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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 24, 2008

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.

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News & Resources
* Farmer Resource Network Launched
* FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Regulating Genetically Engineered Animals
* USDA Announces Farmers' Market Grants
* CFSC Offers Farm to School Legislation Information
* Common Herbicide Damages Woody Plants
* Website Offers Water Expertise

Funding Opportunities
* Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
* Annie's Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships
* Kansas Clean Water Farms Cost Share

Coming Events
* National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference
* Growing U.S. Organic Agriculture: Accessing the 2008 Farm Bill
* MOFGA Farmer-to-Farmer Conference

News & Resources

Farmer Resource Network Launched
Farm Aid announced the launch of its web-based Farmer Resource Network to help farmers answer the consumer call for more quality family-farmed foods. Across the country, more people are reaching for local, organic and sustainably grown food from family farms. Farm Aid's Farmer Resource Network links family farmers to new and innovative ideas to help them meet this rising consumer demand. The Farmer Resource Network also contains tools to help put new farmers on the land.

FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Regulating Genetically Engineered Animals
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released for public comment draft guidance on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals. The guidance document is intended to clarify the FDA's regulatory authority in this field, as well as the requirements and recommendations for producers of GE animals and products derived from GE animals. Under the draft guidance, in those cases in which the GE animal is intended for food use, producers will have to demonstrate that food from the GE animal is safe to eat. Depending on the species of animal and its intended use, the FDA will coordinate with agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and with other federal departments and agencies in regulating GE animals. The comment period for the draft guidance, titled "The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs," closes November 18, 2008. The 25-page document is available online. Meanwhile, Consumers Union has criticized the proposed rules because they will not require labeling of genetically engineered animals sold as food.

USDA Announces Farmers' Market Grants
USDA has announced the award of 85 grants totaling $3,445,000, as directed by the new farm bill to spread the use of farmers' markets. Regional local governments, nonprofit and economic development corporations, agricultural cooperatives and tribal governments in 43 states may use the money to establish, expand and promote farmers' markets and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Eighteen of the grants promote a new electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system to help low-income consumers buy locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. A complete list of recipients and grant amounts appears online.

CFSC Offers Farm to School Legislation Information
The Community Food Security Coalition has summarized the legislation for farm to school programs. Farm to School Legislation: A State by State Listing(PDF/224KB) offers summaries of and links to the legislation in 18 states.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

Common Herbicide Damages Woody Plants
A common ingredient in residential landscape herbicides may damage or kill woody plants. “Cracking, splitting and separation of bark from the underlying wood usually associated with sunscald in the West may actually be caused by glyphosate,” said Heidi Kratsch, Utah State University Extension ornamental horticulture specialist. “This type of injury was once thought to be largely associated with alternating warm and freezing temperatures during the winter. It now appears that glyphosate can weaken the bark structure, making it susceptible to the freeze-thaw injury we commonly see on the south and southwest side of the trunks of susceptible trees.” Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide used as a broad-spectrum, post-emergent weed killer, she said. When used too close to trees and shrubs, glyphosate can be taken up by these non-target plants and transported to active, growing tissues such as leaves and roots.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Woody Ornamentals for Cut Flower Growers

Website Offers Water Expertise
A new Web site from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln provides access to a wide variety of UNL expertise on water issues. UNL research and extension experts from many water-related disciplines developed http://water.unl.edu. The site allows visitors to identify their personal interest – whether they're a crop or livestock producer, landscape professional, prospective student, city dweller or rural resident, for example – and go immediately to content specific to their interest. There are links to interactive tools, publications and other information, as well as links to other key university Web sites.

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Funding Opportunities

Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will award up to $150,000 for the 2009 Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program. Competitive grants for up to $25,000 are awarded to individuals or groups for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects in Minnesota. The purpose of the Grant Program is to fund practices that promote environmental stewardship and conservation of resources as well as improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas. Eligible recipients include Minnesota farmers, individuals at Minnesota educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and local natural resource agencies.
Proposals are due January 16, 2009.

Annie's Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships
Annie's Homegrown Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship Program is open to full time undergraduate and graduate students beginning or returning to an accredited 2 or 4 year technical or college program or graduate school in the U.S. for the 2009/2010 school year. Students must be studying sustainable/organic agriculture. The Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship program awards $50,000 in scholarship assistance each year.
Proposals are due October 30, 2008.

Kansas Clean Water Farms Cost Share
The Kansas Rural Center's Clean Water Farms Project offers farmers in high priority watersheds the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 in cost share funds. To be eligible for the cost share funds, the farmer must have completed the River Friendly Farm self-assessment and developed an approved action plan to improve or protect water quality. The Clean Water Farm-River Friendly Farm Project also offers $250 incentive payments for completion of the River Friendly Farm environmental assessment within specific watersheds.
Proposals are due March 31, 2009.

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Coming Events

National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference
November 6-8, 2008
Columbia, Missouri

Billed as the largest annual small farm show in the United States, this event features more than 50 presentations, 150 exhibitors, a poultry exhibit, and demonstrations. The schedule also includes short courses, seminars, a farmers forum, and association meetings. Topics include livestock and crop production, marketing, farm energy, and more.

Growing U.S. Organic Agriculture: Accessing the 2008 Farm Bill
November 12, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

Farmers, state departments of agriculture, extension agents, organic certifiers and others are invited to this workshop on how to access the new organic provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill. Organic Trade Association and the National Center for Appropriate Technology are co-sponsors of the event. For more information, contact Marissa Potter, mpotter@ota.com.

MOFGA Farmer-to-Farmer Conference
October 31 - November 2, 2008
Bar Harbor, Maine

MOFGA and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension plan the conference so that farmers can talk about what works for them—and what doesn't—while learning new ideas from university faculty, extension educators, and other agricultural professionals. The conference features a unique 3-hour workshop session format, in which the first half is dedicated to talks by both ag service professionals and farmers, and the second half to a roundtable discussion intended to solicit and capitalize on the accumulated knowledge of all the farmers in attendance.

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