Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - June 29, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Court Ruling for Stricter Organic Standards May Slow Market
* New Report Looks at Health Implications of Aquaculture
* Universities Coordinating Sustainable Agriculture Apprenticeship Program
* Organic Farming on the Rise in Puerto Rico
* Iowa County Considers Tax Incentive for Going Organic
* California Alliance Looks at IPM Options for Cut Flowers
* Northeast SARE Sustainable Community Grants
* Nevada Water Conservation and Water Quality Improvement Grants
* Southern Region SARE Farm Mentor Grant
* Organic Pasture Management Workshop
* Using Soil Biology to Increase Farm Productivity
* Biobased Industry Outlook Conference
News & Resources
Court Ruling for Stricter Organic Standards May Slow Market
Some farmers worry that a booming market for organic food could be slowed if the Agriculture Department implements stricter organic standards as called for in a recent federal court ruling. An Associated Press article that appeared on Forbes and elsewhere says that a U.S. District Court in Maine has finalized its ruling that bans synthetic ingredients in products labeled organic and requires that dairy farmers feed cows only organic feed for an entire year of transition before their milk can be certified organic. According to the article, some farmers and dairy industry representatives have said that the stricter standard would cause organic milk prices to go up as farmers were forced to buy more expensive organic feed, and that it could dissuade some farmers from seeking organic certification. At the same time, some consumer groups have praised the ruling, on the basis that it increases consumer confidence in the organic label.
New Report Looks at Health Implications of Aquaculture
A new report by the Center for Food Safety examines the relationship between human health and aquaculture. As fish and seafood consumption increases, more consumers are eating farm-raised products, such as shrimp, salmon, and tilapia. Antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones are routinely used in aquaculture, and the report documents specific drugs or chemicals used in the industry – including several substances that are banned for use in the U.S. – and the associated health risks for humans. Titled The Catch with Seafood (PDF / 3.9 mb), the report offers several recommendations for improving regulation of the aquaculture industry and protecting human health. Recommendations include: increasing enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of existing seafood safety regulations, improving testing, implementing new regulatory programs, developing incentive programs to eliminate the unnecessary use of antibiotics, and enforcing current labeling requirements. In related news, Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski has signed into law SB 25, which requires that genetically engineered fish be conspicuously labeled. The legislation is the first labeling law for genetically engineered food in the nation.
Universities Coordinating Sustainable Agriculture Apprenticeship Program
The University of Idaho and Washington State University are coordinating apprenticeships on small farms and ranches as part of their Cultivating Success Program in sustainable agriculture, reports The Capital Press. The apprenticeships are open to students or community members who want hands-on farm or ranch experience. So far, five farms have enrolled in the program and cooperated in developing curriculum and lesson plans. Apprentices will not only be involved in hands-on physical labor, but will also learn about agricultural theory and marketing as they earn college credit. Participating farmers and program coordinators agree that there's no substitute for first-hand experience in learning farming and ranching skills, and as opportunities to gain that experience become less common, programs like this one are needed.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Farming Internships and Apprenticeships
Organic Farming on the Rise in Puerto Rico
In highly urbanized Puerto Rico, around 90% of food is imported, according to an article from Inter Press Service News Agency, but a growing number of ecologically minded farmers are growing food and selling it directly to consumers at farmers' markets. Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, National Organic Program standards apply there, and products must be certified before they can be sold as "organic." Though some farmers are leery of the certification process, it does ensure that farmers selling products as "organic" adhere to production standards.
Iowa County Considers Tax Incentive for Going Organic
Woodbury County, Iowa, is considering offering a tax incentive for farmers who switch from conventional production to organic, says an Associated Press article that appeared in the DesMoines Register. The county's rural economic development director is presenting the Board of Supervisors with a proposal to offer organic farmers property tax rebates. The measure seeks to build enough of an organic farming base in the county to attract organic processors and other businesses to the area.
California Alliance Looks at IPM Options for Cut Flowers
The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) has teamed up with growers, ornamental plant organizations, and industry personnel to develop integrated pest management strategies to protect a $300 million cut flower industry in California, says a press release on YubaNet.com. With funding from UC IPM and other organizations in the Gerbera Pest Management Alliance (GPMA), researchers are investigating ways to improve the timing for releasing natural enemies, integrating biological control, and using new reduced-risk pesticides to control destructive pests on gerbera flowers. California is the country's largest producer of gerbera flowers, and with science-based information on pest pressure and risk gathered in these experiments, growers will have a better understanding of when to apply natural enemies or pesticides so they can obtain the best possible pest control and reduce pesticide use.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Cut Flower Production
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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Northeast SARE Sustainable Community Grants
Starting in 2006, the Northeast SARE program will offer grants to organizations such as community nonprofits, Cooperative Extension, local governments, educational institutions, planning boards, farming cooperatives, and incorporated citizens' groups. The purpose of the Sustainable Community Grants program is to reconnect rural revitalization and farming. Projects can address diverse issues such as land use, nutrition, employment, markets, education, farm labor, public policy, and environmental quality. The service area of the organization must be within the region served by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. This region is made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. Sustainable Community Grant proposals must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, November 18, 2005.
Nevada Water Conservation and Water Quality Improvement Grants
The Nevada office of NRCS is seeking proposals for implementing certain water conservation and/or water quality improvement activities or projects within the State of Nevada, on non-federal lands. Activities may include a wide array of activities that address conservation activities including education in areas where water quantity is a priority issue and implementation activities where water quality improvement and conservation is a priority. Eligible applicants must be Nevada colleges, universities, state or local governments, or nonprofit organizations. USDA-NRCS Nevada may grant up to three agreements not to exceed $10,000 each. Applications must be received by July 25, 2005.
Southern Region SARE Farm Mentor Grant
The Sustainable Farm Mentor grant is intended to provide funds for Extension, NRCS and/or NGO organizations in the Southern Region to conduct a farmer/rancher on-farm mentoring activity. The successful applicant will create a mentoring education and training activity that would bring existing farmers/ranchers--with an interest in making their operations more sustainable--to a proven sustainable farm/ranch to learn the principles and practices that make that host farm or ranch sustainable. The Southern SARE Program has a total of $15,000 to fund one or more applicants to plan, organize and conduct the training. Submissions are due July 1, 2005.
For additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Organic Pasture Management Workshop
July 11, 2005
Pittsboro, North Carolina
This event is offered as part of the Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Enhancing Sustainability Series. General pasture management principles, cool-season forages and warm-season forages, organic management and resources are on the agenda.
Using Soil Biology to Increase Farm Productivity
July 22, 2005
This Rodale Institute Field Day includes four presentations: "Managing Supply and Demand with Soil Biology: How Effective Soil Management Increases Rates of Return," "Soil: The Hidden World Beneath our Feet," "On-farm Production and Utilization of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal (AM) Fungi," and "Banking Soil Carbon Credits." Registration is limited.
Biobased Industry Outlook Conference
August 29-30, 2005
"Growing the Bioeconomy" is a conference designed to provide information for individuals and groups interested in business opportunities in the areas of renewable energy and biobased products. The conference includes presentations encouraging new initiatives, networking opportunities and breakout sessions on current research and applications for biobased products.
events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.
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