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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 10, 2019

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

  • Study Identifies Challenges and Opportunities of Specialty Crops in High Tunnels
  • Farm Aid Announces 2019 Venue
  • Report Charts Renewable Energy Pathway for Rural Energy Cooperatives
  • Organic Weed Control Video on Cultivator Adjustments Available
  • Study Shows Natural Biodiversity Protects Farmer Income from Weather Shocks
  • Grazing School Offered in Texas

Funding Opportunities

  • Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
  • Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program
  • NRCS-Maine Pollinator Initiative

Coming Events

  • Farm & Food Leadership Conference
  • Insect and Disease Management in Organic Vegetable Production
  • On-farm Plant Breeding and Variety Improvement

News & Resources

Study Identifies Challenges and Opportunities of Specialty Crops in High Tunnels
A study by Indiana and Purdue Universities revealed farmers' perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of using high tunnels for specialty crops. The additional labor and time requirements of high tunnel production, increased complexity of transforming farming habits to high tunnel usage, soil fertility and management considerations, disease management, and limited winter markets comprise the greatest challenges.
Related ATTRA Publication: High Tunnel Winter Growing Using Heat Recovery Ventilation

Farm Aid Announces 2019 Venue
Farm Aid has announced that its annual music and food festival will return to Wisconsin on September 21, 2019. The event will take place in East Troy, Wisconsin, and will include performances by Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and many others. In addition to music, the event includes locally grown concessions; hands-on educational activities about soil, water, energy, food, and farming; and demonstrations of agrarian skills.

Report Charts Renewable Energy Pathway for Rural Energy Cooperatives
Rural Electrification 2.0: The Transition to a Clean Energy Economy, a report from the Center for Rural Affairs, We Own It, and Clean Up the River Environment, shows that many rural energy cooperatives could save money by retiring existing coal plants and turning to solar and wind energy. Drops in the price per megawatt of wind and solar mean they could be affordable in rural areas with high energy costs. The report notes that rural areas host clean energy infrastructure such as transmission lines, wind turbines, and utility-scale solar, but ironically, little of this energy is used in rural communities.

Related ATTRA Publication: Locally Owned Renewable Energy Facilities

Organic Weed Control Video on Cultivator Adjustments Available
As part of its ongoing video series on organic weed control, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) has posted a 20-minute video on cultivator adjustment. In this video, several PFI farmers talk about which adjustments they make to throw more or less soil. They also discuss how they deal with differing weather conditions and how speed plays a role.
Related ATTRA Publication: Weed Management in Organic Small Grains

Study Shows Natural Biodiversity Protects Farmer Income from Weather Shocks
An international research team found that farmers in areas with greater biodiversity lost less income from droughts than their peers who farmed amid less biodiversity. Authors suggest the effect could stem from having multiple alternative pollinators and numerous beneficial insects. The study covered more than 7,500 households across 23 tropical countries. The team also highlighted the importance of biodiversity conservation in alleviating poverty for rural households.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Grazing School Offered in Texas
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Hemphill County will offer a course on grazing and animal management over the next 10 months. The class meets monthly, beginning July 17, 2019, and offers 40 hours of in-depth educational training for ranchers, landowners, and any stakeholders interested in advancing the value of their agricultural endeavors. The course covers grazing economics, ecological processes, animal nutrition, managed grazing, goal setting, and infrastructure development and planning.
Related ATTRA Publication: ATTRA Grazing Planning Manual and Workbook

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network program will establish a network that connects individuals engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs. USDA is accepting applications from collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally based networks, or partnerships of qualified public and/or private entities. These collaborations may include Indian tribes, State departments of agriculture, State cooperative extension services, and nongovernmental organizations. More than $1.9 million in total funding is available.
Applications are due by July 25, 2019.

Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program
A total of $73 million is available this year to protect water and soil health through the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program. The program is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and soil and water conservation districts. The cost-share program supports the use of various practices in conservation planning to treat cropland, pastureland, hay land, and forested land. Individuals, partnerships, trusts, and other businesses operating farms in Virginia may qualify for cost-share assistance. Producers can visit their local district office for information and to apply.
The program year runs July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. Funding is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

NRCS-Maine Pollinator Initiative
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Maine has set aside $80,000 in assistance funds to support pollinator conservation in 2020. Applications from Maine landowners are prioritized based on location, benefit to agriculture, and the anticipated benefit of the conservation action. Practices that can be used to support pollinators under this initiative are listed online.
Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; for funding consideration in FY 2020, apply by August 16, 2019.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Farm & Food Leadership Conference
August 11-13, 2019
San Marcos, Texas
Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, partnering with Texas State University's Small Producers Initiative, hosts this conference for independent family farmers, artisan food producers, local food advocates, and others interested in sustainable agriculture, farm to table, and growing healthy foods. It includes more than 50 sessions, workshops, demonstrations, and small-group Q&A meetings.

Insect and Disease Management in Organic Vegetable Production
August 8, 2019
Pocantico Hills, New York
Stone Barns Center is hosting Abby Seaman, from Cornell University, for a full-day workshop for beginning farmers. The morning session will cover pest and beneficial biology and identification, as well as integrated pest management concepts. The afternoon crop walk will look at pests and beneficials in the field and discuss possible management strategies.

On-farm Plant Breeding and Variety Improvement
August 5-6, 2019
Chimacum, Washington
Learn the fundamentals of on-farm organic plant breeding at this special two-day workshop led by the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) breeding team. The course will include classroom and field-based instruction and recommended reading materials.

>>More Events

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