Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - December 22, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Funding for Organic Programs Holds Steady for 2005
* Bioenergy Projects Could Benefit from Local Green Tags
* Meat Goat Market Continues to Grow and Improve
* Study Warns of Risks of GM Pharmaceutical Crops
* 'Edible Schoolyard' Efforts Profiled
* 'Building Better Rural Places' Available Online
* CSREES Integrated Organic Program
* USDA-DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative
* Western Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants
* Illinois Organic Production Conference
* Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference
* Harvesting Clean Energy Vj
News & Resources
Funding for Organic Programs Holds Steady for 2005
The 2005 Appropriations Omnibus bill provides key organic agriculture programs with funding levels equal to amounts appropriated in 2004. Organic advocates are calling these funding measures a small victory during a difficult fiscal year, in which many substantial cuts have been made to federal programs. "Level funding for these programs this year is evidence that Congress is increasingly aware of the value of organic farming to both farmers and consumers," said Brise Tencer of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).
Bioenergy Projects Could Benefit from Local Green Tags
A column in the Sustainable Industries Journal suggests that the use of green tags, the premiums that consumers pay for electricity generated from renewable energy, could help promote bioenergy projects, which in turn could help resolve other local environmental issues. "A local green tag for bioenergy could be a new mechanism that enables farmers to turn the environmental liabilities of modern farming into assets for their community," writes Chad Kruger, director of outreach for the Climate Friendly Farming Project at the Washington State University. "For instance, anaerobic digestion of dairy manure reduces foul odors and associated human health concerns, reduces ground and surface water pollution by facilitating the export of excess nutrients off-farm, and contributes toward maintaining the economic vitality of farms and rural agricultural communities... Generating renewable energy is a valuable, but secondary, benefit."
Meat Goat Market Continues to Grow and Improve
Meat goats are among the fastest-growing sectors of the livestock industry, with demand fueled by Muslims and other ethnic populations, according to a Chicago Tribune article posted by The Billings Gazette. There are no taboos against eating goats, and the animals do well in many conditions. Several states are encouraging producers to start raising meat goats to tap into the growing market. The Boer goat is a species that has been introduced specifically as a meat breed. Meanwhile in Texas, the state that produces the most meat goats in the U.S., researchers are working to improve genetics of Boer Goats, says The North Texas E-News. The Boer Goat Improvement Network or "BGIN" is an effort initiated by the American Boer Goat Association and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station to help breeders evaluate a goat's genetic potential as a parent. The program aims to improve the genetics of the breed industry-wide by selecting for seven desirable traits.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Goat Production: Meat Goats
Study Warns of Risks of GM Pharmaceutical Crops
For more than a decade, corn, soybeans, and other food crops genetically engineered to produce drugs, vaccines, and industrial chemicals have been grown on American farms. But a new Union of Concerned Scientists' report by six agricultural experts now warns that the food supply is vulnerable to contamination by these "pharmaceutical crops" unless substantial changes are made in the ways and places such crops are grown and managed. UCS convened the panel of experts to determine whether it is possible to produce pharmaceuticals in familiar food crops like corn or soybean (the two plants most often used for pharmaceutical production) without contaminating human food or animal feed. The panel—acting independently of UCS—analyzed the current system for growing food- and feed-grade corn and soybeans and identified many points where drugs and plastics could pass to the food supply if pharmaceutical crops were grown under the same system. After evaluating various approaches to blocking contamination at those points, the panel concluded that the current corn and soybean production system cannot be used for pharmaceutical corn and soybean in the United States while ensuring virtually no contamination of the food and feed system.
'Edible Schoolyard' Efforts Profiled
Mother Earth News profiles the work of California restaurateur Alice Waters. Through her organization Edible Schoolyard, Waters recently persuaded the Berkeley Unified School District to adopt food and agriculture issues as part of its curriculum for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. “We are going to take school lunch out of the fast food market and put it into academia,” Waters said. “We want to teach students about the consequences of the decisions they make about food, their relation to the land; we want to instill basic values. What we are doing is creating a new way of thinking about food. Making food an academic subject will give it legitimacy.”
'Building Better Rural Places' Available Online
The updated version of Building Better Rural Places, an extensive directory of federal programs for sustainable agriculture, forestry, conservation and community development, is now available online in a PDF formal. The guide was compiled in 2004 by U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies working together for sustainable rural development, in collaboration with The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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CSREES Integrated Organic Program
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) requests applications for the Integrated Organic Program for fiscal year 2005 to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities in two program areas: (1) Organic Transitions Program (ORG); and (2) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). ORG funds the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic producers. OREI funds research and extension programs that enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic food, feed, and fiber. Applications are due May 2, 2005
USDA-DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative
US Dept. of Agriculture and US Dept. of Energy jointly announce the availability of FY05 funds and solicit applications for financial assistance addressing research, development, and demonstration of biomass based products, bioenergy, biofuels, biopower, and related processes. This funding opportunity is intended to promote greater innovation and development related to biomass, and to support Federal policy calling for greater use of biomass-based products, feedstock production, and processing and conversion. Proposals are due February 15, 2005.
Western Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) requests applications for the Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program for fiscal year (FY) 2005 to support the continuum of research and extension efforts needed to increase the implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) methods. The program supports projects that develop individual pest control tactics, integrate individual tactics into an IPM system, and develop and implement extension education programs. In FY 2005 CSREES anticipates that approximately $655,000 will be available for support of the Regional IPM Competitive Grants Program Western Region (W-IPM). Of this amount, approximately $420,000 is expected to be available for research projects, $70,000 for extension projects, and $165,000 for joint research-extension projects. Applications are due February 18, 2005.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Illinois Organic Production Conference
January 12-13, 2005
This conference provides practical, science-based information for any farmer interested in learning more about organic agriculture. Whether an interested farmer with no previous organic experience or an established, experienced organic farmer, this conference is for you. Organic methods, certification and marketing will also be covered for livestock and grain producers.
Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference
January 14-15, 2005
Des Moines, Iowa
This year's conference will celebrate PFI's 20th anniversary with the theme "Reflections on Our Past, Visions for Our Future: Twenty Years of Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa."
Harvesting Clean Energy V
January 20-21, 2005
Great Falls, Montana
The Pacific Northwest's premiere event bringing together the agriculture and energy industries to advance opportunities for agriculture producers and rural communities to profitably diversify into clean energy production and other bio-product markets.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php
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Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives Available Online
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are now available online. ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter
of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is the Web
site of the ATTRA project created and managed by the National
Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and funded under a grant
from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural
Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT
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