixes that can support distinct blooming cycles of plants that benefit pollinators. The CRP pollinator initiative is administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Agricultural producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office or go online at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Purdue GAPs Food Safety Course Offered Online
Purdue Extension is now offering an online course covering food-safety practices for fruit and vegetable growers. The course, based on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) from A to Z workshops, will cover health and hygiene, water quality and treatment, animals and animal products, sanitation on the farm, documentation and recordkeeping, and farm food-safety plans. Those who register will have three months of access to course materials.
Related ATTRA Publication: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Safe Produce on Your Farm

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Local Foods, Local Places
Communities in the United States are invited to apply for assistance from Local Foods, Local Places, a new program to help create more livable places by promoting local foods. Together, USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) are investing $650,000 in the program. Particular consideration will be given to communities in areas served by ARC or DRA, federally designated Promise Zones, and USDA-designated Strike Force Zones.
Letters of interest are due by July 15, 2014.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
Through RCPP, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will co-invest nearly $400 million in mobilizing creative and workable solutions to agricultural-production and resource-management challenges on private lands. Partners will work with producers and landowners to promote the restoration and sustainable use of natural resources on regional or watershed scales. RCPP partners will develop project applications to address specific natural-resource objectives in a proposed area or region.
Pre-proposals are due by July 14, 2014.

Biomass Crop Assistance Program
USDA Farm Service Agency is accepting applications through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. The 2014 Farm Bill provides up to $12.5 million each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues.
Applications are due by July 14, 2014.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Midwest Conference for Farmer Veterans
July 25-26, 2014
Des Moines, Iowa

Join other veterans for networking and learning about unique opportunities, programs, and jobs available to military veterans and service members who are farming, aspiring to farm, or seeking agricultural-related careers. Day One of the conference will feature tours of diverse working farms and provide a chance to interact with other farmers and veterans. Day Two will focus on educational presentations and workshops led by agricultural experts, agency personnel, and veteran service providers.

Kneading Conference
July 24-25, 2014
Skowhegan, Maine

The Kneading Conference brings together the diverse stakeholders who collectively can rebuild lost infrastructure and create demand for local and regional grain systems—farmers, millers, bakers, chefs, and wheat researchers.

Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference
July 27-30, 2014
Chicago, Illinois

This year's conference, "Making Waves in Conservation," considers challenges and progress in nutrient management, erosion and sediment control, nonpoint source and watershed policy, and other issues influencing the health and productivity of our soils and large water bodies.

>> More Events

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