Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - October 6, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Western SARE Surveys Extensionists on Sustainable Agriculture
* GAO Study Looks at Wind Energy, Farms and Rural Communities
* Journal Highlights Movers and Shakers in Organic Industry
* Task Force Calls for Policies to Promote Livestock on Family Farms
* California Researchers Battle Oriental Fruit Moths with Sunflowers
* Nonprofits Collaborate to Protect Urban Ag Land in Massachusetts
* National Research Initiative: Managed Ecosystems
* Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program
* CSREES Children, Youth and Families Education and Research Network
* Holistic Management: Decision-Making for Greater Sustainability
* Conference for Community-Supported Agriculture
* Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association Agriculture Conference
News & Resources
Western SARE Surveys Extensionists on Sustainable Agriculture
University extension educators are generally knowledgeable about the concepts of sustainable agriculture, but they don't perceive a high level of producer interest in the subject, according to a survey of 626 agricultural extension educators, or county agents, in 13 Western states. The survey, conducted by the Western SARE Profession Development Program in cooperation with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service, asked educators about their knowledge of sustainable agriculture, their programming and partnerships in that arena and additional information they'd like. The survey found that nine of 10 educators rate their interest in sustainable agriculture as moderate to high, but roughly the same number said they perceive producer interest to be low to moderate. The study also found that extensionists hold strong knowledge in whole farm or ranch planning and integrated farming systems, but were less knowledgeable in farm business planning for sustainable agriculture, impact analysis of adding new farm or ranch enterprises, community-based food systems and establishing farmer-to-farmer information networks.
GAO Study Looks at Wind Energy, Farms and Rural Communities
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that while wind power does not contribute significantly to total farm income in the 10 states with the highest installed wind power capacity, it has considerably benefited some farmers and rural communities. The report, Wind Power’s Contribution to Electric Power Generation and Impact on Farms
and Rural Communities (PDF/2.92 MB), states that a farmer who leases land for a wind project can expect to receive $2,000 to $5,000 per turbine per year in lease payments. In addition, large wind power projects in some of the nation’s poorest rural counties have added much needed tax revenues and employment opportunities. The study found that most of the nation's wind potential remains untapped, accounting for only about one-tenth of 1 percent of total U.S. electric power generation capacity in 2003. Wind power’s growth will depend largely on the continued availability of federal and state financial incentives, including tax credits, and expected increases in prices for fossil fuels. The report also examined USDA's role in promoting wind energy and found that it has not fully utilized all of the farm bill’s renewable energy provisions. In particular, although it offers grants under its renewable energy program, USDA has not issued a regulation to offer loans and loan guarantees as well. A higher program level could be achieved by using these funding mechanisms. USDA also is missing opportunities to obtain EPA’s assistance in implementing the program. For example, EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation has extensive contacts with utilities interested in purchasing power from renewable sources.
Journal Highlights Movers and Shakers in Organic Industry
The Natural Foods Merchandiser profiles 25 people who have helped shape the organic food and fiber industry. Among them are farmers, activists, entrepreneurs and politicians.
;[These] people, through their vision, sweat, passion and persistence, brought life to the organics industry, propelling it into the $10.8 billion business it is today," the authors write. "Whether through farming, legislation, innovation or education, these individuals have made it possible for today’s generations to live a truly organic lifestyle."
Task Force Calls for Policies to Promote Livestock on Family Farms
A healthy livestock farming economy in Minnesota requires support for
livestock on family farms, strong local township government and
a tough corporate farm law, says a new report by the Citizen Task
Force on Livestock Farmers and Rural Communities. The Citizen Task
Force is a unique collaboration between four Minnesota farm groups:
Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota National Farmers Organization,
Land Stewardship Project and the Sustainable Farming Association.
Titled Creating a Bright Future for Livestock Farmers in Minnesota, the report’s recommendations focus on ways to increase the number and profitability of Minnesota livestock farmers in ways that benefit rural communities by: ensuring fair prices and open markets, creating the next generation of livestock farmers, promoting livestock farming that benefits the environment, protecting rural democracy, and creating local food systems that benefit farmers, consumers and rural communities.
