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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 5, 2007

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
* New Publication Focuses on Local Food Systems
* USDA Announces Funds to Defray Organic Certification Costs
* USDA and Aurora Organic Dairy Sign Consent Agreement
* Research Considers Biofuel Effect on Agriculture
* Farm Aid Caravan Highlights New York Farms

Funding Opportunities
* New York Farm Viability Institute Applied Research Partnership Grants
* Minnesota Ag Literacy Grant
* School Wellness Grants

Coming Events
* Northeast Animal-Power Field Days
* Successful Small Farming Series
* Culinary and Agritourism Mini Conference

News & Resources

New Publication Focuses on Local Food Systems
The National Association of Counties Center for Sustainable Communities recently released Counties and Local Food Systems (PDF/1.11MB). This publication contains four methods and case studies for how county governments can support their local food systems through food policy councils, farm to school programs, infrastructure for local producers, and agriculture conservation easement programs. It includes an overview of methods and a fairly detailed case study for each approach.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

USDA Announces Funds to Defray Organic Certification Costs
The USDA recently announced the availability of $1 million to help defray the cost of organic certification in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. In order to be eligible for reimbursement, an organic production operation must be located within one of the 15 designated states, meet the USDA national organic standards for organic production, and have received certification or update of certification by a USDA-accredited certifying agent during the period of Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008.

USDA and Aurora Organic Dairy Sign Consent Agreement
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has entered into a consent agreement with Aurora Organic Dairy (Aurora) in response to a Notice of Proposed Revocation issued earlier this year alleging violations of National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. Under the consent agreement, Aurora's Platteville, Colo., facility must meet several conditions in order to continue to operate as a certified organic dairy operation. These conditions include removing certain animals from the organic herd and ceasing to apply the organic label to certain milk. Additionally, AMS will exercise increased scrutiny over Aurora's operations during a one-year probationary review period. Under terms of the consent agreement Aurora also must file new organic systems plans for its Platteville, Colorado, and Dublin, Texas, facilities. AMS initiated its investigation of Aurora based upon a complaint alleging insufficient pasture for its animals. In investigating this complaint, AMS investigators also uncovered the improper transitioning of animals and a failure to maintain adequate records.

Research Considers Biofuel Effect on Agriculture
Researchers are studying the effects that biofuel production could have on agriculture, according to an Environment News Service story. In a paper published in Crop Science, a team from Iowa State University and Dartmouth College warned that biofuel could have a negative impact if farmers are tempted to plant corn crops year after year, preventing crop rotation. On the other hand, if farmers grow switchgrass for ethanol production, and return production byproducts to their land, it could lead to a more sustainable agricultural production cycle than typical current practices. Iowa State researchers have added bioeconomy elements to I-FARM, a free Web-based planning tool that helps farmers understand how changes to their operations may affect soil fertility and the bottom line.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Sustainable Soil Management

Farm Aid Caravan Highlights New York Farms
Beginning September 3 at the New York State Fair in Syracuse and culminating with its annual benefit concert, Farm Aid's Upstate-Downstate Food and Farm Caravan will crisscross the state to showcase the latest innovations on family farms across New York. The caravan will highlight cutting-edge community efforts and state-supported programs that strengthen the state's agriculture and help more people gain access to good food grown on family farms. The caravan will gather fresh farm food along the way to feed the artists and crew at Farm Aid 2007: A HOMEGROWN Festival at Randall's Island in New York City on Sunday, September 9.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

New York Farm Viability Institute Applied Research Partnership Grants
The Applied Research Partnership program supports practical, on-farm research efforts that are designed to result in measurable, beneficial impacts to participating farms within the lifespan of the project. The New York Farm Viability Institute seeks proposals for projects of no more than two years in duration that work directly with agricultural producers. Sectors of interest include, but are not limited to, field and horticultural crops, livestock, dairy, greenhouse, nursery, turf grass, equine, aquaculture and other agricultural enterprises. Proposals for up to $250,000 over the life of the project will be accepted from producer groups, researchers and educators at academic institutions, Cooperative Extension staff and other groups, agencies and businesses involved in research, development, technology adoption and business assistance in the agricultural sector.
Proposals are due October 1, 2007.

Minnesota Ag Literacy Grant
The Minnesota Ag Literacy Grant program offers cash awards to help educators more effectively integrate agriculture and the food system into their curriculum. Grant applications will be accepted in the following three categories: Innovation in Ag Literacy (up to $400 per grant); Project Food, Land and People Implementation (up to $250 per grant); and Special Project Mini-Grants (a maximum of $200 per grant).
Proposals are due October 1, 2007.

School Wellness Grants
The U.S. Potato Board (USPB) will team up with the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) of the School Nutrition Association to launch its first-ever School Wellness Grant Program. Ten (10) grants of $2,500 each will be awarded to public elementary schools in the United States for equipment and/or educational programs that will help move children toward healthier diets and improve their overall wellness.
Proposals are due April 15, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Northeast Animal-Power Field Days
September 29-30, 2007
Tunbridge, Vermont

Conservation, stewardship, small farms, healthy forests, and the roles they play in vital rural communities will be emphasized during this two-day trade fair and conference that will present resources for farmers, loggers, and forest landowners pursuing the use of draft animals as part of their land-based livelihoods.

Successful Small Farming Series
September 29 - December 1, 2007
Canby, Oregon

Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust presents an 8-session series of courses intended for those seriously considering, starting, or in the first few years of, a small-scale agricultural operation. The course covers the knowledge and skills needed for the successful operation of a small agricultural enterprise: farm, ranch, nursery, forest, etc. The series must be taken as a whole—registration for individual sessions is not available.

Culinary and Agritourism Mini Conference
October 9-10, 2007
Grand Junction, Colorado

The Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board are partnering with the Colorado Tourism Office to host a Culinary & Agritourism Mini Conference as part of the Governor's 2007 Colorado Tourism Conference. Sessions address developing and promoting agriculture and food tourism.

> More Events

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