Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs -September 29, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Organic Research Is on the Rise
* Article Looks at Measuring Conservation Program Success
* Study Finds GM Pollen Travels Farther Than Previously Believed
* Satellite Broadcast Highlights Organic Livestock Production
* Farmland Protection Programs Continue Despite Budget Shortfalls
* Nation's Largest Farmers' Market Profiled
* National Research Initiative: Biology of Weedy and Invasive Plants
* 2005 IR-4 Biopesticide Grant Program
* Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities
* AERO's 30th Annual Meeting
* Tilth: Transforming the World One Fork at a Time
* Future Farms 2004: Digging Deeper
News & Resources
Organic Research Is on the Rise
Universities around the country are beginning to conduct research in order to take some of the guesswork and financial uncertainty out of farming organically, says an AP story on Yahoo! News. Cathy Eastman, a vegetable entomologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, is investigating three different crop strategies and three kinds of soil enrichment. In order to help conventional farmers survive the transition to organic farming, researchers at Ohio State are studying economics, horticulture, soil biology and plant diseases. At North Carolina State , Nancy Creamer examines how crops grow after the removal of each of three inputs – an herbicide, a pesticide, and a chemical fertilizer. Researchers hope organic farmers will benefit from the increase in organic studies and are making their results accessible through university and government extension agents.
Article Looks at Measuring Conservation Program Success
An article in Amber Waves, an online journal published by the USDA's Economic Research Service, examines some of the difficulties in gauging the success of conservation initiatives on farms. "Most conservation programs," the authors write, "are designed to improve the environment by offering incentive payments to farmers, who are thereby induced to change their farming practices. Those changes in farmers’ practices—be they reducing pesticide use, adopting conservation tillage, or constructing a riparian buffer—should then lead to enhanced environmental quality. But ...the actions involved in a conservation program take place not in isolation, but, rather, within a larger set of complex interactions, making it difficult to link programs to actions to outcomes." Measuring success, the authors contend, depends on well-designed survey and monitoring programs that take into account the range of factors influencing farmer behavior and effects on environmental quality.
Study Finds GM Pollen Travels Farther Than Previously Believed
The Scientific American reports that pollen from genetically modified creeping bentgrass has been detected up to 21 kilometers away. The Round-up Ready grass, which has been proposed for use in golf courses, has numerous wild relatives. Environmental Protection Agency researchers planted 'sentinel' plants around a large test plot of GM creeping bentgrass in Oregon. After pollination, seeds were gathered, cultivated and then sprayed with Roundup. Survivors were tested for genetic modification. The GM genes were found in plants as far as 21 kilometers away. "If anything that's an underestimate," said EPA researcher L ead author Lidia Watrud, adding that those were the sentinel plants furthest from the test plot.
Satellite Broadcast Highlights Organic Livestock Production
Washington State University, in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Western SARE, Oregon State University, and Oregon Tilth, is offering a satellite broadcast examining the basics of organic livestock production and the opportunities it presents. The broadcast is intended to help agricultural professionals (Extension, range managers, NRCS, consultants, suppliers, veterinarians, producers, etc.) become familiar with this growing sector of agriculture and to better answer questions and find resources on the topic. The program will take place on Friday, October 29, 2004, from 10a.m. to 12:30p.m. Pacific time. A 6-person panel representing various aspects of organic livestock will share their knowledge and experience, and viewers will be given an opportunity to have their questions answered during the broadcast.
Farmland Protection Programs Continue Despite Budget Shortfalls
Although many areas of the country experienced budget shortfalls last year, states and communities continued to spend steadily to protect farmland through Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) programs. PACE programs compensate farmers and ranchers for the development value of their land, while permanently protecting the land for agriculture. According to new PACE statistics released by American Farmland Trust’s Farmland Information Center, states and communities spent $189 million to protect 185,175 agricultural acres in 2003. The combined investment in PACE remained virtually unchanged from 2002, and state spending on PACE rose five percent. “Even in tight budget years—when elected officials have to make tough choices—they are still choosing to put money toward farmland protection,” said Bob Wagner, senior associate for American Farmland Trust. “Americans are clearly concerned about sprawling development and want to ensure a future that includes farm and ranch lands.”
Nation's Largest Farmers' Market Profiled
The New York Times profiled the Dane County Farmers' Market in Madison, Wisconsin, the largest in the United States. In 1972 the market started with just eleven farmers. More than 30 years later, the market draws some 300 farmers from around Wisconsin -- selling everything from trout and bison meat to heirloom apples and French goat cheese -- and sees as many as 20,000 visitors on a good day.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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National Research Initiative: Biology of Weedy and Invasive Plants
The goal of this program is to support: (1) research on general processes and principles that contribute to plant competitiveness or invasiveness; or (2) development of novel methods to alter plant species competitiveness, invasiveness, or abundance. It is expected that the knowledge gained from these studies will ultimately be applied to agricultural settings or closely related systems involving weedy or invasive plants. This program also invites applications for projects that integrate research, extension, and/or education to address novel and environmentally sound forms of controlling weedy or invasive plants. Applications are due January 7, 2005.
2005 IR-4 Biopesticide Grant Program
The IR-4 Biopesticide Research Program announces a request for grant proposals for funding of efficacy research in 2005. With newer targeted conventional chemicals there is interest in resistance management to maintain the utility of those products. Therefore, IR-4 is especially interested in proposals containing biopesticides as resistance management tools, rotated with conventional products. While resistance management is an important interest, the proposal must still have a majority focus on biopesticides. Proposals are due November 15, 2004.
Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) requests applications for the Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities – State and Regional AgrAbility Projects (AgrAbility) for fiscal year (FY) 2005 to increase the likelihood that farmers, ranchers, farm workers, or farm family members with disabilities and their farms experience success. CSREES anticipates approximately $4.0 million will be available for support of AgrAbility in FY 2005. AgrAbility supports cooperative projects in which State Cooperative Extension Services (CES) based at either 1862 or 1890 Land-Grant Universities subcontract to private, non-profit disability organizations. To address the specialized needs of AgrAbility’s customers, the program builds service capacity on national, regional, state, and local levels through education and networking. In the absence of capacity, projects provide assistance to customers. Applications are due December 23, 2004.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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AERO's 30th Annual Meeting
October 8-10, 2004
Jackson Hot Springs, Montana
The Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) will hold its 30th Annual Meeting, "Celebrating our Past, Sustaining Our Future," at Jackson Hot Springs Lodge in the Big Hole Valley. All are invited to attend this fun-filled weekend featuring field trips, workshops, and discussions on local food, sustainable farming and ranching, and renewable energy.
Future Farms 2004: Digging Deeper
November 6, 2004
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture sponsors this biannual conference. Half-day workshops offer the in-depth information and resources you need to begin or expand an alternative farm enterprise. Topics include flowers, herbs, organic, grass-fed beef, and internet marketing.
Tilth: Transforming the World One Fork at a Time
November 12-14, 2004
Tilth’s 30th Anniversary Conference promises to be a major event. In addition to dozens of workshops, keynote speakers will provide a global context for envisioning Tilth’s role in promoting sustainable agriculture in the Pacific Northwest.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/cgi-bin/event/calendar.cgi.
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