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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 18, 2019

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

  • USDA Invites Public Comment on Interim Rule for Environmental Quality Incentives Program
  • Maine Businesses, Universities Partner to Increase Local Food Production Capacity
  • Online Food Safety Tools Offered for Small-Scale Cheesemakers
  • Stanford Study Finds Reduced Tillage Helps Soils and Yields
  • American Lamb Board Debuts Lamb Marketing Tools
  • Farm Groups Partner on Farmer Stress-Management Training Workshops

Funding Opportunities

  • Value-Added Producer Grant Program
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
  • Lakewinds Organic Field Fund

Coming Events

  • Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Annual Conference
  • Eco-Farm Conference
  • Downeast Agriculture Conference

News & Resources

USDA Invites Public Comment on Interim Rule for Environmental Quality Incentives Program
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting public comments on its interim rule for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) until February 17, 2020. The rule includes changes to EQIP prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill. These include an advance payment option for historically underserved producers and an increase of the payment cap to $140,000 for producers participating in the Organic Initiative.
Related ATTRA Publication: Federal Conservation Resources for Sustainable Farming and Ranching

Maine Businesses, Universities Partner to Increase Local Food Production Capacity
University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Maine at Farmington, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Jasper Wyman & Sons, and Sodexo are partnering to increase capacity to process locally grown vegetables in Maine, reports Mainebiz. This project will help connect sustainably grown New England vegetables with the institutional market, as well as with hunger-relief programs. The project is one of six that received funding from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation through the New England Food Vision Prize.

Related ATTRA Resources: Local Food Systems

Online Food Safety Tools Offered for Small-Scale Cheesemakers
Penn State Extension has created free online tools for small-scale cheesemakers, to help them develop food safety systems for their facilities and conduct risk assessments of their processes. The tools include a Guide for Implementing a Food Safety System in Small-Scale and Raw Milk Cheese Plants, the Food Safety Plan for Raw Milk Gouda Cheese Teaching Example, and a blank template for building a food safety plan.
Related ATTRA Publication: Tips for Marketing Sheep and Goat Products: Dairy

Stanford Study Finds Reduced Tillage Helps Soils and Yields
A Stanford University study showed that Midwest farmers who reduced tillage increased corn and soybean yields while improving soil health and lowering production costs. It takes 11 years for corn farmers to see full benefits of reduced tillage, and twice that long for soybean growers. However, reduced tillage lowered production costs from the start.

American Lamb Board Debuts Lamb Marketing Tools
The American Lamb Board has introduced a suite of tools that focus on why consumers can feel good about eating American lamb, highlight sheep and lamb production throughout history, emphasize how sheep and lamb are intrinsic to our existence, and explain the unique relationship among sheep, humans, and other animals. A 9-minute video serves as the central storytelling tool, but the materials also include a 2-minute video, six shorter-form social media clips, photography, and a print narrative.
Related ATTRA Publication: Tips for Marketing Sheep and Goat Products: Meat

Farm Groups Partner on Farmer Stress-Management Training Workshops
Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation, and National Farmers Union are partnering on a program to train individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers to recognize signs of stress and offer help. The training helps participants understand the sources of stress, learn the warning signs of stress and suicide, identify effective communication strategies, reduce stigma related to mental health concerns, and connect farmers and ranchers with appropriate mental health and other resources.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Value-Added Producer Grant Program
USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service is accepting applications for the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. Approximately $37 million is available. VAPG helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. Beginning farmers or ranchers, socially-disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, farmer or rancher cooperatives, or projects that are proposing a mid-tier value chain receive priority. Planning grants up to $75,000 are offered, as well as working capital grants up to $250,000. A 50% match is required.
Applications are due by March 10, 2020; electronic applications must be submitted by March 5, 2020.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). This program supports the delivery of education, mentoring, and technical assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers with entering, establishing, building, and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises. The recipient must be a collaborative, state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities. A total of $15 million is available for this fiscal year.
Applications for the FY 2020 funding cycle must be received by February 13, 2020.

Lakewinds Organic Field Fund
Lakewinds Organic Field Fund is a grant program dedicated to making an impact on local farming and organic food. Funding up to $8,000 is available for furthering the development and sustainability of farms in Minnesota, northern Iowa, and western Wisconsin. Grants support organic certification, transitioning a conventional farm to organic, projects that help a farm scale its offerings, and projects that help a farm improve efficiency or effectiveness.
The application deadline is January 31, 2020.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Annual Conference
January 16-18, 2020
Temple, Texas
The 2020 TOFGA Conference, "Supporting Sustainable Farmers and Ranchers in Texas," includes in-depth workshops and learning sessions, plus multiple off-site intensives and farm tours. Additional highlights include a farm-to-table banquet with keynote speaker, social and networking opportunities, and a trade show.

Eco-Farm Conference
January 22-25, 2020
Pacific Grove, California
The 40th annual Eco-Farm Conference is an essential networking and educational hub that features more than 70 workshops, intensives, keynotes, and farm tours, as well as an exhibitor marketplace, tastings, seed swaps, mentorships, and organic culinary fare.

Downeast Agriculture Conference
January 18, 2020
Machias, Maine
The Downeast Agriculture Conference addresses both land and sea-based production with speakers and grower panels. The conference will connect farmers with other farmers, stakeholders, and organizations.

>>More Events

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National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

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Organic Agriculture in the South

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