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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 16, 2015

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

  • Study Finds Bats Significant in Reducing Corn Crop Damage
  • FDA Finalizes First Two FSMA Rules
  • USDA Expands Organic Price Premium Elections for Crop Insurance
  • Appeals Court Rules EPA Erred in Sulfoxaflor Approval
  • Report Shows Success of USDA Farm to School Grants
  • California Research Shows Flooding Farms in Winter Aids Aquifer Recharge

Funding Opportunities

  • Southern SARE Producer Grant Program
  • Fund-a-Farmer Grants
  • Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Soil Talks Series
  • Farm Apprenticeships & Incubators Training
  • Growing Leaders Youth Summit

News & Resources

Study Finds Bats Significant in Reducing Corn Crop Damage
Researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale published a study showing that bats prevent up to $1 billion a year in corn-crop damages. The study found nearly 60% more corn earworm larvae inside cornfield exclosures than in the unprotected control areas. There was 50% more corn kernel damage per ear in the corn inside the exclosures, including higher rates of fungal growth.

FDA Finalizes First Two FSMA Rules
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized the first two of seven major rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The preventive controls rules require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans that indicate possible problems and outline steps the facility would take to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of those problems. In response to the release of the rule, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition issued a press statement.

USDA Expands Organic Price Premium Elections for Crop Insurance
USDA Risk Management Agency has announced that it will expand the availability of premium price elections for crop insurance coverage on organic crops in 2016. This will help organic producers protect their operations from losses due to severe weather or price declines. These additions bring the total number of crops with organic premium price elections to 47.

Appeals Court Rules EPA Erred in Sulfoxaflor Approval
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, has ruled that EPA erred in issuing an unconditional approval for Dow AgroSciences insecticides containing sulfoxaflor. The court canceled the approval and directed EPA to obtain further data regarding the effects of sulfoxaflor on bees before it grants approval.

Report Shows Success of USDA Farm to School Grants
A new report shows that USDA's Farm to School Grant Program has helped 12,300 schools improve nutritious meal options made with local ingredients for 6.9 million students, while expanding market opportunities for family farmers and ranchers in their communities. The 44-page report, The Farm to School Program: FY 2013-15 Summary of Grant Awards, highlights some of the program's successes.

California Research Shows Flooding Farms in Winter Aids Aquifer Recharge
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, are encouraged by early results from tests to see if deliberately flooding farmland in winter can replenish aquifers without harming crops or affecting drinking water. Some 3.6 million acres of farmland have good recharge potential because they could likely accommodate deep percolation with little risk of crop damage or groundwater contamination.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Southern SARE Producer Grant Program
The Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is accepting applications from farmers/ranchers and farmer/rancher organizations throughout the Southern region. Producer Grants are used to conduct sustainable agriculture research projects that solve agricultural production challenges farmers face and to share results. Project funding maximums are $10,000 for an individual producer or $15,000 for a producer organization.
Proposal submission deadline is November 13, 2015.

Fund-a-Farmer Grants
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is accepting applications from livestock farmers for its Fund-a-Farmer grants, provided to qualifying humane farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. Grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded for projects that create and/or improve access to pasture-based systems.
Applications must be submitted online by November 3, 2015.

Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has announced the availability of nearly $250,000 for the Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program. The program provides grants up to $25,000 for farmers to test ideas that could conserve natural resources, enhance profitability, and improve life on the farm.
The deadline to apply is December 15, 2015.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Soil Talks Series
September 25, October 9 and 23, and November 13, 2015
Fredericksburg and Stonewall, Texas

The National Center for Appropriate Technology's Soil for Water project presents four free day-long Soil Talks this fall. Topics will be ecosystem function, ecosystem monitoring, grazing planning, and financial sustainability.

Farm Apprenticeships & Incubators Training
October 19-20, 2015
Johns Island, South Carolina

Join Lowcountry Local First for a training event bringing together experts from across the Southeast to share best practices and build a regional network of new and beginning farmer providers. This hands-on event will include presentations, panel discussions, case studies, networking opportunities, and sample program materials.

Growing Leaders Youth Summit
October 3, 5, 11, 24, or 26, 2015
Helena, Billings, Livingston, Rocky Boy, or Kalispell, Montana

The National Center for Appropriate Technology presents five regional opportunities for students to explore local food systems across the state of Montana. The summit strengthens young people's capacity to educate and organize their peers and communities to support healthy, local food systems.

>> More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

© 2015 NCAT

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Updated ATTRA Publication
The Irrigator's Pocket Guide

Question of the Week
How can I determine how many days my stockpiled winter pasture will feed my sheep?

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