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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 21, 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
* USDA Expands Pilot Loan Guarantee Program
* New Publications on Fruit, Cranberries Available
* Rotational Grazing Studied for Weed Control
* Central Coast Vineyards Significantly Reduce Pesticide Use
* Wendell Berry Calls for Renewed Husbandry
* Illinois 'Pizza Farm' an Education Tool

Funding Opportunities
* Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA)/Strategic Agriculture Initiative Grant Program, EPA Region 4
* Scholarships for Midwest Regional Outreach Conference
* Oklahoma Farm Diversification Grant

Coming Events
* Statewide Grazing Conference and Farm Tours
* Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Sustainable Agriculture Conference
* California Small Farm Conference


News & Resources

USDA Expands Pilot Loan Guarantee Program
USDA has announced that California, Minnesota and Nebraska will join the list of states participating in the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Land Contract Guarantee Pilot Program. The pilot program provides the seller of land a 10-year "prompt payment" guarantee of the sale to the beginning farmer or rancher (buyer). If the buyer does not pay an annual installment due on the contract, or pays only part of an installment, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides the scheduled payment or the unpaid portion to the seller through an escrow agent after the seller unsuccessfully attempts collection. Since 2003, the pilot program has been tested in Indiana, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa.
URL: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/FullStory.asp?StoryID=2187

New Publications on Fruit, Cranberries Available
Two new publications are available from the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The first, Overview of Organic Cranberry Production, notes that despite the challenges for growers there are now over 500 acres of organic cranberries in production in Oregon, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Maine, and Quebec. The report discusses transitioning to organic, challenges for growers, and future research that could improve the economics of organic cranberry production. The second publication is a fact sheet called Fruit with Potential for Wisconsin Farms. The fact sheet documents the results of a trial that evaluated 99 cultivars of 34 fruit species on Carandale Farm during the 2003-2004 growing season. The trial emphasized horticultural suitability and marketing potential, with a particular focus on the nutraceutical value of the crops. The top five promising crops from the trial include European black currents, aronia (chokeberry), fruiting rose, gumi, and saskatoon.
URL: http://www.cias.wisc.edu/

Rotational Grazing Studied for Weed Control
Iowa researchers and educators hosted a pasture walk recently to share the results of an experiment in weed control using rotational grazing, says an article in the Mt. Pleasant News. According to the article, traditional rotational grazing practices died out when farmers switched from livestock to crop production. Later, when marginal cropland was taken out of production and used as pasture, farmers relied on spraying for weed control. The experiment featured at the recent event is looking at how mowing and rotational grazing can improve grass stands and reduce weeds without spraying. The landowner suggests that contract grazing could be a good management tool for other owners with pasture they would like to improve.
Related ATTRA Publication: Grazing Contracts for Livestock

Central Coast Vineyards Significantly Reduce Pesticide Use
A team of farmers, researchers and agricultural consultants in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties has been awarded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) award for reducing pollution and pesticides and promoting biologically integrated farming practices in winegrape vineyards. EPA officials recognized the Central Coast Vineyard Team as a 2005 Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Champion for helping farmers reduce pollution by using sustainable practices, and for the team's ability to track that success. "Growers enrolled in our project nearly eliminated their use of organophosphates chlorpyrifos and diazinon during the project period," said Kris O'Connor, executive director of the vineyard team and principal investigator of the project. "We believe it is critical to communicate their success to other mainstream growers in the region." The winegrape group uses the Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) extension model that includes a team approach to project management, monitoring of key biological and economic variables, and farmer-to-farmer information flow.
URL: http://news.ucanr.org/newsstorymain.cfm?story=710
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Wendell Berry Calls for Renewed Husbandry
An essay by Wendell Berry that appears in the current issue of Orion Magazine says that the industrialization of agriculture has caused it to operate out of context, and against social and ecological rules. As the long-term unsustainability of industrial agriculture becomes more apparent, Berry calls for a return to farming based on the concept of husbandry; of caring for the soil and livestock in a way that conserves and sustains them. Berry's essay contrasts the concept of husbandry with the idea of agricultural science that attempts to oversimplify a complex system.
URL: http://www.oriononline.org/pages/om/05-5om/Berry.html

