Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - October 27, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Market Organizing Tools Available Online
* Study Finds Oregon Land Use Laws Effective in Protecting Farmland
* Survey Says Organic Food Popularity Keeps Growing
* 'Fat of the Land' Ponders Whether Ag Subsidies Add to Health Problems
* Cornell Report Says Farmers Need Incentives to Conserve Water
* Organic Advocates Respond to Biotech Study
* USDA Children, Youth, and Families at-Risk New Communities Project
* EPA Region 10 Regional Geographic Initiative
* EPA Environmental Education Grant Program
* Michael Fields Agricultural Institute's
12th Annual Urban-Rural Food Systems Conference
* Future of Our Food and Farms Summit
* Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Conference & Trade Show
News & Resources
Market Organizing Tools Available Online
The Mountain Tailgate Market Association, a group of farmer- and vendor-only markets in western North Carolina, formed in 2002 to promote the local markets, fresh food, and artisan crafts of the area's farmers, artists, bakers, food processors, and other local vendors. The group is now providing its bylaws, rules and regulations online, in order to share its collaborative tools and to promote fresh food and farmer connections. The documents are available as PDF files through the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project Web site.
Study Finds Oregon Land Use Laws Effective in Protecting Farmland
Northwest Environment Watch has released a new analysis of growth in 15
similar U.S. cities that shows that Oregon ’s land-use policies excel
in protecting rural land. Person for person in the last decade, new development
in metropolitan Portland consumed less than half as much land as the average
city in the study. From 1990 to 2000, if greater Portland had sprawled like
Charlotte, North Carolina—the
city in the study with the worst record—it would have lost an additional
279 square miles of farmland and open space, an area more than twice as large
as the city of Portland itself. “The bottom line is that Oregon ’s
land use laws have been highly effective at protecting farmland and open space
in Portland, which suggests that all Oregon cities are benefiting,” said
Clark Williams-Derry, research director of Northwest Environment Watch (NEW),
the Seattle research center that published the study. "This report affirms
the value of Oregon's unique land use planning system," said Ellyn McNeil,
co-owner of Heritage Plantations, a Christmas tree farm in Washington County. "Without
it, the counties closest to Portland wouldn't be second and fourth in the state
for agriculture sales and farmers like me might be out of business."
Survey Says Organic Food Popularity Keeps Growing
The results of an annual survey commissioned by retailer Whole Foods Market show that more than one-quarter of Americans are eating more organic products than just one year ago. The survey also reveals that more than half of Americans have tried organic foods and beverages and nearly one in 10 use organic products regularly or several times per week. Americans are buying organic products for a variety of reasons, with more than half of respondents saying they believe organic foods are better for the environment (58 percent) and better for their health (54 percent). Additionally, 57 percent believe buying and using organic products are better for supporting small and local farmers. Almost one in three Americans (32 percent) believes organic products taste better, and 42 percent believe organic foods are better quality. "The survey results echo national sales trends, with recent reports indicating organic food sales hit $10 billion and 20 percent sales growth last year," said Margaret Wittenberg, Whole Foods Market vice president of governmental and public affairs.
'Fat of the Land' Ponders Whether Ag Subsidies Add to Health Problems
An article in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives asks whether agricultural subsidies for commodities are contributing to the nation's growing problem with obesity and poor nutrition. For several generations, American farmers have received various forms of federal support in an effort to keep farmers farming and provide Americans with an affordable, stable food supply. Wheat, soybeans, and especially corn are currently the most highly subsidized crops; products made from these crops, including high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats, have flooded the market as cheap means for making foods tastier, though not healthier. "There are a lot of subsidies for the two things we should be limiting in our diet, which are sugar and fat, and there are not a lot of subsidies for broccoli and Brussels sprouts," said the president of the American Obesity Association.
