Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 8, 2006
Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.
News & Resources
* Research Shows Organic Farming Reduces Nitrogen Leaching
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* AGR-Lite Crop Insurance Expands to Ten Additional States
* Policy Note Examines Agriculture and Climate Change
* Wisconsin Looks to Boost 'Entrepreneurial Agriculture'
* Montana Group Studies Potential State Food Market
* Steak Taste Test Winner is Grass-Fed and Hormone Free
* Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program
* Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program
* Kansas Agritourism Scholarships
* Ecological Farming Conference
* Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers
* Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference
News & Resources
Research Shows Organic Farming Reduces Nitrogen Leaching
Researchers at the Washington State University have found that organic farming methods can help reduce the amount of nitrogen draining into ground water. Dr. John Reganold at the Washington State University and colleagues at Stanford University and The Land Institute examined the use of organic fertilizers on nitrate leaching, or draining, in soils. With funding from the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the researchers examined nitrate leaching in an apple orchard under three management systems: organic, conventional and integrated. The study found that annual nitrate leaching was four to five times higher in the conventional treatment than in the two organic treatments, with the integrated treatment in between.
Related ATTRA Publication: Protecting Water Quality on Organic Farms
AGR-Lite Crop Insurance Expands to Ten Additional States
USDA has announced expansion of the Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite (AGR-Lite) plan of insurance, into the states of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. With this expansion, AGR-Lite will now be available in 28 states for the 2007 insurance year. "This insurance is a useful risk management tool, particularly for small diversified producers," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "It is based on individual farm revenue, so producers are offered a great deal of flexibility in how they manage their farm or ranch operations." Most farm-raised crops, animals, and animal products are eligible for protection. The plan uses a producer's 5-year historical farm average revenue as a basis to provide a level of guaranteed revenue for the insurance period.
Policy Note Examines Agriculture and Climate Change
The World Resources Institute (WRI) has released Agriculture and Climate Change: The Policy Context, the first in a series of two Farm Bill Policy Notes that look at opportunities and reasons for the U.S. agriculture industry to participate in climate policy discussions. This note analyzes the impact of climate change on U.S. agriculture, discusses sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the agricultural sector, and explains the possible roles for agriculture in proposed climate change legislation. The text of the 6-page document is available online in PDF.
Wisconsin Looks to Boost 'Entrepreneurial Agriculture'
Studies show that as much as 80 percent of the cost of foods purchased in grocery stores goes to the processor, compared to a mere 9 percent to farmers. But in Brown County, Wisconsin, officials are looking to find untapped opportunities that will bring more income for farmers while also strengthening the local economy. According to this piece on thenorthwestern.com, the county's comprehensive plan brings local governments together to encourage and preserve both conventional and entrepreneurial agricultural opportunities. Entrepreneurial agriculture positions farms as innovative small businesses with approaches such as direct and niche marketing, value-added methods, new grazing systems, and community-supported agriculture. According to officials, entrepreneurial agriculture has the potential to nearly triple net returns for farmers.
Montana Group Studies Potential State Food Market
Food services at Montana's public institutions-which spend nearly $33 million annually on food purchases-have a genuine and growing interest in buying more from the state's food producers and processors, according to two major studies released last week. A statewide coalition, Grow Montana, announced the study results documenting the real and potential benefits of these markets at Montana's schools, state prisons and public hospitals. The reports reveal, however, that farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs can meet the full potential of these markets only with the help of policy changes and a serious public-private partnership to develop necessary processing capacity. The Grow Montana report Unlocking the Food Buying Potential of Montana's Public Institutions: Towards a Montana-based Food Economy is available online in PDF.
Steak Taste Test Winner is Grass-Fed and Hormone Free
How does grass-fed beef rate in a taste test? Writer Mark Schatzker of the online journal Slate tried to find out and posted his results. Schatzker tested ribeye steaks from five of the "best suppliers." Each was cooked over a gas-fired grill to medium rare. Flavor, juiciness, and tenderness were assessed. The lowest rated steak ("in all fairness...still a decent steak") was a $32 per pound Prime cut. The top rating went to a $21 per pound, grass-fed, hormone-free, dry-aged steak out of Alderspring Ranch in Idaho. The verdict, according to Schatzker, shows that meat with little marbling can be top quality. The biggest hit against grass-fed, hormone-free beef is the lack of consistency in the market. Before you walk into your neighborhood butcher and say, "Three rib-eye Angus steaks, please, pastured in the Rocky Mountain foothills, finished on barley, but with a hint of oats, and dry-aged for 28-no, make that 29-days," keep in mind that as a consumer, such choice does not exist, Schatzker writes.
> More Breaking News
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Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program
CSREES announces the availability of grant funds and requests applications for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program (OASDFR). This program provides outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and to participate equitably in agriculture programs. OASDFR projects should provide technical assistance and outreach to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers with the ultimate aim of increasing and retaining ownership. Contingent on Congressional action, CSREES anticipates that approximately $6.9 million will be available in FY 2007 to support this program. Eligible applicants include community organizations, tribes, and institutions of higher learning.
Proposals are due December 15, 2006.
Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program
FSMIP provides matching funds on a competitive basis to State departments of agriculture, State Experiment Stations and other similar State agencies for applied research projects that address barriers, challenges, and opportunities in the marketing, transportation, and distribution of U.S. food and agricultural products. Proposals may deal with any stage of the marketing chain including direct, wholesale, and retail. Proposals may involve small, medium or large-scale agricultural entities but should potentially benefit multiple producers or agribusinesses. Proposals that address issues of importance at the State, regional or national level are appropriate as are unique and innovative proposals on a smaller scale that may serve as pilot projects or case studies useful as a model for others. Of particular interest are proposals that reflect a collaborative approach between the States, academia, the farm sector and other appropriate entities and stakeholders. Approximately 25 to 30 projects are funded annually. The average award is $50,000.
Proposals are due February 12, 2007.
Kansas Agritourism Scholarships
The Agriculture Marketing Division of the Kansas Department of Commerce is sponsoring $25,000 in scholarships to help Kansas agritourism operators attend conferences, seminars and educational tours, gain first-hand information regarding practices and techniques used by other agritourism vendors and develop nationwide relationships within the industry.
Proposals are due November 15, 2006.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Ecological Farming Conference
January 24-27, 2007
Pacific Grove, California
This 27th annual conference is a major national sustainable agriculture event that offers numerous speakers, many concurrent workshops, tours and social activities. Workshops address everything from biofuels and marketing to weed management and organic integrated pest management.
Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers
January 19-21, 2007
UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems presents this course. The intensive three-day course demonstrates what it takes to set up and run a successful market garden or small farm. You bring your gardening background and interest and hopes for your own market garden or small vegetable farm. They expose you to what you need to know and plan for as you set seeds and grow.
Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference
January 12-13, 2007
Des Moines, Iowa
"Paths to Prosperity" is the theme for this conference. Numerous workshop sessions will address grazing, high-tunnel greenhouses, eating locally, and transitioning to organics.
> More Events
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