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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 19, 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.

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News & Resources
* First Half of 2006 Warmest on Record
* Agricultural Marketing Project Grants Awarded
* Al Gore Praises Wal-Mart's Newfound Green Attitude
* USDA and FAO Launch Animal Disease Crisis Management Center
* Vermont Restaurateur Fights Fowl Inspection Rules
* Young Farmers Make Farm Bill Requests

Funding Opportunities
* Kentucky Agri-tourism Competitive Awards Program
* Rural Community Development Initiative
* Southern Region Sustainable Community Innovation Grants

Coming Events
* Permaculture Design Certification Course
* Floodplains, Riparian Zones, and Buffer Strips Conference
* Cucurbitaceae 2006

News & Resources

First Half of 2006 Warmest on Record
The average temperature for the continental United States from January through June 2006 was the warmest first half of any year since records began in 1895, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The average January-June temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 51.8F (11.0C), or 3.4F (1.8C) above the 20th century (1901-2000) average, according to the Center's monthly report on 2006 climate in historical perspective.

Agricultural Marketing Project Grants Awarded
USDA has announced that 27 matching grants totaling $1,333,530 that support agricultural market research and demonstration projects are being awarded to 25 states as part of the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. Funded projects include direct marketing opportunities for sheep and goat producers in Arkansas, agritourism research in Colorado, production and marketing of certified organic seed from native Hawaiian fruit and vegetable varieties, and strategies for increasing numbers of customers at Michigan farmers' markets.

Al Gore Praises Wal-Mart's Newfound Green Attitude
Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday praised Wal-Mart for a newfound focus on environmental sustainability, saying the retailer showed there is no conflict between the environment and the economy, the Associated Press reported today from the Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Gore addressed an auditorium of more than 800 Wal-Mart employees, suppliers and outside experts who advise the company. Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott announced last October that the company would become a leader in sustainability, with three goals: reduce waste to zero, move toward only renewable energy sources, and offer more products made in ways that preserves the environment. Gore spoke after screening "An Inconvenient Truth," his cautionary film on global climate change. The AP reported that Gore received a standing ovation and cheers from the audience.

USDA and FAO Launch Animal Disease Crisis Management Center
USDA will send four veterinary specialists to Rome to assist the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in launching a new crisis management center that will enhance worldwide response to animal disease. The Center will begin operations by the end of July at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. The Crisis Management Center will provide animal disease analysis and information and deploy international resources to prevent and contain dangerous animal diseases. The current focus will be on highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza.

Vermont Restaurateur Fights Fowl Inspection Rules
A Vermont businessman has launched a battle against the state's health department requirement that all fowl served in a restaurant setting must be inspected and certified safe, reports Seven Days, a Vermont Web-based news weekly. George Schenk is the owner of the American Flatbread restaurant in the Mad River Valley. As a long-time supporter of locally produced foods, Schenk wished to serve chicken raised on a farm across Highway 100 from his restaurant. That farm would need to truck the birds to the nearest USDA-inspected slaughterhouse and processing facility, about two hours away in Springfield, Vermont. The farm raises fewer than 1000 chickens each year, and the owners say such an arrangement wouldn't be economically feasible. So Schenk decided to take matters into his own hands. With the help of local-food advocates, he announced that he was going to commit a public act of civil disobedience. He scheduled "The Chicken Event" for Friday, June 16, during which he planned to sell meals from chickens raised and slaughtered on the nearby farm. The Vermont Department of Health immediately cried foul. One day before the event, Schenk was issued an injunction that essentially prevented sale of the meat, but not the event itself. The state's first priority must be the protection of public health, a spokesman told Seven Days."When a consumer eats in a restaurant, they're making a reasonable assumption that they're dining in a facility that has meat and other foods that have been inspected and are safe," Interim Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt said. "We take those regulations very seriously." A possible solution under consideration by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture is an inspected, mobile chicken-processing facility, which could be driven from farm to farm, as is done in other states. In the end, Schenk's "Chicken Event" went ahead as scheduled -- minus the white meat.

Young Farmers Make Farm Bill Requests
A group 18 beginning farmers and ranchers went to Washington recently to tell lawmakers what they would like to see in the next Farm Bill, reports AgricultureOnline. The Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and several state groups helped arrange the event, flying in beginning farmers so they could let members of Congress know how best to encourage a new generation of farmers with programs and incentives.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Kentucky Agri-tourism Competitive Awards Program
Any producer engaging in an on-farm Agri-tourism Business, or any Regional Agri-tourism Organization engaging in marketing and promotion for Agri-tourism Businesses in multiple counties is eligible to apply for up to $50,000 as a forgivable loan. A 50 percent funding match is required. Each of the two rounds of funding in 2006 makes a total of $500,000 available.
Due date: August 1, 2006

Rural Community Development Initiative
The Rural Housing Service of USDA has issued a notice announcing the availability of approximately $6 million of grant funds for the RCDI program. Applicants must provide matching funds in an amount at least equal to the Federal grant. These grants will be made to qualified intermediary organizations that will provide financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development.
Due date: October 10, 2006

Southern Region Sustainable Community Innovation Grants
The call for proposals has been released for Southern Region Sustainable Community Innovation (SCI) Grants to fund projects that link sustainable agriculture to rural community development. SCI grants are a partnership of the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, the Southern Rural Development Center and the Appalachian Regional Commission. This year introduces a second level of SCI grant opportunities. Level One funds projects up to $10,000 and is available throughout the Southern Region, which consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Level 2 funds projects up to $50,000 but is only available in certain Appalachian counties, which are listed in the call for proposals. Level 2 projects must promote value-added sustainable agriculture.
Due date: November 28, 2006

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Permaculture Design Certification Course
August 6-18, 2006
Basalt, Colorado

Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute offers this course on high-altitude arid design strategies, addressing nursery, mature forest garden, perennial greenhouses, integrated small animal and pest management systems, pond, solar thermal/electric systems, composting toilet.

Floodplains, Riparian Zones, and Buffer Strips Conference
September 5-8, 2006
Columbus, Ohio

This conference focuses on Key Components to Aquatic Life Use Attainment and Self-Sustaining Stream Systems. It is sponsored by The Ohio State University and the All Ohio Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. Workshops and presentations are offered.

Cucurbitaceae 2006
September 17-21, 2006
Asheville, North Carolina

The purpose of this conference is to bring together those working in cucurbits to share information on all aspects of cucurbit research, development and production. This exciting and in-depth conference will explore the ever-changing face of cucurbit research and development. Academicians and students, pathologists, entomologists, physiologists, geneticists, weed scientists, horticulturalists, food scientists, commercial plant breeders, growers and industry representatives will attend.

> More Events

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