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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 20, 2008

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
* Mayors' Meeting Addresses Local Food Systems
* Publication Helps Farmers Understand the Food Marketplace
* USDA Awards $4.5 Million for Rural Cooperative Development Centers
* Iowa Offers COOL Webcast
* Students Plan Real Food Action Month
* Social Networking Site Focuses on Sustainable Food Systems

Funding Opportunities
* Organic Farming Research Foundation Research Grants
* Environmental Quality Incentives Program in California
* Energy Productivity in Innovative Local Food Production Systems Grant

Coming Events
* The Politics of Food Conference
* Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference
* Northeast Animal-Power Field Days

News & Resources

Mayors' Meeting Addresses Local Food Systems
When the Mayors Innovation Project convened recently in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the topics on the agenda was local food systems. According to Isthmus, a weekly newspaper in Madison, mayors across the country are interested in urban agriculture and farm policies. At the meeting, mayors toured the city's farmers' market and community gardens, and heard from speakers including Will Allen, who founded and runs urban agriculture programs in Milwaukee. Extensive briefing materials on Local Food Systems prepared by the Mayors Innovation Project are available online, along with information on the meeting's speakers.
Related ATTRA Publication:   ATTRAnews: Urban Agriculture

Publication Helps Farmers Understand the Food Marketplace
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently released Supply Chain Basics: The Dynamics of Change in the U.S. Food Marketing Environment (PDF/1.88MB), a report that focuses on helping small- and medium-sized farmers take advantage of the shifts in today’s retail food marketplace. The Dynamics of Change is the latest link in the Supply Chain Basics series of reports that help farmers understand the changing nature of today’s food marketing environment. Other reports in the series focus on logistical technology (Technology: How Much—How Soon) and niche marketing (The Logistics of Niche Agricultural Marketing). “Small farmers who are seeking alternative ways to market their products will find this report extremely useful,” said AMS Administrator Lloyd Day.

USDA Awards $4.5 Million for Rural Cooperative Development Centers
USDA has announced that more than $4.5 million in grants will go to 23 Rural Cooperative Development Centers to improve rural economic conditions throughout 22 states. With a $200,000 grant, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund will fund the Cooperative Development, Training and Research Center in Sumter County, Alabama. This grant is expected to create and save more than 400 jobs, including those for 250 family farmers and 100 fishermen. In addition, two new rural cooperative development centers will be established under these grants: the Resource Center for Value Added and Alternative Agriculture at North Carolina State University, and the Appalachian Forest Resource Center in Clarke County, Ohio.

Iowa Offers COOL Webcast
In light of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) taking effect Sept. 30, 2008, Iowa State livestock experts are coming together to help producers understand how they will be affected. The Iowa Beef Center is hosting a webcast on August 25 at 7 p.m. to inform producers about the impacts of COOL. Host sites will be available so individuals can attend a nearby location to watch the speakers broadcast throughout the state. To learn more about the COOL webcast, including information about local host sites, contact Taylor Gerling, IBC communications specialist, at (515) 708-4133 or tgerling@iastate.edu.

Students Plan Real Food Action Month
Real Food Now! is a national month of action for a just and sustainable food system, set for September 21 - October 21. Students—including fair trade and farmworkers rights advocates, student farmers, local food champions and campus sustainability leaders—on hundreds of campuses will organize protest potlucks, community teach-ins, and real food roundtables to highlight the need for real change in campus food. The month kicks off a national campaign to redirect the $4 billion spent by colleges and universities on food each year to real food, food that is healthy as well as community-based, ecologically sound, fair, and humane. The effort invites students at schools across the country to join the challenge, and offers tips on organizing an event.

Social Networking Site Focuses on Sustainable Food Systems
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group has introduced the "Northeast Food and Farm Network," a social network of people and groups working towards a vibrant and sustainable regional food system in the Northeast. The full-featured social network allows users to create their own profiles and food & farm-related blogs, post announcements, events and internships, and form issue-related virtual groups. New participants in the Northeast are welcome.

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Funding Opportunities

Organic Farming Research Foundation Research Grants
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) funds research on organic farming and food systems and the dissemination of these research results to the greater agricultural community. Proposals must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation and take place on working organic farms or ranches whenever possible. OFRF particularly encourages farmers, ranchers, researchers, and extension personnel to consider applying for funding. The average research grant awarded in OFRF's last funding cycle was $13,300. OFRF will not fund a project for more than $15,000 per year except for fruit research grants, for which the maximum grant size is $20,000 per year.
Proposals are due November 17,2008.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program in California
Conservation cost share applications for the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are being accepted for funding consideration in fiscal year 2009 at USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices throughout California. The program, which provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers for natural resource improvements, received a record $53,959,920 in funding in California for 2008. The contracts covered a broad spectrum of natural resource enhancements including increasing irrigation efficiency; nutrient and manure management on dairies; grazing land management; riparian buffers and wildlife habitat; wetland protection; forest management and more.
Proposals are due November 2, 2008.

Energy Productivity in Innovative Local Food Production Systems Grant
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority seeks to encourage innovative local food production systems, such as Controlled Environment Agriculture, greenhouse technologies, and aquaculture projects that support a sustainable economy, lead to sound energy management and can reduce dependence on carbon-based fuels. The production in New York State of fresh produce, fish and seafood products in controlled environments could experience explosive growth, based on rising energy and fertilizer costs, innovations in greenhouses and energy technologies, concern over energy security and food safety, and rising interest in locally grown food products. This solicitation’s objective is that every project funded includes efforts to expand awareness and use of these food production systems by others in the State.
Proposals are due October 2, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

The Politics of Food Conference
September 22-24, 2008
Raleigh, North Carolina

The Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) invites you to "The Politics of Food," a national conference on how America grows, distributes, buys, and eats its food. ELP's conference will engage participants in a challenging exploration of how and why our food system works as it does, whether it is secure, just, and sustainable, and how it might be reshaped for the future. The conference will provide an interactive forum that enables attendees to make new connections and share information around the common goal of developing visionary, yet practical, solutions to local and national food-related challenges.

Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference
October 4-8, 2008
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey

This 12th annual conference has the theme "Re/Storing our Urban and Rural Communities with Healthy Food." This year’s event will focus on access to healthy food: how many communities have been transformed into food deserts; the health and economic impacts that these communities face; and the policy and grassroots-based solutions to this ever growing problem. The meeting will also include plenaries on climate change and the global food crisis, as well as over 50 workshops, 12 field trips, and 5 short courses.

Northeast Animal-Power Field Days
September 26-28, 2008
Turnbridge, Vermont

This event celebrates renewable land-use practices that advance the cultural web of our local communities. The field days include presentations, discussions, speakers, and an all-day intensive on working animals. A trade fair, swap meet, and local food vendors will also be on site.

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