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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 28, 2010

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

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events

News & Resources

Conservation Reserve Program Sign-up Announced
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that a general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on August 2, 2010 and continue through August 27, 2010. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for CRP's competitive general sign-up at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers to use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share, and technical assistance. CRP protects millions of acres of America's topsoil from erosion and is designed to improve the nation's natural resources base. Participants voluntarily remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production by entering into long-term contracts for 10 to 15 years. In exchange, participants receive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing conservation practices.

USDA Report Available on U.S. Family Farms
A new report from USDA's Economic Research Service provides comprehensive information including number and size of U.S. farms, characteristics of operators, finances of farm businesses and households, and geographic distribution of farms. American farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, but farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 82 percent of farm production. Small family farms make up most of the U.S. farm count and hold the majority of farm assets, but they produce a modest share of U.S. farm output.

New Database to Track Bees
Bees -- key pollinators for one-third of all plant food crops -- have declined over the last 50 years, with die-offs in recent years stumping scientists and making headlines. But now, a $1.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) multi-institutional grant -- co-led by Cornell entomologist Bryan Danforth -- will consolidate data from 10 natural history bee collections across the United States -- including Cornell's estimated 250,000 specimen collection -- and enter them into a searchable, publicly available online database. The project's data will allow researchers to assess past and present distributions of bee species, help establish conservation status of species and better predict global risks to bee pollination services from climate change, habitat loss and more.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees

Tool Helps Producers Compare Hay Storage Costs
Iowa State University (ISU) Extension economist William Edwards announced a new decision aid for comparing the costs of different hay storage options is now available on ISU Extension’s Ag Decision Maker (ADM) website. “This free electronic spreadsheet can compare up to eight alternatives at a time,” Edwards said. “The standard for comparison is storing bales on bare ground with no cover. This is the least cost method, but also results in the most storage loss. Other methods include outdoor uncovered storage on gravel or pallets, outdoor covered storage, storage under a roof, and storage in a new or existing building.” The Excel®-based spreadsheet “Hay Storage Cost Comparison" is available for viewing and download on the ADM website.

Mobile Slaughter Unit Webinar Information Now Online
On May 24, 2010 USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a draft 'Mobile Slaughter Unit Compliance Guide.' The guide was written for owners and managers of a new or existing red meat or poultry mobile slaughter unit who want to operate under federal inspection. The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network recently hosted a webinar to explain the guide and answer questions with the help of a Policy Officer from USDA-FSIS. A recording of the webinar along with other resources are now available online.

Resources From California Water Workshop Available
Farm Water Toolbox – A Regional Forum for the Northern San Joaquin Valley Farm Community was held March 25, 2010. Materials on sound agricultural water management for increased farm water security are available from the workshop. This meeting brought together key agriculture water experts and practitioners to share the current state of knowledge on policy and practice.

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Sustainable Community Grant
This funding opportunity was incorrectly identified as funded by North Central SARE in last week's newsletter. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Sustainable Community Grants make a direct connection between community revitalization and farming. Projects must address specific key issues such as farm finance, marketing, land use, water use, enterprise development, value-added product development, or other delineated topic areas. To apply, you must be affiliated with Cooperative Extension, NRCS, a municipality, a state department of agriculture, a college or university, a community organization, or other institutional entity.
Proposals are due October 19, 2010.

Western IPM Center Competitive Grant
The Western IPM Center is pleased to release a Request for Applications (RFA) for “Western IPM Center 2011 Competitive Grant Programs.” Programs available in this RFA include: IPM Work Groups; Outreach and/or Publications; and Surveys/Crop Profiles. We encourage projects that extend integrated pest management (IPM) information to audiences who will use this knowledge to decrease the risks associated with pest management. 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, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Proposals are due September 10, 2010

Ohio Next Step Agricultural Program
A new program will award beginning southern Ohio farmers (having farmed less than five years) up to four grants at a maximum of $25,000 each to help grow their enterprises to the next level. Applicants must reside within 22 counties served by the Southern Ohio Agricultural & Community Development Foundation.
Proposals are due August 31, 2010

Animal Welfare Approved Good Husbandry Grant
Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to announce the 2010-2011 Good Husbandry Grant cycle. Grants will be awarded for the sole purpose of improving farm animal welfare, with a concentration on three areas: increased outdoor access, improved genetics and improved slaughter facilities. Current Animal Welfare Approved farmers and those who have applied to join the program are eligible for grants up to $5,000. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers are also eligible to apply.
Proposals are due October 1, 2010

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Iowa Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course
August 10, 2010
Ames, Iowa

This day-long Short Course will equip conservationists, land managers, farm educators, and agricultural professionals with the latest science-based approaches to increasing crop security and reversing the trend of pollinator decline, especially in heavily managed agricultural landscapes.

Drought Mitigation Workshop
August 12-13, 2010
Bastrop, Texas

Participants will learn how to prepare for drought, what action steps to take when drought conditions exist and why they will recover quickly when rain returns. Improved drought management will help increase land health, as well as alleviate financial and mental stress. Farmers and ranchers will learn new ways to stay in business during these challenging environmental and economic times without compromising the business they have spent many years developing.

Midsummer Veterinary Conference on Sustainable Agriculture
August 12-13, 2010
Champaign, Illinois

This conference will provide valuable, science-based information to veterinarians serving clients that produce and market natural and organic food animals. The conference is open to any veterinarian, veterinary student, or veterinary graduate student looking for an open exchange of information regarding sustainable, organic agricultural principles.

>> More Events

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New & Updated Publications
Organic Poultry Production: Providing Adequate Methionine

Assessing the Pasture Soil Resource

Beyond Basic Compensation

Question of the Week
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