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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 9, 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
* New Guide Helps Identify Beneficial Insects
* Northeast Legislation Would Create Regional Milk Label Program
* Webinar to Address Global Organic Agriculture
* Researchers Study Potato Varieties for Organic Production
* Minnesota Survey Shows Organic Farmers Satisfied and Optimistic
* Wal-Mart to Source Local Produce

Funding Opportunities
* Western IPM Issues Program
* Minnesota Livestock Investment Grant Program
* Indiana Treasurer's Conservation Assistance Program

Coming Events
* Developing Community Based Food Systems
* Principles of Rangeland Management
* Indiana Farm Sustainability Tour

News & Resources

New Guide Helps Identify Beneficial Insects
A new guide has been published by the Oregon State University Extension Service and Oregon Tilth called “A Pocket Guide – Common Natural Enemies of Crop and Garden Pests in the Pacific Northwest” (PDF/956KB). The publication includes macroscopic photos of many types of natural predators in their various life stages, along with identification and observation tips. OSU’s Integrated Plant Protection Center (IPPC), has been working with Pacific Northwest growers to help them foster beneficial invertebrate predators, parasitoid insects and native pollinators on their farms. These tiny creatures can have a big impact on managing crop pests such as aphids, cutworms, earworms, slugs, leaf miners, spider mites and earwigs.
Related ATTRA Publications:   Organic IPM Field Guide and the Spanish version: El Manejo Integrado >> Orgánico de Algunas Plagas de la Agricultura

Northeast Legislation Would Create Regional Milk Label Program
Vermont, New York and New Hampshire legislators have filed legislation that would create a labeling program for milk indicating that it is either Fresh (VT, NH, NY) Milk or Fresh Northeast Milk, according to a press release from the Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship. The measures are aimed at helping consumers recognize the origin of their milk. Sponsors of the legislation say that consumers are generally unaware that Ultra High Temperature processed milk may be partially dehydrated, shipped across the country, rehydrated, and sold as fresh milk. The labeling program would clearly identify regional milk products.

Webinar to Address Global Organic Agriculture
Michael Sligh, RAFI-USA’s Just Foods Program Director, will lead an online discussion on what comes next for organic agriculture, and how organic systems can meet their highest potential. The webinar "Taking the Worldview on Organic: Its Real Potential and Challenges Ahead" is set for Monday, July 14 at 1 pm EDT. It will also offer an exclusive preview of the forthcoming update and expansion of the 2003 report Who Owns Organic. Online registration is offered.

Researchers Study Potato Varieties for Organic Production
Two University of Idaho agricultural scientists are evaluating seven potato varieties under organic production methods. They are currently evaluating two varieties of processing potatoes: Alturas and the late-blight resistant Defender; four fresh market spuds: Yukon Gold, Red Norland, Norkotah and Norkotah-8. Researchers will study pest control and fertilizer issues. Western Farmer-Stockman reports the study reflects an increase in organic potato production in Idaho, which produced such crops on nearly 1,200 acres this year, up from about 500 acres a year earlier, mirroring a steady annual increase.

Minnesota Survey Shows Organic Farmers Satisfied and Optimistic
Results are in from a Minnesota Department of Agriculture survey that asked certified organic Minnesota growers about their experiences with and opinions about organic. Most reported multiple motivations for using organic practices, including price premiums (86 percent), environment/conservation (80 percent), health/safety (79 percent), and personal satisfaction, or "I enjoy farming this way" (81 percent). About 9 in 10 farmers who returned the survey said they think organic is equally or more profitable than farming non-organically, even as half said they thought production costs were as high, or higher, than conventional farm practices. Organic farmers also reported a number of challenges and frustrations. Weed control retained its spot as farmers’ top problem. Other major concerns included competition from imported organic products, insect pest management, pollen drift from genetically modified crops, and public confusion about what the term "organic" means.

Wal-Mart to Source Local Produce
Wal-Mart announced its commitment to source more local fruits and vegetables to keep produce prices down and provide affordable selections that are fresh and healthful. The retailer also reported that partnerships with local farmers have grown by 50 percent over the past two years – one example of the company’s efforts to support local economies, cut shipping costs and provide fresh food offerings. This year, Wal-Mart expects to source about $400 million in locally grown produce from farmers across the United States. It is estimated that in the United States, produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from farms to the homes of consumers. Through better logistics planning, better packing of trucks and local sourcing, Wal-Mart expects to save millions of food miles each year.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Food Miles: Background and Marketing

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Western IPM Issues Program
The Western Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center is seeking applications for the "Addressing Western IPM Issues" (PDF/79KB) program. The program will fund projects that enhance outreach efforts to support the wide-scale implementation of IPM methods. Funds are also available to develop the research base needed for the construction of comprehensive pest management systems that have a strong likelihood of contributing to ongoing IPM implementation efforts. Projects should be designed to maximize opportunities to build strategic alliances with industry and user groups resulting in increased adoption of IPM methods. Applications from private individuals and institutions, businesses, commodity organizations, and governmental and non-governmental organizations are invited.
Proposals are due September 5, 2008.

Minnesota Livestock Investment Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is now accepting applications for the Livestock Investment Grant Program, a new program to help support the state’s livestock industry. Livestock producers can apply for the funding to help offset the costs of improving or expanding their operations. Qualifying producers would be reimbursed 10 percent of the first $500,000 of investment, with a minimum investment of $4,000. Qualifying expenditures include the purchase, construction, or improvement of buildings or facilities for the production of livestock, and the purchase of fencing as well as feeding and waste management equipment.
Proposals are due September 15, 2008.

Indiana Treasurer's Conservation Assistance Program
Indiana's Treasurer established the Treasurer's Conservation Assistance Program (T-CAP) to provide assistance to Hoosier farmers who have suffered damages to their farmlands due to recent flooding throughout the state. $50,000,000 of state deposits will be a source of low cost loans to Indiana farmers. Funding from the Treasurer's Office will be a "linked-deposit" program in partnership with local financial institutions. The Treasurer's Office will purchase certificates of deposit from local banks at a reduced rate of interest, and in turn the bank will provide a loan to the farmer at a reduced rate of interest. A loan made today under this formula would result in a cost of 2.75% to the farmer.
Proposals are due December 31, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Developing Community Based Food Systems
August 25, 2008
Goldsboro, North Carolina

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems presents this day-long workshop with numerous instructors who are experts in the field. This workshop will provide the nuts and bolts of developing local food systems including conducting food assessments, developing new direct and institutionalmarkets, supporting new farmer programs, providing business support for new local food entrepreneurs, forming a food policy council, and policies that deter and facilitate local food systems.

Principles of Rangeland Management
August 19-21, 2008
Barton County, Kansas

Kansas Grazing Land Coalition sponsors "Grass and Animal Ecology in Kansas: Fire and Its Role in Management," a school for producers and landowners presented, in part, by ranchers. The agenda includes several field sessions of plant identification, as well as presentations on rangeland management and fire ecology.

Indiana Farm Sustainability Tour
August 23, 2008
Monroe County, Indiana

This event is one in a series of farm tours for farmers and other rural residents who provide an opportunity to investigate options and learn from other diversified Hoosier farmers. The topic for this day-long tour is "Direct Marketing to Consumers."

> More Events

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