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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 16 , 2005

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.

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News & Resources
* New Report Highlights Strategies for Healthy Food, Healthy Communities
* Midwest Farmers Harvest Wind Energy
* Agricultural Exchange Program Links Producers and Government Employees
* Farmstead Cheesemaking Spreads to More Dairies
* 'Organic Gearhead' Contest Debuts

Funding Opportunities
* Biomass Research and Development Initiative
* Wisconsin Agricultural Development and Diversification Grants
* Illinois Renewable Energy Development Fund

Coming Events
* Marketing Strategies for Consumer-Driven Agriculture
* Fourth Biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference
* Farming for Profit and Stewardship Conference

News & Resources

New Report Highlights Strategies for Healthy Food, Healthy Communities
Residents in low-income neighborhoods often have limited access to healthy foods, but programs across the country are helping to revitalize communities and increase access to food that is both healthy and affordable. A new PolicyLink report, Healthy Food, Healthy Communities: Improving Access and Opportunities through Food Retailing, discusses how this issue is being addressed, provides examples of several successful programs, and showcases the important role state and local governments play. The report also highlights three of the most promising strategies for bringing healthy food to communities: developing new grocery stores, improving the selection and quality of food in existing smaller stores, and starting and sustaining farmers’ markets.

Midwest Farmers Harvest Wind Energy
The wind industry wants to double the U.S. capacity for generating wind power to 6 percent of the nation's electricity by 2020, and farmers in the Midwest are in a good position to contribute to that supply, reports a Reuters article carried by Environmental News Network. Much of the Midwest is home to strong and frequent winds, and state legislatures in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin have mandated utilities use renewable energy sources and offer tax incentives for wind farming. Illinois farmer Dennis Cradduck and eight of his neighbors have already taken advantage of the incentives; collectively they lease 63 turbines on 3,500 acres of corn and soybeans to Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy. The farm generates enough electricity to power up to 15,000 homes for a year, and the local utility pays between $1,500 and $2,000 a year for each turbine, depending on the amount of energy generated.
Related ATTRA Topic:
Energy & Agriculture

Agricultural Exchange Program Links Producers and Government Employees
The National Association of Conservation Districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are joining forces with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the "Walk a Mile in My Boots" initiative. The program is a work-exchange program between agriculture producers and government employees that was developed by NCBA and FWS in 2003. Farmers and ranchers participating in exchanges will visit field offices and/or state and national offices. They may shadow biologists, managers or other specialists; conduct outdoor field activities; attend agricultural meetings; and work with USDA officials. Government employees will visit a ranch or farm and shadow producers in their daily operations. Initial participation in this cooperative conservation partnership program will involve up to 10 pilot exchanges in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Farmstead Cheesemaking Spreads to More Dairies
Skagit County dairy farmers Vic and Judy Jensen have joined hundreds of other farmers across the country who have diversified their operations in order to boost farm income. A feature article in The Seattle Times reports on the evolution of the Jensens' farmstead cheese operation and on the cheesemaking trend in Washington in general. The state has 17 dairies involved in farmstead cheesemaking, and growing interest in farmstead cheese production spurred Washington State University to split its cheesemaking program into two separate sections: farmstead cheese and artisanal cheese. The article emphasizes that to be successful farmers must grasp the importance of marketing, as well as production. The Jensens now produce gouda, cheddar, curds and mozzarella at their Golden Glen farm.
Related ATTRA Publication:
Value Added Dairy Options

'Organic Gearhead' Contest Debuts
The Minnesota Organic Conference set for January 2006 will have a new feature--a contest for innovations by organic growers. Minnesota Ag Connection reports that the Organic Gearhead/Gee Whiz Contest and Expo is accepting entries of inventions by growers until January 10. Entrants must describe the genesis of their ideas, the benefits from them, the costs, and how they worked in practice. The idea behind the competition is to help organic farmers share their good ideas and successful innovations.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Biomass Research and Development Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly solicit applications for financial assistance addressing research, development, and demonstration of biomass based products, bioenergy, biofuels and related processes. This funding opportunity is intended to promote greater innovation and development related to biomass, and to support the Biomass Research Development Act of 2000, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 and Federal policy calling for greater use of biomass-based products, feedstock production, and processing and conversion. Awards of up to $2 million are possible; cost-sharing is required. A letter of intent is due by 11/22/2005, with pre-application due 12/20/2005, and final applications due 4/3/2006.

Wisconsin Agricultural Development and Diversification Grants
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Agricultural Development and Diversification (ADD) Grant Program invites proposals for projects that are likely to stimulate Wisconsin's agricultural economy through the development and exploration of new value-added products, new markets, or new technologies in agriculture. ADD grants are awarded competitively each year. Individuals, associations, agribusinesses and industry groups can submit proposals. Currently, the program has $380,000 to award to projects with a maximum grant amount of $50,000.
Proposals are due March 15, 2006.

Illinois Renewable Energy Development Fund
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has announced the launch of a $4 million Renewable Energy Development (RED) Fund that will support community-scale wind energy projects throughout Illinois. The Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) will work with community banks and lenders to provide loans and loan guarantees to qualified farmers and farmer co-operatives who construct wind turbines for use as alternative energy. The program begins immediately, with a goal to launch community-scale projects by the end of 2006. Within the next six months, the IFA will host at least three informational seminars across Illinois to educate farmers, landowners, developers and agricultural lenders about the RED Fund and its requirements.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Marketing Strategies for Consumer-Driven Agriculture
December 1, 2005
Bloomington, Illinois

The University of Illinois Extension's Initiative for the Development of Entrepreneurs in Agriculture hosts this second annual conference. They hope to convene a community of interest to address the challenges and opportunities facing food and farm entrepreneurs. Speakers will cover everything from farmers' markets to foreign markets in order to provide insight on what it may take for your value-added enterprise to be successful.

Fourth Biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference
January 11-12, 2006
Troutdale, Oregon

Organic Seed Alliance, in collaboration with Washington State University, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and Oregon State University, hosts this event. A Seed Biology Short Course is offered January 10. The agenda covers seed biology, diseases, economics, cleaning, and more.

Farming for Profit and Stewardship Conference
January 13-14, 2006
Hagerstown, Maryland

In this era of agricultural challenges and opportunities, don't miss the chance to learn from area farmers and agricultural educators with expertise on and insight into new, profitable farm enterprises. The 7th annual conference will bring together outstanding farmers, nationally known researchers and experienced educators in the field of sustainable agriculture. Two new pre-conference workshops will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday. "Value Added Products – How Am I Going to Sell All of This Stuff?" will provide insight into converting farm materials into highly desirable consumer products. "Taking Research into Your Own Hands" features farmers who are doing research on their land to get the answers they crave.

> More Events

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

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