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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 23, 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 Tool Tracks Produce
* Retaining Farm Laborers Cuts Costs
* National Organic Program Proposes Extending Methionine Use
* Publication Available on Accepting Food Stamps at Farmers' Markets
* EPA Announces New Safety Measures for Soil Fumigant Pesticides
* Leopold Center Launches New Grass-based Livestock Working Group


Funding Opportunities
* Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
* Western SARE Farmer/Rancher Research and Education Grant
* Ohio Agricultural Economic Development Grants


Coming Events
* Water, Wire & Wellness
* Pasture Establishment, Design and Management for Outdoor Hog Production
* Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair



News & Resources

New Tool Tracks Produce
Consumers who want to know where their apple or bunch of broccoli might have been grown can check out a new online resource that tracks the origins of 95 different fresh fruits and vegetables typically sold in U.S. supermarkets. Besides showing product origins, the tool allows the user to see which state is the leading domestic producer of these crops. The new web site tool, Where do your fresh fruits and vegetables come from? , was developed by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University. "This tool is designed to help people increase their knowledge of food geography and the origins of fresh produce typically sold in the U.S. retail or food service sector," said Leopold Center Associate Director Rich Pirog, who guided development of the tool.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Food Miles: Background and Marketing


Retaining Farm Laborers Cuts Costs
Making an effort to retain employees can help farmers reduce costs, according to experts at Purdue University, cited in an Indiana Ag Connection article. When workers leave, there is not only the cost of replacing them, but the potential disaster of not having enough labor during planting or harvest time. Farms can increase worker retention by providing benefits, such as a health care plan, accommodating requested time off, retirement options, disability benefits, as well as providing a good work environment where all employees are treated with respect.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management


National Organic Program Proposes Extending Methionine Use
The National Organic Program has published a notice in the Federal Register, announcing its intent to amend the U.S. Department of Agricultureís (USDA) National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, to extend the use of methionine in organic poultry production until October 1, 2010. This proposed rule would amend the National List to reflect one recommendation submitted to the Secretary by the NOSB in May. Written comments on the proposed rule must be received by August 13, 2008.

Publication Available on Accepting Food Stamps at Farmers' Markets
University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension has published Accepting Food Stamp Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards at Farmers' Markets and Farm Stands: A Primer for Farmers and Market Managers (PDF/466KB). This publication highlights step by step the process by which an individual farmer or an entire market can become authorized to become a food stamp merchant, as well as listing the various ways to process transactions, the equipment needed for each, and other technical aspects needed to be successful.

EPA Announces New Safety Measures for Soil Fumigant Pesticides
EPA has announced that it will require a suite of new mitigation measures for the soil fumigants methyl bromide, chloropicrin, dazomet, metam sodium, and metam potassium, to increase protections for agricultural workers and bystanders. Users must complete written, site-specific fumigant management plans before fumigations begin, and obey posting requirements. Buffer zones will be required, as well as handler training. EPA's decision will also halt the use of methyl bromide on sites where alternatives are available. EPA is providing 60 days for public comments on implementation of the new measures.

Leopold Center Launches New Grass-based Livestock Working Group
A new statewide group will promote Iowa's grass-based livestock industry as well as the social and environmental benefits that could result from a whole-system approach to this type of livestock production. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has made a three-year commitment to support a new Grass-Based Livestock Working Group (GBLWG) coordinated by Andy Larson, Iowa State University Extension's new small farms specialist. Larson will bring together a diverse group of farmers, marketers, processors, academics, not-for-profit organizations and agency professionals to tackle some of the challenges to entering this fast-growing segment of the livestock industry. The goal of the new working group will be to boost viability of the grass-based livestock industry in Iowa by addressing practitioners' most pressing issues, using sound research and effective knowledge transfer between participants. The group's first meeting will be August 14 in Des Moines.

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Funding Opportunities

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announces the availability of approximately $10 million in grant funds, less USDA administrative costs, to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture). State departments of agriculture are eligible to apply, and are encouraged to involve industry groups, academia, and community-based organizations in the development of applications and the administration of projects.
Proposals are due September 8, 2008.

Western SARE Farmer/Rancher Research and Education Grant
Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is accepting applications for its Farmer/Rancher Grant (PDF/175KB) program. These projects are conducted by agricultural producers, with support and guidance from a technical advisor. Individual farmers may apply for up to $15,000 and a group of three or more farmers may apply for up to $30,000. Producers use their grants to conduct on-site experiments that can be shared with other producers. Projects may also focus on marketing and organic production.
Proposals are due December 5, 2008.

Ohio Agricultural Economic Development Grants
The Center for Farmland Policy Innovation at Ohio State University has issued a request for proposals focusing on community-based agricultural economic development. The center expects to allot mini grants in the range of $1000 to $10,000 per project. Primary applicants for this funding, available through the center's Farmland Protection Partnership Program, must be a governing body of an Ohio county, township or municipality, or a nonprofit organization. Proposals must include a minimum 50 percent local match to the amount requested from the center.
Proposals are due October 31, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Water, Wire & Wellness
August 13, 2008
Huntington, Vermont

This day-long workshop sponsored by the Women's Agricultural Network will focus on farm infrastructure and animal health in pasture-based systems, and sessions on fencing, watering systems and animal health. It will be held at Maple Wind Farm, a diversified farm producing pasture-based pork, beef, lamb and poultry, as well as vegetables and maple products for direct markets. Presenters will include Maple Windís Bruce Hennessey, UVM Livestock Specialist Sam Comstock and Vermont Pasture Network Coordinator Jennifer Colby.


Pasture Establishment, Design and Management for Outdoor Hog Production
August 28, 2008
Goldsboro, North Carolina

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems hosts this all-day workshop, which will include hands on training for agents and producers involved in outdoor pork production. Emphasis will be on techniques for helping farmers maintain groundcover in outdoor hog operations. Topics will include groundcover management, pasture design, rotations, fencing, and watering systems.


Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair
September 6, 2008
Seattle, Washington

Meet backyard chickens & mini dairy goats, shop for fresh local organic produce and products, enjoy live music, partake in the family square dance & much more, at this annual harvest fair.


> More Events

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