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Weekly Harvest Newsletter

Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 21, 2007

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
* Long-term Study Shows Organic Practices Outpacing Conventional Crop Production
* Maine Developing Regulations for Bt Corn
* Farmers' Market Magazine Offers Free Subscriptions
* Dairy Cow Buying Guidelines Offered
* Season Extension Course Offered in Ohio

Funding Opportunities
* Integrated Organic Program
* EPA Environmental Education Grants
* Indiana Treasurer's Agricultural Loan Program

Coming Events
* Farming for Profit and Stewardship Conference
* Minnesota Organic Conference
* Horticulture Industries Show

News & Resources

Long-term Study Shows Organic Practices Outpacing Conventional Crop Production
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture reports that after nine years of comparison, clear differences between organic and conventional crop production systems are emerging: the longer rotations and careful management of the organic system show greater yields, increased profitability, and steadily improved soil quality over conventional practices. Those are the conclusions drawn from experimental plots set up at the Iowa State University Neely-Kinyon Research Farm near Greenfield, Iowa, in a study believed to be the largest randomized, replicated comparison of organic and conventional crops in the nation.

Maine Developing Regulations for Bt Corn
Maine has been the only state that doesn't allow planting of genetically engineered Bacillus thuringiensis corn. However, the state Board of Pesticide Control approved licensing of the product this summer, says the Morning Sentinel, and the Board will hold a public hearing this week on proposed rules regulating its use in the state. Opponents of the Bt corn, including organic farmers worried about crop contamination and pesticide-resistant insects, will ask the board to reconsider its decision to license the Bt corn. In an opinion piece in the Kennebec Journal, Melissa Hughes, general counsel for Organic Valley Family of Farms, calls for strict rules to govern the use of Bt corn in the state.

Farmers' Market Magazine Offers Free Subscriptions
Farmers' Markets Today premiered in June 2007, with a second issue in October, and a December issue near release. Free subscriptions are available to managers of farmers markets, market vendors and direct market farmers who sell through CSAs, u-pick farms or farm stands, or directly to restaurants, grocers, co-ops, institutions or other organizations. The new magazine offers information to help farmers and farmers' markets be more successful and profitable in selling their products direct to customers. The magazine shares stories about what growers, artisans and farmers' markets are doing to promote their businesses, reach new customers and develop value-added products.

Dairy Cow Buying Guidelines Offered
Wisconsin's Farm and Rural Services Bureau has released a list of 12 guidelines for buying new dairy cows, to help farmers avoid financial loss. The guidelines offer suggestions on examining animals for health and production. For more detail, a guide, Buying Dairy Cows, (PDF / 158K) is available free at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Web site.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Dairy Farm Sustainability Checksheet

Season Extension Course Offered in Ohio
Six workshops offered by Ohio State University Extension across Ohio will teach the basics of season extension with high tunnels, according to Ohio Ag Connection. In the half-day course "High Tunnels 101," growers can learn more about high tunnels, including benefits, drawbacks, where to buy and how to use them. High tunnels—unheated, plastic-covered, relatively inexpensive structures—can grow lots of food on little land, can do it nearly 12 months out of the year even in the upper Midwest, and need less-expensive equipment compared to larger-scale, open-field farming methods. The workshop is first offered December 10 in Zanesville, and then January 8 in Toledo, January 24 in Mt. Hope and 25 in Bath, February 15 in Granville, and March 7 in Plymouth.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Integrated Organic Program
CSREES announces the availability of grant funds and requests applications for the Integrated Organic Program for fiscal year (FY) 2008 to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities in two program areas: (1) Organic Transitions Program (ORG); and (2) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). For ORG, applications may be submitted by colleges and universities. For OREI, applications may be submitted by State agricultural experiment stations, all colleges and universities, other research institutions and organizations, Federal agencies, national laboratories, private organizations or corporations, and individuals. The amount available for support of this program in FY 2008 is approximately $4.7 million.
Proposals are due January 9, 2008.

EPA Environmental Education Grants
EPA Environmental Education grants support environmental education projects that promote environmental stewardship and help develop aware and responsible students, teachers, and citizens. This grant program provides financial support to seed innovative projects that design, demonstrate, or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques. Funds available for these grant projects are expected to total between $1.5 million and $3 million. The EPA Regional Offices will fund the grants for $50,000 or less. Headquarters will fund the larger grants over $50,000 but not exceeding $125,000. Applicants must provide non-federal matching funds of at least 25% of the total cost of the project.
Proposals are due December 20, 2007.

Indiana Treasurer's Agricultural Loan Program
Indiana's State Treasurer has announced the re-establishment of the Treasurer's Agricultural Loan Program (TALP) to provide assistance to Hoosier livestock farmers that raise beef and dairy cattle, sheep, and goats. TALP is a low interest loan program in partnership with local banks and credit unions. The Treasurer's Office purchases a certificate of deposit from a local lender at a reduced rate, and in turn the local lender provides a loan to the farmer at a reduced rate. For the rest of the 2007 calendar year, the initial rate that local lending institutions will be charging farmers on a TALP loan is 5%.
Proposals are due December 31, 2007.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Farming for Profit and Stewardship Conference
January 18-19, 2008
Hagerstown, Maryland

The most comprehensive annual sustainable agriculture educational event in the mid-Atlantic region features keynote speaker Cynthia Barstow, pre-conference intensive workshops, and conference sessions led by the area’s best researchers, extension experts and experienced farmers. Topics include high tunnel production, small-scale equipment, honey production, marketing, and many more.

Minnesota Organic Conference
January 18-19, 2008
St. Cloud, Minnesota

The Minnesota Organic Conference and Trade Show offers learning and networking opportunities for producers new to organic production as well as for more experienced producers. Farmers, researchers, educators, technical assistance providers, and business owners will have plenty of time to talk and learn together.

Horticulture Industries Show
January 4-5, 2008
Tulsa, Oklahoma

This year’s Horticulture Industries Show has the theme, "Celebrating Horticulture: Four Seasons of Success," and features keynote speaker Eliot Coleman. During the two-day grower meeting and trade show, six different grower organizations of HIS provide concurrent educational programming on the following topic areas: Christmas Trees, Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs, Farmers’ Market Growing/Sustainable Agriculture, and Public Gardens/Master Gardeners.

> More Events

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