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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 7, 2010

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

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events

News & Resources

Emergency Assistance Available for Farmers
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that disaster assistance will be issued to livestock, honeybee and farm-raised fish producers that suffered losses in 2008 because of disease, adverse weather or other conditions. The aid will come from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Under the program, producers are compensated for losses that are not covered under other Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Payment programs established by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, specifically Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), and Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program. ELAP benefits related to 2009 losses are expected to be issued later this summer.

Survey Finds Attitude and Goals Impact Farmers' Income
Farmers, lenders, educators and many others in agriculture have a long history of wondering why some farmers perform better than others. Since conditions vary over time, we need to keep asking the question in order to have the best answers. A University of Minnesota Extension survey of farmers in southwest Minnesota collected non-financial characteristics in addition to the farm's financial information. The survey included questions on formal education, farmers' attitudes toward management, their situation, and other potential reasons that are frequently mentioned by farmers when discussing performance. Factors which have an overall positive impact on either net farm income per operator or ROA include having a positive attitude: the farmers' attitude that they control their own destiny and that farming has a bright future. Other positive factors include setting and striving for goals, paying a higher wage (for good people), and being involved in a custom work enterprise to increase the efficiency in using their machinery.

Report Encourages Sustainable Agricultural Systems
American farmers are producing more food than ever, but agricultural research is too focused on increasing production and needs to do better at considering consequences such as water and air pollution, according to a report issued Tuesday by a federal advisory group. The National Academies' National Research Council report, Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century, found that farmers are being asked to produce more and more food to sustain the world's population, but with little focus beyond how many bushels of grain or pounds of vegetables or meat they can generate. The report broadly recommends that agriculture focus more study on the effects of popular farming practices that can improve sustainability, while integrating research from a broad range of disciplines and spending more on that broader study.

National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances Amended
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) announced amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) for crop production. The final rule adds sulfurous acid to the National List of allowed materials for organic crop production based upon an evaluation and recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). It also adds an expiration date of October 21, 2012 for the use of tetracycline in organic crop production.

Sustainable Agriculture Veterinary Conference Seeks Proposals
The Midsummer Veterinary Conference for Sustainable Agriculture (formerly the Boundary Waters Veterinary Conference) will be held August 12-13, 2010 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, IL. The conference will provide valuable, science-based information and open discussion between producers, veterinarians, animal scientists, students, and others involved in the production and marketing of organic, antibiotic-free, and other non-conventional food animals. Abstracts for oral and poster presentation are being accepted until July 12, 2010, and they will be competitively selected by a panel of veterinarians, animal science researchers, educators, and livestock producers.

Study Finds Organic Farming Increases Biodiversity
A team of researchers from Washington State University and the University of Georgia have found that organic farming increases biodiversity among beneficial, pest-killing predators and pathogens. In potato crops, this led to fewer insect pests and larger potato plants. "It's always been a mystery how organic farmers get high yields without using synthetic insecticides," says co-author Bill Snyder, associate professor of entomology at Washington State University. "Our study suggests that biodiversity conservation may be a key to their success." The study, which was funded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and published in the July 1 edition of the journal Nature, shows that organic farming practices encourage beneficial species, and that this reduces pest problems.

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Funding Opportunities

Small Business Innovation Research Program
The purpose of the SBIR program is to provide an opportunity for US-owned, for-profit small business firms to submit innovative, applied, research and development projects that address important problems facing American agriculture and have the potential to lead to significant public benefit if the research is successful. Research proposals are accepted in any of the following topic areas: 1) Forests and Related Resources; 2) Plant Production and Protection - Biology; 3) Animal Production and Protection; 4) Air, Water, and Soils; 5) Food Science and Nutrition; 6) Rural Development; 7) Aquaculture; 8) Biofuels and Biobased Products; 9) Marketing and Trade; 10) Animal Manure Management; 11) Small and Mid-Size Farms; and 12) Plant Production and Protection - Engineering.
Proposals are due September 2, 2010.

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Grants
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University wants to work with Iowans who have innovative ideas for sustainable agriculture alternatives. The 2010 Request for Pre-proposals (RFP) outlines the process for submitting potential projects in the Center's three initiative areas -- ecology, marketing and food systems, and policy. Investigators representing any Iowa nonprofit organization/agency and/or educational institution (such as soil and water conservation districts, schools and colleges, and regional development groups) are eligible to apply. The Center strongly encourages the involvement and collaboration of farmers, landowners, and farm-based businesses in the pre-proposal process.
Proposals are due August 16, 2010

Rural Cooperative Development Grant
Rural Cooperative Development grants are made for establishing and operating centers for cooperative development for the primary purpose of improving the economic condition of rural areas through the development of new cooperatives and improving operations of existing cooperatives.
Proposals are due August 9, 2010

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Coming Events

Sequim Lavender Festival
July 16-18, 2010
Sequim, Washington

Come celebrate the joy of lavender at the largest lavender event in North America, with beautiful farms on tour, a fantastic street fair and community events.

Organic Soils and Compost Workshop
July 17, 2010
Beaverton, Oregon

Jump-start your garden's growth with soil improvement tips from horticulturist Weston Miller. Learn about amending, mulching, composting and protecting soil for plant health.

Rodale Institute Field Day
July 16, 2010
Kutztown, Pennsylvania

This field day will feature soil building and weed management lessons learned from our newest organic systems trial, as well as several other ongoing experiments and demonstrations.

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