California Researchers Battle Oriental Fruit Moths with Sunflowers
University of California researchers are looking to sunflowers to help protect peach trees from the Oriental fruit moth. The small, grayish insect is a key pest in many stone fruit crops. The female moth lays eggs inside a peach, and the eggs hatch into larvae which attack the center of the fruit and feed around the pit, making the fruit unfit for consumption.
Macrocentrus ancylivorous is a parasitic wasp that effectively manages the Oriental fruit moth. Like the creature from the movie Alien, the wasp lays its eggs inside the pest larva and then the wasp larva develops within, killing the pest. Unfortunately, the wasp does not winter in the pest, so growers must often spray insecticides. But, if new research bears fruit, the parasite will be able to live on caterpillars in sunflowers through the winter, reducing or eliminating the need for insecticide sprays. With support from the UC Specialty Crops Grant Program, researchers have planted sunflowers on a one-acre patch at the Kearney Research and Extension Center in Parlier, California, next to a peach orchard infested with Oriental fruit moth. To date, harvests have showed no damage from the pest.
Nonprofits Collaborate to Protect Urban Ag Land in Massachusetts
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation
organization, and Nuestras Raíces, Inc. (NR) announced Tuesday that TPL has acquired approximately four acres of riverfront land located at the corner of Main Street and Jones Ferry Road in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Nuestras Raíces (“Our Roots”), a grassroots organization that advances economic, human, and community development in inner-city Holyoke, has unveiled a promising plan for the property that will provide Holyoke with cultural events, economic opportunities, and a beautiful riverfront open space near the urban core. Over half of the land will be divided into one-quarter– to one-half-acre plots, to be rented by 4-6 experienced community gardeners who will begin a transition to organic commercial farming. These urban farmers will be supported with technical assistance, business planning assistance, training, and access to farming equipment to make their future evolution to larger-scale farming possible. New farmer Luis Aponte says, “Farming here is about learning, about feeling the connection with Puerto Rico, and that we are all together.”
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: Managed Ecosystems
This CSREES program strives to understand how agricultural practices for farm,
forest, and rangelands affect natural and managed ecosystems, while
developing improved management strategies to achieve sustainable
production. Ecological issues in agriculture and natural resources
management are complex, requiring a systems approach to integrate
physical, biological, ecological, social, and economic factors.
Proposed ecosystem research should be multidisciplinary, explore
differing spatial and temporal scales, evaluate the synergisms among
system components and examine the potential for increased system
sustainability. This program invites fundamental and mission-linked
research proposals and integrated proposals.
Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
(CSREES) announces the availability of grant funds and requests
applications for the Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP)
for fiscal year (FY) 2005 to assist the 1994 Institutions in conducting
agricultural research that addresses high priority concerns of
tribal, national, or multi-state significance. The amount available
for support of this program in FY 2005 is approximately $1,087,000.
Applications are due December 10, 2004.
CSREES Children, Youth and Families Education and Research Network
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service requests applications for the Children, Youth and Families Education and Research Network (CYFERnet) for fiscal year 2005 to marshal resources of the Land-Grant and Cooperative Extension Systems so that, in collaboration with other organizations, they can develop and deliver educational programs that equip limited resource families and youth who are at risk for not meeting basic human needs with the skills they need to lead positive, productive, contributing lives
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Holistic Management: Decision-Making for Greater Sustainability
November 3-4, 2004
Albany, New York
At this workshop, class participants will articulate a clear integrated goal that encompasses their personal values, their economic needs, and their respect for ecological principles. Participants will also learn and practice using the Holistic Management testing questions to make sound decisions. Participants will also gain an understanding of the Holistic Management financial planning process. The class will be facilitated in a manner that encourages a supportive group spirit that will serve participants during the workshop and into the future.
Conference for Community-Supported Agriculture
November 12-14, 2004
"Growing Together, Strengthening the CSA Movement" is the theme of this event, which will feature workshops for experienced and new CSA farmers, CSA wannabes, small farm advocates, community food/health advocates, educators and extension personnel, as well as speakers.
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association Agriculture Conference
November 12-14, 2004
Durham, North Carolina
At "Transitioning to Biodynamic Agriculture: An Economic Path to Quality," the oldest organic farming and gardening organization in North America will offer an exciting conference focused on the importance of "quality" in agriculture.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/cgi-bin/event/calendar.cgi.
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Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT
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