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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 9 , 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
* Pesticide Exposure and Brain Disease Linked in Study
* Gasified Manure to Power Ethanol Plant
* Genetically Modified Bt Cotton Subject to Pest Problems
* More Than 60 Percent of U.S. in Drought
* Grass-fed Beef Gaining Market Share
* National Farmers Market Week Celebrated

Funding Opportunities
* Connecticut Organic Certification Cost Share Reimbursement
* Kentucky Farmers' Markets Competitive Grants Program
* New York Agritourism RFP

Coming Events
* Aquaculture, Vermicomposting, & Project Planning
* Biobased Industry Outlook Conference
* Seattle Tilth 2006 Harvest Fair

News & Resources

Pesticide Exposure and Brain Disease Linked in Study
Researchers at the University of North Dakota say that preliminary results from the first year of a four-year study are showing links between pesticide exposure and neurological diseases, reports Minnesota Public Radio. The study has so far demonstrated that low-dose exposure to six common pesticides affects brain cells. Additional research at the University is considering how people are exposed to pesticides, and has found that wind-borne pollen can carry a load of pesticides, so that people may be inhaling more contaminants than they encounter in food or water.

Gasified Manure to Power Ethanol Plant
Recent debates over the environmental benefits and drawbacks of ethanol have included speculation over how ethanol plants themselves will be powered. Now Panda Ethanol Inc. has announced plans for an ethanol plant in Hereford, Texas, that will be powered by gasified cattle manure, according to a Reuters news story on Planet Ark. According to the story, the plant plans to gasify 1 billion pounds of manure a year to power the manufacture of 100 million gallons of ethanol. The strategy should save more than 365,000 barrels of oil yearly, as well as preventing release of the greenhouse gas methane from the manure.
Related ATTRA Publication: Ethanol Opportunities and Questions

Genetically Modified Bt Cotton Subject to Pest Problems
Cornell University scientists recently reported that Chinese farmers who grow genetically modified Bt cotton are losing profits due to insects. Though the cotton is designed to be resistant to bollworms, other varieties of insects, once thought of as "secondary" pests, have multiplied to such numbers that farmers are spraying with pesticides up to 20 times per year to control them. Meanwhile, in the United States the Delta Farm Press reports that Bt cotton growers in Arkansas are finding bollworm damage on their cotton. Researchers aren't sure whether it's a particularly bad bollworm cycle, or whether bollworms are developing a tolerance to the Bt in the cotton after the ten years it's been grown in the area.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Cotton Production

More Than 60 Percent of U.S. in Drought
More than 60 percent of the United States is abnormally dry or in drought condition, a climatologist for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln told the Associated Press recently. An area stretching from south central North Dakota to central South Dakota is the most drought-stricken region in the nation, Mark Svoboda said. "It's the epicenter," he said. "It's just like a wasteland in north central South Dakota." North Dakota last year led the nation in production of 15 different commodity classes, including spring wheat, durum wheat, barley, oats, canola, pinto beans, dry edible peas, lentils, flaxseed, sunflower, and honey, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.North Dakota State University professor and researcher Larry Leistritz said it's too early to tell what effect this year's drought will have on commodity prices. Flour prices already have gone up and may rise more because of the effect of drought on wheat.

Grass-fed Beef Gaining Market Share
The number of grass-fed beef sold in the U.S. is set to more than double this year, reports an Associated Press piece on Yahoo! News. Though the 100,000 grass-fed animals sold in 2006 are a tiny fraction of the 30 million that are feedlot finished each year, the grass-fed market is becoming more important as consumers discover the health benefits of grass-fed meat, and producers move to meet their demands. Producers find that direct-marketing their grass-fed beef gives them an economic advantage, as well. USDA is accepting comments until August 11 on rules for a proposed label to identify grass-fed beef.
Related ATTRA Publication: Beef Marketing Alternatives

National Farmers Market Week Celebrated
August 6-12 has been proclaimed National Farmers Market Week by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, in recognition of the important role farmers' markets play in linking urban and rural communities, the rising popularity of farmers' markets, and the access they provide to fresh and healthy food. Many individual states are also marking the occasion. For example, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has proclaimed Farmers Market Week in Illinois, and Governor Jennifer Granholm has declared Farmers Market Week for Michigan, while Washington will celebrate Farmers Market Week August 12-19. Individual markets also have a range of special activities planned.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Connecticut Organic Certification Cost Share Reimbursement
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has applied for a Cost Share Grant from USDA in which the department can reimburse Connecticut Organic Growers for the cost of certifying their farm up to $500.00 per farm or up to 70 percent of the cost.
Proposals are due August 15, 2006.

Kentucky Farmers' Markets Competitive Grants Program
The Kentucky Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy is administering a second round of farmers' market competitive grants in 2006. Grants are available for either community or regional farmers' markets. All projects require a 50% match from the applicant. A total of $2 million in state funds has been made available during the two funding rounds in 2006.
Proposals are due September 1, 2006.

New York Agritourism RFP
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets invites proposals for a matching grant program for the development, implementation or expansion of projects or activities which will promote New York State food and agriculture through agritourism. Individuals, public and private agencies and organizations, business and industry, educational institutions and local governments are eligible to submit proposals for funding under this RFP. Maximum funding available to projects under this program is $50,000, which must be matched by equal or greater amounts of matching funds.
Proposals are due September 11, 2006.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Aquaculture, Vermicomposting, & Project Planning
August 24-25, 2006
Fort Valley, Georgia

Learn how to build, run, and market an affordable, sustainable, aquaculture (fish farming) system on your farm, from the ground up, as well as earthworm farming and project planning.

Biobased Industry Outlook Conference
August 28-29, 2006
Ames, Iowa

"Growing the Bioeconomy: Reimagining Agriculture for National Energy Security" is the topic of this year's conference, held at Iowa State University. The event will feature sessions that will focus on the financial, scientific, equipment, and educational investments needed in order for U.S. agriculture to supply a significant portion of U.S. energy needs, while maintaining production of food, feed, and fiber. Breakout sessions will focus on new and promising bioprocessing discoveries and market incentives for biobased products, while specialized tours will feature various aspects of the bioeconomy.

Seattle Tilth 2006 Harvest Fair
September 9, 2006
Seattle, Washington

This free all-day festival will include a farmers' market, family activities, heirloom tomato tasting event, garden demonstrations and live music.

> More Events

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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.

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