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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 10, 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
* USDA Announces Value-Added Grant Recipients
* Minnesota Greenbook Offers Ideas for Sustaining Agriculture
* San Francisco Foodshed Study Released
* Appeals Court Upholds GE Alfalfa Ban
* California Legislation to Regulate Genetically Engineered Crops
* Farm Aid Introduces Farmer Resource Network National Partners

Funding Opportunities
* Southern SARE Producer Grant Program
* Frontera Farmer Foundation
* Western Integrated Pest Management Center Ongoing Special Issues

Coming Events
* Farming with Grass: Achieving Sustainable Mixed Agricultural Landscapes
* The ABC's of Farm Education
* Sierra Nevada Small Farm Progress Day

News & Resources

USDA Announces Value-Added Grant Recipients
USDA has announced the 144 recipients in 37 states and the territory of Puerto Rico who will receive more than $19 million in USDA Rural Development assistance under the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Businesses and producers in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin have been selected to receive grants to assess the feasibility of marketing ethanol and bio-diesel, cooking oil, wind and other types of renewable energy. USDA Rural Development also is funding several non-energy business ventures. For example, The Chef's Garden, Inc., in Huron, Ohio, will receive a $97,500 grant to explore the feasibility of marketing products made from locally grown produce, and Deep Root Organic Cooperative, in Johnson, Vermont, will receive a $33,440 grant to conduct a feasibility study, business and marketing plan to provide Vermont-grown, ready-to-use fruits and vegetables to Vermont schools throughout the year.

Minnesota Greenbook Offers Ideas for Sustaining Agriculture
The annual edition of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) Greenbook is off the press. Published for 19 years, the Greenbook highlights the results of innovative demonstration projects that test new approaches to marketing agricultural products as well as raising crops and livestock. The demonstration projects are funded by the MDA's Sustainable Agriculture On-Farm Demonstration Grant program, which targets farming practices that rely more on renewable resources, enhancing the environment, and increasing profitability. Greenbook 2008: A Multitude of Ideas to Sustain Agriculture highlights 22 projects in five major topic areas: alternative markets and specialty crops; energy; fruits and vegetables; cropping systems and soil fertility; and livestock. Among this year's projects are strategies for developing a Saskatoon berry market, intercropping with a high tunnel to achieve maximum production, feeding in-line alfalfa/grass bales to eliminate fall and winter "flat spots" in grassfed beef production, and aerial seeding of winter rye. Greenbook 2008 is available on the MDA’s website.

San Francisco Foodshed Study Released
Could a major international city such as San Francisco feed itself with local food from farms and ranches within 100 miles of its iconic Golden Gate Bridge? A new study released by American Farmland Trust considers that question. "Think Globally—Eat Locally: San Francisco Foodshed Assessment" reveals that San Franciscans consume 935,000 tons of food each year, and 5.9 million tons in the Bay area as a whole, while the "foodshed" produces 20 million tons of food annually. However, the study also found that food products sold directly to consumers, for example, at farmers' markets, are a small fraction, 0.5 percent of total regional food production. The study notes that increasing production, marketing and local consumption of locally grown food will mean overcoming challenges such as the loss of local farmland to development, and will require educating consumers about seasonal food, improving food traceability, helping growers transition to serving local markets, and assuring food access for low-income consumers.

Appeals Court Upholds GE Alfalfa Ban
On September 2 the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a federal judge's decision that halted the planting of Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2007 until the federal government completes an environmental impact statement, says the San Francisco Chronicle. The original suit was filed by alfalfa growers worried that the genetically modified alfalfa's pollen would drift and contaminate their fields. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled that the government must complete an assessment of the effects of the genetically modified alfalfa on other crops and human health before any more seed was sold or planted. The appeals court agreed.

California Legislation to Regulate Genetically Engineered Crops
On August 30 the California Assembly passed AB 541, legislation to regulate genetically engineered (GE) crops. According to a diverse coalition of organizations that sponsored the bill, AB 541 enacts protections against lawsuits brought against California farmers who have not been able to prevent the drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land and the subsequent contamination of their non-GE crops. The bill also establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to prevent biotech companies that are investigating alleged violations from sampling crops without the explicit permission of farmers. The bill was sponsored by a thirteen-member coalition including Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Earthbound Farm, California Certified Organic Farmers, United Natural Foods Inc., as well as California Farmers Union and the California Farm Bureau, and several others.

Farm Aid Introduces Farmer Resource Network National Partners
Farm Aid's Farmer Resource Network offers farmers a searchable directory of more than 350 organizations developing innovative approaches to producing, processing and marketing food from family farms. Now the Farmer Resource Network is partnering with three national organizations to make its offerings even stronger. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA), the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Rodale Institute are now Farmer Resource Network partners, making a wide variety of information and resources available to farmers.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Southern SARE Producer Grant Program
The Southern Region SARE Producer Grant program is requesting grant proposals from producers or producer organizations interested in conducting research or marketing projects related to sustainable agriculture. Projects must be developed, coordinated and conducted by farmers and/or ranchers or a producer organization. Projects may be funded up to TWO years for a project maximum of $10,000 for an individual producer or $15,000 for a producer organization. The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Proposals are due November 17, 2008.

Frontera Farmer Foundation
The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area at farmers' markets and otherwise. Farmers must have been in business for at least two years and must demonstrate how the grant will improve both their farm’s viability and the availability of locally grown food products in the Chicago area. Grant applicants will be judged on the basis of demonstrated need, long-term dedication to sustainable farming, creative and business acumen, and commitment to sustainability.
Proposals are due January 31, 2009.

Western Integrated Pest Management Center Ongoing Special Issues
The Western Integrated Pest Management Center announces the availability of funds and requests proposals to address special issues in the West. Special issues may be requested to bring together a group of people to address emerging issues such as a new pest, water issues, development of proposals for larger grants based on documented stakeholder needs, or development of Pest Alerts. Projects must be completed within one year of funding and be single-issue oriented. Funds are available until exhausted. The maximum amount that can be requested is $5,000.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Farming with Grass: Achieving Sustainable Mixed Agricultural Landscapes
October 20-22, 2008
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This event is a Special Conference hosted by the Soil & Water Conservation Society. The overall goal of the conference is to address the changing economic, societal, and environmental background facing grassland agriculture today and in the future, including climate variability and change, energy costs and sources, market prices for commodity crops, demographics, the emerging bioenergy industry, and evolving markets for local foods. This three-day conference will consist of invited key-note speakers, submitted posters, and facilitated roundtable discussions.

The ABC's of Farm Education
October 19-20, 2008
Shelburne, Vermont

Discover exciting, hands-on ways to develop agricultural education programs for school groups with kid-tested, easy-to-use activities from PROJECT SEASONS, a printed collection of seasonal, multi-age activities and teaching ideas developed by teachers and agriculture educators over the past 20 years. Shelburne Farms’ farmyard, woodlots, pastures and gardens will be your campus.

Sierra Nevada Small Farm Progress Day
October 18, 2008
Auburn, California

Sierra Nevada Small Farm Progress Day is an annual event that promotes small-scale farming and forestry in the Sierra Nevada region through education, networking and the demonstration of appropriate equipment and production methods. The day's agenda includes day of demonstrations, fun activities and networking with other farmers, as well as a trade fair and resource fair.

> More Events

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