Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 16, 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.
News & Resources
* Global Warming Likely to Cause Food Price Increases
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* Biofuels Research Projects Announced
* USDA Releases Renewable Energy Analysis Paper
* Value-added Products Key to Small Farm Stability
* Nematode Resistant Carrots Help Reduce Fumigant Use
* Genetically Modified Grass Escapes Test Plot
* New York Farm Viability Institute Applied Research Partnership Grants
* Organic School Garden Award
* Minnesota Ag Literacy Grants
* IFOAM International Conference on Animals in Organic Production
* FAMACHA Certification
* Rocky Mountain Compost School
News & Resources
Global Warming Likely to Cause Food Price Increases
The recent 21-day heat wave in California is likely to cause food price increases across the country, says ABC News, but it's just a hint of things to come. Crop failures and livestock deaths this year will cause some prices to be higher, but in the long run the effects of global warming could lead to significant price increases. Extreme weather events such as heat waves and drought are one reason prices could increase, but another is the cost of water. Food is grown in many parts of California only because irrigation water is available. However, climate change is leading to less winter snowpack and snowpack that melts earlier, causing a shortage of already-expensive irrigation water in prime food-growing areas that supply the national market.
Biofuels Research Projects Announced
DOE and USDA have awarded nine grants totaling $5.7 million for biofuels research projects. The research will focus on genomics that will allow woody plant tissues such as alfalfa, sorghum, wheat, and other grasses to be grown in large quantities to produce renewable fuels, including ethanol. DOE granted $3.9 million to six projects, and USDA has granted $1.8 million to three projects, all of which will be supported for up to three years. The awardees include six universities in Indiana, Texas, Wisconsin, New York, North Carolina, Kansas, and Georgia; two non-profit research organizations in Oklahoma and Washington, DC; and DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.
USDA Releases Renewable Energy Analysis Paper
USDA has released an analysis of the department's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. This is the fourth in a series of subject areas that warranted a comprehensive examination based on comments received during last year's nationwide Farm Bill Forum listening tour. The paper looks at all the potential sources of energy under agriculture's umbrella, from farm fields to pasture and forest lands. It also tracks the results of USDA's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and contemplates enhancements and alternatives to those programs. All of the 2007 Farm Bill Theme Analysis Papers released to date are available online.
Value-added Products Key to Small Farm Stability
Though value-added farm products may make up only a small proportion of agricultural revenue in Washington's Whatcom County, those products are the "lifeblood" of farms that produce them, according to a Seattle Times article. The value-added products can help farmers find price stability and a good profit level. While value-added products have been regarded as the domain of small farmers, the Whatcom Agriculture Preservation Committee had been studying how larger area dairy farmers might benefit from developing value-added products of their own, to tap new markets.
Related ATTRA Publication: Adding Value through Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship: Overview and Resources
Nematode Resistant Carrots Help Reduce Fumigant Use
Soil fumigants used on carrots have been identified as a contributor to air pollution and ozone formation in the San Joaquin Valley, according to UC IPM. The fumigants are used to protect carrots from diseases and nematodes, including the root-knot nematode. Now some California researchers are trying to reduce fumigant use by breeding a nematode resistant carrot. The researchers have identified excellent root-knot nematode resistance in carrot germplasm and bred it into fresh carrot breeder lines. Now seed companies are incorporating the resistance into elite carrot varieties for commercial release. Field trials have been conducted for two years now. "In the long run, the hope is that through the use of resistant varieties of carrots, along with cultural practices and applications of less toxic materials, the need for soil fumigation to control nematodes may be decreased," says Phil Roberts, project participant from the Nematology Department at University of California, Riverside.
Related ATTRA Publication: Nematodes: Alternative Controls
Genetically Modified Grass Escapes Test Plot
A genetically modified grass, designed for use in golf courses, has escaped its Oregon test plot, reports the online news service Timesonline. Creeping bentgrass has been developed to be impervious to the herbicide glysophate. Developers hope to find a market with golf course managers and possibly homeowners. Plants have been found up to three miles outside a test site in Oregon. Some of the plants had grown from seeds produced by the genetically modified parent; others were hybrids pollinated by one of the modified specimens. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered a full environmental audit of its impact and spread to determine the threat to wildlife.
Related ATTRA Publication: Genetic Engineering of Crop Plants
> More Breaking News
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New York Farm Viability Institute Applied Research Partnership Grants
The ARP grants program is intended for projects of up to a two year duration that will work directly with agricultural producers to make their businesses more successful while providing models that other producers of these crops and products can implement to strengthen the performance of their sector of New York's agricultural economy. The Institute will consider projects that focus on farm-level applied research and demonstration of recently completed more basic research and development efforts. Proposals will be accepted from researchers and educators at academic institutions, extension staff and others involved in agricultural research and development, technology adoption and business assistance in the agricultural sector.
Proposals are due October 2, 2006.
Organic School Garden Award
The Rodale Institute's Kidsregen.org® is proud to announce the 2006 Organic School Garden Awards. School students nationwide, grades K through 12, are invited to enter this competition. If you're a kid who believes that you can improve your health and the health of the earth by gardening, this contest is for you! Any school within the 50 United States with an organic garden may enter the contest. Schools must register and submit an essay and poster, with entry forms. First place award is $1,000.
Proposals are due October 31, 2006.
Minnesota Ag Literacy Grants
The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Ag Literacy Grant Program offers cash awards to help educators more effectively integrate agriculture and the food system into their curriculum. Agriculture has no subject area boundaries, and entries are encouraged in social studies, science, language arts and/or other subject areas. M-AITC will accept grant applications only in the following three categories: Innovation in Ag Literacy (up to $750 per grant, with special emphasis on multi-grade or entire school collaboration); Project Food, Land and People Implementation (up to $400 per grant and you must have attended a six hour FLP training); and Special Project Mini-Grants (a maximum of $200 per grant, with emphasis away from simply funding transportation for field trips). There are three application deadlines for this school year: September 15 and December 15, 2006 and February 15, 2007.
> More Funding Opportunities
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IFOAM International Conference on Animals in Organic Production
August 23-25, 2006
St. Paul, Minnesota
This conference will focus on important issues concerning organic livestock and animal husbandry. It will concentrate upon health and food safety in organic livestock production systems, marketing trends, innovation in organic livestock production systems and livestock breeding strategies. Leading organic livestock researchers and producers from throughout the world will share state-of-science research findings and production information during the three-day event. Tours, speakers and workshops are on the agenda.
September 6, 2006
This PASA field day is designed to help producers develop integrated parasite management (IPM) programs for their farms and flocks. In addition to teaching the basics of internal parasites and their control, the workshop will teach proper anthelmintic use and provide hands-on training in doing fecal egg analyses and using the FAMACHA© Eye Anemia Guide to determine the need for deworming individual animals. This field day will include two hours of lecture plus two hours of hands-on training with fecal egg analysis and FAMACHA©.
Rocky Mountain Compost School
September 18-22, 2006
Fort Collins, Colorado
The Rocky Mountain Compost School is five days of classroom and field instruction for large-scale composters from the Rocky Mountain Region. The school is hosted by Colorado State University's Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.
> More Events
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