Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 21, 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
* National Agricultural Statistics Service Web Site Redesigned
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.
* EQIP Funds Announced for Limited-Resource and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
* Report Calls for Reinvigorating Animal and Plant Breeding Programs
* Conservation Tillage Seminars Set across Illinois
* New Blog Focuses on Technology for Sustainable Gardening and Farming
* Meat Goats Enjoy Market Upswing
* Value-Added Producer Grants
* Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative/Food Quality Protection Act Grant, EPA Region 9
* 2nd Annual Illinois Organic Production Conference
* Organic Gardening Distance Learning Course
* Texas Conference On Organic Production Systems
News & Resources
National Agricultural Statistics Service Web Site Redesigned
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently launched a redesigned version of the National Agricultural Statistics Service Web site. The site has been completely revamped to better serve the needs of NASS customers, whether farmers, researchers, government officials, journalists, teachers or others, by providing more data in an easily accessible format. With a range of technological advances, the site continues to provide comprehensive statistical data on every facet of U.S. agriculture. Features such as the Quick Stats Agricultural Statistics Database offer the ability to search for data by commodity, state and year.
EQIP Funds Announced for Limited-Resource and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
This week the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that more than $10 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds will be used to assist limited resource and beginning farmers and ranchers nationwide in implementing conservation practices on their land. Last year $6.8 million in EQIP funds was designated to assist limited resource and beginning farmers and ranchers in implementing conservation practices on cropland and rangeland in a pilot program in eleven states and the Caribbean area. This year the initiative is nationwide. The Limited Resource Farmers Initiative stresses cost-effective and economical conservation practices—such as livestock watering facilities, fencing, and irrigation systems—for erosion control, water management and grazing land management. Farmers and ranchers interested in learning more about the Limited Resource Farmers Initiative should contact their local USDA Service Center or local NRCS office.
Report Calls for Reinvigorating Animal and Plant Breeding Programs
The Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group have issued a new paper, Reinvigorating U.S. Public Plant & Animal Breeding for a Sustainable Future, documenting policies that have led to the decline of public breeding programs and the consequences of this decline for the U.S. food and farming system. The report concludes with 29 policy recommendations for Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Land Grant Universities and other public institutions to reinvigorate U.S. public plant and animal breeding programs. Among the recommendations is a call for a new national priority area in USDA’s research programs, including the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program, for the participation of farmers and ranchers in plant and animal breeding for sustainable and organic agricultural systems. The report also recommends providing farmers and ranchers with incentives to form regional plant and animal breeder organizations and teams. The complete report is available online in PDF.
Conservation Tillage Seminars Set across Illinois
Five Illinois Regional Tillage Seminars have been scheduled for February, according to Illinois Ag Connection. The seminars will not only cover the economic and environmental benefits of strip till and no till practices, but will also look at opportunities for carbon trading. Because conservation tillage sequesters carbon dioxide in the soil, farmers who adopt the method may be eligible for payments from industries required to offset their emissions. Nutrient management and conservation programs will also be addressed. Seminars are set for Waterloo, Rockford, Peru, Salem, and Urbana.
New Blog Focuses on Technology for Sustainable Gardening and Farming
High-Tech Gardening, a new blog, is dedicated to the dissemination of information about how technology can help traditional, organic, and sustainable gardeners and farmers. Visitors can read, comment, and post to the blog.
Meat Goats Enjoy Market Upswing
Meat goats may replace hogs as the "mortgage lifter" for small farms, says an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With a rising immigrant population in the U.S., the market for meat goats is growing. Farmers who are able to tap into this market with animals slaughtered according to religious law have found the business lucrative. Goats are not only prolific, but as browsers they are able to make use of land and forage that other livestock can't. They are becoming a popular and profitable alternative crop for farmers across former tobacco-producing states.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Goat Production: Meat Goats
> More Breaking News
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Value-Added Producer Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Services announces the availability of approximately $19.5 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year (FY) 2006 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Of this amount, $1.5 million is set aside for applicants requesting $25,000 or less. Awards may be made for planning activities or for working capital expenses, but not for both. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $300,000.
Proposals are due March 31, 2006.
Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants 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.
Applications for up to $400,000 in funding may be submitted by any United States public or private research or educational institution or organization.
Proposals are due February 16, 2006.
Strategic Agricultural Initiative/Food Quality Protection Act Grant, EPA Region 9
EPA Region 9 is soliciting proposals to help implement the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and to support efforts by the agricultural community to transition away from high-risk pesticides to lower risk pesticides and sustainable practices in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension and demonstration projects for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture. Nonprofits, state government, institutions of higher education and individuals are eligible to apply for grants from $50,000 to $100,000. EPA Region 9 comprises Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations.
Proposals are due March 3, 2006.
> More Funding Opportunities
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2nd Annual Illinois Organic Production Conference
January 11-12 , 2006
This second annual conference provides practical, science-based information and extensive networking opportunities for any farmer interested in learning more about organic agriculture, whether they have organic experience or not. Organic methods, certification and marketing will be covered for livestock, grain and specialty crops.
Organic Gardening Distance Learning Course
January 16 - March 12, 2006
The Horticulture Department at Cornell offers an 8-week online course to help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens. Each week covers a different topic, including vegetables, fruits, flowers and ornamentals, and lawns. The course includes a number of hands-on activities as well as a group discussion board, quizzes, and readings.
Texas Conference On Organic Production Systems
January 25-27, 2006
Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association presents this 5th annual conference, focusing on "Texas Growing for Texans—Community Food Systems." A ranch tour, trade show, banquet and awards dinner, and over twenty speakers are on the agenda at this conference for learning about organic, local, and sustainable food production and marketing in Texas.
> More Events
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