Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 3, 2008
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.
News & Resources
* San Francisco Developing City Food Policy
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* Organic 'Access to Pasture' Rule Listening Sessions Set
* Study Reveals Costs of Freshwater Nutrient Pollution
* USDA Seeks Public Comment on Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Corn
* Programs Help Launch Local Food Entrepreneurs
* USDA Releases Farm Income Forecast
* SARE Outreach Educational Sponsorship Program
* American Lamb Industry Matching Grant
* Mississippi Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
* Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference
* Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Marketers Conference
* Tennessee Agritourism Conference
News & Resources
San Francisco Developing City Food Policy
The San Francisco food policy proposed by the city's mayor is designed to connect the city to its foodshed, says an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Experts have been meeting recently to develop a city policy that they hope will become a model for other area government agencies. While the idea of the food policy is to tie local farmers to their immediate market, the policy could extend beyond food to forge alternative energy partnerships and water conservation efforts, says the story. The food policy group is considering the issue from several aspects, including rural agriculture, food access, environmental quality, and regional identity. They plan to winnow the ideas generated by the group down to a top five that will be presented to the mayor in the spring.
Organic 'Access to Pasture' Rule Listening Sessions Set
The National Organic Program has announced that it will hold several listening sessions on the "Access to Pasture" proposed rule. The rule, published October 24, proposes to amend the National Organic Program (NOP) livestock standards to clarify the role pasture plays in the production of organic ruminants. To date, sessions are scheduled for December 2 in LaFarge, Wisconsin; December 4 in Chico, California; and December 8 in Amarillo, Texas.
Study Reveals Costs of Freshwater Nutrient Pollution
Researchers at Kansas State University looked at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data on nitrogen and phosphorous levels in bodies of water throughout the country, and calculated the money lost from that pollution by looking at factors like decreasing lakefront property values, the cost of treating drinking water and the revenue lost when fewer people take part in recreational activities like fishing or boating. The researchers found that freshwater pollution by phosphorous and nitrogen costs government agencies, drinking water facilities and individual Americans at least $4.3 billion annually. Biology professor Walter Dodds noted that this freshwater pollution is from nonpoint sources, such as runoff from row crop agriculture across the surrounding countryside. Dodds said he anticipates the research being used by policymakers because it documents the extent of the nutrient pollution problem in the United States and one facet of why it matters.
Related ATTRA Publication: Protecting Water Quality on Organic Farms
USDA Seeks Public Comment on Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Corn
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on a petition to deregulate corn genetically engineered (GE) to produce a microbial enzyme that facilitates ethanol production. The petition for deregulation, submitted by Syngenta Seeds, Inc., is in accordance with APHIS’ regulations concerning the introduction of GE organisms and products and is available for public review and comment. Following the comment period, APHIS makes a determination of nonregulated status if it can conclude that the organism does not pose a plant pest risk. If APHIS grants the Syngenta Seeds, Inc., petition for deregulation, the GE corn and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles. The product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS. Comments may be submitted online or by mail until January 20, 2009.
Programs Help Launch Local Food Entrepreneurs
In part four of a six-part series on local foods, Patty Cantrell of the Michigan Land Use Institute’s Entrepreneurial Agriculture Program discusses some of the programs across the country that are helping local food entrepreneurs get started. Some organizations offer training for new farmers, and several state governments have grant or incentive programs to help farmers diversify. There are also programs to help aspiring local food producers find land to farm. Educational programs that train youth in agriculture and help them find financing can play a key role in launching local food entrepreneurs.
USDA Releases Farm Income Forecast
Net farm income is forecast to be $86.9 billion in 2008, little changed from the record $86.8 billion farmers are estimated to have earned in 2007 reports the USDA's 2008 Farm Income Forecast. A large increase in the value of crop production is offset by rising production costs for the farm sector. In 2008, current commodity and input forecasts indicate that incomes will likely be lower for cotton, specialty crop, and livestock operations.
> More Breaking News
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SARE Outreach Educational Sponsorship Program
SARE Educational Sponsorships provide financial support for educational events that advance SARE grantees or project results to beginning, minority, underserved and/or commodity producers and/or the extension and educational professionals that serve them. Sponsorships are available in the amount of $500-$5000. Sponsorships are available to organizations or individuals providing educational services to farmers, ranchers, or agricultural professionals.
Rolling applications are accepted on a quarterly schedule with the following deadlines: December 15, April 15, July 15, October 15.
American Lamb Industry Matching Grant
The Industry Matching Grant program was designed to fund projects and activities that promote American Lamb and further the goals and objectives of the American Lamb Board's Strategic Plan. The American Lamb Board strongly encourages that all projects and activities are a collaborative partnership between the suppliers, first handlers, retailers, promotions and festivals, research and education entities, foodservice operators, etc.
Proposals are due December 31, 2008.
Mississippi Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The State of Mississippi is designated to receive $107,038.75 for fiscal year 2008 from the United States Department of Agriculture to make grants available to provide assistance for specialty crops. Proposals are encouraged from state and local organizations, academia, producer associations, industry or community-based groups, and other specialty crop organizations. To be eligible for a grant, projects must enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The maximum grant awarded will be $30,000.
Proposals are due January 15, 2009.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference
January 31, 2009
"Building a Strong Community Supported Agriculture System" is the topic for this tenth annual event. The conference features keynote speaker Fred Kirschenmann, as well as a special youth conference track with keynote speaker Daniel Salatin and youth workshop sessions. Several concurrent sessions for adult participants are offered on various topics.
Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Marketers Conference
January 29-31, 2009
West Des Moines, Iowa
This 3-day conference of the Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, Iowa Farmers Market Association and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship focuses on Better Production, Safer Handling, Smarter Marketing. The first day looks at what’s new & different for fruit & vegetable production, the second day deals with ensuring food safety, and the final day concentrates on improving markets.
Tennessee Agritourism Conference
January 26-27, 2009
For aspiring agritourism farmers, the conference is a way to begin to assess whether they and their farm operations are well suited to this new farm business. New or prospective farmers get the chance to spend lots of time with experienced operators who can share plenty of useful stories and ideas. Serious agritourism farmers upgrade their professional skills and learn how to improve their farms’ attractions. A pre-conference tour visits local farms in the Chattanooga area, including an orchard, a “fall fun” agritourism farm and a winery.
> More Events
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