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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - September 25, 2019

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

  • Report Analyzes Soil Health Impact of Farm Bill
  • USDA Grant Programs to Strengthen Markets for U.S. Products
  • Publication Helps Estimate Financial Implications of Organic Transition
  • Organic Peanut Cooperative Forms in South Georgia
  • Sesame Offers Drought-Tolerant Alternative Crop
  • North American Wild Bird Population Drops by 29%

Funding Opportunities

  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program
  • WNC Agricultural Options
  • New York Farm Viability Institute Grants

Coming Events

  • Heritage Livestock Conference: All Things Sheep!
  • Heart of America Grazing Conference
  • AERO Expo 2019

News & Resources

Report Analyzes Soil Health Impact of Farm Bill
The Soil Health Institute and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have released Impact of 2018 Farm Bill Provisions on Soil Health, a comprehensive review of each new provision in the 2018 Farm Bill and its role in advancing soil health. The report also compares funding for soil health in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. The report provides brief descriptions of nearly 60 provisions and how they impact soil health, and links to the USDA agency responsible for implementing each provision.

USDA Grant Programs to Strengthen Markets for U.S. Products
USDA awarded $8 million in grants to strengthen markets for U.S. agricultural products through four programs: Acer Access and Development Program, Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives, Federal State Marketing Improvement Program, and Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program.

Publication Helps Estimate Financial Implications of Organic Transition
The University of Wisconsin-Madison and its Organic Grain Research and Information Network (OGRAIN) initiative have released Turning Grain into Dough: Farm Financial Management for Organic Grain and Crop Rotation. This 26-page publication helps farmers estimate the financial implications of organic crop transition. The publication explains the transition process and outlines considerations in switching to organic production. It describes how to develop an in-depth feasibility plan.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Certification of Farms and Businesses Producing Agricultural Products

Organic Peanut Cooperative Forms in South Georgia
A new agricultural cooperative, the Georgia Organic Peanut Association, has formed to help organic peanut farmers in south Georgia diversify their farms and reach new markets, reports the Albany Herald. Ronny Shingler, the cooperative's president, said, "Not only is this the first concerted effort by a group of farmers in this state to grow and market Certified Organic products, but it's also a significant step to creating more market opportunities for all Georgia farms."

Sesame Offers Drought-Tolerant Alternative Crop
Agronomists investigating crops to rotate with cotton in West Texas have found that sesame is a drought-tolerant alternative crop, according to research published in Crop Science. Although sorghum also grows well with little water, its yields are more affected by drought. Sesame has potential markets as a culinary oil, livestock feed, and biofuel, as well as other applications.

North American Wild Bird Population Drops by 29%
A study led by Cornell University reports that the total breeding-bird population in the continental U.S. and Canada has dropped by 29% since 1970. The team analyzed both long-term population surveys and radar imagery. This study showed massive losses among birds in every biome. The authors say habitat loss is a driving factor in the decline.
Related ATTRA Publication: Beneficial and Pest Birds: Vertebrate IPM Tip Sheet

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Potential partners are invited to propose Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects in which NRCS and partners co-invest in impactful and innovative solutions to on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Proposed projects must generate conservation benefits by addressing specific natural resource objectives in a state/multistate area or addressing one or more primary resource concerns within an NRCS-designated critical conservation area. Through RCPP, NRCS may provide both financial and technical assistance funds to project partners and agricultural producers to carry out projects. Up to $300 million is available for FY 2019.
Proposals must be received by December 3, 2019.

WNC Agricultural Options
WNC Agricultural Options is accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $216,000 to western North Carolina farmers in 2020. With $3,000 and $6,000 grants, WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers' risk of trying new ventures and expanding their farms.
Notice of intent to apply is due by October 14, 2019; completed applications are due by November 15, 2019.

New York Farm Viability Institute Grants
New York Farm Viability Institute is accepting proposals for its competitive grant program that have clear relevance to New York's agriculture community, demonstrated producer support, and the ability to deliver farm-level economic impact over time. There is a particular interest in projects focused on new technologies, as well as work that encourages better understanding of soil-health management practices that improve a farmer's bottom line. Eligible applicants include farmer groups, researchers, educators, organizations, agencies, and businesses. Proposals between $15,000 and $125,000 will be accepted.
Applications must be submitted online by November 12, 2019.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Heritage Livestock Conference: All Things Sheep!
October 25-26, 2019
Santa Rosa, California
The Livestock Conservancy presents this event featuring presentations on targeted grazing, holistic management, fiber production, natural wool dying, conservation breeding, and marketing sheep and sheep products.

Heart of America Grazing Conference
October 29-30, 2019
Burlington, Kentucky
The 2019 Heart of America Grazing Conference has the theme "Kicking the Hay Habit: Optimizing Profitability." Additional topics will include genetics, fencing, hay storage, stockpiling, extending grazing, and more.

AERO Expo 2019
October 25-27, 2019
Bozeman, Montana
Montana's Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) and partners host the 2019 AERO Expo, "Seeding the Future: Cultivating Community Resilience." Explore new perspectives and advance efforts to build sustainable, healthful, equitable food systems across the region.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Podcast
Farm to School Aquaponics Program

Question of the Week
How do I select a site for a conservation buffer in an organic field?

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Certified Naturally Grown Workshop
October 24, 2019
Fayetteville, Arkansas
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