Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - July 20, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
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* Study Shows Organic Farms Produce Same Yields as Conventional Farms
* New Report Examines Value-added Specialty Cheese Industry
* Comment Period for Conservation Security Program Extended
* Apprenticeship Program Turns out Sustainable Agriculture Practitioners
* UK Study Reveals Costs of Food Transport
* 'Farmers Diner' Founder Discusses Local Food Potential in Midwest
* Small Research Grants for Rural Livelihood Improvement in Dry Areas
* Southern Region SARE Sustainable Community Innovation Grants
* Western Region SARE Professional Development Program Grants
* NOFA 2005 Summer Conference
* Pastured Poultry Workshop: Meat and Eggs
* 2005 Western IPM Center Symposium
News & Resources
Study Shows Organic Farms Produce Same Yields as Conventional Farms
Organic farming produces the same yields of corn and soybeans as conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides, according to a recent study by David Pimentel, a Cornell University professor. The study is a review of the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, the longest running comparison of organic vs. conventional farming in the United States. The study compared a conventional farm that used recommended fertilizer and pesticide applications with an organic animal-based farm (where manure was applied) and an organic legume-based farm (that used a three-year rotation of hairy vetch/corn and rye/soybeans and wheat). The two organic systems received no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Titled "Environmental, Energetic, and Economic Comparisons of Organic and Conventional Systems," the article was published in the July 2005 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Bioscience.
New Report Examines Value-added Specialty Cheese Industry
The specialty cheese industry in Wisconsin provides one opportunity for some dairy farmers to earn more than commodity prices for their milk. Specialty cheese production (which includes artisan and farmstead cheeses) has more than doubled in the state since 1994, and a new report by the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examines the current industry, highlights opportunities and challenges within the specialty cheesemaking business, and provides baseline data for the industry. In order to strengthen the image of the specialty cheese industry, the report concludes the industry could: better distinguish itself from the commodity cheese industry, emphasize Wisconsin's deep-rooted cheesemaking heritage, develop more branded cheeses, and emphasize the unique artisan characteristics of Wisconsin specialty cheeses. Available online, the report is titled Specialty
Cheese in Wisconsin: Opportunities and Challenges (PDF / 476 kb). Also, the recommendations from this report inspired the creation of a new nonprofit organization, the Dairy
Business Innovation Center.
Comment Period for Conservation Security Program Extended
The public comment period deadline for the amended
interim final rule for the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Security Program (CSP) has been extended from July 25 to September 9, 2005. The CSP provides financial and technical assistance to producers who advance the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on Tribal and private working lands. Send comments by mail to Financial Assistance Programs Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, or by e-mail to FarmBillRules@usda.gov.
Apprenticeship Program Turns out Sustainable Agriculture Practitioners
The San Francisco Chronicle recently carried a feature on the sustainable
agriculture apprenticeship program offered by the University of California-Santa
Cruz. Students come from around the country and around the world to participate
in a six-month, hands-on Apprenticeship in Environmental Horticulture, and they
spend their days working in the University's 25-acre organic garden. The experience
they gain there is complemented by classroom lectures, including presentations
from farmers that introduce students to the realities of making a living in sustainable
agriculture. During their apprenticeship students develop a business plan--an
exercise that often replaces romantic notions of farming with hard economics.
According to the feature, 80 percent of students who complete their apprenticeships
go on to pursue farm and horticultural careers.
UK Study Reveals Costs of Food Transport
A study released by the United Kingdom's Department for the Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs says that food miles cost the country £9bn a year, says The
Guardian. The study attempted to calculate the social and environmental
costs of food transportation, taking into account traffic congestion, road wear,
pollution, and accidents attributed to moving food. The study also noted an
increase in the amount of carbon dioxide produced by food transport activities
as the amount of food miles increased 15% between 1992 and 2002. How far food
travels isn't the only factor in its environmental impact, however; how the
food is grown and how it travels significantly affect the food miles total.
The report cites purchasing locally grown food in season as as an effective
means of reducing food miles and their impact. The British government has pledged
to reduce the social and environmental costs of food travel by 20 percent by
'Farmers Diner' Founder Discusses Local Food Potential in Midwest
Tod Murphy, founder of The Farmers Diner, a Vermont restaurant that specializes in local food, spoke in Iowa last week, reports the Des
Moines Register. Murphy elaborated on how 70 percent of every food dollar his restaurant spends goes to local farmers within 70 miles of The Farmers Diner. To use the local foods, his business has had to become involved in processing, as well as cooking, the food. Murphy pointed out opportunities for similar local-food restaurants in Iowa, due to the number of producers offering diverse locally grown foods and consumers with an interest in purchasing local foods. Several restaurants in Iowa have already made forays into using local food, notes the article.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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Small Research Grants for Rural Livelihood Improvement in Dry Areas
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
is making funds available through a competitive grant process that will award
small sums of money (from $500 to $10,000) to individual graduate students
and faculty at U.S. universities. These small grants will support fieldwork
in ICARDA mandate areas and will focus on explaining the causes of rural poverty
in the dry areas and in identifying agricultural research priorities for improving
rural livelihoods. An announcement on the grants and the conditions for application
are available online as a PDF
file (21 kb). Applications are due by August 30, 2005.
Southern Region SARE Sustainable Community Innovation Grants
A joint effort of the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program and the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), the Sustainable Community Innovation Grants Program funds projects that pursue local strategies to link sound farm and nonfarm economic development with agricultural and natural resource management. Applications are encouraged that will increase knowledge, build capacity, and make connections among on- and off-farm sustainable agriculture activities, economic and community development efforts, civic engagement, and local government policy. A special effort is being made this year to encourage proposals that focus on entrepreneurship efforts that build on the agricultural and nonagricultural assets of rural communities. Proposals are due September 1, 2005.
Western Region SARE Professional Development Program Grants
The Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Development (SARE) program is requesting proposals for Professional Development Program grants. This program is designed to educate agricultural professionals about sustainable agriculture so that they, in turn, can help educate and train farmers and ranchers. This year, Western SARE wants to fund projects that build ag professionalsí skills and abilities in the following: ecological weed management strategies, economics of alternative farming systems, alternative marketing approaches (i.e. direct marketing, CSAs), and ecological insect or disease management strategies. Proposals are due November 15, 2005, by 4 p.m. MST.
additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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NOFA 2005 Summer Conference
August 11-14, 2005
The Northeast Organic Farming Association's 31st annual Summer Conference features more than 150 workshops on organic growing, animal husbandry, herbs and flowers, orchards, homesteading, and more. A children's conference and teen conference run concurrently. Exhibits, entertainment, and a country fair open to the public are also scheduled.
Pastured Poultry Workshop: Meat and Eggs
August 11, 2005
Hardeeville, South Carolina
Sponsored by Clemson Cooperative Extension and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
Speakers will include producers, agricultural educators, and regulatory personnel.
Subjects to be covered: how to raise laying chickens, broiler chickens and turkeys
on pasture; appropriate genetics for chickens and turkeys; marketing; regulations;
processing; biosecurity; resources.
2005 Western IPM Center Symposium
August 31 - September 1, 2005
"Water, Wildlife, and Pesticides in the West: Pest Management's Contribution
to Solving Environmental Problems" is the conference's theme. Keynote speeches,
presentations, breakout sessions and poster sessions are scheduled.
events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.
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