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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - October 25, 2017

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

  • Study Examines Impact of Local Farm to School Purchasing
  • NRCS Announces Recovery Assistance for California Producers
  • Beginning Farmer Training Program Impact Assessed in New Report
  • International Research Shows Composting Improves Biochar's Fertilizing Capabilities
  • University of Illinois' Organic Corn Breeding Project Receives Funding
  • Study Says Land Management Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Funding Opportunities

  • Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
  • N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund
  • Minnesota Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Grants

Coming Events

  • Growing for the Future
  • Professional Agricultural Workers Conference
  • Green Lands Blue Waters Conference

News & Resources

Study Examines Impact of Local Farm to School Purchasing
A new study from Colorado State University, The Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools, provides insight about the potential for farm to school sales to affect local economies positively. The report offers an adaptable survey and analysis protocol for performing farm to school economic impact assessments.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farm to School Sales: Profiles of Ranches Making It Work

NRCS Announces Recovery Assistance for California Producers
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for its EQIP Catastrophic Fire Recovery fund pool to assist California producers in covering the cost of certain rehabilitation practices, such as creating check dams in drainages, using damaged trees to slow runoff, repairing culvert systems, and planting tree seedlings. NRCS is waiving the standard 30-day application-ranking period and is accepting applications for this initial fund pool through November 6, 2017.

Beginning Farmer Training Program Impact Assessed in New Report
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has released Cultivating the Next Generation, an evaluation of USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Since 2008, BFRDP has invested nearly $150 million in more than 250 new-farmer training projects across the country, involving more than 60,000 beginning farmers. The report also includes recommendations on opportunities for improvement of the program. The full report is available online.

International Research Shows Composting Improves Biochar's Fertilizing Capabilities
An international research team has demonstrated how composting biochar creates a very thin organic coating that significantly improves the biochar's fertilizing capabilities. In a study published in Nature Communications, the team utilized advanced analytical techniques to confirm that the coating strengthens the biochar's interactions with water and its ability to store soil nitrates and other nutrients.
Related ATTRA Publication:
Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture

University of Illinois' Organic Corn Breeding Project Receives Funding
The University of Illinois has received funding from USDA for a project that will allow farmers, researchers, and consumers to participate in breeding corn optimized for organic production. Farmers from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, and New York will help test maize germplasm developed at U of I and the Mandaamin Institute. The researchers will also evaluate the influence of soil health on yield, grain quality, and processing characteristics.

Study Says Land Management Can Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions
A peer-reviewed study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that natural climate solutions could reduce emissions by 11.3 billion tonnes per year by 2030. Changing the way we farm could cost-effectively deliver emissions reductions equivalent to taking 522 million gasoline cars off the road. For example, smarter application of chemical fertilizers can improve crop yields while reducing emissions of nitrous oxide. Other strategies include planting trees among croplands and improving management of livestock.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program
These grants support research or demonstrations on Minnesota farms with funding from the Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation Program. Minnesota farmers, educational institutions, individuals at educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for grants up to $25,000. Projects must last two to three years. Eligible projects could include conservation, enterprise diversification, cover crops, livestock production systems, IPM, and others.
Applications must be received by December 13, 2017.

N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is accepting applications from county governments and nonprofit groups to the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Grants can secure agricultural conservation easements on lands used for agricultural production; support public and private enterprise programs that promote profitable and sustainable agricultural, horticultural, and forestland activities; or develop agricultural plans.
Applications are due by December 15, 2017.

Minnesota Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Grants
Minnesota livestock producers within the state's wolf range can apply for a total of $120,000 in grant money to reimburse costs of approved practices to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts. Eligible expenses include any or all of the following items: purchase of guard animals; veterinary costs for guard animals; installation of wolf-barriers, which may include pens, fladry, and fencing; installation of wolf-deterring lights and alarms; calving or lambing shelters; or other measures that effectively reduce wolf-livestock conflicts.
Applications for this fiscal year are due November 24, 2017.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Growing for the Future: Beginning Farmer and Rancher Online Virtual Conference
December 4-7, 2017
Online

National Farmers Union is hosting a unique online, interactive virtual conference focused on beginning farmer and rancher issues including mentorship, business planning, USDA programs, women and veterans in farming, conservation, and much more. The conference is free.

Professional Agricultural Workers Conference
December 3-5, 2017
Tuskegee, Alabama
"Building Bridges to a Productive, Just and Sustainable Future" includes tours, conference speakers and sessions, and a poster contest. Topics include urban farming, agriculture in the classroom, and social and economic justice in agriculture and rural communities.

Green Lands Blue Waters Conference
November 28-29, 2017
Madison, Wisconsin

Green Lands Blue Waters is a regional consortium of Mississippi River watershed partners working to improve soil and water quality by increasing continuous living cover on the agricultural landscape. The theme of this year’s conference is Continuous Living Cover: Bridging the Gaps with Livestock.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Building Healthy Pasture Soils

Question of the Week
What herbicides are appropriate for organic small grains?

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Conferencia del Agricultor Latino 2017
November 7, 2017
Palm Desert, California
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