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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 20, 2005

Weekly 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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News & Resources
* 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

Funding Opportunities
* Small Research Grants for Rural Livelihood Improvement in Dry Areas
* Southern Region SARE Sustainable Community Innovation Grants
* Western Region SARE Professional Development Program Grants

Coming Events
* NOFA 2005 Summer Conference
* Pastured Poultry Workshop: Meat and Eggs
* 2005 Western IPM Center Symposium

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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.
URL: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/513110/

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.
URL: http://www.cias.wisc.edu/archives/2005/06/30/
specialty_cheese_in_wisconsin_opportunities_and_challenges/index.php

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.
URL: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/
edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-14297.htm

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.
URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/16/HOG4UDNENI1.DTL

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 2012.
URL: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/green/story/0,9061,1529102,00.html

'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.
URL: http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050717/
BUSINESS01/507170320/1030

For 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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Funding Opportunities

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.
URL: http://www.griffin.peachnet.edu/sare/

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.
URL: http://wsare.usu.edu/grants/

For additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.

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Coming Events

NOFA 2005 Summer Conference
August 11-14, 2005
Amherst, Massachusetts

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.
URL: http://www.nofa.org/index.php

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.
URL:http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/calendar.html

2005 Western IPM Center Symposium
August 31 - September 1, 2005
Portland, Oregon

"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.
URL:http://www.wripmc.org/NewsAlerts/westernipmsymposium05.html

More events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.

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Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are now available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
URL: http://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageThe National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our sustainable agriculture projects.

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