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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - October 7, 2015

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

  • Local Food Grant Awards Announced by USDA
  • Zoning for Local Foods Featured in New Guide
  • Water Conservation Toolset Available Online
  • Dragon Fruit Considered as Drought-Resistant Crop for Southern California
  • EPA Updates Farmworker Safety Standards
  • USDA Seeks Nominations to National Organic Standards Board

Funding Opportunities

  • Extension Risk Management Education Competitive Grants Program
  • Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program
  • Iowa Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Project Grants

Coming Events

  • It Takes a Region Conference
  • Kansas Rural Center Annual Farm & Food Conference
  • National Black Farmers Association Conference

News & Resources

Local Food Grant Awards Announced by USDA
USDA has announced nearly $35 million in new funding to support local and regional food systems. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is awarding $13.3 million in Farmers Market Promotion Program grants to 164 projects. AMS is also awarding $11.9 million in Local Food Promotion Program grants for intermediary local-food enterprises such as food hubs. AMS is awarding $1 million in matching-grant funds through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program, to find solutions to challenges and opportunities in marketing, transporting, and distributing U.S. agricultural products. Meanwhile, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is awarding $8.1 million for projects to enhance the effectiveness of SNAP operations at farmers markets.

Zoning for Local Foods Featured in New Guide
A new 114-page guidebook available online, Municipal Zoning for Local Foods in Iowa, provides practical guidance and sample zoning code language related to local food production and sales. Code language from 84 municipalities across the nation is provided on a variety of topics, including aquaculture, bees, chickens, goats, front-yard gardens, community and market gardens, and urban agriculture districts.

Water Conservation Toolset Available Online
USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists have developed and released a new toolset geared towards helping conservation planners, landowners, and researchers better manage runoff while also supporting agricultural production. The free software toolset—called the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework —helps users identify appropriate locations for implementing conservation options in a given watershed.

Dragon Fruit Considered as Drought-Resistant Crop for Southern California
California farmers challenged by drought are looking for alternative crops, and a promising one appears to be Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit. Pitahaya is a vining cactus that adapts well to arid southern micro-climates and can survive with minimal water.
Related ATTRA Publication: Climate Change and Perennial Fruit and Nut Production: Investing in Resilience in Uncertain Times

EPA Updates Farmworker Safety Standards
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced updated standards to increase safety and protect the health of farmworkers. These provisions will help ensure that farmworkers nationwide receive annual safety training; that children under the age of 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides; and that workers are aware of the protections they are afforded. EPA has posted a video about the updated standards.

USDA Seeks Nominations to National Organic Standards Board
USDA is seeking nominations to fill a vacancy on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) for an environmentalist or resource conservationist. The current vacancy is for the remainder of a former board member's term, from January 24, 2016, to January 23, 2020. Written nominations must be postmarked by October 29, 2015.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Extension Risk Management Education Competitive Grants Program
The Western Extension Risk Management Education Center, in conjunction with the Northeast, North Central, and Southern Centers, has announced the 2016 grants program. Each region has identified priorities and intends to fund 15 to 20 grants up to $50,000 each. This program funds projects designed to help producers learn and use tools and approaches that can reduce the adverse effects of the uncertainties of weather, yields, prices, credit, government policies, global markets, and other factors.
Applications are due by November 16, 2015.

Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program
Wells Fargo and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation seek to promote sustainable communities by supporting highly visible projects that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment. More than $2 million is available nationwide, with strong preference given to geographic focus areas. One of the program's priorities is supporting sustainable agricultural practices and private lands stewardship.
Proposals are due by December 10, 2015.

Iowa Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Project Grants
Funds are available through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative for proposals focused on practices identified in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy that have the greatest impact on reducing nutrient loss. Soil and Water Conservation Districts, watershed groups, and other non-governmental organizations are eligible to submit applications.
The application deadline is November 13, 2015.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

It Takes a Region Conference
November 13-14, 2015
Saratoga Springs, New York

This annual NESAWG conference brings together farm and food practitioners across the 12-state Northeast region to learn, debate, collaborate, and innovate solutions to critical food systems issues. This year's theme is "Putting MOVE in the Movement," with pre-conferences, plenaries, workshops, and discussion and work groups.

Kansas Rural Center Annual Farm & Food Conference
November 13-14, 2015
Manhattan, Kansas

The theme is "Roots, Shoots and Boots: Healthy Farms, Healthy People from the Ground Up." The first day will be dedicated to a Soil Health Forum. Breakout sessions will focus on local food systems, community food solutions and economic opportunities, beginning farmer opportunities, health-agriculture connections, food policy, and more.

National Black Farmers Association Conference
November 6-7, 2015
Birmingham, Alabama

This conference for farmers, ranchers, growers, producers, landowners, and businesses has the theme "Growing Opportunities for Farmers." Admission is free and everyone is invited to attend.

>> More Events

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Four Warm Season Cover Crops

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Farm Foundations: Planning for Success
October 15-16, 2015
Cedarville, Arkansas

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