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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 16, 2020

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.

News & Resources

  • Legal Resource on Food Safety for Farmers and Food Producers Offered
  • New Guide Available on Budget Analysis for Conservation Agriculture
  • ERS Report Provides Statistics on U.S. Farms
  • UN Report Highlights Importance of Understanding Soil Organism Biodiversity
  • Para-probiotic Treatment Developed for Sheep Parasite
  • Resource Addresses Legal Aspects of Free Speech at Farmers Markets

Funding Opportunities

  • West Virginia Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
  • Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks
  • Southern Ohio Pasture Improvement Funding

Coming Events

  • Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference
  • South Dakota Soil Health Coalition Soil Health Conference
  • Virginia Farmers Market Conference

News & Resources

Legal Resource on Food Safety for Farmers and Food Producers Offered
Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and University of Vermont Extension's Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety have launched a free online legal resource on food safety for farmers and food producers. The Extension Legal Services Initiative website houses an interactive map illustrating the specifics of each U.S. state's produce safety program, as well as seven fact sheets on legal aspects of food safety.
Related ATTRA Video: Food Safety—A Farmer's Perspective

New Guide Available on Budget Analysis for Conservation Agriculture
Environmental Defense Fund and researchers in conservation agriculture have released a new publication, A Practitioner’s Guide to Conducting Budget Analyses for Conservation Agriculture. The guide is designed to support anyone interested in measuring the farm financial outcomes of agricultural conservation practices. The 31-page guide is available free online.

ERS Report Provides Statistics on U.S. Farms
USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released America's Diverse Family Farms: 2020 Edition. The report provides the latest statistics on U.S. farms, including production, financial performance, and farm household characteristics. The report also reveals that 90% of farms are small, with gross cash farm income less than $350,000. These small farms account for 22% of production. Almost half of the farms had production valued at $6,000 or less.

UN Report Highlights Importance of Understanding Soil Organism Biodiversity
A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that biodiversity below ground is not being given the importance it deserves and needs to be fully taken into account when planning interventions for sustainable development. The State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity explains that although soil organisms play a crucial role in boosting food production, enhancing nutritious diets, preserving human health, remediating pollution, and combating climate change, their contribution remains largely underestimated.
Related ATTRA Publication: Nutrient Cycling in Pastures

Para-probiotic Treatment Developed for Sheep Parasite
USDA Agriculture Research Service scientists announced a groundbreaking treatment for the damaging sheep parasite H. contortus. The new para-probiotic treatment is developed from bacteria normally found in the soil that produce a protein that binds to receptors in the intestine of the parasite, killing the parasite. The treatments will likely be commercially produced in large amounts once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Related ATTRA Resource: Parasite Management for Sheep on Irrigated Pastures

Resource Addresses Legal Aspects of Free Speech at Farmers Markets
The Farmers Market Legal Toolkit, developed by Vermont Law School, the Farmers Market Coalition, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, has added a new resource. Free Speech at Farmers Markets: What Rules Can a Market Make Regarding Speech? provides background on the legal context of free speech, explains what types of speech can be restricted, and offers decision trees that can be used to make market rules without infringing upon First Amendment rights.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmers Markets: Marketing and Business Guide

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

West Virginia Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
West Virginia Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant. Grants are on a two-year cycle and the maximum amount is $100,000. The program assists applicants to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by leveraging efforts to market and promote specialty crops; assisting producers with research and development relevant to specialty crops; expanding availability and access to specialty crops; and addressing local, regional, and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers. Funding priorities are listed online.
Applications are due by January 19, 2021.

Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks
To further the advancement of sustainable regional systems science, engineering, and education, the National Science Foundation will support Full-Scale proposals and Planning Grant proposals for Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks. This funding will develop and support interdisciplinary, multi-organizational teams of investigators and stakeholders collaborating on cutting-edge convergent research, education, and outreach that addresses grand challenges in sustainable regional systems. A total of $31 million is available; full-scale awards have a maximum of $15 million and planning grants have a maximum of $150,000. Proposals may be submitted by institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations.
Proposals are due by January 11, 2021.

Southern Ohio Pasture Improvement Funding
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering Pasture Improvement funding to eligible southern Ohio farmers in 10 counties through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The Pasture Improvement Project will help farmers install conservation practices and manage their pastures in a way that improves the quality of the pasture and the health of grazing livestock, while also protecting natural resources. The conservation practices available include access roads, watering facilities, livestock pipeline, fencing, heavy-use area protection, stream crossings, and spring development.
Applications must be submitted by January 15, 2021.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference
January 5-7, 2021
Online
This virtual event provides more than 85 hours of educational programing and a virtual exhibit hall. Tracks include organic production, roadside markets, and specific production tracks for vegetables, muscadines, peaches, caneberries, and other crops.

South Dakota Soil Health Coalition Soil Health Conference
January 6-7, 2021
Online

The virtual Soil Health Conference will feature World Food Prize Winner Dr. Rattan Lal, Jimmy Emmons, Loran Steinlage, Dale Strickler, Nick Jorgensen, producer panels, contests, prizes, and more.

Virginia Farmers Market Conference
January 7, 2021
Online

The annual Virginia Farmers Market Conference will tackle the current issues faced by farmers markets, including racial equity and food justice, marketing in the new era, conflict de-escalation, and food safety and COVID-19.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Video
Rotational Grazing Tips from Linda Coffey

Question of the Week
How does salinity affect plant growth and yield?

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

Pasture Management for Limited Resource Farmers
January 12, 2021
A free FACT webinar with NCAT's Felicia Bell. Learn more.

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