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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - October 20, 2010

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events


News & Resources

USDA Announces Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant Awards
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced grants to 40 organizations throughout the country to provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers that will help them run successful and sustainable farms. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP provided $18 million in funding this year. This is the second year of the program, and $18 million will be made available in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. A complete list of this year's recipients is available online.

Comment Invited on Draft NOP Guidance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is inviting public comment on draft guidance issued by the National Organic Program (NOP). Topics addressed include: compost and vermicompost in organic crop production; wild crop harvesting; outdoor access for organic poultry; commingling and contamination prevention in organic production and handling; and use of chlorine materials in organic production and handling. The guidance documents, available on the NOP website in draft form, are intended to assist those who own, manage, or certify organic operations in carrying out their responsibilities by providing a uniform method for complying with the national organic standards and conducting audits and inspections. The NOP will consider all comments submitted by Dec. 13, 2010, before issuing final guidance for inclusion in the Program Handbook. The public can view the documents and provide comments through the preferred method at www.regulations.gov (document number AMS-NOP-10-0048) or by mail to Toni Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646 So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250–0268.

Farmers Market Promotion Program Recipients Announced
USDA has announced $4,099,897 in farmers market awards to help strengthen local food systems and rural economies in communities nationwide. More than one million dollars will go to 27 new electronic benefits transfer (EBT) projects at farmers markets. These projects will help increase access to locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers. In an effort to improve rural economies, approximately 62 percent of this year's awardees will recruit and train the next generation of small farmers. Approximately 28 percent of the awards offer further professional development opportunities for farmers to strengthen their business management skills, including training in risk management, certification, and good agricultural practices. Several projects will further develop statewide and regional producer associations to increase the market power of groups of small farmers. In 2010, 77 grants were awarded in 34 states. A complete list is provided online.

Share the Wealth Project to Bring Sustainable Farming to Under-served
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG) is launching a one-year project in partnership with the USDA's RMA called Share the Wealth 2011. This project will help get sustainable and organic farming training and resource materials to farmers that don't have ready access to, but have a strong interest in, this information. Southern SAWG is currently looking for 6 non-institutional organizations actively working with under-served and minority producers in the South to participate in this project. The region includes: AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA. Share the Wealth 2011 application packets are due by November 12, 2010.

University of Connecticut Evaluates Hemp as Biodiesel Feedstock
Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found that the fiber crop Cannabis sativa, known as industrial hemp, has properties that make it viable and even attractive as a feedstock for producing biodiesel. Researchers used virgin hemp seed oil to create biodiesel using a standardized process called transesterification. The hemp biodiesel showed a high efficiency of conversion--97 percent of the hemp oil was converted to biodiesel--and it passed all tests conducted by the Biofuels Testing Laboratory at UConn's Center for Environmental Science and Engineering, even showing properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market.
Related ATTRA publication: Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions

Farm Bill Preview Shows 37 Programs Losing Funding
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reports that 37 programs will no longer have baseline funding in the next farm bill cycle, according to a report released by the Congressional Research Service on September 29. "Previewing the Next Farm Bill: Unfunded and Early-Expiring Provisions" says that programs that will be lost through the lack of funding in the 2012 Farm Bill include the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grassland Reserve Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), Supplemental Agriculture Disaster Program (SURE), Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). NSAC notes that if these programs are to continue, it is likely that offsets will have to be taken from other areas of the farm bill, setting the stage for some potentially uncomfortable choices in a tight race for funding.

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Funding Opportunities

Southern Region SARE Producer Grant
The Southern Region SARE Producer Grant program is requesting grant proposals from producers or producer organizations interested in conducting research or marketing projects related to sustainable agriculture. Projects must be developed, coordinated and conducted by farmers and/or ranchers or a producer organization. Producers or producer organizations must complete a proposal describing their project and explaining how it will help other producers understand and adopt sustainable agriculture practices. Projects may be funded up to two years for a project maximum of $10,000 for an individual producer or $15,000 for a producer organization. The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Proposals are due November 15, 2010.

IPM Partnership Grants
Projects funded through the IPM Partnership Grants must further the mission of the Northeastern IPM Center, address or identify regional IPM priorities, and benefit the region at large. Extension projects are encouraged. New IPM methods may be developed under this program, but funds for this purpose are limited. The current project types are: (1) IPM Working Groups, (2) IPM Issues, (3) Regional IPM Publications, and (4) IPM Planning and Assessment Documents. The lead Project Director must be from the northeastern region, but the eligibility for this program is broad.
Proposals are due November 22, 2010.

Connecting Ohio's Children, Families and Specialty Crop Producers Grant
The purpose of the Ohio Farm to School Initiative: Connecting Ohio's Children, Families and Specialty Crop Producers Grant is to develop sustainable and replicable models of student-family programming by offering mini-grants to schools or school districts who are interested in developing farm-to-school programming focused on specialty crops that targets the whole family. ODA and ODE intends that all funding will be used to increase child and adult knowledge and consumption of specialty crops in addition to opening up new markets for producers. Grant awards will be considered from a minimum of $500 up to a maximum of $2,000. The Ohio Department of Agriculture will only accept proposals for consideration of grant funds from public, private, or charter schools and school districts in Ohio.
Proposals are due December 1, 2010.

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Coming Events

MOFGA Farmer to Farmer Conference
November 5-7, 2010
Northport, Maine

MOFGA's Farmer to Farmer Conference is based on the idea that farmers learn best from their peers and other practitioners. The conference features a unique 3-hour workshop session format, in which one half is dedicated to talks by both agricultural service professionals and farmers, and the other to a round table discussion intended to solicit and capitalize on the accumulated knowledge of all the farmers in attendance. A special track on Farming Year Round is offered, as well as sessions on livestock, local food, weed management, enterprise budgets, and specific crops. Farm tours are also planned.

Quivira Coalition's 9th Annual Conference
November 10-12, 2010
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The conference topic is "The Carbon Ranch: Using Food and Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change." The event includes an all-day workshop, "Improving the Carbon Cycle on Your Land," on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday feature all-day plenary sessions addressing the essential elements of a carbon ranch, including: practices that enrich soil carbon, strategies for monitoring carbon accrual, the role of grassfed food, watershed restoration, and case studies from around the world.

Conservation Tillage in Organic Systems Workshop
November 15, 2010
Modesto, California

This free one-day workshop will begin with growers discussing their own experiences with conservation tillage in organic systems in a roundtable discussion. Later, facilitated discussion will focus on reducing tillage in weed control, fertility management, and field preparation operations in organic systems. The Conservation Tillage in Organic Systems workshop will be a venue for experienced growers to come together with university and extension specialists and agriculture professionals to explore conservation tillage as it is applied in organic systems.

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