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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 12, 2008

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.

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News & Resources
* Risk Management Online Tool Available
* Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee Elects Officers, Seeks to Fill
   Open Seats
* Wyoming CD Course Helps Rural Enterprises
* Willie Nelson Offers Farm Aid Resources to President Elect
* Organic Pecan Orchard Out-Performs Conventional Orchard
* Crop Insurance Pilot Program Offered for Beekeepers

Funding Opportunities
* Western Risk Management Education Grant
* Yes to Carrots Seed Fund
* Nebraska Specialty Crop Grant

Coming Events
* Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
* NOFA Massachusetts Winter Conference
* Horticulture Industries Show

News & Resources

Risk Management Online Tool Available
USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) has launched an online resource to aid farmers and ranchers in focusing on how to protect against down-side risks, as well as how best to take advantage of up-side opportunities in the market. The new resource, a sub-site of the RMA Web site called Farm-Risk-Plans.USDA.gov, allows producers to complete a risk management checklist, identify their enterprise’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and explore a wealth of risk management information.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Agricultural Risk Management

Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee Elects Officers, Seeks to Fill Open Seats
The Standards Committee that is spearheading the development of a national standard for sustainable agriculture has elected leadership, says a Leonardo Academy press release. Marty Matlock, Director of the Center of Agricultural and Rural Sustainability at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, was elected to serve as Chairman of the Committee, while Ronald Moore, Moore Farms and American Soybean Association, will serve as Vice-Chair. Will Healy, Research and Technical Manager at Ball Innovations, will serve as Secretary; and Grace Gershuny, representing the Organic Trade Association (OTA), will hold the seat of Vice-Secretary. Leonardo Academy is now accepting applications for three open seats on the SCS-001 Standards Committee within the "User" Interest Category. Anyone who uses agricultural products—including retailers and restaurants, food service companies, product handlers, processors, distributors and manufacturers—and has an interest in sustainable agriculture is encouraged to apply by November 24.

Wyoming CD Course Helps Rural Enterprises
The two-part CD course Enterprising Rural Families can provide family businesses with the tools and skills they need to deal with challenges, both current and long term, and build business resilience. The CD is offered through the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service (UW CES). In the first course, participants focus on the question or roles and responsibilities of family members in the family business and how these may change over time. The second course focuses on discovering what resources the family enterprise has to draw from including individual, family and business system resources.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Evaluating a Rural Enterprise

Willie Nelson Offers Farm Aid Resources to President Elect
Farm Aid President Willie Nelson has sent an open letter to President-elect Barack Obama, offering "every resource that Farm Aid has available to assist you in creating a new farm and food policy that supports a sustainable family farm system of agriculture." Nelson's letter notes, "Our family farmers are a national resource with incredible potential to be the protagonists in solving the challenges we currently face," and he goes on to discuss the role that family farmers play in providing sustainable and local food and green energy.

Organic Pecan Orchard Out Performs Conventional Orchard
Pecan growers might be able to boost their profits by growing pecans organically, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists studying production systems for this popular tree nut. In 2002, ARS scientists led by Joe Bradford, research leader at the agency's Integrated Farming and Natural Resources Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas, began transitioning a 27-year-old, conventionally managed pecan orchard to a certified-organic-managed system. The 20-acre test site is located within the Gebert commercial pecan orchard in Comanche County in north-central Texas. Contrary to conventional growers' expectations, the ARS organically treated test site out-yielded the conventionally managed, chemically fertilized Gebert orchard in each of the past five years. Yields on ARS' organic test site surpassed the Gebert commercial orchard by 18 pounds per tree in 2005, and by 12 pounds per tree in 2007. The conventional management system generates about $1,750 per acre when the crop is sold. But the ARS certified-organic-management system would gross $5,290 per acre.

Crop Insurance Pilot Program Offered for Beekeepers
The Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering two pilot insurance programs designed to protect honey producers from loss of production. The Rainfall Index reflects how much precipitation is received relative to the long-term average for a specified area and timeframe. The program divides the country into six regions due to different weather patterns. Pilot programs are available in select counties in North Dakota, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. The second program, the Vegetation Index, is based on the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data derived from satellites observing long-term changes in greenness of vegetation of the earth since 1989. This program also divides the country into six regions. Pilots are available in select counties of Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming.

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Funding Opportunities

Western Risk Management Education Grant
The Western Center for Risk Management Education, in conjunction with the Northeast, North Central and Southern Centers, announces a funding opportunity for projects that help farm and ranch families succeed through targeted risk management strategies. Organizations eligible and encouraged to apply for grants are private and public groups, organizations and institutions including land grant colleges and universities, Cooperative Extension, other colleges and universities and qualified public and private entities in the region with a demonstrated capacity to develop and deliver educational programs for agricultural producers and their families. Grant awards are generally between $5,000 and $50,000, however there is no absolute upper or lower limit on the funds provided to a single project.
Proposals are due December 11, 2008.

Yes to Carrots Seed Fund
The Yes To Carrots™ Seed Fund, a non-profit organization, is on a mission to make a difference in people's lives by providing under-served communities with the resources to develop and sustain an organic food source and access to healthy nutrition. The Yes To Carrots™ Seed Fund assists these communities by providing donations to help with seeds, plants, equipment, irrigation support and technical know-how. Contact them to receive a Grant Request Application form.
Applications are reviewed throughout the year.

Nebraska Specialty Crop Grant
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is seeking grant proposals from organizations or groups of individuals interested in enhancing the competitiveness of the state's specialty crop industry. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Grant proposals will be considered on a competitive basis. Those that NDA selects for inclusion in the specialty crop state plan must also be reviewed by USDA.
Proposals are due December 18, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
January 21-24, 2009
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Southern SAWG's exceptional conference will provide you with the practical tools and solutions you need to be successful in your farming enterprise, your community foods projects and your advocacy and outreach work. It will provide sustainable production and direct marketing information for horticultural and livestock producers, enterprise management lessons, farm policy education, community food systems development information, plus the opportunity to meet and learn from peers from across the region.

NOFA Massachusetts Winter Conference
January 17, 2009
Worcester, Massachusetts

This 22nd annual conference has the theme Organic Agriculture: The Roots of a Sustainable Community. Eliot Coleman will be the keynote speaker and will offer an all-day workshop on four-season growing. In total, the agenda includes thirty workshops on crops, gardening, livestock, farm management, organic land care and sustainable lifestyles.

Horticulture Industries Show
January 16-17, 2009
Fort Smith, Arkansas

"Conserving the Future—Managing Risks" is the theme for the 28th Arkansas and Oklahoma Horticulture Industries Show. This two-day grower meeting and trade show is sponsored by the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State University, Tulsa Community College, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. It has consistently provided growers the latest information on vegetables, fruit, herbs, Christmas trees, farmers market crops and public gardening issues. Growers from Oklahoma, Arkansas and surrounding states are welcome to attend.

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