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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 26 , 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
* Warming to Bring Changes for Midwest Farming
* Ethanol Boom Could Boost Economies but also Food Prices
* Bee Decline Parallels Wildflower Disappearance
* Institute Educating on Pastured Poultry
* Study Says Grain Growers Can Make More by Going Organic
* Michigan Passes Law Encouraging Biofuels

Funding Opportunities
* Western Integrated Pest Management Center Work Groups
* Pennsylvania Grazing Grant Opportunity
* Northeast SARE Farmer Grants

Coming Events
* Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association National Conference
* Rangeland Restoration and Management Workshop
* Soil Foodweb Workshops

News & Resources

Warming to Bring Changes for Midwest Farming
Climate change is predicted to bring warmer temperatures and more extreme weather to the Midwest, which will mean changes for city dwellers and wildlife as well as farmers, says a McClatchy Newspapers piece appearing in The Mercury News. Though models of what climate change could mean for the Midwest aren't well developed, expectations include more temperature extremes, more storms, and potentially erratic rainfall patterns. This could mean a change in the region's crops, from rain-dependent corn to more dryland wheat and cotton. A longer growing season is one possibility, but falling yields due to drought are another probable scenario.
Related ATTRA Publication: Drought Resistant Soil

Ethanol Boom Could Boost Economies but also Food Prices
Interest in ethanol production is skyrocketing in the United States. With new plants planned and under construction, and investment dollars pouring in, some hope that the boom could help boost rural and Midwest economies and raise farm incomes. An article in The Christian Science Monitor explores the growth in the ethanol market and energy and economic issues involved in production of ethanol. Meanwhile, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute explores some of the food system ramifications of increasing corn-based ethanol production in a RenewableEnergyAccess.com column. He notes that the 55 million tons of U.S. corn going into ethanol this year represent nearly one sixth of the country's grain harvest but will supply only 3 percent of its automotive fuel. Brown warns that a market that can divert grain from food production to fill gas tanks will harm the world's poorest people. He goes on to suggest alternatives to food-based ethanol production, including increased fuel efficiency.
Related ATTRA Publication: Ethanol Opportunities and Questions

Bee Decline Parallels Wildflower Disappearance
A study that appeared recently in the journal Science shows that declines in wild bee species in Britain and the Netherlands correlate with the disappearance of bee-pollinated wildflowers in the two countries, reports a Reuters news story on Planet Ark. Researchers warn that the trend could affect crops as well as wild species. The study found declines in bee diversity at 80 percent of the hundreds of sites monitored.
Related ATTRA Publication: Phenology Web Links

Institute Educating on Pastured Poultry
The Central North Dakota Pastured Poultry Institute hosted an open house recently, reports the Times-Record, to further its mission of educating the public about raising and processing pastured poultry. The Institute was launched about a year ago when some North Dakota hog producers switched their focus. In addition to producing pastured poultry themselves, they have received a grant that is helping them teach and train people to raise pastured poultry and to provide the necessary tools for people interested in getting started in the production and marketing of pastured poultry.
Related ATTRA Publication: Growing Your Range Poultry Business: An Entrepreneur's Toolbox

Study Says Grain Growers Can Make More by Going Organic
USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists have announced the results of a four-year study that shows Minnesota grain farmers could make more money by switching to organic grain crops. The study, conducted at the Swan Lake Research Farm in Minnesota, analyzed both economic risks and transition effects of switching to organic farming. This study compared an organic corn-soybean rotation and an organic corn-soybean-spring wheat/alfalfa rotation-half grown with conventional tillage and half with strip tillage-with a corn-soybean rotation using conventional tillage. The study used computer simulations to project costs, yields and risks over a 20-year period, and found that farmers would make significantly more per acre per year by going organic, even considering high transition costs.

Michigan Passes Law Encouraging Biofuels
A package of bills recently signed by Michigan's governor is designed to encourage the use of biofuels within the state. The package includes a measure that will reduce taxes by 20 percent on diesel blends containing at least 5 percent biodiesel and by 36 percent on gasoline blends containing at least 70 percent ethanol. In addition, all state motor transport facilities are required to add biodiesel and E85 pumps. One bill creates grant funds for adding biodiesel and E85 fuel pumps at service stations, as well as infrastructure at fuel terminals. Two laws provide for establishment of up to 10 "renaissance zones" that will provide tax breaks for biomass energy facilities and agricultural and forest product processing facilities, including those that would serve the biomass energy industry.

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Funding Opportunities

Western Integrated Pest Management Center Work Groups
The Western Integrated Pest Management Center (WIPMC) announces the availability of funds and requests proposals for Work Groups that support the WIPMC in its mission of improved communication, collaboration, and stakeholder involvement. Funding in the amount of approximately $80,000 is available for this competitive subcontracts program. Proposals are limited to the following states and territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands.
Due date: August 4, 2006

Pennsylvania Grazing Grant Opportunity
The Pennsylvania State Office of NRCS is soliciting proposals from interested parties to increase the awareness of landowners and the general public of the benefits of properly grazed lands by promoting grazing knowledge throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. One grant of $30,000 will be offered. Eligibility for application is unrestricted.
Due date: August 21, 2006

Northeast SARE Farmer Grants
The goal of the Farmer grant program is to develop, refine, and demonstrate new sustainable techniques and to explore innovative ideas developed by farmers across the region. To apply, you must be a farmer in the Northeast SARE region. The region is made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Due date: December 22, 2006

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association National Conference
August 17-20, 2006
Ghent, New York

"Building Sustainable Communities-Agriculture as the Foundation for Social Change" includes days of presentations, workshops, lively conversations, and music. Tour Hawthorne Valley Farm and other thriving local biodynamic and organic farms. Farmers, processors, distributors, and consumers are all welcome!

Rangeland Restoration and Management Workshop
August 10-12, 2006
Sonora, Texas

The Academy for Ranch Management offers this course that starts with a history of grazing on the Edwards Plateau. Participants explore the resources available on the ranch in an outdoor environment. Participants learn to use tools that will help them evaluate the current condition and the trend of their pastures. They are also introduced to The Grazing Manager (TGM), a software program that assists the manager to plan and monitor the grazing on their ranch.

Soil Foodweb Workshops
August 21-26, 2006
Corvallis, Oregon

Dr. Elaine Ingham teaches three core workshops and other classes at her Soil Foodweb, Inc. Lab. Includes classroom instruction, hands-on laboratory work and field demonstrations. Introduction to the Soil Foodweb workshop runs August 21-23, followed by Compost Technology workshop August 24, Compost Tea Technology August 25, and Light Microscope Methods August 26.

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Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and is 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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