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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - November 23, 2016

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

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Next Tuesday, November 29, is a global day of giving that kicks off the charitable season. Please consider a donation to the National Center for Appropriate Technology at this season, to allow us continue helping people by promoting healthy communities, protecting our natural resources, and reducing poverty.

News & Resources

  • New Members Appointed to National Organic Standards Board
  • New Financing Tools Available to Montana Farmers and Ranchers
  • Cornell Program Improving Kale for Consumers
  • Dung Beetles Found to Reduce Livestock Parasites
  • Research Explores Integrating Livestock and Organic Cropping Systems
  • Soil Microbes Help Protect Plants, Research Shows

Funding Opportunities

  • Montana Specialty Crop Mini-Grants
  • North Carolina Agricultural Reinvestment Fund
  • Agricultural Land Easements in Arizona

Coming Events

  • Wisconsin Local Food Summit
  • TOFGA Farmers and Gardeners Organic Conference
  • Indiana Horticultural Congress

News & Resources

New Members Appointed to National Organic Standards Board
USDA announced that five new members have been appointed to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The appointees are Dr. Asa Bradman, Berkeley, California, as an environmental protection and resource conservation expert; Steve Ela, an organic farmer from Hotchkiss, Colorado; Sue Baird, Executive Director of the Missouri Organic Association, as a public interest or consumer interest group representative; Dr. David Mortensen, Penn State University, as a toxicology, ecology, or biochemistry expert; and Joelle Mosso of Fresno, California, as an organic handler representative.

New Financing Tools Available to Montana Farmers and Ranchers
The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) has launched a statewide specialty-crop mini-grant program in Montana, as well as a regional 0% interest loan through Kiva and a free technical-assistance program for those considering Farm Service Agency financing in Western and Southwest Montana. CFAC will help farmers learn about FSA programs and offer longer-term support with developing business, marketing, and financial plans, and assistance filling out and submitting FSA applications.

Cornell Program Improving Kale for Consumers
A plant-breeding program at Cornell University is focusing on improving kale to increase customer satisfaction. Plants are often bred for hardiness, pest resistance, and other production traits, but this program is identifying the different leaf shapes, colors, flavors, and textures favored by consumers, and breeding for those traits.

Dung Beetles Found to Reduce Livestock Parasites
Scientists from the University of Bristol have found that dung beetles can help farmers by reducing the development and survival of parasites that cause illnesses in cattle. They believe that dung beetle action may dry out the manure more quickly, causing it to become inhospitable to larvae. The researchers warned that insecticides used on livestock can be toxic to dung beetles, thus limiting this natural parasite control.
Related ATTRA Publication: Dung Beetle Benefits in the Pasture Ecosystem

Research Explores Integrating Livestock and Organic Cropping Systems
The MOSES publication Organic Broadcaster features an update on a four-year project that is evaluating the production, environmental, and economic benefits of growing cash crops with forage crops for grazing. Researchers at Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, and Rodale Institute are in the second year of the project, comparing two crop rotations. During its third year, research will address harvesting organic row crops and producing crop/livestock budgets.
Related ATTRA Publication: Integrating Livestock and Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income

Soil Microbes Help Protect Plants, Research Shows
University of Delaware researchers working with rice plants have found that a combination of beneficial soil microbes can be applied to help the plants reduce their uptake of arsenic and increase their natural defenses against disease. The findings illustrate the potential benefit of "biostacking"—putting multiple microbes together to shield plants from stress in a natural, chemical-free approach to crop protection.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Montana Specialty Crop Mini-Grants
The Montana Department of Agriculture, the Montana Food & Ag Development Centers, and the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition are offering mini-grants across Montana to support beginning specialty crop producers and others in expanding specialty crops across Montana. Beginning farmers may apply for grants from $1,000 to $5,000. Grant funds can be used for supplies, consultants, and salaries and equipment solely related to specialty crops.
This project is currently funded through August 2019.

North Carolina Agricultural Reinvestment Fund
The Agricultural Reinvestment Fund grant program assists farmers and rural communities in developing new sources of agricultural income through the provision of cost-share grants. The program awards grants of up to $8,000 to individual farmers, or $10,000 for collaborative projects in North Carolina. RAFI administers the grant program for farmers and collaborative groups located in 18 North Carolina counties.
The early bird deadline is November 30, 2016.

Agricultural Land Easements in Arizona
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting a second round of applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) in Arizona. NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. About $6.8 million is being invested this year in Arizona.
Applications for the second round are due December 7, 2016.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Wisconsin Local Food Summit
January 12-13, 2017
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Local Food Network presents an opportunity to learn about Local Food System Development with breakout sessions and workshops, farm and facility tours, facilitated networking opportunities, local food, and more.

TOFGA Farmers and Gardeners Organic Conference
January 12-14, 2017
Mesquite, Texas

Every year the TOFGA annual conference features speakers on a variety of topics in the organic farming, gardening, and ranching world, as well as the marketing, management, and policy realms. There will also be pre-conference workshops and farm tours.

Indiana Horticultural Congress
January 10-12, 2017
Indianapolis, Indiana
The Indiana Horticultural Congress is an educational meeting designed to meet the needs of fruit, vegetable, wine, organics, and specialty-crop growers and marketers in Indiana and surrounding states.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Urban Agriculture in the United States: Baseline Findings of a Nationwide Survey

Question of the Week
Is it possible to grow fruit trees in the Ozarks without pesticides?

Ask an Agriculture Expert
Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Southern SAWG Conference Scholarships for Veterans
Want to attend Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms, January 25-28, 2017, in Lexington, Kentucky? Apply by December 1, 2016, for veteran scholarships.

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