Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 13 , 2006
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.
News & Resources
* Genetically Modified Plant Escapes Raise Concerns
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* Weed Management Practices Can Reduce Use of Herbicide in Rice
* USDA Proposes Grass-Fed Beef Standards
* USDA Awards Farmers Market Grants
* Virginia Sees Growth in Organic Production
* FAO Reports on State of World Aquaculture
* Northeastern IPM Center Partnership Grants
* Organic Farming Research Foundation Request for Proposals
* Colorado Cooperative Habitat Improvement Program
* Hoes Down Harvest Festival
* Bridging Borders Toward Food Security
* Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance
News & Resources
Genetically Modified Plant Escapes Raise Concerns
A number of recent "escapes" by genetically modified crops have raised concerns even among proponents of the technology that regulation and control of crops are too lax, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Though recent escapes have not been deemed to pose a health threat, some say these incidents should be a warning to government and industry that stronger controls are needed. A December report from USDA's Office of the Inspector General made 28 recommendations to APHIS (USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) on improving accountability for field tests of genetically modified crops. APHIS adopted 23 of the recommendations.
Weed Management Practices Can Reduce Use of Herbicide in Rice
A University of California, Davis research team has found that different rice establishment methods can keep weeds from developing, reduce herbicide dependency, lower fuel use, and help reduce herbicide-resistant weeds in rice. A team led by weed scientist Al Fischer experimented with rice establishment treatments including water- or drill-seeded rice, fall or spring tillage, no-till, and stale-seedbed techniques to assess their effects on weed recruitment and control. During the three-year study, the lowest weed infestation occurred where rice was water-seeded after a stale seedbed without spring tillage. Experiments show eliminating spring tillage (preparing land for crop planting by plowing or disking) reduced weeds by 75 percent in the water-seeded treatments, suggesting that this may be an effective cultural technique to further reduce weed populations in rice.
ATTRA Publication: Organic Rice Production
USDA Proposes Grass-Fed Beef Standards
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is once again proposing marketing standards for grass-fed beef, and once again the response from producers and consumers is mixed. The agency's current proposal allows for some feeding of silage and other non-pasture feeds. The agency has indicated that it wants to offer a standard applicable to producers in every region of the country. Some parts of the country might suffer weather extremes that stress pastures, William Sessions, associate deputy administrator of the department's livestock and seed program, told the Associated Press. Forage in the proposed rule is broadly defined to include, for example, harvest residue. Some critics among producers claim the proposal is too loose and might allow conventional ranchers to slap a grass-fed label on their beef, too. Previously proposed standards in 2002 were also met by protests from within the industry. The comment period for this year's proposed standards brought in 17,000 responses, according to the AP story by agriculture reporter Libby Quaid.
USDA Awards Farmers Market Grants
USDA has announced the award of 20 grants totaling $900,000 to establish, expand or promote local farmers markets, roadside stands, and similar agricultural ventures under the new Farmers Market Promotion Program. These grants will assist regional farmers markets authorities; local governments; nonprofit and economic development corporations; and tribal governments in 17 states in carrying out a variety of projects. A list of recipients, describing their projects, is available online.
Virginia Sees Growth in Organic Production
Virginia has a growing demand for organic products, and farmers, schools, and the state are all working to help meet that demand, says a Virginian-Pilot article posted by WTOP. The state of Virginia hired its first organic certification specialist this year. From tobacco to peanuts and milk to produce, Virginia farmers are delivering certified organic products to customers at farmers' markets, restaurants, and through CSAs.
FAO Reports on State of World Aquaculture
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report on "The State of World Aquaculture 2006" at the September 4-8 meeting of the FAO Sub-Committee on Aquaculture in New Delhi. According to the report, 43 percent of fish consumed by human beings today is produced through agriculture. However, the report warns that demand for fish is increasing, while wild catches are at or above their limits. The report questions whether aquaculture will be able to supply remaining demand, unless more investment capital is made available for developing countries and given supplies of land, fresh water, and fish feed. "We need to start planning now for handling these challenges, because aquaculture is crucial to the fight against global hunger," Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries, says.
> More Breaking News
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Northeastern IPM Center Partnership Grants
The Northeastern Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center is pleased to announce the availability of funding through its IPM Partnership Grants Program for 2007. Approximately $465,000 is available to support projects that will address or develop regional IPM priorities and will further the mission of the Northeastern IPM Center. The Center is seeking applications for six project types: (1) IPM Working Groups (2) IPM Priorities (3) Regional IPM Publications (4) IPM Planning and Assessment Documents (Tactics Surveys, Crop Profiles, Pest Management Strategic Plans [PMSPs], and IPM Guidelines) (5) State Network Projects (6) IPM Minigrants.
Proposals are due December 15, 2006.
Organic Farming Research Foundation Request for Proposals
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) funds research on organic farming and food systems and the dissemination of these research results to the greater agricultural community. Proposals must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation and take place on working organic farms or ranches whenever possible. The Organic Farming Research Foundation grants program is open to all applicants residing in Canada, Mexico and the United States. OFRF will not fund a project for more than $15,000 per year.
Proposals are due December 15, 2006.
Colorado Cooperative Habitat Improvement Program
The Cooperative Habitat Improvement Program (CHIP) is designed to assist landowners who wish to develop or improve wildlife habitat. This program is offered statewide by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The Division of Wildlife will provide technical assistance and provide as much as $4,000.00 per landowner in financial assistance. A few examples of habitat projects eligible for this program are small woody plantings, grass plantings, wetland enhancements, and stream improvements. Contact the state's regional offices for more information.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Hoes Down Harvest Festival
October 7-8, 2006
The 19th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Full Belly Farm offers educational farm tours, a magical children's area, hands-on workshops, farm products and an abundance of organic food, live music and good times! The event continues on the second day with in-depth seminars, hands on activities and farm tours throughout the Capay Valley Region.
Bridging Borders Toward Food Security
October 7-11, 2006
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The Community Food Security Coalition is holding its tenth annual meeting. The agenda includes plenary sessions, workshops, meetings and receptions, as well as pre-conference field trips and short courses. Schedule and registration information appear online.
Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance
October 10-12, 2006
St. Louis, Missouri
This national renewable energy conference will be hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Advancing Renewable Energy is designed to help create and strengthen partnerships and strategies necessary to accelerate commercialization of renewable energy industries and distribution systems. The conference will specifically focus discussions on biomass, wind and solar research and commercialization.
> More Events
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