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NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 31, 2011

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

It's Not Too Late

Advance registrants to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, in September can still catch a very special deal: an extra day-long training by our program specialists on small-scale intensive farming. We are partnering with Mother Earth News Fair to provide a full day of workshops related to small-scale farming that will help you learn sustainable food production for personal and commercial use. These workshops are in addition to the regular Fair workshops and exhibitions, and will be presented on Friday, Sept. 23. Seating for our training is limited to 400 and is only offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you need to purchase your tickets today. Visit http://bit.ly/ouoK7c for more information and to purchase your weekend pass.

News & Resources

  • USDA Schedules Organic Agriculture Listening Session
  • Research Compares Profitability of Organic and Conventional Cropping Systems
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program Deadline Approaches
  • Online Tool Helps Farmers Consider New Enterprises
  • Study Assesses Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City
  • UC Davis Launches Agricultural Sustainability Degree

Funding Opportunities

  • Southern SARE Sustainable Community Innovation Grants
  • Michigan Community Development Block Grant Farm to Food Grant Program
  • Market Access Program Branded Products

Coming Events

  • Harvesting Clean Energy
  • Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference
  • Bioneers Conference: Breakdown to Breakthrough

News & Resources

USDA Schedules Organic Agriculture Listening Session
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is convening a public listening session to receive input concerning the Department's activities and priorities related to supporting organic agriculture production, handling and markets. It will be held in Washington, DC, September 20, 2011. Comments may be offered in person at the listening session, or submitted in writing prior to the session.

Research Compares Profitability of Organic and Conventional Cropping Systems
University of Minnesota researchers have posted a paper entitled A Whole-Farm Profitability Analysis of Organic and Conventional Cropping Systems. Rather than looking solely at per-acre returns, this study carefully considers the effects of farm size and machinery complement on total farm costs. The study concludes that with current organic price premiums, small conventionally managed farms may be able to earn greater net returns if transitioned to organic production.

Biomass Crop Assistance Program Deadline Approaches
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency reminds producers they have until close of business on Friday, September 16, 2011, to sign up for participation in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) within respective project areas.

Online Tool Helps Farmers Consider New Enterprises
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has re-issued its 12-page Agriculture Diversification Compass, and is making the tool available online. The guide helps producers evaluate the potential of new crop and livestock enterprises they may be considering for their farm.
Related ATTRA Publication: Evaluating a Rural Enterprise

Study Assesses Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City
The Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute, Columbia University recently released The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City: Growing Capacity, Food Security & Green Infrastructure (34M PDF). The study identified almost 5,000 acres of vacant land likely to be suitable for farming in the five boroughs, and noted that NYC's rooftops are a vast, underused resource that could be transformed for food production. The study also identified benefits that urban agriculture provides in terms of green urban infrastructure, community development and food security.
Related ATTRA Publication: Start a Farm in the City

UC Davis Launches Agricultural Sustainability Degree
The University of California, Davis, this fall will launch an undergraduate major focused on agricultural sustainability. The Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems uniquely integrates several subjects to provide students with a thorough understanding of the many issues facing modern farming and food systems, including production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Southern SARE Sustainable Community Innovation Grants
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Sustainable Community Innovation Grant program is open to a variety of innovative projects that successfully link sustainable agriculture with sustainable community activities to increase and support farms, businesses, families and communities. Project maximums are $10,000 for up to two years of activities that are intended to increase knowledge, build capacity and make connections between farms and rural communities to the benefit of people who live in those communities.
Proposals are due by October 3, 2011.

Michigan Community Development Block Grant Farm to Food Grant Program
The Michigan CDBG Farm to Food program is designed to assist communities seeking to construct, rehabilitate, acquire, expand or improve a facility for the support of a three to four season farmers market. Eligible, participating communities are those on the Low and Moderate Income Communities and Project Area List. The maximum grant award cannot exceed $750,000.
Submissions will be accepted until October 21, 2011.

Market Access Program Branded Products
The Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) is accepting applications for the Market Access Program (M.A.P.) for Branded Products that helps new exporters develop foreign markets by reimbursing qualifying companies for up to 50 percent of their eligible expenses. Eligible companies may include producers, farm cooperatives, manufacturers, processors, distributors, packers and export trading companies in the 15 southern states and Puerto Rico. Once all the funding is allocated, the application process is over until the next year.
Applications are accepted beginning August 1 , 2011.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Harvesting Clean Energy
October 23-25, 2011
Boise, Idaho

The 11th annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference is the Northwest's premiere gathering of the agriculture and energy industries to advance rural economic development through clean energy. The conference is designed for farmers, ranchers, food processors, local officials, utilities and clean energy firms.

Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference
October 14-16, 2011
Bronx, New York

"Growing Wealth, Health and Justice," connects growers, eaters and organizations across the country to nurture the health and well being of Black America and the environment as a whole.

Bioneers Conference: Breakdown to Breakthrough
October 13-16, 2011
San Rafael, California and beamed live

The Bioneers Conference is a leading-edge forum presenting breakthrough solutions for people and planet. A pre-conference intensive on Schools and Food and a field trip on new innovations on longstanding farms take place October 13.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

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