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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 16, 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 Website Features Scientific Information on Organics
* Online Magazine Focuses on Sustainable Agriculture
* New Tool Helps Evaluate Crop Programs
* Kentucky Appoints Sustainable Ag Extension Specialist
* Pork Industry Handbook Available
* States Purchase Agricultural Conservation Easements

Funding Opportunities
* Northeast SARE Partnership Grant Program
* Specialty Crop Research Initiative
* Biodiesel Fuel Education Program

Coming Events
* Corn and Climate: Workshop on the Climate of the Midwest
* From the Ground Up
* Farm Walk: Value-Added Cow Dairy, On-Farm Feed Production

News & Resources

New Website Features Scientific Information on Organics
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University has developed a new resource designed to help answer questions about the quality and nutritional characteristics of organic foods and the production practices used in organic agriculture. Findings from more than 70 peer-reviewed, scientific articles about organic agriculture are summarized on a new web site at "Scientific Findings About Organic Agriculture." The site organizes the research findings by topic, from animal health and welfare issues to information about poultry, meat, grains and fruit and vegetables. New studies will be added periodically as they become available.

Online Magazine Focuses on Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable Farmer is a new independent journalistic voice that provides information to consumers and farmers on sustainable agriculture. Sustainable Farmer offers articles, videos, blogs and forums to serve the entire spectrum of sustainable farmers, from large-scale growers to families and communities seeking to raise more of their own food.

New Tool Helps Evaluate Crop Programs
An analysis by economists at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University suggests that most U.S. farmers will find the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) much more attractive than current commodity programs. ACRE is a new commodity program included in the 2008 Farm Bill that was recently passed by Congress. This new program presents farmers with a choice of covering their eligible crops over the period of the new legislation, 2009-2012. Farmers can continue to enroll in traditional commodity programs or they can participate in ACRE. The CARD researchers created the tools to show farmers how they would fare under new and old programs using different price and yield scenarios. Three calculators are offered--for corn, soybeans and wheat. Users of the calculators are instructed to enter specific data about their state, along with their expected commodity price for the 2009-10 marketing year, their 2008 marketing year price and their 2008 average yield per planted acre. They also can enter their USDA program yields used to calculate direct and countercyclical payments. Wallaces Farmer reports the calculator then provides the 2009 ACRE price, ACRE yield and ACRE revenue guarantee. Further results show users the estimated payments they will receive under ACRE and under older farm programs given their calculator inputs.

Kentucky Appoints Sustainable Ag Extension Specialist
As the focus on sustainability is growing, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is taking the lead in sustainable agriculture, not only by offering a degree in the field, but with the appointment of a Cooperative Extension Specialist for Sustainable Agriculture, Lee Meyer. Lee Meyer, an agricultural economist, is one of many experts in the college who is focusing on sustainable areas of research, education and outreach. Kentucky Ag Connection reports one of Meyer's responsibilities is to spread the word about the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

Pork Industry Handbook Available
The 2008 edition of the Pork Industry Handbook is now available. The Handbook has information such as marketing strategies for market hogs to cull sows, the economic impact of genetic improvement and resolving conflicts with employees. It also has information about alternative feedstuffs and commodity options as price insurance. The handbook has more than 230 science-based fact sheets authored and reviewed by nearly 500 academic and industry experts from around the country. The 2008 edition includes 51 articles emphasizing business management, human resources, swine health, facilities and equipment, marketing strategies, statistics, and employee health and safety. The Pork Industry Handbook is available on hardcopy, CD or both.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Hog Production Alternatives

States Purchase Agricultural Conservation Easements
American Farmland Trust has released a fact sheet on the Status of State PACE Programs (PDF/ 229K), reporting details on 27 state programs for purchase of agricultural conservation easements. According to the fact sheet, in 2007 state-level purchase of agricultural conservation easement programs invested nearly $305 million to protect 168,130 acres.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Partnership Grant Program
The Partnership Grant is for agricultural professionals who work directly with farmers--specifically Cooperative Extension, NRCS personnel, non-governmental organizations, and others operating in the farm community--who are interested in developing on-farm demonstration, research, or marketing projects related to sustainable agriculture. The purpose of the Partnership Grant is to build knowledge farmers can use, to encourage the understanding and widespread use of sustainable techniques, and to strengthen partnerships among farmers, extension, non-governmental organizations, and NRCS personnel that support useful inquiries into how agriculture can be made more profitable through good stewardship. Partnership projects can address a variety of topics, including the development of beneficial insect habitat, alternative crops or animals, practices that make use of biological cycles for improved soil, plant, and pest management, marketing, adding value, grazing, tool or technology development, agroforestry, farm management, and water quality.
Proposals are due December 9, 2008.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative
USDA is making available $28.4 million for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program. The purpose of the SCRI is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry. SCRI projects must be designed to solve critical specialty crop agriculture issues, address priorities, and/or solve problems through multifunctional research and extension activities. The SCRI has five legislatively mandated focus areas: Research in plant breeding, genetics, and genomics to improve crop characteristics; Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators; Efforts to improve production efficiency, productivity, and profitability over the long term; New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening; and Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production and processing of specialty crops, including fresh produce. See the Request for Applications (PDF/289KB) for more information.
Proposals are due August 14, 2008.

Biodiesel Fuel Education Program
Applications are being solicited for Biodiesel Education projects that will develop practical indicators or milestones to measure their progress towards achieving the following objectives: (1) Enhance current efforts to collect and disseminate biodiesel information; (2) Coordinate with other biodiesel educational or promotional programs, and with Federal, State and local programs aimed at encouraging biodiesel use, including the EPAct program; (3) Create a nationwide networking system that delivers biodiesel information to targeted audiences, including users, distributors and other infrastructure-related personnel; (4) Identify and document the benefits of biodiesel (e.g., lifecycle costing); and (5) Gather data pertaining to information gaps and develop strategies to address the gaps.
Proposals are due August 8, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Corn and Climate: Workshop on the Climate of the Midwest
September 9-10, 2008
Ames, Iowa

Following the 2008 Growing the Bioeconomy Conference, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is co-sponsoring a post-conference workshop that will focus in-depth attention on the interactions between crops and climate, climate change, climate variability, and future impacts on agriculture in the Midwest.

From the Ground Up
August 7, 2008
South Londonderry, Vermont

Women’s Agricultural Network will co-host a day-long workshop at Anjali Farms and Lotus Moon Medicinals, a certified organic farm producing heirloom vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, eggs, perennial fruit and honey for direct retail markets. The day will include sessions on building and maintaining soil fertility in horticultural systems, pest management approaches, and strategies for developing farm infrastructure and direct marketing for "off-the beaten path" operations. Presenters will include Anjali owner-operators and UVM Vegetable and Berry Specialist Vern Grubinger.

Farm Walk: Value-Added Cow Dairy, On-Farm Feed Production
September 1, 2008
Twisp, Washington

Methow Creamery is a small-scale sustainable organic dairy operation featuring twenty dairy cows and 800 acres of grain and hay production for the cows and off-farm sales. Owners Ron and Elise Vander Yacht sell Grade-A organic, non-pasteurized milk and cream. Ron will share a lifetime of well-earned expertise on raising alfalfa. Ron and Elise will explain how they negotiated creative funding of their organic creamery. Farm Walks are jointly sponsored by Tilth Producers of Washington and WSU Small Farms Team.

> More Events

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