Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 20, 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
* USDA Awards Integrated Organic and Value-added Grants
Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.
* Fifth Farm Bill Analysis Paper Released
* E. coli Outbreak Investigation Continues
* Researchers Studying Straw Conversion to Liquid Fuels
* Researchers Explore Turning Farm Waste to Fabric
* OMRI Introduces Online Organic Seed Listing Service
* National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program
* Southern SARE On-Farm Research Grant Program
* Southern SARE Producer Grant Program
* Midwest Farm Bill Energy Conference
* Bioneers Conference
* Workshop for USDA-ARS Organic Research
News & Resources
USDA Awards Integrated Organic and Value-added Grants
USDA has announced selection of 194 applications from 40 states and two territories to receive $22.6 million in USDA Rural Development grant assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) and Small Minority Producer Grant programs. A total of 41 energy related value-added grants are being awarded at a combined funding level of $4.7 million. Examples of value-added grants that are not energy related include a grant of $255,800 to Innovative Growers, LLC of Iowa to fund a unique, chemical-free way to process soybeans and market its soy product and a grant of $107,520 to Lauren Farms, Inc. of Mississippi to develop promotional materials and commercial quantities of two ready-to-prepare prawn products. In addition, through the Integrated Organic Program, USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) will administer eight grants to 13 states. USDA is awarding more than $4.5 million in research grants to address organic agricultural issues and priorities, including global competitiveness. The grants will focus on two areas; improving the competitiveness of organic producers, and assisting producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products.
Fifth Farm Bill Analysis Paper Released
USDA has released the fifth and final in a series of analysis papers related to production agriculture, spawned by themes raised during Farm Bill forums. This paper is a comprehensive analysis of key factors that will affect future growth in U.S. agriculture: international trade, research and development, protection of agriculture from pests and diseases, and challenges in preparing the next generation of farmers. "Strengthening the Foundation for Future Growth in U.S. Agriculture," as well as the four previously released anaylsis papers, is available online.
E. coli Outbreak Investigation Continues
The Mercury News reports that two California processing companies have now recalled their bagged salad products containing spinach, following an outbreak of foodborne illness that has been confirmed in 109 people in states across the country. River Ranch Fresh Foods and Natural Selection foods have recalled salad products that contain spinach grown by Natural Selection contract growers. Natural Selection is a brand of Earthbound Farms, a leading organic grower, which led some media sources to conjecture links between organic farming practices and E. coli contamination. However, according to an ABC News story, the company reports that the manufacturing codes from products consumed by people who fell ill were from conventionally grown, not organically grown, products. The Organic Trade Association offers an online fact sheet on E. coli, discussing contamination as it relates to organic food production.
Researchers Studying Straw Conversion to Liquid Fuels
A major byproduct of the Pacific Northwest's grass seed industry is straw. Illegal to burn and expensive to move, straw in this region is almost unmarketable. But researchers from the Western Research Institute in Laramie, Wyoming are working to develop a small-scale gasification reactor that can use straw as a feedstock, according to The The Soy Daily, an online trade journal. Two Agricultural Research Service (ARS) labs have collaborated with the Laramie research institute to develop technologies to convert straw into liquid fuels. A prototype reactor reduces straw into char --- small particles of carbon and residue. The vaporized gases can be converted into liquid, synthetic gas. Researchers estimate that up to 60 gallons of liquid fuel can be derived from a ton of straw. The grass seed region of the Pacific Northwest produces about 7 million tons of excess straw per year, which has the potential for 420 million gallons of liquid fuel.
Researchers Explore Turning Farm Waste to Fabric
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Lincoln presented two studies at the American Chemical Society national meeting that looked at turning farm waste products into conventional fabrics, reports Environment News Service. Researchers reported on their exploration of a chicken-feather-based fabric with qualities similar to wool, and a rice-straw fabric somewhat like cotton or linen. The biodegradable fabrics would be made from inexpensive waste materials, and could be a boon to farmers dealing with waste problems, say the researchers.
OMRI Introduces Online Organic Seed Listing Service
OMRI, the Organic Materials Review Institute, introduced a new online listing service for organic seeds this month, reports Kentucky Ag Connection. The OMRI Organic Seed Database will provide accurate information on the availability and supply of hundreds of certified organic seed varieties, to help growers and certifiers find supplies of organic seed. OMRI provides independent verification of organic certification for listed seeds, so seed suppliers are charged a fee for each seed variety listed per year.
Related ATTRA Publication: Suppliers of Seed for Certified Organic Production Database
> More Breaking News
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National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) requests applications for the National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program for fiscal year (FY) 2007 to support (1) high priority fundamental and mission-linked research of importance in the biological, environmental, physical, and social sciences relevant to agriculture, food, the environment, and rural communities, and (2) competitively awarded research, extension, and education grants addressing key issues of national and regional importance to agriculture, forestry, and related topics. In FY 2007, CSREES anticipates that approximately $181 million will be available for support of this program. Of this amount, no more than 22 percent will be made available to fund integrated projects. The remaining funds will be used to fund research projects.
Application deadlines vary by program; they range from November 19, 2006 to August 14, 2007.
Southern SARE On-Farm Research Grant Program
The Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program recognizes the value and importance of On-Farm Research in developing solutions to agricultural production problems. In recognition of this, the Southern Region SARE Program is requesting grant proposals from Extension, NRCS and/or non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel who work with farmers/ranchers and are interested in conducting on-farm research or marketing projects related to sustainable agriculture. 2. Projects may be funded up to two years for 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 US Virgin Islands.
Proposals are due November 15, 2006.
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 15, 2006.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Midwest Farm Bill Energy Conference
October 17-18, 2006
Des Moines, Iowa
"Seeding Our Future: Clean Energy Development in the Next Farm Bill" is sponsored by The Environmental Law and Policy Center, in cooperation with the Iowa Environmental Council and the Iowa Farmers Union. Hash out key issues and develop winning strategies for clean energy development in the next Farm Bill.
October 20-22, 2006
San Rafael, California
The Annual Bioneers Conference is a hub of practical solutions for restoring the Earth-and people. It's a thriving network of visionary innovators who are working with nature to heal nature. Many sessions address agriculture-related topics.
Workshop for USDA-ARS Organic Research
October 23-25, 2006
The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) will hold a planning meeting for the Integrated Agricultural Systems National Program (NP207) during the week of October 23rd in Atlanta, Georgia. The "customer input" portion of the meeting will be Oct. 24th & 25th, 2006. The NP207 Integrated Systems program is emerging as the primary coordinator for ARS's growing organic research portfolio. Using input from producers, scientists and others, this workshop will generate the program's research plans and outcomes for the next five years.
> More Events
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