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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 9, 2020

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

News & Resources

  • Report Helps Agricultural Finance Industry Advance Conservation and Mitigate Climate Change
  • A Greener World Launches 'Certified Regenerative' Label
  • USDA Announces Award of Grants to Support Organic Agriculture
  • Video Series Highlights Cotton Producers Focusing on Soil Health
  • Biological Pest Control Delivers Economic Benefits
  • New York Research Evaluates Ground Cherry and Goldenberry Production and Harvest

Funding Opportunities

  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program
  • Organic Certification Cost Share Program
  • Minnesota Value-Added Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Stepping Up To Contract Seed Production: A forum for Midwest growers
  • Creating Consumer-Friendly Bulk Meat Sales
  • Healthy Soils for Healthy Profits Webinar: Increasing the Value of California Cotton

News & Resources

Report Helps Agricultural Finance Industry Advance Conservation and Mitigate Climate Change
Environmental Defense Fund has released Financing Resilient Agriculture. This 49-page report provides a path forward for lenders to mitigate climate risks and finance resilient agriculture. The foreword notes, "This report makes a clear and compelling case that long-term farm profitability is not undermined by near-term investments in conservation and climate resilience—it depends on it."

A Greener World Launches 'Certified Regenerative' Label
Nonprofit certifier A Greener World has launched a plan-based regenerative certification, Certified Regenerative by A Greener World. The new certification will provide a whole-farm assurance of sustainability, measuring benefits for soil, water, air, biodiversity, infrastructure, animal welfare, and social responsibility. The core feature of this program is a farmer-led Regenerative Plan whereby farms assess risk, set goals, and track progress toward their own meaningful milestones.

USDA Announces Award of Grants to Support Organic Agriculture
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the award of grants through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG). A list of 20 recipients of OREI grants totaling $17 million is available online, as is a list of 12 ORG grants totaling $5.6 million.

Video Series Highlights Cotton Producers Focusing on Soil Health
The Soil Health Institute is releasing Cotton & Covers, a Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton video series that follows three Southeastern cotton producers as they discuss their individual journeys to build profitable soil health management systems. The producers discuss why they decided to explore soil health and the benefits they've discovered as they experimented with reduced tillage, increased cover crop species diversity, and livestock grazing. New videos in the series will be available weekly through September.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Cotton Production for the Humid South

Biological Pest Control Delivers Economic Benefits
Research published in Nature Ecology & Evolution set a value of $14.6 to $19.5 billion annually on non-chemical crop protection in 23 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The study shows how 75 biological control agents mitigated 43 pests over the study period, and demonstrates the economic value of biological control in comparison to other agricultural strategies.
Related ATTRA Resource: Biorationals: Ecological Pest Management Database

New York Research Evaluates Ground Cherry and Goldenberry Production and Harvest
Researchers in New York evaluated production and harvest of ground cherries and goldenberries. Ground cherry (Physalis pruinosa) and goldenberry (Physalis peruviana) are warm-season annuals that yield a yellow fruit used as a healthy snack food. Although a harvesting frame built to collect ground cherries efficiently worked well, three methods of trellising for the upright-growing goldenberry proved too costly. The complete project report and a video are posted online.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Regional Conservation Partnership Program
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is inviting potential conservation partners to submit applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will award up to $360 million to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability. Partners from private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts, and universities, among others, may request $250,000 to $10 million in RCPP funding.
Proposals are due by November 4, 2020.

Organic Certification Cost Share Program
USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program for federal funds to assist with expenses paid between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, for receiving and maintaining organic certification. Due to expected participation levels and the limited funds available, FSA revised the reimbursement amount to 50% of the certified organic operation's eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500. The changes are applicable whether organic operations apply through an FSA county office or a participating state agency.
Applications are due by November 2, 2020.

Minnesota Value-Added Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation Value-Added Grant Program. MDA anticipates awarding approximately $1 million to for-profit businesses, agricultural cooperatives, and local governments for equipment purchases that help increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products—including efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the murder of George Floyd. Grants reimburse up to 25% of the total equipment cost, ranging from $1,000 to $150,000.
Applications must be received by October 29, 2020.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Stepping Up To Contract Seed Production: A forum for Midwest growers
September 24, 2020
Online
This forum from Organic Seed Alliance and North Circle Seeds is designed to provide beginning or intermediate seed growers with a foundation in how to pursue, negotiate, and deliver on seed contracts. It is for growers in the Midwest, but will also be useful to growers in other regions.

Creating Consumer-Friendly Bulk Meat Sales
September 23, 2020
Online

This free online program is designed to equip producers with clear and simple steps towards making bulk meat sales, such as quarters, halves, and mixed-cut bundles. This workshop covers understanding the consumer, pricing, product formats, reaching consumers, and "how to" tips to help you get started quickly.

Healthy Soils for Healthy Profits Webinar: Increasing the Value of California Cotton
September 17, 2020
Online
UC Cooperative Extension is offering an online workshop that will explore ways to increase cotton's value. Speakers will share new soil-building practices and ideas for marketing the crop's sustainable production system.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
High Tunnel Grapes: Pest Management

Question of the Week
What are some advertising strategies for my CSA?

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Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Putting Your Garden to Rest: Soil Health Virtual Workshop
September 23, 2020
Register now for this free workshop.

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