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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 14, 2005

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.

News & Resources
* Disaster Assistance Resources for Farmers Hit by Katrina
* More Disaster Relief Resources Offered for Farmers
* Rising Fuel Prices and the Implications for Agriculture
* New Publication Outlines Growth Potential of Meat Goat Industry
* U.S. vs. EU: Two Policy Paths to Organic Agriculture
* New Study Shows Organic Diets Lower Children's Exposure to Some Pesticides

Funding Opportunities
* Secondary and Two-Year Post-secondary Agriculture Education Challenge Grants Program
* Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
* Southern Region SARE 2006 On-farm Research Grants

Coming Events
* Management-Intensive Grazing for Economic & Environmental Sustainability
* Bioneers
* 4th National Small Farm Conference


News & Resources

Disaster Assistance Resources for Farmers Hit by Katrina
The Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG), a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services to family farmers and their rural communities, has several resources that may be useful to farmers who suffered losses due to Hurricane Katrina. Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance, a book written by FLAG attorneys and updated in October 2004, "describes in plain language the rules for programs such as FEMA assistance, federal crop insurance, USDA's Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, and Emergency Loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency." Bound copies of the book are available free to financially distressed farmers by calling 651-223-5400. The complete book is also available for free online. FLAG also has published a brief document called "Disaster Assistance for Farmers Affected by Hurricane Katrina," (PDF / 48 kb) which provides succinct advice on steps farmers should take to protect their families and document and report any damages.

More Disaster Relief Resources Offered for Farmers
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group has compiled a list of agencies and organizations that can accept and distribute contributions for disaster relief. The online list, with links, includes organizations accepting disaster relief contributions as well as resources for farmers seeking assistance. Meanwhile, USDA has announced that it will offer more than $170 million in emergency assistance to agricultural producers suffering from Hurricane Katrina. USDA is providing more than $20 million in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds to help producers repair damage to their lands, as well as a total of $152 million as part of the Farm Service Agency's Emergency Loan Program for farmers who have suffered at least a 30 percent reduction in crop production or have sustained physical losses to buildings, chattel or livestock.
URL: http://www.ssawg.org/

Rising Fuel Prices and the Implications for Agriculture
The global food system relies heavily on oil, and rising oil prices will have a significant impact on food supplies, says an article by Earth Policy Institute posted on peopleandplanet.net. The article points out that only one-fifth of the energy used by the food system in the U.S. actually goes toward growing food; the other four-fifths is spent on processing, packaging, moving and storing food. And globally, 28 percent of energy for agriculture is used to manufacturer fertilizer. The article examines the implications of our increasing use of fertilizer, discusses the impacts of low-till agriculture, details the high energy costs of processed foods, notes the benefits of direct farmer-to-consumer marketing, and suggests that governments could improve the system by providing incentives to promote sustainable agriculture, energy-efficient transportation, and local food production. For a more personal take on energy and food systems, read Joan Dye Gussow's comments in Madison's The Capital Times article "7th Annual Food for Thought Festival."
URL: http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2532

New Publication Outlines Growth Potential of Meat Goat Industry
Production of goat meat in the U.S. represents a niche market, but goat is the most commonly consumed meat in the world and the domestic market has huge potential for growth, according to a press release from the Small Farm Program at the University of California-Davis. Given the opportunities for both producers and consumers, the Center has released a new publication titled "Outlook for a Small Farm Meat Goat Industry in California,” by animal science professor Sandra Solaiman. In the report, Solaiman concludes that California's climate, diverse population, current goat meat import figures, and the size and number of small farms in the state are indicators that a successful state goat meat industry could emerge, and she offers several tips for small-scale farmers interested in raising meat goats. The 24-page publication is available free by contacting the UC Small Farm Program, One Shields Ave., UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616, or by calling (530) 752-8136. For a related story on small-scale dairy goat producers in Illinois, see The News-Gazette story "Riding Herd on Goats."
URL: http://news.ucanr.org/newsstorymain.cfm?story=707
Related ATTRA Publication: Goats: Sustainable Production Overview

U.S. vs. EU: Two Policy Paths to Organic Agriculture
An August 2005 report by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture compares the different policy approaches to organic agriculture taken by the U.S. and the European Union (EU), the two largest markets for organic products and farmland in the world. An article in Capital Press summarizes the report, noting that the U.S. focuses primarily on market development while many countries in the EU offer "green payments" to help farmers transition to organic production. The article also notes that the EU can supply more organic products - which has affected international trade - because it has far more acreage under organic production. In 2001, the EU had 10.97 million acres of certified organic farmland, compared to 2.34 million acres in the U.S. The complete report, Market-Led Growth vs. Government-Facilitated Growth: Development of the U.S. and EU Organic Agricultural Sectors, is available online.
URL: http://www.capitalpress.info/main.asp...

