Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - November 24, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* New Study Finds that Nearly Half of the Nation's Food Goes to Waste
* Locally Raised Turkeys Gain Popularity in North Carolina
* Farmers' Guide to GMOs Released
* Farmer Survey Shows Importance of Internet
* Report Highlights Strategies for Rural Revitalization
* Research Explores Mustard Cover Crops for Pest Control
* USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants (BRAG) Program
* Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program to Offer $78 Million
* North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants
* Organic and Specialty Marketing Conference
* Taylor Beef Symposium & Niche Beef Production & Marketing Workshop
* Winter Greenhouse Production of Organic Vegetables in the Northeast
News & Resources
New Study Finds that Nearly Half of the Nation's Food Goes to Waste
A new study from the University of Arizona in Tucson indicates that forty to fifty percent of all food ready for harvest in the United States never gets eaten. Timothy W. Jones, an anthropologist at the UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, has spent the last 10 years measuring food loss, including the last eight under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jones started in the farms and orchards, went on through the warehouses, retail outlets and dining rooms, and to landfills. What he found was that not only is edible food discarded that could feed people who need it, but the rate of loss, even partially corrected, could save U.S. consumers and corporations tens of billions of dollars each year. Jones says these losses also can be framed in terms of environmental degradation and national security.
Locally Raised Turkeys Gain Popularity in North Carolina
The Herald-Sun profiles turkey producers in Chatham County that are doing a booming business raising and processing turkeys for local markets. "People are becoming aware of how turkeys are being produced, and they want something different," said Tony Kleese, executive director of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. "People are finding out what happens to that turkey before they eat it." Efforts have been boosted by public access to a locally owned, independent USDA-approved processing facility, the only one in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia.
Farmers' Guide to GMOs Released
The Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG) and Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA have released a new publication, Farmers' Guide to GMOs, to help farmers assess the risks of GMO crops. "After almost a decade of commercial production, we have reached that point," co-author and attorney David R. Moeller said, "where every farmer has a stake and has to be fully aware of the legal ramifications. No farmer should buy seed for next season without having a grasp of the information contained in this Guide." Starting November 22, the Guide will be available free online from both FLAG and RAFI-USA.
Related ATTRA Publication: Genetic Engineering of Crop Plants
Farmer Survey Shows Importance of Internet
A survey conducted by the National Farmers Union showed that 86% of farmer respondents think future farm success will involve farmers and ranchers and their cooperatives knowing how to effectively manage the Internet for marketing. Fifty-eight percent of the more than 800 responding farmers said they used the Internet for doing farm business for buying and selling. The survey also found that 94 percent of all respondents use a computer, 80 percent use the Internet daily, and 47 percent are interested in marketing the products of their own farm or co-op over the Internet. The survey was conducted both online and at local and state fairs.
Report Highlights Strategies for Rural Revitalization
A new report from the Center for Rural Affairs showcases the efforts rural communities have made to revitalize themselves. Fresh Promises: Highlighting Promising Strategies of the Rural Great Plains and Beyond features economic development strategies employed by a range of communities. These measures include development based on environment, rural microenterprises, agricultural cooperatives for niche markets, and on-farm processing. The authors refused to call their case studies "best practices," commenting that the "best" solution is specific to a particular place.
Research Explores Mustard Cover Crops for Pest Control
USDA's Agricultural Research Service recently reported on ongoing research of the potential for mustard family cover crops to control crop pests. When Brassica family plants are used as a cover crop and then allowed to decompose as green manure, "biofumigation" occurs. Nematodes, weed seeds and fungi can all be killed by this biofumigation, and scientists are researching exactly how the process works, so that mustards can be used more effectively in pest control.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants (BRAG) Program
The purpose of the USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants (BRAG) Program is to assist Federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing genetically modified organisms into the environment. Investigations of effects on both managed and natural environments are relevant. Applications to the USDA BRAG Program must seek partial funding for a conference or address one of the following areas:
1) Identify and develop practices to minimize risks associated with genetically engineered organisms; 2) Research methods to monitor the dispersal of genetically engineered organisms; 3) Research to increase knowledge about the characteristics, rates, and methods of gene transfer that may occur between genetically engineered organisms, and related organisms; 4) Perform assessments to provide analysis which compares impacts of organisms modified through genetic engineering to other types of production systems; 5) Other areas of research designed to further the purposes of the USDA BRAG program. Proposals are due Feb 24, 2005.
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program to Offer $78 Million
The USDA has announced that more than $78 million is available to protect farm and ranch land in all 50 states and Puerto Rico through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept FRPP proposals from interested state, tribal and local governments and nongovernmental organizations until mid-March 2005 to manage the program. A Request for Proposals will be published in the Federal Register soon. For those proposals selected for funding, USDA enters into agreements with nongovernmental organizations, states, federally recognized tribes and local governments to support their efforts to protect soils and historical and archaeological sites. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement.
North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants
The purpose of the 1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), as amended, is to promote long-term conservation of North American wetland ecosystems, and the waterfowl and other migratory birds, fish and wildlife that depend upon such habitat. Principal conservation actions supported by NAWCA are acquisition, establishment, enhancement and restoration of wetlands and wetland-associated uplands. In conjunction with the Standard Grants program, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Council) has created a Small Grants program. The objective is to promote long-term wetlands conservation activities through encouraging participation by new grantees and partners who otherwise may not be able to compete in the Standard Grants program. For 2005 the Council is establishing a $2 million Small Grants funding goal for high quality proposals. To be considered for funding in 2005, proposals must have a grant request no greater than $50,000. Proposals are due by December 3, 2004.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Organic and Specialty Marketing Conference
November 30 - December 1, 2004
Mandan, North Dakota
The conference is geared to the farmer who is oriented to producing specialty products that are in demand in the marketplace, such as specialty oilseeds, identity preserved crops and certified organic grains. This conference seeks to provide farmers with knowledge and tools for increased leverage in marketing.
Taylor Beef Symposium & Niche Beef Production & Marketing Workshop
A December 7-8, 2004
Fort Collins, Colorado
One of American Farmland Trust's Niche Beef Production and Marketing workshops, this event is designed for beef producers, Cooperative Extension, RC&D, NRCS and other agricultural professionals. It focuses on developing a branded beef business.
Winter Greenhouse Production of Organic Vegetables in the Northeast
December 11, 2004
Pocantico Hills, New York
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture hosts a one-day how-to conference organized by Eliot Coleman. Topics will include: Greenhouse design for low-cost winter production; Winter vegetable varieties; Effect of temperature and light levels on timing winter plantings; Alternative fuels for heating the winter greenhouse; Building a large greenhouse using on-farm resources (for 30 cents per square foot); New tillage, seeding and harvesting tools for the greenhouse grower.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/cgi-bin/event/calendar.cgi.
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