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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 10, 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

New Guide Helps Organic Producers Shape Conservation Programs
A new guide for organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers is now available, providing information on how they can shape federal conservation programs so that they work better for organic farmers and ranchers. This guide is also designed to help producers influence how the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service implements conservation programs such as EQIP Organic Initiative and the Conservation Stewardship Program at the state and local level. This guide was co-authored by the Organic Farming Research Foundation, the Center for Rural Affairs, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. It is available for download.

USDA Conservation Program Payments Begin
USDA will begin issuing Conservation Stewardship and Conservation Security Program (CSP) payments this month to thousands of farmers and ranchers in all fifty states to help maintain and improve the natural resources on their land. The yearly contract payments totaling $500 million are authorized under the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. A total of $320 million in payments is associated with 20,500 new Conservation Stewardship Program contracts initiated in fiscal year 2010. In addition to the Stewardship program payments, a total of $180 million in payments will also be issued to honor the 15,000 older Conservation Security Program contracts for payments due in FY 2011. The 2008 Farm Bill replaced the Conservation Security Program with the Conservation Stewardship Program. The new CSP is offered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through a continuous sign-up.
Related ATTRA Publication: Federal Conservation Resources for Sustainable Farming and Ranching

New Report Spotlights Potential of NY Grasslands
The Cornell Small Farms Work Team on Grasslands Utilization is pleased to announce that a new report, "Green Grass, Green Jobs: Increasing Livestock Production on Underutilized Grasslands in NYS" is now available. The report is the culmination of two years of statewide study by a team of extension educators, farmers, agency staff, and faculty across New York State. The report focuses on recommended actions in research, education, extension, and policy to realize the potential of grasslands as a farming resource that will spur rural economic development, grow the regional food supply, and enhance environmental outcomes. Topics discussed in the report include: Why increased livestock utilization of NY's grasslands makes sense; Livestock production and marketing opportunities; Barriers to increased livestock utilization of NYS grasslands; and Recommendations and inventory of grasslands management resources of NYS landowners and farmers. The report is available online.

USDA Prepares Draft Environmental Assessment for Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is advising the public it has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) to address a request from the Monsanto Company (Monsanto) and KWS SAAT AG (KWS) for partial deregulation or some similar administrative action to allow the continued cultivation of Roundup ReadyŽ (RR) sugar beets under carefully tailored interim measures proposed by APHIS. In 2005, APHIS granted nonregulated status to RR sugar beets, which have been genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. However, in early 2008, the Center for Food Safety, the Sierra Club and two organic seed groups filed a lawsuit challenging APHIS, and on September 21, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a ruling invalidating APHIS' decision to grant nonregulated status to RR sugar beets until APHIS prepared a full environmental impact statement (EIS) supporting its decision. APHIS is currently developing this EIS, which is expected to be completed by the end of May 2012. After receiving the current request for partial deregulation from Monsanto and KWS, APHIS prepared an EA to examine the options available for regulating RR sugar beets, and is providing the public with documentation of the analysis of any environmental impacts associated with actions the agency is considering. This draft EA will be available for public comment for 30 days. APHIS will thoroughly review and analyze all comments received on or before December 6.

New Invasive Fruit Pest Infestation Found in Michigan
Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), or SWD, has been found in traps deployed this year by Michigan State University entomologists in southwestern Michigan, according to Michigan Ag Connection. This pest is established in the western United States, damaging fruit in California and the Pacific Northwest, but this is the first time it has been found in the Midwest. SWD is a pest of berry crops, cherries, grapes and tree fruit, with a preference for softer-fleshed fruit. The insect, originally from Asia, has already been found to be invasive in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Florida, the Carolinas and British Columbia, and was found in Michigan for the first time in September.

Study Shows Restaurant Customers Willing to Pay More for Local Food
Not only are restaurant patrons willing to pay more for meals prepared with produce and meat from local providers, the proportion of customers preferring local meals actually increases when the price increases, according to a team of international researchers. The research will appear in the fall/winter issue of the International Journal of Revenue Management. A recent study of how customers perceive and value local food shows that restaurant patrons prefer meals made with local ingredients when they are priced slightly higher than meals made with non-local ingredients, said Amit Sharma, assistant professor, School of Hospitality Management, Penn State. Value cues -- signals that attract increased attention from consumers -- may influence the customers' preference for the higher-priced local option. The results indicate that the main value cue of local food for customers is its freshness. Customer preference for premium-priced local food has its limits, however, Sharma warned. Sharma said the research could help restaurant owners decide how to set prices for local foods and estimate whether the potential to charge higher prices will compensate for the additional costs associated with adding local food to the menu.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Growing Green Awards
Nominations are now open for the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) third annual Growing Green Awards to honor farmers, business leaders and promoters of sustainable food. Through this national award, NRDC recognizes extraordinary contributions that advance ecologically integrated farming practices, climate stewardship, water stewardship, farmland preservation, and social responsibility from farm to fork. A Growing Green Award will be given to an outstanding individual in each of four categories, including Food Producer, Business Leader, Knowledge Leader, and Young Food Leader. A $10,000 cash prize will be awarded in the Food Producer category, and a $5,000 cash prize will be awarded in the Young Food Leader category.
Nominations are due December 10, 2011.

Regional Integrated Pest Management (RIPM) - Western Region
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture requests applications for the Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Western Region (W-RIPM) for fiscal year 2011 to help achieve national integrated pest management (IPM) goals by increasing the supply and dissemination of IPM knowledge and by enhancing collaboration among stakeholders. The amount anticipated to be available for support of this program in FY 2011 is approximately $650,000. The Western Region includes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Pacific Islands. Colleges and universities and their research foundations may apply for research awards; extension awards are limited to land-grant colleges and universities.
Applications are due November 22, 2010.

Frontera Farmer Foundation
The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area at farmers markets and other venues. Farmers must have been in business for at least three years and must demonstrate how the grant will improve both their farm's viability and the availability of locally grown food products in the Chicago area. Grant applicants will be judged on the basis of demonstrated need, long-term dedication to sustainable farming, creative and business acumen, and commitment to sustainability.
All applications must be received by February 28, 2011.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Acres U.S.A. Conference & Trade Show
December 9-11, 2010
Indianapolis, Indiana

Join more than 1,000 other innovative farmers from around the world to witness presentations on cutting-edge organic/sustainable farming techniques. The Acres U.S.A. Conference is the premier event nationwide for advanced, commercial-scale sustainable and organic agriculture. More than 1,000 eco-minded individuals from around the world gather together to tap the knowledge of some of agriculture's brightest minds. The conference brings in dozens of speakers to cover all facets of eco-agriculture--soils, crops, weed and insect control, livestock management--and make the connection between the soil and human and animal health as well.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Webinar
December 16, 2010
Online

Find out what the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is and how you can apply for grant funds to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. The free webinar presented by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service begins at 2 pm ET. Registration is required.

New Entry Farmer-to-Farmer Conference
December 9, 2010
Sturbridge, Massachusetts

The New Entry Farmer-to-Farmer Conference is geared towards small-scale farmers who are interested in learning from their peers. The schedule includes panel sessions on soil fertility, farm business and financial planning, strategies for ensuring the health of livestock, and building sustainable communities around food.

>> More Events

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Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

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