New Study Shows Organic Diets Lower Children's Exposure to Some Pesticides
Organic diets significantly lower children's exposure to organophosphorous pesticides, concludes a new study to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Over a 15-day study period, scientists tested the urine of 23 elementary school-age children for specific metabolites of malathion and chlorpyrifos, two common pesticides used in agricultural production and belonging to a class of insecticides, the organophosphates (OPs), that are known to cause neurological effects in humans and animals. During the first and third phases of the study, the children consumed a primarily conventional diet, and during the second phase (days 4-8) organic food items were substituted for the bulk of the kids' diets. When they enrolled in the study, all 23 of the children's urine samples contained metabolites of the two pesticides studied. Immediately after the introduction of organic food to the children's diets, the metabolites of both dropped to the non-detectable level. Non-detectable levels remained until the conventional diets were re-introduced, when OP pesticide metabolites re-appeared in the samples. Based on the study design and results, the authors "conclude that organic diets provide a protective mechanism against OP pesticide exposure in young children whose diets regularly consist of fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, and wheat-containing items." The complete article is available online.

For more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/news/.

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Funding Opportunities

Secondary and Two-Year Post-secondary Agriculture Education Challenge Grants Program
USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) requests applications for the Secondary and Two-Year Post-secondary Agriculture Education Challenge Grants Program for fiscal year 2006 to promote and strengthen agriscience and agribusiness education. The purpose of the program is to promote and strengthen teaching programs in agriscience and agribusiness at secondary and 2-year post-secondary institutions, by enhancing curricula, increasing faculty teaching competencies, promoting higher education to prepare students for scientific and professional careers, incorporating agriscience or agribusiness subject matter into other instructional programs, facilitating joint initiatives among other educational institutions, and responding to identified state, regional, national or international educational needs. CSREES anticipates the amount available for support of this program in FY 2006 will be approximately $1 million. Proposals are due January 12, 2006.
URL: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/sec_challenge.html

Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will provide up to $25,000 to individuals or groups on a competitive basis for sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects in Minnesota. The Demonstration Grant Program is intended to identify, display and publicize that sustainable agricultural practices and systems are profitable, energy efficient, improve water quality, and other environmental concerns. Eligible recipients include Minnesota farmers, individuals at Minnesota educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and local natural resource agencies. Priority is given to projects that are farmer-initiated. Everyone is encouraged to apply, even if you do not have experience in writing grant proposals. Assistance is available in designing projects. Projects may be up to three years in duration. MDA has up to $70,000 to award this year. Proposals are due December 16, 2005.
URL: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/esap/default.htm

Southern Region SARE 2006 On-farm Research Grants
The Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) Program is requesting grant proposals from Extension, NRCS, and/or Non-governmental Organization personnel who work with farmers/ranchers and are interested in conducting on-farm research or marketing projects related to sustainable agriculture. Applicants must complete a proposal describing their project and explain how it will help producers understand and adopt sustainable agriculture practices. The Southern Region SARE Administrative Council has adopted areas they consider priorities in sustainable agriculture. The priority areas are: Limited-Resource Farmers, Organic Farming Systems, Environmentally Sound Practices/Agricultural Ecosystems, Marketing/Economic Development, Policy, Program Evaluation, Quality Of Life, Research on Components of Sustainable Systems and Women in Sustainable Agriculture. Projects may be funded up to two years with a project maximum of $15,000. The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Proposals are due November 15, 2005.
URL: http://www.griffin.peachnet.edu/sare/callpage.htm

For additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/funding/.

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Coming Events

Management-Intensive Grazing for Economic & Environmental Sustainability
September 27-29, 2005
Brookfield, Missouri

University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center, Missouri Forage & Grassland Council, and Green Hills Farm Project sponsor a three-day seminar that includes presentations and field exercises. Topics addressed include forage, soils, weeds, planning, fencing, and water.
URL: http://agebb.missouri.edu/mfgc/mfgconf.htm

October 14-16, 2005
San Rafael, California

The annual Bioneers conference is a hub of practical solutions for restoring the Earth—and its people. Take part in this fertile network, rich with inspiring ideas, models, tools, and resources—and powerful connections. Sessions include Growing Urban Food and Community, food safety, food security, and food justice.
URL: http://www.bioneers.org/conference/

4th National Small Farm Conference
October 16-19, 2005
Greensboro, North Carolina

National small farm conferences, held every three years, attract between 600 and 800 participants. They provide a venue for small farm program leaders from federal, state, and local organizations to learn about successful programs that help small producers enhance incomes to levels comparable to other economic sectors. Special attention is paid to programs that have the potential to be replicated elsewhere in the nation. Each conference is held in a different region of the country to ensure that a diversity of small farm specialists and producer populations can participate. Each conference is organized primarily by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in conjunction with other USDA agencies and other public and private sector organizations. This year's theme is "Enhancing Opportunities for Small Farmers and Ranchers."
URL: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/ag_systems/in_focus/

More events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/.

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New & Updated Publications

Asian Soybean Rust: Notes and Organic Control Options for Farmers

Sources of Organic Fertilizers and Amendments

Soil Management: National Organic Program Regulations

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