Illinois 'Pizza Farm' an Education Tool
An Illinois "pizza farm" is offering kids and adults the opportunity to learn more about organic farming, says an Associated Press Business article that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Farmer Walt Gregory has devoted a half-acre circular plot of land to displaying agricultural products used to make pizza: herbs, tomatoes, peppers, dairy goats, beef cattle, chickens, corn and wheat. Visitors tour the farm, learn about organic farming methods, and enjoy a slice of pizza made with organic ingredients. The pizza demonstration farm is expected to attract more than 5,000 visitors this year.

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

Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA)/Strategic Agriculture Initiative Grant Program, EPA Region 4
EPA Region 4 is soliciting proposals to help implement the FQPA and to support efforts by the agricultural community to transition to using less pesticides and lower risk pesticides in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension, demonstration and implementation projects for FQPA transition and reduced-risk practices for pest management in agriculture. Priority is placed on project proposals that include: a "whole systems" approach by integrating pest, soil, and crop management practices; address an array of commodities; focus on sustainable agriculture; incorporate conservation planning; and are submitted by applicants that have a proven track record of grower participation and adoption of sustainable pest management practices. A total of $288,000 is expected to be available for funding. Implementation of all projects must occur within one or more of the eight states of EPA Region 4: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The deadline for proposals has been extended to October 31, 2005.
URL: http://www.fedgrants.gov/...

Scholarships for Midwest Regional Outreach Conference
The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) and the USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) have partnered to offer full scholarships for the RMA Midwest Regional Conference to be held November 1-2, 2005, in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference will highlight successful strategies for small and limited resource farmers and ranchers, include tours to thriving farms, and feature workshops on regional marketing issues, legal liabilities, family generational issues, managing production costs, community cooperatives, specialty crops, and financial considerations for small farmers and ranchers. Full scholarships are available for farmers, ranchers, representatives from community-based organizations, agribusiness leaders, and USDA personnel. For more information, contact MOSES at 715-772-3153, info@mosesorganic.org, or P.O. Box 339, Spring Valley, WI 54767.
URL: http://www.mosesorganic.org/attachments/success0905.htm

Oklahoma Farm Diversification Grant
The Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement and Diversification Program offers the opportunity to apply for a farm diversification grant of up to $5,000. Grants are available to anyone who is currently involved in farming or ranching and would like to diversify their family farming operation. Projects must be for non-traditional crops or livestock, on-farm processing of agricultural commodities or initiating agritourism ventures. Proposals are due October 1, 2005.
URL: http://www.oda.state.ok.us/forms/mktdev/fdgrant.pdf (PDF)

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

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Coming Events

Statewide Grazing Conference and Farm Tours
October 18-19, 2005
Meadville, Pennsylvania

The 4th annual statewide grazing conference will mark the 25th anniversary of Project Grass. Grass-based dairying, poultry and beef grazing, rotational grazing and value-added products are all on the agenda, along with a farm tour.
URL: http://community-2.webtv.net/candacesburke/ProjectGrassState/

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Sustainable Agriculture Conference
November 4-6, 2005
Durham, North Carolina

Join hundreds of farmers, gardeners, educators, activists and consumers from the southeast for a weekend of organic information and inspiration. The agenda includes workshops, exhibits, seed exchange, farm tours, and children's programs.
URL: http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/SAC%202005/savethedate.html

California Small Farm Conference
November 13-15, 2005
Ventura, California

This annual conference targeting a diversity of farmers and other stakeholders who support small-scale agriculture is sponsored by California Farm Conference, a nonprofit organization. The conference focuses on finding solutions and sharing information about the issues, resources, techniques, and opportunities vital to the economic survival and betterment of small farms.
URL: http://www.californiafarmconference.com/

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

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URL: http://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html

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