Cornell Report Says Farmers Need Incentives to Conserve Water
In a world plagued by shortages of water, three facts stand out in an analysis by Cornell University ecologists: Less than 1 percent of water on the planet is fresh water; agriculture in the United States consumes 80 percent of the available fresh water each year; and 60 percent of U.S. water intended for crop irrigation never reaches the crops. Their report in the October 2004 journal BioScience (Vol. 54, No. 10, "Water
Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues") names farmers as "the prime target for incentives to conserve water." The report is particularly critical of irrigation practices in the United States, where subsidized "cheap water" offers scant incentive for conservation. "Part of the problem is the decision by farmers on what to grow where," says David Pimentel, a Cornell professor who led nine student ecologists through an exhaustive analysis of research conducted at other institutions and government agencies. "We learned, for example, that to produce wheat using irrigation requires three times more fossil energy than producing the same quantity of rain-fed wheat. The next time you make a sandwich, think about this: One pound of bread requires 250 gallons of water to produce the grains that go into the bread."
Organic Advocates Respond to Biotech Study
Organic advocates have reacted strongly to a study released by the National
Center for Food and Agricultural Policy that describes genetically engineered crops as "environmentally friendly farming" and claims that six genetically engineered crops have boosted U.S. farmers' yields as well as their overall income. With this explosive growth of the biotech industry, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) continues to warn of potential organic contamination and calls for stricter containment strategies for biotech crops. Since 2000, the OTA has called for a moratorium on the use of genetically engineered (GE) organisms in all agricultural production because of the possibility of contamination and other detrimental effects on the organic industry, and ultimately consumer choice. Findings in a 2004 report, "Biological
Confinement of Genetically Engineered Organisms," released by the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that GE contamination is possible and could have the potential to cause unintended effects on the environment.
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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USDA Children, Youth, and Families at-Risk New Communities Project
The USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) requests applications for the Children, Youth, and Families at-Risk New Communities Project (CYFAR/NCP) for fiscal year (FY) 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. Proposals are due December 1, 2004. CSREES anticipates that approximately $6.6 million will be available for support of this program in FY 2005.
EPA Region 10 Regional Geographic Initiative
The Regional Geographic Initiative funds projects that fill critical gaps in the Agency's ability to protect human health and the environment. These projects should address places, sectors or innovative projects, and focus on strategic priorities. Projects should also demonstrate state, local and/or other stakeholder participation, and identify opportunities for leveraging other sources of funding. In Region 10, RGI funding supports projects in geographic areas in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The proposal must address one or more of the following areas: a) Sensitive
Populations -- Reduce or prevent environmental risks to sensitive populations including but not limited to children, the elderly, people with asthma, pregnant women, immigrant and Native American communities. b) Environmentally
Responsible Land Use – This includes but is not limited to smart growth planning in developing areas, sustainable agriculture, elimination of invasive species, innovative storm water management, forestry practices, green buildings, clean transportation, etc. c) Strategic
Whole System or Watershed Approaches – The proposal contributes to filling a critical gap in achieving strategic and measurable environmental or human health benefits in protecting or restoring air quality, surface water quality, aquifers, drinking water, wildlife habitat, wetlands, threatened or endangered species, reducing diesel emissions, etc. Initial proposals are due December 15, 2004.
EPA Environmental Education Grant Program
The Grant Program sponsored by EPA’s Office of Environmental Education supports environmental education projects that enhance the public’s awareness, knowledge, and skills to help people make informed decisions that affect environmental quality. Local education agencies, local or state environmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations are among those eligible to apply. Applications for grants of $50,000 or less are submitted regionally; larger grants are submitted nationally. The application deadline is November 15, 2004.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Michael Fields Agricultural Institute's 12th Annual Urban-Rural Food Systems Conference
November 13-14, 2004
East Troy, Wisconsin
"Celebrating Diversity: The Key to Healthy Farms, Food & People" will include exhibits, workshops, a farmers' market, a banquet, and more. Patrick Martins, co-founder of Slow Foods USA, will be the keynote speaker.
Future of Our Food and Farms Summit
December 2-3, 2004
This is a regional summit to promote sustainable food systems, learn about trends in food distribution, promote nutrition education, and reduce hunger in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Conference & Trade Show
December 8-10, 2004
This conference will combine fruit and vegetable growers’ associations from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Session topics include organic crop production, blueberry production, citrus, fig production, growth and development of the pecan nut, plums, greenhouse tomatoes and growing cucurbits. There will also be presentations on Web marketing, migrant vs. local labor, record keeping, food safety, bioterrorism, value-added products and agritourism.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/cgi-bin/event/calendar.cgi.
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site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National
Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant
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Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT
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