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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 9, 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
* Conservation Stewardship Program Resources Available
* USDA Official Highlights Support for Local Food Systems
* Direct Marketing Presentations Available
* Farmers Work To Add Staple Crops to Local Food System
* New Jersey Farmers Market Report Released
* Video Features Sustainable Crop Research


Funding Opportunities
* North Central SARE Farmer Rancher Grant
* Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grant
* Value-Added Producer Grant


Coming Events
* Plant Your Own Ginseng Patch Workshop
* Freshwater Prawns Field Day
* Strengthening the Goat Industry



News & Resources

Conservation Stewardship Program Resources Available
If you are a producer applying to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Organic Farming Research Foundation has several new additions to its CSP Resource Page. New resources include a list of "frequently asked questions", contacts for organizations who provide CSP assistance, and updates from USDA officials.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Accessing the New Conservation Stewardship Program


USDA Official Highlights Support for Local Food Systems
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, released a memo called "Harnessing USDA Rural Development Programs to Build Local and Regional Food Systems" (PDF/313KB) that is the first in what is promised to be a series of highly-anticipated Department activities to raise the profile of federal programs that support regional food system development. Merrigan states in the memo that she plans to play the role of "matchmaker" during this Administration to ensure that USDA program administrators better understand how existing programs throughout the agency can serve the efforts of building local and regional food systems.

Direct Marketing Presentations Available
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) released West Coast Direct Marketing Summit: Case Study Presentations (PDF/12MB). These presentations were made at The Direct Farm Marketing Summit: Developing Sustainable Foodsheds to Enhance Food Access and Nutrition, which brought together government agencies, nonprofit organizations and farmers to investigate ways farmers can sell directly to the public. The presentations included discussions about urban agriculture, implementing wireless electronic benefits transfer in farmers markets, several stories of successful direct marketing innovations by farmers and many other community and education direct marketing projects.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Direct Marketing


Farmers Work To Add Staple Crops to Local Food System
Brandon Jaeger and Michelle Ajamian are pioneering a local food system based on a traditional idea: staple foods like grains and beans should be processed, milled and consumed in the same area in which they are grown. Food-lovers acquainted with the local food scene know that a wide selection of natural foods are available at local businesses and farmers markets, but Ajamian and Jaeger believe that staple food crops – and a local facility that can process and store them – are the missing pieces in the local food economy puzzle. Last year Jaeger received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program to plant test plots of staple food crops that could eventually become the base of a new, localized staple food system in southeast Ohio. The project is now known as the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative.

New Jersey Farmers' Market Report Released
The Rutgers Food Innovation Center (FIC), a unit of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in Bridgeton, has released the findings of a recent study entitled New Opportunities for New Jersey Community Farmers Markets (PDF/25MB). The study, initiated in May 2007, was conducted in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, in order to assess best practices for community farmers markets. This report should prove highly valuable to those involved, or looking to become involved, in community farmers markets, whether in a vendor or management position.

Video Features Sustainable Crop Research
Matt Liebman, Iowa State University’s Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture, leads a research program at the Iowa State Marsden Farm in Boone County that promises to improve the economic performance of cropping systems while at the same time protecting environmental quality and human health. His team is comparing different crop rotation systems over time. One of the objectives of this project is to find a system that relies less on fossil fuels without forfeiting yields and profits. “The dominant cropping systems in our country depend heavily on fossil fuels for fertilizing crops, drying grain and powering machinery. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining productivity is a big challenge,” Liebman said. To learn more about this project, check out the report in the new on-line video section, On the Ground with the Leopold Center, at: www.leopold.iastate.edu/research/eco_files/ground.html.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North Central SARE Farmer Rancher Grant
The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) has issued a call for proposals for farmers and ranchers to carry out Sustainable Agriculture research, demonstration, and education projects on their farms. A total of approximately $400,000 is available for this program.
Proposals are due December 3, 2009.

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grant
The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin (BLBW) grant program invites pre-proposals for projects that are likely to stimulate Wisconsin's agricultural economy by increasing the purchase of Wisconsin grown or produced food by local food buyers. Pre-proposals will be accepted from individuals, groups, businesses and organizations involved in Wisconsin agriculture, agritourism, food retailing, processing, distribution or warehousing. Projects need to show how they will stimulate Wisconsin’s agricultural economy by increasing the purchase of Wisconsin grown or produced food.
Proposals are due September 21, 2009.

Value-Added Producer Grant
The primary objective of this grant program is to help eligible independent producers of agricultural commodities, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures develop strategies to create marketing opportunities and to help develop business plans for viable marketing opportunities. Eligible agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority controlled producer-based business ventures must limit their proposals to emerging markets. These grants will facilitate greater participation in emerging markets and new markets for value-added products.
Proposals are due November 30, 2009.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Plant Your Own Ginseng Patch Workshop
September 12, 2009
Brookville, Pennsylvania

This is an in-depth workshop on ginseng forest farming in Pennsylvania and the region. The basics of ginseng biology, husbandry, regulations, and markets will be covered.


Freshwater Prawns Field Day
September 12, 2009
Cashion, Oklahoma

Join Oklahoma Producer Grant recipient Jeremy Eaton as he harvests his second crop of freshwater prawns (shrimp) from the pond on his farm northwest of Oklahoma City. At this free field day, Eaton will give a presentation on freshwater prawn production methods, potential problems, and harvesting and marketing information.


Strengthening the Goat Industry
September 12-15, 2009
Tallahassee, Florida

The topics of this conference will include nutrition and pasture management, herd health and management, marketing and processing, reproduction and biotechnology, genetics and breeding, food safety and food science, technology transfer and delivery. This conference has been developed for goat producers, agricultural professionals, students and other interested parties. Sheep producers are encouraged to attend this event. This event is sponsored by SARE.


> More Events

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