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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 23, 2011

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • Long-term Study Shows Higher Returns from Organic Agriculture
  • NOP Updates Strategic Plan with 2011 Refresh
  • EQIP Organic Initiative Guidance for FY 2012 Released
  • Survey Reveals Needs of Young Farmers
  • Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities Report Released
  • Interactive Farm to School Toolkits Available

Funding Opportunities

  • WaterSMART: Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program
  • California Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
  • Nebraska Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for Season Extension

Coming Events

  • Future Harvest CASA Annual Conference
  • Grain School
  • Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference & Trade Show

News & Resources

Long-term Study Shows Higher Returns from Organic Agriculture
Organic crop systems can provide similar yields and much higher economic returns than a conventional corn-soybean rotation, according to 13 years of data from the Long-Term Agroecological Research Experiment, a side-by-side comparison in Iowa. This study found that, on average, organic systems return roughly $200 per acre more than conventional crops. The organic systems helped build healthy soils, as well.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmer Profiles: Two Organic Grain Farm Case Studies

NOP Updates Strategic Plan with 2011 Refresh
The National Organic Program has published a strategic plan update titled 2011 Refresh. The publication refines the program's mission and goal statements, revises its objectives, and includes an updated list of priority projects for NOP.

EQIP Organic Initiative Guidance for FY 2012 Released
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has released the fiscal year 2012 National Bulletin on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, there will be several changes in the program for FY 2012, including three application periods, a national list of conservation practices, and national ranking criteria to be used for 75% of available ranking points.

Survey Reveals Needs of Young Farmers
The National Young Farmer's Coalition has released a study showing that the nation's young and beginning farmers face tremendous barriers in starting a farming career. Building a Future With Farmers: Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed surveyed 1,000 farmers across the United States and found that access to capital, access to land, and health insurance present the largest obstacles for beginners.
Related ATTRA Publication: Finding Land to Farm: Six Ways to Secure Farmland

Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities Report Released
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities and USDA have released Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities (PDF 3MB). The report discusses federal programs that help rural America, presents sample funding mechanisms and technical assistance opportunities and performance measures rural communities can use, and includes case studies showcasing rural accomplishments.

Interactive Farm to School Toolkits Available
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems has produced two new online Farm to School Toolkits that can help producers and schools create successful programs in their communities.
Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

WaterSMART: Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program
Title XVI projects develop and supplement urban and irrigation water supplies through water reuse, thereby improving efficiency, providing flexibility during water shortages, and diversifying the water supply. The U.S. Department of the Interior's WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow) program invites sponsors of Congressionally authorized Title XVI projects to request cost-shared funding for the planning, design, and/or construction of those projects. Awards of up to $4 million are available.
Applications are due by January 17, 2012.

California Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is now accepting proposals for the 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Up to $17 million will be available in awards ranging from $50,000 to $400,000 per project.
Concept proposals must be submitted by December 12, 2011.

Nebraska Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for Season Extension
A Nebraska Department of Agriculture project will provide competitive grants up to $4,600 to Nebraska specialty crop growers for extending the growing season. Project funds will help offset the costs of the construction and implementation of cold frames, plasticulture, biodegradable mulches, floating row covers, drip irrigation, low tunnels, and/or high tunnels, as well as other season extension strategies.
Applications are due by November 30, 2011.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Future Harvest CASA Annual Conference
January 13-14, 2012
Landsdowne, Virginia

"Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality" features pre-conference workshops, keynote speakers, a farmer panel, and several breakout session tracks.

Grain School
January 8-13, 2012
Tucson, Arizona

Native Seeds/SEARCH presents Grain School, addressing topics including scaling your operation to a manageable effort, sourcing, planting, growing, harvesting, cleaning, storage and milling heritage grains.

Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference & Trade Show
January 11- 13, 2012
Springfield, Illinois

This conference, which features more than 100 speakers and 50 trade show exhibitors, will host four concurrent pre-conference workshops, general sessions and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations.

>> More Events

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New Publication
Financing Your Farm: Guidance for Beginning Farmers

Question of the Week
What can you tell me about organic control of the cherry fruit fly? Is there a role for gypsum applications?

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