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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 19, 2009

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
* Minnesota Creates Farmer Financial Assistance Network
* USDA's FSA and RD Agencies Offer Assistance
* Tool Helps Farmers With Irrigation Efficiency
* Resources Available For Stressed Farmers
* Researchers Study Soil Phosphorus Levels in Organic Production
* Ohio Food Policy Council Releases Report


Funding Opportunities
* Fields Pond Foundation Grant
* Seeds for Education Grant
* North Dakota Organic Cost Share Program


Coming Events
* The Organic Farmers' Tool Chest Workshop
* Holistic Grazing Workshop and Tour
* Alabama Small Ruminant Conference



News & Resources

Minnesota Creates Farmer Financial Assistance Network
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is establishing a new network of services to help farmers who are having financial difficulties. As announced by Governor Pawlenty recently at Farmfest, the Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) will provide mentoring, technical assistance and financial guidance to farm families facing economic hardship. MFAN will include a one-stop hotline staffed by veteran financial analysts who would help producers facing crises. The network will also include referral services for lenders, farm business management instructors, and extension agents as well as for legal advice and crisis counseling.

USDA's FSA and RD Agencies Offer Assistance
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is undertaking an unprecedented effort to use the department's administrative flexibility to provide relief to individuals and businesses in struggling agriculture industries. Vilsack has ordered USDA Rural Development and the Farm Service Agency to use all available means to help producers, processors and other small businesses who have been hit by worsening economic conditions. The assistance includes Farm Service Agency's increased effort to provide loan assistance to livestock producers and the Rural Development Business and Industry Loan program which has been structured to provide relief to processors and other small businesses in agriculture industries.

Tool Helps Farmers With Irrigation Efficiency
A new University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension online spreadsheet will help irrigators evaluate their pumping plant efficiency. The new tool will help irrigators calculate the amount of money they could save by improving the efficiency of their system, said Tom Dorn, Lancaster County Extension educator, who developed the tool. The spreadsheet is available at http://lancaster.unl.edu/ag/crops/Long_Term_Pump.xls.
Related ATTRA Publication: Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators


Resources Available For Stressed Farmers
Farming can be stressful in the best of times. Financial worries, unpredictable weather, plant pests, livestock diseases, and isolation all contribute to farmers' anxiety. To assist farmers and their families who are experiencing stress, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has organized a Web seminar and assembled a Web page filled with a variety of resources. UMaine Extension is getting out information that can help families realize that they are not alone and there are resources to consider.

Researchers Study Soil Phosphorus Levels in Organic Production
Phosphorus is a nonrenewable resource, raising concerns that agricultural practices may deplete reserves. Organic farming with low phosphorus inputs can result in deficient levels of plant-available phosphorus (available-P). A group of researchers from Canada set out to determine if common organically managed rotations are depleting phosphorus reserves or if large reserves still exist in unavailable forms. The researchers state that only high yielding, high phosphorus export organic rotations are a concern for developing phosphorus deficiency depending on initial reserves and the length of time without additional inputs.
Related ATTRA publication: Soil Management: National Organic Program Regulations


Ohio Food Policy Council Releases Report
The Ohio Food Policy Council released its progress report, "Bringing Everyone to the Table," which includes recommendations and details on how the state is maximizing the health, environmental, and economic benefits of Ohio's $98 billion food and agriculture industry. The council set 15 final recommendations and eight overarching goals to help improve the local food system in Ohio and advance access to healthy food for all Ohioans.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Fields Pond Foundation Grant
The primary mission of Fields Pond Foundation is to provide financial assistance to nature and land conservation organizations that are community-based and that serve to increase environmental awareness by involving local residents in conservation issues. The Foundation primarily supports nonprofit organizations in the six New England states and New York. The Foundation's grant-making priorities include: project grants for trail-making and other enhancement of public access to conservation lands, rivers, and coastlines; land acquisition for conservation; the establishment of endowments as a means of funding stewardship of conservation areas; and related education programs and publications. Requests may be submitted throughout the year.

Seeds for Education Grant
For years Wild Ones members and chapters have worked with schools and nature centers to plant and maintain natural landscapes. In 1996, the Wild Ones Board of Directors started the Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Fund to further foster such projects. Project goals should focus on the enhancement and development of an appreciation for nature using native plants. Projects must emphasize involvement of students and volunteers in all phases of development and increase the educational value of the site.
Proposals are due November 15, 2009


North Dakota Organic Cost Share Program
North Dakota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the 2007-2008 National Organic Cost Share Program through September 30, 2009. Organic producers, processors and handlers are eligible to apply for cost share assistance provided:

* They received initial or continuation/renewal of certification to USDA National Organic Program standards between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008, and

* The certified operation is located in North Dakota.

Proposals are due September 30, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

The Organic Farmers' Tool Chest Workshop
August 20, 2009
Molena, Georgia


This in-depth workshop will provide valuable training and resources in:
*farm and crop planning and recordkeeping
*the basics of organic certification
*rotations
*cover crops
*insect identification and management


Holistic Grazing Workshop and Tour
August 21-22, 2009
O'Neill, Nebraska


Workshop will cover mob grazing, stock density and herd effect. The farm tour will include mob grazing, stockmanship, and fencing demonstrations.


Alabama Small Ruminant Conference
August 22-23, 2009
Colombiana, Alabama


This conference will cover many topics, including genetic improvement of sheep and goats, reproductive management, and breed comparisons.


> More Events

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