Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 7, 2005
Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.
News & Resources
* Scientists: Too Many Fish Snared
Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.
* Public Demand and Health Concerns Pushing Conventional Supermarkets to Offer Organic Food
* New Web Tool Explores Potential Produce Markets
* New York Offers Free Farm Environmental Assessments
* Reference Aids Farmers with Income Tax Management
* Fumaric Acid Reduces Cow Methane
* Correction: Katahdin Sheep Offer Tobacco Alternative
* USDA Announces Availability of Food Stamp Outreach Grants
* Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternatives Program
* Extension Risk Management Education Grants Program
* Understanding and Assessing Plant Invasions Online Course
* Heart of America Grazing Conference
* National Water Conference: Research, Extension and Education for Water Quality and Quantity
News & Resources
Scientists: Too Many Fish Snared
Sustainable development encompasses everything from agriculture to rural development and alternative energy solutions. However, an area of concern that is oftentimes overlooked by landlubbers is the development of sustainable off-shore fisheries. An AP article in The New York Times reports scientists Jennie Harrington, Andrew Rosenberg and Ransom Myers have conducted a study that looks at "bycatch," the extra, non-target fish that are caught at sea by commercial fishermen. Decreasing bycatch can certainly be an indicator of better fish harvest methods, and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has stated this week that federal efforts to use newer fishing gear and different management techniques have cut bycatch by 50 percent in the Gulf shrimp fishery and by "substantial" margins in virtually all other U.S. fisheries.
Public Demand and Health Concerns Pushing Conventional Supermarkets to Offer Organic Food
Organic food is increasingly finding more room on supermarket shelves as consumers make choices related to health and farm worker protection, notes an article from the Duluth News Tribune. Mike Witt, vice president of merchandising at Cub Foods in Minnesota, states that of 106 million households in the United States, 13 million consistently buy organic.
New Web Tool Explores Potential Produce Markets
Local markets are often underutilized by small farms because of the presence of large-scale marketers, grocers, and retail outlets, but the Center for Transportation Research and Education and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University have developed a Web-based tool to assist producers in evaluating local marketing opportunities. The Iowa Produce Market Potential Calculator can be used to compare a farm's production capabilities with Iowa consumption patterns.
New York Offers Free Farm Environmental Assessments
New York's County Soil and Water Conservation Districts are offering free, confidential environmental assessments of farms as part of the State's voluntary Agricultural Environmental Management program, says New York Ag Connection. Farmers work with a resource professional to complete the assessments, which cover nutrient and soil management water quality; barnyard runoff; pesticide storage, mixing, and loading; and odor management. When the assessment has been completed, farmers may continue the AEM process by developing a conservation plan to address identified concerns. Farmers who have completed the assessment are eligible to apply for cost-share funding of conservation planning and practice implementation.
Reference Aids Farmers with Income Tax Management
A new publication from Purdue University's Agricultural Economics department can help farmers understand recent changes to tax laws. Income Tax Management for Farmers in 2005 explains provisions in recent tax bills and other legislation that can affect the amount of tax farmers pay or encourage particular management strategies. The publication, which is available online, addresses topics including conservation programs and cost sharing, real estate exchanges, the tobacco buyout program, and tax management.
Fumaric Acid Reduces Cow Methane
Methane from belching cows is being blamed for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions globally, so research by scientists in the UK that shows a 70 percent decrease in cattle methane emissions is possible is very timely. A Reuters news story on Planet Ark reports that scientists at Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen developed a feed additive from fumaric acid that substantially reduces methane in cattle's digestive systems. The feed additive is undergoing a year-long commercial and scientific evaluation.
Correction: Katahdin Sheep Offer Tobacco Alternative
Last week's story on raising Katahdin hair sheep for their meat incorrectly identified Scott County as being in Tennessee... it is in fact in Virginia.
> More Breaking News
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USDA Announces Availability of Food Stamp Outreach Grants
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the availability of at least $1 million in grants for public and private entities, nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations to improve awareness of USDA's Food Stamp Program for low-income households. The purpose of these grants is to implement and study effective strategies to inform and educate potentially eligible low income people not currently participating in the FSP about the nutrition benefits of the Food Stamp Program, eligibility rules, and how to apply. Optional letters of intent are due January 6, 2006.
Proposals are due April 3, 2006.
Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternatives Program
The Special Research Grants Program - Pest Management Alternatives Research (PMAP) supports projects that develop and implement integrated pest management practices, tactics and systems for specific pest problems while reducing human and environmental risks. Potential applicants should note that the PMAP Request for Applications outlines research, and in some cases outreach, priorities specific to the North Central, Northeastern, Southern, and Western regions of the country.
Proposals are due February 1, 2006.
Extension Risk Management Education Grants Program
The Northeast Center for Risk Management Education (Northeast Center), in conjunction with the North Central, Southern and Western regional Centers, announces the availability of grant funds and requests the submission of applications. Each of the Regional Centers conducts an annual competitive grants program that provides funding to both public and private organizations for educational projects. The full range of risk management areas, including production, marketing, financial, legal/environmental, and human resource risk may be addressed by applicants seeking 2006 risk management education funds. A two-stage application process will be utilized again this year, beginning with a pre-proposal.
Proposals are due December 15, 2005.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Understanding and Assessing Plant Invasions Online Course
January 9 - March 3, 2006
The Center for Invasive Plant Management at Montana State University presents an online workshop that is ideally suited to those interested in developing a weed management plan. In the context of an ecologically based adaptive management approach, the workshop provides a framework that is built upon understanding and assessing plant invasions. The workshop will be delivered via the Internet; approximately 6 hours per week commitment is involved.
Heart of America Grazing Conference
January 25-26, 2006
Cave City, Kentucky
This five-state conference considers grazing for horses, cattle, goats, and wildlife, as well as types of forage and management systems.
National Water Conference: Research, Extension and Education for Water Quality and Quantity
February 5-9, 2006
San Antonio, Texas
The conference will provide opportunities for water quality professionals engaged in research, extension, and education to share knowledge and ideas, to identify and update emerging issues, and to network with the CSREES National Water Quality Program and partner organizations.
> More Events
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