Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - July 12, 2006
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.
News & Resources
* Whole Foods Makes Show of Support for Small Farms
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* Russians at Work on Poultry Vaccine for H5N1
* Marker Assisted Selection to Supercede Genetic Modification?
* USDA Seeks Public Comment on Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Plum
* Wisconsin to Get Virtual Farmers' Market
* DOE Publishes Roadmap for Developing Cleaner Fuels
* Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture RFP
* Food Quality Protection Act / Strategic Agricultural Initiative Program
* Water Conservation Field Services Program
* Windy River Renewable Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Fair
* Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
* American Community Gardening Association Annual Conference
News & Resources
Whole Foods Makes Show of Support for Small Farms
Whole Foods Market Inc. is pledging $10 million annually in support of locally grown food, says company CEO John Mackey. The assistance will come in the form of long-term, low-interest loans to small farms, with an emphasis on those producing grass-fed beef and organic, pasture-based eggs. "We believe this financial assistance of $10 million per year can make a very significant difference in helping local agriculture grow and flourish across the United States and in parts of Canada and the UK, as well," said Mackey. The company, based in Houston, also will host open markets on Sundays to help farms market their products locally.
Russians at Work on Poultry Vaccine for H5N1
Russia is working on an oral H5N1 vaccine for birds that could be ready by the end of the year, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported July 5. Most vaccines are currently issued intravenously using a needle. This vaccine would be given with food and water, which would greatly speed up the amount of time it takes to immunize birds.
Marker Assisted Selection to Supercede Genetic Modification?
Writing on Common Dreams, author Jeremy Rifkin speculates that a new agricultural technology called Marker Assisted Selection could make genetically modified crops obsolete and, ironically, an obstacle to progress. Marker Assisted Selection uses crop genome mapping to rapidly accelerate classical plant breeding. Scientists can locate genetic traits in different varieties, or wild relatives of food crops. The technique could be much more effective in introducing desired traits than the single-gene splicing of genetic modification. One impediment to successful application of Marker Assisted Selection may be that the seed of several major crop plants has been contaminated with DNA sequences originating in genetically modified plants, which complicates the genome mapping process.
USDA Seeks Public Comment on Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Plum
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on a petition to deregulate a plum genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to plum pox. Based on the scientific evidence presented by ARS, APHIS' current preferred alternative is to deregulate the plum. If APHIS grants ARS' petition for deregulation, the plum and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles. The product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before July 17.
Wisconsin to Get Virtual Farmers' Market
Madison, Wisconsin-area farmers should have a new market for their meat and produce this summer, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. A new business, Greenleaf LLC, will act as a virtual farmers' market that allows farmers to post their current offerings. Shoppers who pay a registration fee could browse the listings and make purchases from the farmers. The founder of the business compares it to eBay, explaining that buyers and sellers will arrange their own deliveries, but the site will coordinate payments, so that shoppers can combine multiple purchases on a single invoice. Founder Heather Hilleren hopes her site will help local farmers with the challenge of marketing, making it easier for them to sell to restaurants and other local buyers.
DOE Publishes Roadmap for Developing Cleaner Fuels
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released an ambitious new research agenda July 7 for the development of cellulosic ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. The 200-page scientific "roadmap" cites recent advances in biotechnology that have made cost-effective production of ethanol from cellulose, or inedible plant fiber, an attainable goal. The report outlines a detailed research plan for developing new technologies to transform cellulosic ethanol into an economically viable transportation fuel. The roadmap responds directly to the goal recently announced by Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman of displacing 30 percent of 2004 transportation fuel consumption with biofuels by 2030.
> More Breaking News
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Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture RFP
Iowans with research and demonstration ideas for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture are invited to submit their pre-proposals. 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) may submit pre-proposals; there are no restrictions on project partners or collaborators. Pre-proposals are sought under the Marketing and Food Systems Initiative and the Ecology Initiative, as well as a special project opportunity aimed at increasing dairy enterprise options for Iowans.
Proposals are due August 14, 2006
Quality Protection Act / Strategic Agricultural Initiative Program
EPA Region 2, Division of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance (DECA), Pesticides and Toxic Substance Branch (PTSB) is soliciting proposals from eligible organizations that will reduce the exposure to toxic pesticides through the adoption of farm pest management practices that transition away from the use of high-risk pesticides. The proposed project will work towards achieving the adoption of reduced-risk alternatives and /or ecologically-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) or biologically integrated farming approaches that are economical. The project should engage scientists, farmers, industry, and local, state and federal partners. For this competition, the Program anticipates funding one proposal for up to $100,000. Region 2 comprises New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and 7 Tribal Nations.
Proposals are due August 23, 2006
Water Conservation Field Services Program
The Bureau of Reclamation-Upper Colorado Region has announced funding available in the form of grants and cooperative agreements for activities that promote the preparation of written water management and conservation plans; implement activities identified in written water management plans; demonstrate water management technologies and practices that are new or unfamiliar to local water users; and promote improved understanding of good water use practices and principles. Grants may range from $2,000 to $25,000, with total program funding of $335,000 available. Eligibility is unrestricted.
Proposals are due August 31, 2006
> More Funding Opportunities
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Windy River Renewable Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Fair
July 27-29, 2006
Little Falls, Minnesota
The annual Windy River Fair is designed to showcase a range of real-world, successful, readily available, financially viable, and innovative solutions in renewable energy and agriculture that simultaneously address environmental, social, and economic problems.
Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
August 10-13, 2006
"Sprouting the Seeds of the Next Generation" is the theme for this 32nd annual conference. The event includes a pre-conference on organic agriculture education, more than 200 workshops, a children's conference, keynote speaker, local meal, fair and farmers' market.
American Community Gardening Association Annual Conference
Los Angeles, California
"Rooting for the Future" is the theme of this conference that includes hands-on workshops, keynote speakers, a film festival, and visits to parks, school gardens, community gardens, and other green spaces in the Los Angeles area. The ACGA Annual Conference brings together hundreds of individuals from across the United States, Canada, and abroad, who are engaged in all aspects of gardening and greening.
> More Events
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