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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - October 8, 2014

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

  • USDA Microloan Program Limit Raised to $50,000
  • Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide Updated, Expanded
  • USDA Announces Grants to Support Small, Socially Disadvantaged Agricultural Producers and Specialty Crop Grants to States
  • SARE Translates Popular Resources into Spanish
  • Biodegradable Biobased Mulch Now Allowed for Organic Production
  • Case Study Explores Development of Local Frozen Produce

Funding Opportunities

  • Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program
  • Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Agriculture Development Fund
  • Western North Carolina Ag Options

Coming Events

  • CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference
  • Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference
  • It Takes a Region

News & Resources

USDA Microloan Program Limit Raised to $50,000
USDA has announced that it is raising the borrowing limit for its microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplifying the lending processes; updating required "farming experience" to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities. The changes become effective November 7, 2014.

Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide Updated, Expanded
Purdue University and the Midwest Cover Crops Council have released a second edition of their Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, a pocket guide for farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health. The updated guide features seven new topics and adds specific information on cover crops for four more Midwest states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

USDA Announces Grants to Support Small, Socially Disadvantaged Agricultural Producers and Specialty Crop Grants to States
USDA has announced 17 grants totaling $3 million through the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program, to help agricultural producers expand their operations and create jobs. USDA also announced the award of grants to strengthen markets for specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will provide $66 million to state departments of agriculture for research and programs to increase specialty crop demand. In addition, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is awarding $51.8 million through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative to fund research and extension projects for specialty crop production.

SARE Translates Popular Resources into Spanish
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) has announced the release of Spanish translations, both in print and online, of ¿Qué es la Agricultura Sustentable? (What is Sustainable Agriculture?), Avicultura Rentable (Profitable Poultry), 25 Años de SARE (25 Years of SARE), and Estrategias Económico-Am bientales en la Crianza de Cerdos (Profitable Pork).
Related ATTRA Publications: Publicaciones en Español

Biodegradable Biobased Mulch Now Allowed for Organic Production
USDA National Organic Program has amended the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances to allow the use of biodegradable biobased mulch film with restrictive annotations. This action also adds to the organic standards a new definition for biodegradable biobased mulch film that includes criteria and third-party standards for compostability, biodegradability, and biobased content. The rule is effective October 30, 2014.

Case Study Explores Development of Local Frozen Produce
Common Market, a distributor of local-farm food in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, launched its line of local, source-identified frozen produce in October 2013. Common Market has published a case study that traces the exploratory process, product trials, and relationship building that ultimately led to its first branded, source-identified, local frozen product. The 26-page publication is available online in PDF.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is making up to $31.5 million available to help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program more easily afford healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Applications are requested in the following categories: (1) FINI pilot projects (awards not to exceed $100,000 over one year); (2) multi-year, community-based FINI projects (awards not to exceed $500,000 over no more than four years); and (3) multi-year, FINI large-scale projects (awards of $500,000 or more over no more than four years).
Applications are due December 15, 2014.

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Agriculture Development Fund
This grant is designed to help Western New York agricultural producers fund capital expenditures for value-added projects, including the acquisition, construction, and/or renovation of agricultural structures and the acquisition of machinery and equipment. Up to $50,000 may be awarded per project, which is expected to leverage matching loan funding through Farm Credit East or other financing sources.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Western North Carolina Ag Options
Western North Carolina farmers in 22 counties now have the chance to apply for $3,000 and $6,000 diversification grants to offset the risk of trying a new venture. The $6,000 awards are only available to farmers who write a business plan for their project.
Applications are due November 21, 2014; notice of intent to apply is due October 24.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference
November 10-12, 2014
Greenville, South Carolina
This 29th annual conference from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association includes three pre-conference tours, nine hands-on intensives, and 55 workshops. Tracks include beginning farmer, advanced horticulture, livestock, farm business, urban farming, and others.

Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference
November 11-12, 2014
Los Angeles, California

"Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities" will focus on the economic, environmental, and community benefits that result from developing a robust local-food infrastructure. The conference is ideally suited for new and established farmers looking to share ideas or develop connections with suppliers and buyers.

It Takes a Region
November 10-12, 2014
Saratoga Springs, New York

The theme for this year's It Takes a Region conference from Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group is "Region-Sizing: Making It Work." The conference will explore some of the tremendous advances made in region-sizing the food system to date, as well as new opportunities for collaboration.

>> More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Cherry Insect Pests Identification Sheet

Question of the Week
What should I look for when choosing hogs that will be pastured?

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Bye Farm Cover Cropping Near Kevin, Montana (28 minutes)

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